In today’s digitally focused business environment, it’s more important than ever for sales and marketing departments to work together to create content and collateral that’s effective in driving sales. In fact, you may be familiar with the term “smarketing” that refers to such efforts.
That collaboration is crucial because the content itself is so crucial. Most customers prefer to check out your company’s digital content before taking steps to contact your sales department; Forrester points out that’s now common practice for 68% of B2B buyers.
That makes perfect sense; most of us want at least a basic understanding of the products, services and prices at hand before hearing a persuasive sales pitch or presentation. And that explains why so many companies now focus on the digital content that works strategically to move customers through the sales funnel as they become increasingly interested in what’s being offered. The quality of that content has become so important that 72% of the most successful organizations in the U.S. closely measure the ROI of their content marketing, according to the 2019 Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs B2B report.
“The modern buyer is digitally driven, socially connected, mobile and empowered, with nearly unlimited access to information and people,” notes Jill Rowley on Salesforce.com. “The new reality is that sales and marketing are continuously and increasingly integrated. Marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing and we all need to know more about our customers.”
Optimize your “smarketing” for the greater good
If your sales and marketing people need to step up their game in providing engaging, effective digital content, here are some suggestions for improving that process.
1. Cross-check strategies
If your marketing team is planning campaigns, it should talk to sales leaders first to ensure everything is on the right track. Ad copy should align with the process, techniques and verbiage used to sell the products in real-life scenarios. Important blog posts and other content should be reviewed so the messaging is targeted to match common questions asked by customers. One goal could be “objection-based content” that speaks to common customer pain points, or reasons they say no to your product or service. During analyses, compare won and lost sales to analyze what could have been done differently to close uncompleted deals. “We often find that marketers are not taking advantage of how much the sellers know about the customer,” notes Brandpoint President Scott Severson. “It’s one thing to market to a persona. It’s another to talk to your salespeople who intimately know and understand your customers and their challenges. Conversely, we find that sellers often do not trust marketing to drive those important brand awareness conversations.”
2. Schedule interdepartmental meetings
Holding frequent “meetings of the minds” can help the two factions focus on common goals, foster greater collaboration, answer team members’ questions and ensure neither department is getting in the other’s way in achieving results. On some days there may be little to report, but it’s still wise to stay in the habit of touching base and communicating even if the meetings are brief. Marketing and sales managers may also want to meet monthly to evaluate results on metrics including lead generation, MQLs, percent of leads worked and lead-to-customer conversion rate. “It’s important for both teams to be transparent and hear from one another about what they are working on,” advises Brandpoint Marketing Coordinator Lauren Mandery. “Although the tactics and strategies used to achieve these goals will differ, both … will be working with the same end goal in mind.”
3. Share updates and customer feedback
Monitor campaigns, read or listen to all audience comments and measure results to ensure content is doing what it’s supposed to do in moving potential customers through the sales funnel. A shared email account can keep your entire team in the feedback loop and call attention to team members who deserve particular praise for their efforts. You may also wish to establish a Google Calendar that keeps both teams informed about upcoming email promotions, webinars, social media campaigns, etc.
4. Brainstorm new content together
Team members from both sales and marketing should have valuable insight into the types of content most likely to appeal to your audiences. After evaluating ongoing campaigns, you may wish to address new topics and/or try a wider variety of forms, including blog posts, videos, e-books, white papers and/or sell sheets. Marketing specialists could supplement that by creating email templates sales specialists can use to start conversations or perhaps ghostwriting blogs under a salesperson’s name.
A shared Google document could be a repository for content ideas and key references from both sides. Once created, your library of sales-enablement content should be stored in one place that’s easy for key staffers to access on demand.
5. Team up to boost social advocacy
Depending on the topics addressed, you may be able to use sales and marketing posts interchangeably on social media sites established for the different departments. Your marketing team can share talking points about how to introduce different pieces of content, and/or help salespeople create video content for their personal LinkedIn accounts.
6. Plan mutually beneficial events
Collaborate when putting together the nuts and bolts of promotional events such as webinars. They can be excellent spotlight opportunities for your sales leaders, who can speak to the topics of the day using expert messaging and guidance from your marketing team. In some cases, marketing pros may provide helpful added information when salespeople are calling clients. “Try to get to know each other as people,” adds Carolina Samsing on HubSpot.com. “This helps build trust among team members and ensures that people feel comfortable leaning on each other for support.”
How aligned is your company?
In summary, the days when sales and marketing departments could operate largely independently are over as sales processes call for more digital strategy and promotional support.
Because buyers are firmly in charge of the sales process today, both sales and marketing have a vested interest in making the content strategy work,” advises Severson. “Content should be the core way businesses attract prospects, show relevance and build relationships that convert to sales and encourage customer advocacy.”
However, not all sales teams have full marketing departments to support them. Brandpoint’s new Sales-Ready Lead Program is a completely turnkey process – we create the right content, distribute it, nurture and score leads, and deliver these warm contacts to the sales team when they’re ready for a conversation. Learn more here!