Sales reps are calling for more and better content so they can ramp up revenues, yet up to 70 percent of the content already produced by marketing is going unused. Why?
For many B2B organizations, the problem of disappearing content now stands in the way of sales and marketing alignment. One of the primary reasons for this breakdown is that sales and marketing too often use contradicting definitions of a shared word: content.
Definitions: Sales vs. Marketing Content
Marketing content builds authority, generates leads and establishes an unmistakable identity for the company within its market.
Sales content exists to communicate urgency, prove the value of a solution and help B2B buyers convince their internal stakeholders.
These two distinct types of content cannot do what they need to do when they are used interchangeably or buried somewhere on the company servers.
What Fast-Growing Companies Do
McKinsey studied the sales secrets of high-growth companies to determine what they were doing differently. They found that leading B2B organizations prioritized sales content, and that fast growers used their full arsenal to massively increase sales effectiveness with digital tools.
Roughly 43 percent of the B2B organizations with superior growth rates in their verticals supported their sales teams using digital tools, compared to only 30 percent of those who grew more slowly. This study examined how top companies made it much easier for sales teams to access “relevant and usable insights.”
Sales and marketing agree on this point, even if they don’t realize it. More than 60 percent of B2B marketers said they have been more successful with their content marketing over the past year. What accounts for their success? Well, 85 percent said that better content creation was the number one factor.
What Social Sellers Really Need
Those facts echo what social sales reps have been saying for years: they need better content at specific turning points to close the sale. We examined the need for this type of sales content, which is very different from marketing content.
Great sales content was why 95 percent of surveyed buyers said they chose a vendor that “provided me with content to navigate each stage of the buying process,” as reported by DemandGen. Along the same lines, Forrester found that 82% of buyers viewed at least five pieces of content from the winning vendor.
The only question is, where will the most effective sales content and the most influential marketing content come from?
Who Creates the Content?
On one side, many marketers say they would welcome more sales content from salespeople. Sales professionals are the ones best positioned to know exactly what prospects and customers need at each stage of the cyclical customer journey.
On the other hand, salespeople are already overwhelmed with non-sales tasks like updating the CRM, filling out expense reports and researching the prospect before a meeting. Requiring them to write their own content would simply take away more quota attainment hours.
The answer to this riddle goes back to the original issue of sales/marketing alignment. The way to produce marketing and sales content to match all the ways that leads and customers interact with the company is to assign the task to a cross-functional digital demand generation team. The team should consist of people who fully understand how to use digital tools to reach the new buyer.
4 Priorities for Better Content
There are four priorities for this combined sales/marketing content delivery team:
1. Content creation – Providing social sellers with insights on the level of reports from industry analysts like Gartner, Forrester, IDC, Sirius Decisions, etc. Match the content type to the need at that moment.
2. Organizing a content library – Salesforce reported that 65 percent of salespeople can’t find the content they need in time to get it to their prospects. They need a content library that is cross-indexed and easy to access.
3. Distributing content through original channels – Innovative approaches to content distribution have been able to increase lead flow by 10X or more. More and better leads translate into shorter sales cycles and a more productive pipeline.
4. Evaluating the “content consumption story” – Technology has changed, society has changed, and the way B2B buyers view and react to content has changed. The key to creating a more effective insight factory begins with building metrics around the volume, velocity and probability of content consumption for company-specific customers and prospects.
The fastest growing B2B firms have brought sales and marketing into alignment around a digital-first strategy. They create content tailored to the stages of the customer journey, making sure sales teams have the digital tools to find what they need, and then measuring the effectiveness based on how customers and prospects react to the content.
Marketing content tends to address macro issues like brand identity, demand generation and engaging new audiences. Sales content is built around specific situations or even specific customers. Sales content may communicate urgency or prove the value of the solution, but it is primarily designed to connect emotionally, overcome objects, lower resistance to change and nudge along the buying decision. The most effective, influential content adapts to what social sellers need as they need it.