Sales strategies are among the most challenging and exciting undertakings for any sales leader. Your strategy either yields the results your business is after, which means that you’re in line for promotion and a bonus, or it doesn’t, and career prospects begin to look a little dim.
But building an effective sales strategy is as much the responsibility of sales leadership as it is marketing’s. Today, content plays an undeniable part in the sales process, with 89% of B2B firms actively using content marketing to grow. Yet even with all the content produced to generate leads and drive much-needed traffic, sales teams all over are still struggling.
The ‘missing middle’, a term coined to associate the lack of content to support the middle of the marketing funnel, is slowly but effectively making it harder for sales teams to close more deals.
Sure, not all content produced is actually used by sales, and sales sometimes has the bad habit of not knowing where to find content. However, if you examine these issues and other ‘marketing-vs-sales arguments’, it’s easy to see that they would hold any organization back from the revenue growth it deserves.
How do we fix this?
Supercharge your sales strategy with smarter content
We’ll be the first to admit that there is no silver bullet for the challenges that marketing and sales encounter on the road to a synergistic relationship, but there are ways to bridge the divide faster. In this blog post, we’ll share four ways marketers can empower sales strategy with content.
1. Constantly refine and share your personas
Every marketer knows that all you’ll ever do is tied to your persona(s). And while you may have created insightful personas once upon a time, those too need to be revisited and updated – but don’t stop there. Share your updates with sales and give them the opportunity to comment and possibly add context for any research you’ve documented.
It’s not uncommon for subtle industry changes to go unnoticed by marketing, and for budgets to be spent on messaging that’s dated. So, rope sales in on research and get their frontline take on what’s really on the minds of a larger pool of your buyers regularly, because the personas you produce will also help them refine their sales strategy.
2. Create a core message for sales to build upon
Sales will always tweak messaging – it’s what they do. It’s a part of their make-up. As marketers, focus on helping them explore their creative license by giving them strong core messaging that they can tailor for their pitches.
This messaging should account for different stages in the sales cycle, where important aspects of your solution must be communicated. By affording sales the opportunity to build upon a basic and clear marketing message, you give them a chance to make it their own and work their magic.
3. Keep your competitive research up to date
It’s a given that you’ll be doing research on your competition, but for most marketing teams, responding to how the competition is participating in the marketplace is not an easy task. Worse yet, sales is often first to encounter the objections of prospects who have been won over by a new feature or service your competition’s just released, and those are very uncomfortable moments for unprepared sales people.
The solution? Share what you come across as soon as you can.
In most cases, agility is dependent on information and the speed at which it is shared. By sharing your findings in an easy-to-digest document, sales will be able to adjust aspects of their sales strategy, making it easier to gain traction and speed up the sales cycle. Marketing can always catch up with the appropriate content where necessary.
4. Scrutinize your content
It’s common for marketing teams to produce content that sales doesn’t use. For some sales teams, the content just isn’t useful enough for their prospects.
If you’ve been there, you know it’s a hard pill to swallow as a marketer. But, egos aside, there is a way to correct that: pick up the phone and have a conversation with sales.
You’ll find that sales often has valuable information to dispense about the types of customers out there, where conversations go, what really bothers buyers and, most importantly, why your latest white paper isn’t helpful.
Once you’ve figured out what issues sales encounters daily, challenge yourself to probe for clarity about how to enhance the content you produce. It’s possible that your white paper had valuable information, but the angle was slightly off, which made it look like another ‘me too’ piece of content your buyers and sales team don’t find useful.
There’s no substitute for effective content marketing, especially when it’s coupled with a well-planned sales strategy. For your content to support sales, challenge yourself to constantly refine and share your personas, give sales messaging to support the stages of the sales cycle, commit to information sharing, and scrutinize the content you produce to ensure it is effective.