7 Tenets Bridging the Content Gap between Sales and Marketing

Marketing generates enormous content, which 70 to 80% which Sales does not use, and sales spends nearly 30% of their time looking for or creating new content. (Source- CSO Insights).

Why is the gap and misalignment between Sales and Marketing? In this blog post, I provide 7 tenets to bridge the pertinent content gaps that Marketing and Sales teams face.

  1. Content needs to be Relevant
  2. Content Core Messaging needs to be Time bound
  3. Content needs to be Easily Consumable
  4. Content needs to be Credible
  5. Content needs to be Accessible
  6. Content needs to be Pruned- Less is More  
  7. Content needs to be Measured Effectively- Actionable vs Vanity Metrics
  1. Content needs to be Relevant

Marketing teams create two types of content

  • Customer Facing Content- creates awareness of the product & services that includes videos, case studies, infographics, white papers, blogs. This is generally high level that helps in demand generation and part of the Digital Strategy used earlier in the sales life cycle, which marketing teams are more effective in creating.
  • Sales Enablement Content- this is the mission critical content is required later in the sales cycle for the sales to close the deal addressing the customer specific questions and concerns. This includes the Competitive Battlecards, ROI Calculators, Sales Playbooks and Objection Handling.

The Field Marketing and Inside Sales teams generally use customer facing content and the Sales Enablement collaborate with marketing content creators to enable the sales. There is overlap in the content and sometimes the customer facing content is only the sales enablement content. This is because the products/ solutions are relatively new or yet to be launched.

The sales teams look for the personalized curated content to address customer’s needs and they don’t get required relevance. The customer facing content can be high level canned messaging and many times may not incorporate the current insights from the field.

It becomes more relevant with Account Based Marketing (ABM) content, which is about deepening the relationship with the customer and providing a differentiated and exceptional customer experience.

Customer facing content needs to be oriented to why the customer should buy highlighting the business outcomes and the Sales Enablement content needs to be oriented to the sales person on what, how and why to sell the products/solutions?

2. Content Core Messaging needs to be Time bound

Marketing teams are constantly reinventing themselves and having multiple campaigns throughout the year. For each campaign, new content is created, and sales enablement teams spend time to train the field. The sales teams have just gotten used to one messaging and in no time, there is a change in core messaging.

This creates confusion for the Sales Enablement teams especially when onboarding, ramping and upskilling the new sales employees. The existing sales teams stick to the core messaging that they are used to and thus there is inconsistency across the sales teams.

The issue occurs when the messaging changes every 6 to 8 months and whenever the there is a change in Marketing leadership.

3. Content needs to be Easily Consumable

Customers are doing more research about the products online and almost halfway through their journey before contacting the sales personnel. The Marketing team needs to create customer facing contents that is highly visual, dynamic and interactive.

Sales Enablement teams need to create and evaluate different formats of content- short form vs long form written, short vs long length videos- live versus on demand content. Sales personnel are on the go, and they need to be given options.

There are no hard and fast rules of what content format works best as every format has its pros and cons. The content needs to cater to visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners

4. Content needs to be Credible

It is important to note that Marketing does not create content out of thin air. They are dependent on the product development/ engineering teams and many times there is no certainty about the roadmaps and timeline of product features and functionality.

Some companies set a vision/ announce product roadmap- features/functionality with loose timelines 12 to 36 months and then start developing the product. Other companies are conservative – announce the product launch at an event and follow up with product available in the market within the next 6 months.

In either case, the roadmap deadlines are missed, product shipments are delayed, or products shipped without the marketed features/ functionality. The onus is shifted onto the sales personnel, and it creates a credibility issue with the customer.

It is not always inevitable, but companies need to account for these while creating content

5. Content needs to be Accessible

There are so many marketing and sales tech tools used during the entire customer lifecycle journey and the content gets distributed in these tools. Sales teams often don’t have access to the most valuable content that matters, and this causes sales productivity issues.

There are content management tools available that help in mitigating this issue but requires executive sponsorship, investment in processes and documented content strategy initiative across the company.

6. Content needs to be Pruned- Less is More  

Content version control is another prevalent issue. Sales teams are using different templates and versions of pitch decks.

There needs to process in place for  auditing content, identifying performing and underperforming assets, and quickly adapting for better results.

7. Content needs to be Measured Effectively- Actionable vs Vanity Metrics

Companies are still stuck in using vanity metrics (number of pages views, downloads, number of social media likes per post). These metrics are easy to obtain understand, seem impressive but does not reflect reality. You don’t get insights of the true level of engagement and are reference at one point of time

Actionable metrics have more context and nuance. They are more tied to SMART goals and outcomes- more difficult to obtain and needs process/ methodology.

It a takes cultural shift for an organization to move from vanity metrics to action -oriented metrics mindset.

CONCLUSION

The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) in their survey found out that organizations don’t take a strategic approach to manage content primarily due to lack of processes, leadership hasn’t made it a priority and lack of financial investment in resources.

They also found that current major challenges in content marketing include in creating content appealing multiple level roles in buyers committee, getting the right subject matter experts within the company to create content as well internal communication within the teams.

In some organizations, the content creators may not exist in one corporate marketing organization and may reside in different business units. This creates a layer of organizational complexity as there needs to be delineated roles and responsibilities to avoid competing objectives while creating content.

Companies need to have documented contented strategy where they audit, review the types of content used during the various stages of the sales lifecycle, understand the mission critical must have content and use relevant metrics to track measurement.

The Sales Enablement teams need to work with multiple stakeholders to achieve high sales engagement.

To sum up organizations need to invest time and resources in building a cohesive Content and Sales Enablement Strategy.

 

References

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2020/08/17/16-ways-to-bridge-the-gap-between-sales-and-marketing-departments/?sh=ff86afdeea02

https://www.efficy.com/strengthen-relationship-marketing-sales/

http://info.microsoft.com/rs/157-GQE-382/images/EN-CNTNT-eBook-Azure-Dynamics-Adobe-Five-Daunting-Sales-and-Marketing-Gaps.pdf

https://learn.seismic.com/guide-riding-next-wave-of-enablement.html

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