The “war” between sales and marketing is legendary inside many organizations. Sales thinks marketing provides little value and marketing thinks sales is uncooperative and places the blame for underperformance on them. Content, which should be a bridge between the two, reinforces this disconnect.
Sales: “Marketing creates content that is useless in my world.”
Marketing: “Sales doesn’t use our content even though this is what customers want.”
According to SiriusDecisions, 60-70% of B2B content produced by marketing goes unused, sitting on sales portals and website shelves.
One of the biggest disconnects lies within the role of the content that marketing creates and the assets sales needs. Marketing produces content to generate and nurture leads, while sales wants enablement tools. A great white paper on the virtues of the cloud, for example, nurtures prospects in the consideration and preference points on the path-to-purchase. Sales, however, finds it difficult to parse this long-form asset into the salient points that will drive a meaningful conversation. Therefore, they deem it useless.
How can this gap be bridged?
Advice runs the gamut from “collaborate with sales” to “do lead scoring and prove the value of specific pieces of content.” In order to make inroads, a more prescriptive approach is in order. Here are three “easy” things that should make a difference.
Easy to find: One of the biggest pain points of sales is spending too much time searching for content that fits a specific need. According to IDC Research, sales people average seven hours per week searching for content and reference materials. Assets need to be searchable and accessible from any device. A recommendation engine should surface content that calibrates the search and brings a suite of content to the salesperson that could fit the immediate need.
Easy to apply: Once the salesperson discovers appropriate content, s/he must be able to quickly discern how to use it. Does it fit the role-based needs of specific people in the buying center? Does it efficiently bring the salesperson insights that can spark deeper conversation? Two things can help here:
- Every time marketing creates a new piece of content, think about all of its uses, including sales. Create a template for converting the content to sales assets, such as scripts, that focus on the content’s topic, role in the sales playbook, importance at which point of the decision journey, etc. Always summarize the asset, especially long-form content. Also, show the salesperson all related pieces of content, hopefully in multiple formats. This should become the basis of the taxonomy for content in the sales portal.
- Integrate the content into the playbook. Many organizations are converting to tablet-based playbooks that help the salesperson prep and then guide him/her through the sales call. This removes the need to hunt and exposes role-specific content in multiple formats for a specific point in the decision journey. Voice of the customer, case studies, analyst reports, how-to guides, etc. are all important and fill different roles at different points in time. Marketing does a lot of customer journey and persona work that provides deep insights into the type of content that could be integrated into these role-based playbooks. This alone should be the basis of a new type of collaboration.
Easy to share: Making easy to share content is another value-add for sales. Digital and social content predominate and have usurped printed collateral as the sales “leave behind” of choice. Sharing from any device should be easy and result in the recipient getting content that provides a great, device agnostic experience.
Helping sales articulate value and use marketing copy strategically will help create a new era of collaboration and better results for both sales and marketing. Converting the leads generated by marketing into sales brings value to both and drives organizational success.
Kathy’s forte is enterprise content strategy, content marketing and thought leadership. Over the past 40 years, she has worked with both emerging brands and large enterprises in developing content and thought leadership strategies. She has written several research reports, white papers and has been a key contributor to Forbes Publish or Perish Report.