It's immensely frustrating to create great marketing content and then find that sales isn't using it quite like how you'd planned...or at all. So let's talk about cures to that frustration, and how sales teams can use marketing content the right way!
1. Train Sales to Understand Content – Especially Inbound Content
This is really our central point, so if you're at the tail end of your lunch break, it's okay to just read this point (but come back later for the rest). Salespeople, especially in B2B positions, can struggle to understand why content exists, and how it should be used. Especially those who have been in the business for many years, before online content even existed. That's a problem for marketers who craft content to – well, bring in more sales.
In other words, your first step should be training the B2B sales team to know what content should be used for – the sort of impact it needs to have. They need to include content naturally in their sales pitches, and use the right sort of content in the right mediums. All this may take some new education, especially when it comes to inbound content: More traditional sales departments can have trouble understanding the role of inbound content and why they should be using it at all. If you're having problem with alignment, particularly when it comes to using content, it's often because marketing needs to learn how to make content that sales can use, and sales needs to learn how to use that content appropriately.
2. Provide Sale Teams with Answers
Do you know what sales and marketing teams get a lot of? Questions! One of the most useful forms of content for the average salesperson is a useful answer that can be provided on a particular topic. Make sure your sales team is very well acquainted with FAQs, glossaries, and other types of content that can help quickly and accurately answer common queries.
It's also a good idea to take the time to discuss new questions sales teams are getting, and what sort of answers they would like to be able to use in everyday discussions.
3. Tie Data to Products, Every Time
From the sales perspective, data is fun but not very useful unless it can be tied to a purchasing decision. One of the easiest ways to do this is connecting data to a specific product. Don't just toss out figures: Link them with a solution. When marketing hands sales a stat that says something like, "40% of buyers want lower shipping costs" then that stat needs to be directly connected with the second half of the statement: "Which makes our new bulk discount a great way to save money." Sales can pick up data and run with it, as long as they know where they're running to.
4. Set More Than Sales Goals
The great thing about sales goals is that we're all used to them! That means you can shift those goals to more content-related endgames without rocking the boat too much. A particularly great way to use content goals is with social media. Around 75% of B2B buyers use social to make purchasing decisions (more if you also count company leaders). Reach them by establishing weekly goals for your sales team regarding how much content they post online, how many comments they respond to, how many links they provide to prospects and – well, whichever metric will make your content the most useful!
5. Don't Be Afraid to Have Salespeople Specialize
Not all your salespeople will be good at social media. Not all will be good at referencing online FAQs. Not everyone will be good at everything – and that's okay! A little specialization can go a long way in an adaptable sales team. Have sales managers pinpoint areas of talent relating to content and assign salespeople specific tasks based on what they're good at. It only makes sense!
6. Talk About Problems
You no doubt know this already, but it bears repeating. If you have a problem, talk it out. If you can't communicate with sales, your content will fall short.