Content marketing is growing fast. Research from 2017 predicted the industry would be worth roughly $413 billion by 2021. Seth Godin even says it's "the only marketing left."
However, most content that marketers create never gets used by their sales teams. According to Sirius Decisions, a global B2B research and advisory firm, 65 percent of B2B content goes unused. So, what gives?
The problem is that marketing and sales teams often struggle to collaborate. As a result, sales staff often don't know which sales enablement resources are available to them. Worse, the content that does exist is often irrelevant because it doesn't address the biggest questions customers ask before they buy.
Improving collaboration between marketing and sales teams, then, is the key to making sure marketing creates the content your sales team needs to close more deals. Fortunately, you can start fixing this problem right now with some simple tools and processes for managing and collaborating on assets.
Start with your customer's most important questions.
Your content should be addressing your customer's most pressing needs. It's often not hard to figure out what these things are, either. Your sales team will tell you because they hear about them all the time.
Bring your sales and marketing teams together to discuss three things:
What top problems can marketing helps sales answer for customers?
Which misperceptions about your product could content clarify?
Have pieces been created that addresses these needs already?
The answers will point you in the right direction toward creating content people actually want.
Clearly communicate where sales can find which resources.
If you already have great content but your sales team isn't using it, it could be because they don't know it exists. Even if they do know that assets are available, they may not know where to find them.
Set aside some time for marketing to educate sales on what types of content are available and where it can be found. Using a dedicated asset management platform or cloud storage provider (such as Google Drive or Dropbox) can make this easy.
Keep content organized with a clear file folder structure and file naming system.
Different teams and employees might have their own way of setting up folders and labelling files. That can make it confusing for others to easily identify which assets they're looking for.
The solution is to establish a clear file folder structure and file naming convention (at least for files that marketing and sales will need to share).
You can do this in three steps:
Create one master folder with sub-category folders (one for every type of asset and piece of content sales will need to access).
Clearly label files with one consistent format. This could include creation dates and times, project types, campaign names, version numbers, and more.
Store everything in one place. Assets are easier to find and use when everyone works with a single version of truth.
Following these steps prevents wasting time wondering whether "987681.png" or "2020-holiday-campaign-sales-deck.png" is the correct file to use.
Make the content easy to personalize.
No two customers are the same. So, make it simple for sales to tailor pieces to potential clients. Here are a few things sales should be able to edit (when possible):
Client logos and brand names
Text relating to specific features or use cases
Relevant dates and times
Allowing sales to edit assets ensures they remain relevant without bugging the marketing department for simple changes.
Cut sales a break on brand standards.
Marketers may object to the previous point because they believe it's important to maintain high brand standards. However, what matters most is making the sale. If breaking brand compliance is necessary to personalize something for a potential lead, give sales the permission to it.
After all, content that gets used is better than content that's perfect. Stop worrying about minor details that don't make a difference, and give your sales team the freedom to do what they do best.
Maintain an open conversation around what's getting used.
You invest in content to attract customers and close deals. If your content does not achieve this goal, then it's a waste.
Make the most out of your investment in content marketing by setting recurring meetings between sales and marketing teams. This helps maintain open discussions around which pieces are working. This can also help identify topic gaps, helping your marketing team better understand what they need to create to fill unmet needs.
Successful sales and marketing collaboration starts with making assets easy to find, organize, and customize so it actually gets used. Get started now and turn your content investment into a revenue driver instead of a cost center. Your business depends on it.