Marketing vs. sales, sales vs. marketing – will we ever find a way to bridge that divide? Even with the advent of the ‘new’ approach to winning business (you know, the content-centred one we keep banging on about on this blog), still the chasm separating the two sides of business development land seems to widen.
But here’s the truth of it. A content marketing-based approach will fire business development success ONLY if marketing people work very closely with the sales team.
Here’s a strong pitch for the critical role of sales in the content marketing process, with some ideas on how everyone can come together to drive results.
The strange tale of the forgotten sales person
Creating and sharing valuable content as a strategy for attracting and winning business is usually a tactic driven by the marketing department. Most often the driver is the company website, with the recognition that if you get your content right you can draw in leads from the web.
So marketing owns the content development process. Up goes a new website, with a blog at its heart and a growing library of useful resources in the form of articles, guides, infographics, videos and the like. And along comes the company Twitter feed, Facebook page, Google+ profile, YouTube channel, all managed by the marketing department. It’s a lonely old task but with a lot of hard work the business starts to see results in terms of engagement and leads, to an extent.
But what of sales? Too often they’re not involved, a total disconnect from the content being produced.
“About 40% of marketers rarely or never include sales in content development.”
I’ve heard tell in more than one larger firm of marketing spending a fortune on creating a website packed with content and the sales teams having no knowledge of what’s being produced! And in a recent issue of the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management magazine, a survey found that: “About 40% of marketers rarely or never include sales in content development” (from a survey done by Brainshark).
What a missed opportunity!
3 reasons to get sales people involved in the content marketing process
- Sales people have the knowledge. They are the ones who spend their time talking to potential customers – they know the questions that customers ask. It’s the answers to these questions that make the most valuable content. Use their knowledge to create content that really hits the mark.
- Sales people can get the content into the hands of potential customers. A good salesperson has a large network of contacts. If sales people (and for that matter, all departments of the business) share the content directly it will spread far wider, and is far more likely to get into the hands of potential clients. Don’t rely on inbound methods alone.
- Your sales team is the barometer of good content. If they willingly and consistently share the content produced with their potential clients, know that this stuff is good. If they use it to help them win business (e.g. links included in sales proposals, useful guides left behind after a meeting) you can be pretty sure it’s valuable.
Sales people: content marketing needs you!
I’ve sat on both sides of the business development divide – first sales, now marketing; both as a business owner – and here’s what I’ve learned:
- If you’re marketing with valuable content then selling becomes far easier.
- If you involve sales in the content process then content marketing will be far more effective.
- Only with the combined understanding, trust and involvement of sales and marketing people will your content efforts fly.
So when it comes to creating and sharing valuable content, marketing needs you sales! Tell us what you require and what customers want to know, share the valuable content that’s produced with your networks, use it to help you open doors and build trust through the sales process. Help the marketing and content teams to understand the sales process. Invite them to spend time in your shoes. Push for representation at content planning meetings, find out what content has been produced.
Content marketing presents a huge opportunity for those who get it right. If we all work together the results the business gets from its investment in content will really start to pay off. And let’s face it – doing business without the aid of valuable content is getting harder and harder to do.
How can we bring sales into the picture?
Here are a few posts that look more closely at sales and the content marketing process, with ideas from me and some clued up experts from both sales and marketing camps.
- Content marketing: the view from the sales department, by Trevor Lever
- Is outbound selling dead in the age of content marketing?
- Should sales follow up content downloads?
- Why and How to Create Content with Actionable Relevance the C-Suite Needs – great post via the Content Marketing Institute (love the ‘conversation kit’ idea)
- Does sales and marketing work together in your business? See if Sharon’s short animation strikes a chord.
- Ying and yang, inbound and outbound – a case study in business development harmony.
- The dearth of the salesman – great post by Andy Maslen
If you’re in sales, what do you want to know? Any questions or frustrations around the content marketing process? Do air them here and I’ll make sure we do our best to answer them through this series of posts.
[NB: Ridiculous poster design by Lizzie Everard – what would we do without her!]