Marketers, you'd better sit down for this. Remember all that content you created? The blogs? The eBooks? The case studies?
Only 20% of salespeople actually use content to engage prospects and clients.
How’s that for a kick in the gut? If this doesn't surprise you, maybe you're one of the few companies where its sales and marketing departments are aligned with a systematic, disciplined approach to creating and using great sales content to drive sales. You’re a well-oiled machine.
But chances are, you're part of a marketing team that sighs when reading that statistic, realizing it hits too close to home and you desperately want to fix it.
The reality is that while most B2B marketing departments produce content, they lack either a structured approach and/or productive collaboration with the sales team to create something meaningful and with purpose. After all, if sales is involved in creating the content, they’ll be more likely to use it.
What is Sales Content?
Sales content could mean something different to different people, so let's start with the definition and break it down into two different types — internal and external.
Internal content for Sales could be anything from training aids that help your reps learn about their company, products and processes, to tools used during the sales process. Internal sales content examples include:
Questions to ask during different phases of the sales cycle
Objection handling tip sheets
These types of content are used behind-the-scenes of the sales process.
External content is shared with buyers with the goal of progressing them more quickly through the buying process toward a purchase decision. This content is designed to make the sales process more effective and efficient for the salesperson and the buyer. For example, a salesperson may send a potential buyer that is considering several vendors a few case studies that illustrate the success they've had with similar clients.
There are many types of sales content that could be beneficial during the sales process including:
If the content generated by your marketing team isn't being used by your Sales team, or there's simply a lack of it, it's probably time to add an effective sales enablement initiative to your priority list.
Sales and marketing alignment is fundamental to a sales organization’s success. But maybe you’re struggling to convince others how an inbound sales methodology and a content strategy can help move leads down the sales funnel.
Sit down with your sales team to talk through these four major benefits of a sales enablement strategy and how it can help them more effectively close more deals:
1. Drive More Sales
While marketing has the capabilities and expertise to produce great content and sales has the field knowledge and customer interaction to fuel marketing with great content ideas, it's common to find these two departments misaligned. A surprising number of sales managers don’t believe content marketing drives sales or motivates customers to buy.
If that's the case for your organization, start by collaborating with sales to create remarkable content. Learn the top content opportunities to help your sales team close more sales and tailor the content for each stage of the buying cycle and your sales process. You also need to tailor the content somewhat to your sales team and equip them to use it. Summarize the key points of each content piece for the sales team — a few bullet points will provide context and help sales quickly know which content is appropriate for a prospect.
By aligning with sales to create content with purpose, you'll start to see the benefits go beyond just sales using your content, they'll get you to your organizational goals much faster too.
2. Improve Sales Process Efficiency
Salespeople are human and, like all other humans, there's only so much they can complete in one day. Creating great content that sales needs can save them time and gain efficiencies in the sales process. If your sales team adapts an assignment selling approach, for example, they can use sales content to assign "homework" to potential buyers as a qualifying tool before meeting with them.
Or, if your sales team shares content that is created to address key buyer questions or pain points, the salesperson can use the time saved covering education on a topic and, instead, focus on thoughtful questions related to that content, truly challenging the buyer and enabling more productive, meaningful conversations that are better for the buyer and the salesperson.
Huge efficiencies can be gained by housing content in a shared spot like HubSpot Sales where it’s easy for the sales team to insert into their emails and share with prospects, and they can get notified when the lead views it to follow up at the exact right time.
3. Gain Trust & Credibility With Potential Buyers
Buyers typically don't trust salespeople. It's a hurdle that salespeople need to overcome every day with potential buyers. Relevant and thought-provoking external content provided to buyers at the right time can help your sales team earn the respect and attention of the buyer.
A great sales team will not only share great content, but will also follow-up with great questions that challenge the buyer to think differently and consider new ideas to solve their business problems. Demonstrating this type of thought leadership helps build trust and credibility in the eyes of the buyer.
4. Improve Attraction & Retention of Top Salespeople
Want to attract and retain the best salespeople? Having the proper training and tools to help your salespeople can go a long way. Providing onboarding and on-going training content shows that you care and are invested in your sales team's success.
When the topic of training comes up during interviews, you can assure your sales candidates that they'll be provided with the tools to be successful. And during annual performance reviews, you'll have the tools to help salespeople with continuous learning and success.
Is Your Sales Content Keeping Up with the Changing Buyer's Journey?
The B2B buyer's journey has changed and so must your sales content. It’s critical to leverage the right content at the right time based on where the prospect is in their buyer’s journey. Today's buyer has grown accustomed to obtaining information digitally, spending the majority of the sales process researching online before ever talking to a salesperson. In fact, research shows that potential buyers typically get nearly two-thirds of the way through the sales process before they even speak with sales.
Your sales content plays a critical part in your success in this changing environment. Creating that content doesn’t need to be difficult, however. Use our free worksheets below to get started.
How well has your sales content kept up with today's buyer behaviors and the changing sales process? Let us know in the comments below.
Posted by Nicole Mertes As Weidert Group's lead salesperson and business development strategist, Nicole heads up the agency's new business strategy and provides sales consulting services to clients.
Prior to her role at the agency, Nicole was an advertising manager at Gannett, one of the nation's largest media companies. With 10+ years of experience in advertising sales, she understands the complex relationship between marketing and sales within organizations.