When I think of the biggest rivalries, I think Red Sox vs. Yankees, Sega vs. Nintendo, Microsoft vs. Apple, and sales vs. marketing.
Okay, so maybe the last item in the list is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s a fact that many companies isolate their marketing and sales teams from one another.
The isolation doesn’t necessarily result in a rivalry, but it can lead to some contention and the effects on the organization can be noticeable.
Data from 2016 shows that more than two-thirds of organizations say their sales and marketing teams are somewhat or fully aligned. However, alignment seems to be deteriorating as this number is down from nearly 72 percent in 2015.
Demand Gen Report survey results show the biggest challenges to marketing and sales alignment include:
- Communication (49 percent)
- Broken and/or flawed processes (42 percent)
- Working towards different metrics (40 percent)
If marketing and sales can overcome these challenges, there’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is especially true when it comes to the relationship between content marketers and sales teams.
Here are 5 mutual benefits that can be realized when content marketing and sales teams work together:
1. Topic Generation
When it comes time to generate a batch of blog topics to fill a blank editorial calendar, most content marketers run directly to the Google Keyword Planner tool or revisit legacy content for new ideas.
Regardless of where the idea originates from, we are all trying to develop content that answers customer questions and gives them the information they need to make an informed purchase.
Who better to get content ideas from than the sales team itself? After all, they’re the ones speaking to prospects and existing customers on a daily basis.
To develop outstanding topics and arm the sales team with worthwhile marketing collateral, get your content team and sales team in the same room (or on a conference line) to discuss hot topics and customer pain points.
Be sure to ask the sales team for all the “how do I” questions they receive as these can be used to create “how to” posts that could land in Google’s answer box results.
2. Lead Generation
Most B2B marketers agree that sales lead quality is the most important metric that they measure. As a result, lead generation tops the list of organizational goals for B2B content marketers.
As the average length of the sales cycle continues to increase with each passing year, content can be created and leveraged to bridge the gap between start and finish.
As you create content marketing collateral, think about ways to hit the target at each stage of the buying process, including awareness, consideration, intent, purchase, and repurchase or abandon.
If a sales lead isn’t ready to buy at the end of the cycle, be sure to collaborate with the sales team to get them back into the marketing mix for additional nurturing. After all, it’s been reported that the average consumer engages with 11.4 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision.
Give them all the content that they need, and more.
3. Access to Data
For years, organizations have functioned with the marketing team having one set of data, and the sales team having another. Historically, this data has not been shared very well across teams.
However, allowing the content marketing team access to the CRM and letting the sales team take a look at what’s happening on the content consumption side of the spectrum could be beneficial to both sides.
One way this sort of data sharing can be beneficial is by allowing the two teams to develop more comprehensive buyer personas. If the content team has access to sales data, they can paint a better picture of who it is they’re selling to. If the sales team has access to marketing data, they will become better informed about who is consuming marketing material and who might be more likely to buy.
Universal access to data between the content team and the sales team will almost certainly lead to better communication between the two teams and allow for deeper insights to be gathered.
4. Improved Organizational Efficiency
Collaboration between sales and content marketing will allow both sides to better understand what qualifies as a lead. If the two teams aren’t working together to define marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs), the leads could be scored incorrectly and valuable data could be impacted.
Additionally, when the sales team works directly with content marketing teams to develop content, they’re able to publish and have a resource available whenever it’s needed by the sales force.
As a result, the sales team will be able to convey a consistent message across the unit and customers will receive the service and support they expect, regardless of the sales team member they’re working with.
5. Give the Sales Team a Voice
When sales teams collaborate with content marketers, they can begin to establish a presence as thought leaders in and across the industry. Whether it be on the corporate blog or submitting content to industry publications, putting a sales team member’s name as the byline could increase the likelihood that the customer or prospect recognizes their name and trusts them right off the bat.
When the content marketing and sales units work together, the benefits are boundless. While it may not be a smooth path to complete alignment, it’s certainly worth the effort when the results start flowing in.
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