The Untapped Resource: What Sales Knows That You Don’t

February 18, 2014 Brendan Cournoyer

Quick question – what is the ultimate goal of a B2B content creator?

Is it to drive traffic? Generate leads? Engage and educate audiences? Sure, those are all good goals, but they’re really just a means to an end.

At the end of the day, content creators have the same ultimate goal as everyone else at a company: to help make the business successful. And the only way to do that, of course, is to enable the company to sell.

And to do this effectively, marketers need to develop resources that align with the conversations sales reps have with customers.

Why sales-and-marketing alignment matters for content marketing

While marketers tend to have control over a brand’s message, it’s actually sales reps who have far and away the most direct content with current and potential customers. That means reps have a keen insight into the true needs and challenges customer are facing.

It’s a marketer’s job to understand this too of course, but it’s amazing how much insight can be gained by taking the time to chat with the folks who see it first hand, every day.

By meeting regularly with members of your sales team, you’ll be able to stay apprised of the most common questions and challenges that reps hear from customers and prospects – and develop content around them! [Note: This can be especially useful when developing content for specific personas or unique audiences.]

Obviously, this is important for a successful inbound marketing strategy, where you want to be sure to address the needs and questions your target markets are searching for. [You know that stat about how 70% of the buyer’s journey takes place before speaking with a rep? This is the type of content you need to move things down the funnel.]

Taking your content beyond inbound

The other thing to remember is that a successful content strategy is about more than just inbound marketing. Attracting fresh audiences and engaging them into new sales opportunities is great, but then what?

Not long ago, I conducted a short Q&A with sales coach Bob Apollo about this very topic, in which he made the following point:

“If the organization sees Marketing’s role as ‘lead generation,’ then they are likely to behave with a much narrower (and less effective) focus than if Marketing’s role is seen as ‘sales enablement’ or (even better) facilitating the buying process.”

In other words, look beyond simply filling the top of the funnel and create content that your salespeople can use! Again, this is where aligning your content with sales conversations is key. Reps need content resources (or “selling tools”) to engage audience with, and if you don’t create that content for them, they’ll do it themselves.

Recent studies have shown that the average B2B salesperson spends 40% of their time looking for and creating content to share with prospects and customers, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that the quality of that content… varies. As a content marketer, it’s your job to not only develop the content reps need to both advance new sales opportunities and encourage renewals, but to also save them time from creating that content themselves – time that’s better spent on the phones or in the field.

Quick tips for sales-and-marketing content alignment

So how can you ensure the content you create is aligned with the conversations sales reps are having? Here are some tips to consider:

  • Communicate. It might be obvious, but it’s true. You should communicate with reps and sales managers regularly to stay on top of their concerns and manage content requests that could help put them in a better position to close more deals [and help YOU come up with new ideas for inbound and email marketing content]. This could be as easy as setting up a bi-weekly or monthly meeting with various sales leaders.
  • Target your content. Don’t get tied down with broad messaging. Develop content that speaks to specific audiences and verticals [sometimes called “target segmentation”] and work with salespeople to design content that speaks to the unique challenges of those personas.
  • Share what you create internally. Don’t just assume your reps are aware of all the content you create or that they’ll find it on their own. Send out regular alerts of new content resources like blog posts, testimonials, video presentations and so on. This will increase the likelihood that reps will utilize the content you create (and not waste time looking for stuff or creating it themselves]. It will also open up lines of communication for feedback from sales reps on the type of resources that work, don’t work, and how certain messages could be improved.

Ultimately, great content marketing does more than just attract and engage new audiences – when done right, it also helps sales reps sell. But it only works if that content holds value in the eyes of your sales team, and that starts will aligning your messaging with the conversations they have every day.

For more on aligning marketing with sales, check out this post on which marketing metrics your sales team needs.

About the Author

Brendan Cournoyer is the Director of Content Marketing at Brainshark, a business presentation solution provider that enables companies to improve productivity for sales, marketing and training. For more musings on the world of content marketing, SEO, and more, follow Brendan on Twitter @brencournoyer.

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