Today’s modern reps move to new companies and roles every few years (or less). With this ever-shrinking sales talent lifecycle, enablement feels increased pressure to maximize productivity. That means finding better ways to focus and deliver readiness efforts (like training or coaching) when, where and how the sales force works.
How aligned are sales and marketing teams when it comes to sales content? Survey says: not very.
Up to 80% of marketing-generated content goes unused by sales teams, according to a report from IDC. In other words, only 1 in 5 marketing assets serve any real purpose in some cases. So marketers are wasting time, sales reps are frustrated and nobody’s inclined to take the blame.
Why is this happening? Kelsey Raymond, president of Influence & Co., said this content disconnect often stems from two common problem areas: purpose and accessibility.
“It’s not that salespeople don’t want to [use content],” Raymond said at Inbound 2018. “It’s that they don’t see the value and [marketers] are not making it easy on them.”
Formal sales enablement teams are already delivering the foundational knowledge and skills reps need to succeed, namely through sales training, sales coaching and effective content creation. But useful sales content is just as key when reps are applying what they’ve learned in the field, because it positions sellers as experts and builds trust with prospects.
Here are 5 ways sales and marketing can achieve better alignment when it comes to content, as outlined by Raymond during her Inbound speaking session.
5 Steps to Sales and Marketing Content Alignment
1. Make Communication Easy
Alignment is tricky when sales won’t talk to marketing, or vice-versa. Raymond said companies should consider physical and digital barriers that are preventing better communication.
Do your sales and marketing teams work near each other when in the office? More importantly, do they have an easy way to stay connected online, either through a collaboration tool such as Slack or a CRM platform? Companies should consider how they can foster meaningful dialogue, both in person and virtually.
2. Hold Sales and Marketing Brainstorming Sessions
Marketing should meet with the sales team to pick up key information about their buyer interactions, Raymond said. This includes asking questions such as:
- Which questions do our prospects most often ask?
- What about our process or offering confuses them?
- Why do certain prospects choose to do business elsewhere?
- What information could use visual representation?
3. Enable the Sales Team to Easily Suggest Content Ideas
Raymond suggested creating a process that allows salespeople to become more involved in the content creation process. This can be done through a formal survey that prompts salespeople to name content topics they find most valuable, explain why and even offer to author a piece of content themselves.
(Source: Influence & Co.)
4. Have Marketing Shadow Sales Calls
For marketers, experiencing and immersing themselves in the sales process can be immensely valuable, helping them better understand prospects and tailor their content strategy accordingly, said Raymond.
5. Use Internal Knowledge to Create More Sales-Authored Content
Your sellers may or may not be naturally-gifted writers. Luckily, this is where marketing can do the heavy lifting. Raymond said companies should make content creation easy for sellers by having them simply focus on sharing their expertise, and then letting marketing mold that into a polished product.
Sales teams must also be able to easily find and use marketing-generated content. Raymond recommended creating a content resource bank and keeping sellers up-to-date on the latest marketing resources.
Related: Sales readiness tools such as Brainshark make it easy for sales teams to create, deliver and access engaging sales content.
Valuable sales content can take many forms, such as blogs, gated assets, infographics, case studies and so on. But the common thread across that content should be subject matter expertise, driven by sales’ front-line perspective with marketing’s execution, Raymond said. We’ve done this ourselves here at Brainshark, with blog posts such as:
- Practice Makes Permanent: 4 Onboarding Tips for Business Development Reps
- 3 Ways to Improve Your SDR Hiring Process
- Keys to Inspiring (and Retaining) Your Millennial Sales Force
As for putting these tips into practice, Raymond suggested creating 3 pieces of content that answer clients’ most pressing questions (as defined by the sales team). Then ask the sales team to use those 3 assets as often as possible during a 30-day period, and determine whether that content saved reps time or helped them close new business.
42% of B2B firms have bought or plan to buy a sales readiness tool in 2018. Learn why in Forrester Research's Now Tech report on the sales readiness market.