What will it take for sales and marketing to break bread? Could content be the answer to align sales and marketing once and for all?
Question 1: As a marketer, you’ve said or thought the following things…
A. I can’t believe SALES asked me to create an abc content asset for a meeting *tomorrow*. They must think I’m some kind of magician. They have no idea how much work goes into what we do and the layers of approval required to get this done.
B. I worked late the other night creating an abc content asset for SALES that they just *had* to have for yesterday’s meeting. It didn’t even seem to fit with our overall strategy, but I did them a favor. I sent the content over and never heard anything back. Who knows if they even used it…
C. My team and I have created some really cool content this quarter. In my view, it’s a great mix of educational, entertaining, and engaging, and we really think it speaks to our customers’ challenges. I wish I knew if SALES agreed.
D. I have no idea what a day in the life of our SALES team looks like. Aren’t they just cold calling people and running to meetings?
Question 2: As a sales professional, you’ve said or thought the following things…
A. I don’t always have luxurious amounts of time to prepare for each meeting, and I wish I had the right sales content available and ready to go so I didn’t have to waste time searching for it, or worse, asking MARKETING if it exists at all.
B. What is our MARKETING strategy, anyway? How will it help me achieve my own goals? I don’t know if the marketing team really understands how much pressure I’m under and how much work goes into sales.
C. Why isn’t the MARKETING team creating more xyz types of content? It’s gone over well in my meetings this quarter.
D. I see them in the office and think they’re nice people, but I don’t *really* know what the MARKETING team does on a daily basis.
If you answered A, B, C, or D to either question, you’re reading the right post.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how you answered the quiz. What matters is recognizing that sales and marketing have had a long history of relationships characterized by misunderstanding, poor communication, and friction. Of course, every company and every team is its own animal, however this sales-marketing misalignment pervades across all kinds of sectors in a real way. In fact, in research published this year covering the sales-marketing disconnect, only 12% of sales professionals rated their level of collaboration with marketing professionals as a 9 or 10 on a 0-10 scale (with 10 being the best). Not good.
So, why are we talking about this? Because content sits in the center.
The thing is, in general, sales wants your great content. It helps them to do their jobs better, makes them look more polished and prepared, and when used properly, can start or accelerate conversations with prospects and customers.
And sales often holds the key to content optimization without even realizing it. They’re speaking with prospects and customers every day. They see how people react to your company’s content, and they know firsthand what’s resonating and what’s not. They know how your customers talk, they understand your customers’ decision journeys, and they know what questions your customers are asking on a regular basis. This is a gold mine of information for a content-centric marketing team.
What can sales do better to bridge the gap with marketing? Help to create and engage in a feedback loop to communicate with marketing about what you’re hearing and seeing in the field. This shouldn’t be a heavy-lifting, time-consuming task. And the little bit of time you take to foster a collaborative relationship with marketing will result in better content coming your way to enable your sales strategy and help you hit and surpass your quota. Content marketing isn’t the same thing as sales enablement (more to come on that later), but it is a big piece of a successful content marketing program.
Marketers, you can do better, too. Stop wondering what’s going on with your sales team and actually engage with them to learn more about what they’re working on. In many cases, marketers are left guessing at what may work and what their audiences are going to be interested in, when the sales team holds a wealth of information about your prospects and customers. In many cases, you just need to ask.
And while you’re learning more about the daily life of a sales person in your organization in the process of gleaning actionable insights from the team, you should be looking for opportunities to illuminate what you do as well. While sales certainly isn’t “just cold calling and running to meetings,” your many marketing efforts don’t just happen, either. We’d all be in a better position if we understood each side a bit better. After all, at the end of the day, sales and marketing should be on the same team when it comes to overarching your business goals, which probably sound a lot like: attract new customers, keep your existing customers happy.
Content is the key to connecting sales and marketing. With a little extra effort to communicate across these two functions, each side will see pay-off in the form of better-quality content that gets better with each iteration and content that gets utilized instead of collecting digital — or literal — dust.