It’s a tale as old as time. Well, maybe not as old as time, but definitely as old as business: As long as sales relies on marketing to help close deals and marketing relies on sales to get the company message out, there’s bound to be conflict.
I often think of these two groups as frenemies. They both do mission-critical work, and they generally like each other. But if revenue numbers are missed and someone needs throwing under the bus, they’re equal partners in finger pointing.
Not so many years ago, the shrift was usually about lead quality. Marketing automation pretty much eliminated that friction. Today, the topic has changed, but the argument remains. Sales and marketing are at odds again, this time over content.
Content is expected to save the day. We have an insatiable appetite for it in the business world—if there’s a problem, an opportunity, an idea, a discussion—just throw content at it! When a new prospect creates a previously unconsidered scenario, rush and create new content! When a deal is lost, blame the content!
Content, content, content.
The problem is, of course, most content never sees the light of day. In fact, a whopping 65% of content created by marketing never gets used. It’s either off topic or can’t be found in the first place. That number is astounding, if you think about it. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
With a structured, measurable approach to content creation, production, and distribution, sales and marketing can co-exist peacefully and slow (or even stop) the content churn, and it all starts with creating killer content.
There are seven key traits to consider when creating content, and I covered off on these in the recent Sales Hacker webinar, Content is King, which you can watch on-demand in addition to going through them one-by-one below.
1. Killer sales content requires reverse engineering.
If there’s one certainty in life, it’s that very few ideas are genuinely groundbreaking. Unless your organization is truly an early-days start-up, the odds are most of the content you need already exists in some form or another, it just needs updating or re-framing to better meet objectives.
Best practice: Schedule a quarterly review between members of your sales and marketing teams to review content and get feedback from sales as they engage with prospects and customers to learn how to iterate for better performance.
2. Killer sales content doesn’t get sent into a black hole.
The last thing you want after you’ve spent time reverse engineering content is wasted effort. As we covered earlier, 65% of content either isn’t found or isn’t used. In reality, even some of the 35% that is used probably contains wasted effort. That’s because there’s a high likelihood that a percent of that content is then not found or not used by the prospect that receives it.
Best practice: Do an internal audit with your sales team to understand if the tools they are currently using help or hinder their daily activities.
3. Killer sales content aligns to the buyer’s journey.
It goes without saying that the buyer’s journey is a critical component of any sales strategy, as it guides the process from lead to prospect to ultimately—if all goes well—customer. There’s always change in this process: Customer changes, competitor changes, and new technologies can all introduce challenges and your sales team must be agile in utilizing new content to combat change.
Best practice: Map it out. Your sales process—and the recommendations for which of your sales content is appropriate for each stage—should be able to dynamically adapt based on the information you learn along this journey.
4. Killer Sales content has momentum.
What’s the difference between a successful deal and an unsuccessful one? You guessed it: momentum. When you stop engaging, prospects stop thinking about you and turn to competitors who are more visible. With all of the clutter in the marketplace, you need to stay front and center with applicable sales content to be remembered and to keep up the momentum.
Best practice: Keep it short and sweet. Consistently engage prospects with individual, relevant pieces of content, but don’t bombard them. Switch up your approach (time, verbiage, tone, calls to action) to obtain better engagement. Variety is the spice of life—and of killer sales content.
5. Killer sales content is layered.
When it comes to content, it’s so easy to be lulled into a pattern, a routine. Marketing can get into a rhythm where they produce the exact same types of content for every campaign. The bill of materials (BOM) becomes a cookie cutter list of deliverables, and all spontaneity is thrown out the window.
Best practice: Think outside of the box…content doesn’t always have to be product or company-based. Often times the best way to connect with a prospect is to be a source of thought leadership on the topic at hand.
6. Killer sales content is consistent with the company brand and messaging
A recent study by McKinsey & Company revealed that B2B companies with strong and consistent branding are twenty percent more successful than those that are weak or inconsistent. Put simply, the way your audience perceives your brand plays a central role in purchasing decisions.
Best Practice: Without micromanaging, meet individually with members of your sales team to really understand how they find content, and if that content being used is current and aligned with the company’s messaging. Ensure brand guidelines documentation is up-to-date and easy to find.
7. Killer Sales content can be proven effective.
Measurement is critical to killer sales content because if you can’t prove that anything you’ve tried has actually worked and driven a positive impact to your bottom line, none of your hard work matters to the business.
Best practice: Encourage the sharing of best practices of top performers of your sales team to boost overall performance. Take these learnings and amplify them across the entire team to build an environment that encourages providing feedback and learning from both successes and opportunities.
If you do all seven of these steps (or even just a few), you’ll start to notice a dramatic improvement in the success of your content to influence revenue. There’s one more area where you can drive even more success, and that’s bundling up all your killer content and implementing a structured, measurable approach to housing and distributing it through a sales enablement platform.
A structured approach to sales enablement lets you learn how your content is performing in the buying process. It’s a game changer.
If you’re considering a sales enablement solution, there’s no time like the present. Sales enablement is a hot topic today for a simple reason: it works. In fact, according to Aberdeen, 60% of best-in-class organizations have a formal competency in sales enablement.
So, if you haven’t jumped on the sales enablement bandwagon, it’s really time to consider it. If you need help selecting a vendor, check out this technology checklist that can help you weigh your options when assessing solutions.
Editor’s note: If you learned a little something about creating amazing content that actually gets used and converts its weight in gold, then you should rush to get your free access to our webinar on the subject where we go into even more sales hacking detail.
Image via Amy Ross, Flickr Creative Commons