The Role of Content in Aligning Marketing and Sales

4 minute read

Upland Admin

It’s crucial that companies bridge the gap between marketing and sales functions. But few organizations are in a position to connect the dots effectively. For one, data often exist in silos: different teams have different ways of measuring success.

A common disjoint happens when marketers’ measure success with top-of-funnel metrics and sales teams measure performance in terms of dollars earned. It’s hard to see all the steps that occur in between.

What types of customers are driving sales? How long are typical transaction cycles? What messages are resonating during sales conversations? What are important details to bring up during discussions with prospects—and when?

How Content Aligns Marketing and Sales

Content can play a critical—yet not-so-obvious—role in answering these questions. The key is to build your content program with a structure: focus on how resources like blog posts, guides, and videos make conversations between marketing and sales more efficient.

Here are three simple steps you can take to accomplish this goal:

1. Get Focused with Shared Metrics

Marketers and sales teams can work together to build a set of criteria that describes the ideal customer. What are their organization sizes? What budget do they have on hand? Who is the target buyer within that company, and who is that individual’s reporting manager?

After defining these criteria, you can build the information into your contact form. Collect data to understand the traits of the people you’re reaching.

Let’s say that you’re on the marketing or sales team for an advertising tech company. Certain customers will be more profitable to you than others. One way to screen for these customers is to ask for a budget range. You could also screen customers by web traffic or referral source. This perspective will help sales teams focus on their highest value prospects. This metric will help marketers narrow down programs to devote their time and attention.

In our 2018 Marketing-Sales Alignment Benchmark, we found:

“Soliciting ideas from other departments doesn’t mean being ticket-takers. Establishing a process for receiving and evaluating content suggestions from salespeople and others gives marketers a formalized way to accept or reject ideas.”

2. Unify Your Messaging

Content offers more than a reading experience. Sales team members talk to many prospects in a day. These conversations can easily become exhausting. Content plays a critical role in keeping conversations informative and interesting. Given that people enjoy doing business with fellow humans, these interactions can be the deciding factor of whether or not your customers decide to work with you.

But survey research from Kapost has found that just 33% of marketers report knowing what content sales teams. Imagine how much more efficient marketing teams would be if this percentage were higher. Less time would be spent creating content that’s irrelevant.

Ongoing conversations with sales teams yield better processes for planning. Your content will perform better if you’re in tune with conversations that sales teams are having with prospects.

This means being more visible in strategic conversations. Marketers need a strong presence.

Researchers have found that marketers with visibility are three times more likely to strongly agree that their marketing and sales teams are closely aligned, and 58% of marketers are more likely to report that they know what content the sales team would like them to create.

This is important, given that 68% of marketers in the Kapost survey believe that sales isn’t using marketing content to its full potential.

3. Do Heavy-Lifting Sales Work

Content is most valuable when it furthers a sales conversation.

The key is to create content around time-sinks and bottlenecks. This process will ensure that sales teams focus their conversations on prospects with the highest transaction potential. Content helps companies build relationships before buyers get in touch with your business.

“Marketing has to earn the right for sales to have a conversation, and they do that by more personalized and relevant marketing experiences,” says Seth Lieberman, CEO and founder at SnapApp. You can’t sell anything to anyone anymore; you have to make them want to buy. You start by earning the prospect’s trust; then you end up earning the trust of your sales team.”

Build content that’s relevant to your sales process. Every dollar that you spend needs to build up to a program that moves conversations to an end-goal.

See How You Stack Up

Sales and marketing alignment is critical to customer experience. With these steps, you can work your way closer to building positive interactions with customers that have consistent messaging and seamless transitions between marketing and sales.

What about other teams? We wanted to know what alignment looks like across fellow B2B marketers, so we went straight to the source.

Check out the full benchmark to see how alignment actually is affecting your colleagues.

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