Editor’s note: Pam Didner recently authored the book Effective Sales Enablement for marketers. In this article, she shares that perspective with three ways content marketers can provide value to the sales team.
Most content marketers focus on meeting marketing’s needs to build brand awareness, drive demand, or nurture prospects to convert them to qualified leads. Marketing, working with business units or product marketing, generates many content pieces and customizes them to satisfy various marketing channels.
Sales, in a way, can be treated as another marketing channel. Marketers can enable sales leveraging different elements – one of those ways is through content. Here are three quick and easy ways content marketers can provide value to the sales team:
- Incorporate marketing content into onboarding and continuous training.
- Map select content to sales processes.
- Use content as pass-through materials to customers.
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Incorporate marketing content into onboarding and continuous training
Generally, it’s not marketing’s job to create sales training and development. However, marketing can easily exert influence and provide value in this area. Selling complex equipment, machinery, or newly found technology requires salespeople to be properly trained so they can talk about the benefits of new products and technology in the context of their customers’ challenges and pain points. Since the essence of content marketing is about creating relevant and engaging materials for customers, content used on the marketing side could be used for sales onboarding and training.
#Content marketers can exert influence & provide value to sales training & development. @PamDidner
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As a content marketer, you can obtain the agenda of sales onboarding and the curriculum of continuous training from your sales team. Review the agenda and the curriculum to get a sense of how training materials are created and by whom. In some cases, you may be surprised that you and the training team use the same subject matter experts from the business units or product marketing teams to create similar content.
Amy Pence, director of global enablement from Alteryx, shared her daily onboarding agenda with me:
Alteryx’s platform allows content marketers to build workflows by prepping, pulling, and blending data from various legacy systems. Then, they can use the data on their platform to run regression models or different statistical analysis to forecast or predict the outcomes of various scenarios. The offerings are technical and complicated and therefore require in-depth explanations.
Proper onboarding is critical for new sales talent to be successful. If you review Amy’s agenda, you can see content marketers can provide value in many ways. The first agenda item is storytelling. Content marketers can share how they tell product stories relevant for the sales team when they work with customers. For the second agenda item, live demos are conducted. In your company, you could share with your sales training manager any show-and-tell videos that marketing has created. As for the sales playbook, you can contribute product messaging, a buyers’ guide, and customer testimonials. The next item on her agenda is competitive corner. At this point, you could share product comparison guides, performance benchmark data, competitive analysis, and additional resources or reference materials. If you know the overall content landscape, you can help sales enablement or sales training managers source content and accelerate salespeople’s knowledge and performance. It’s a win-win.
Map select content to sales process
There are several approaches to map marketing-centric content to sales stages. One approach is to list key marketing content based on the customer journey.
Help the #sales team. Map marketing-centric content to sales stages, says @PamDidner.
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If your company offers many products and technologies, you can do this based on products, technologies, or buyers’ personas. Let’s use this customer journey created by Jacco Van Der Kooij as an example:
As a marketer trying to help salespeople, you can present a list of five to 15 content pieces related to each stage.
Now, you can work with your sales team to identify their sales tactics at each sales stage. Below is a typical sales journey:
Now, let’s map the customer journey to the sales journey. In general, the initial sales stage starts when prospects express interest in knowing more about your products, which can be part of the education phase of the customer journey. This image illustrates the mapping of the sales journey to the customer journey:
Since you identified key content pieces for the education, selection, and integration stages, you can now select appropriate content for the sales stages.
Again, this is one approach for content marketers to expand content to the sales side. The other way is to educate salespeople on a list of content and let them select the appropriate ones to use at different stages as they see fit.
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Use content as pass-through materials to customers
Many of us have had the experience of going to a car dealer to buy a car. The salespeople hand us nicely printed brochures or booklets to help us decide. Those brochures are marketing materials, but they are handed out by salespeople. I call them pass-through content.
Have a list of content for your sales team to share via email or leave behind after customer meetings. If you have a regular cadence of creating new content or refreshing existing content, it’s important to regularly communicate the list of available content with your sales team.
It’s important to regularly communicate the list of available #content with your sales team, says @PamDidner.
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Find out the types of content the sales team is interested in sharing with customers or proactively recommend content for use. Let them know what’s coming. Michael King, former marketing director of DataDirect Networks, explains the importance of marketing helping sales put content into context.
When he was at DataDirect Networks, the sales team had regular quarterly business-review meetings. Experienced sales managers would share the challenges they encountered when they talked to prospects and existing customers. Then, they would share the solutions to address those issues and the relevant content they used. For example: “If customers inform you that they do not need centralized storage, here is what you (as the salesperson) should say and what content to use to illustrate your points …” He stresses that knowing which content to use is as important as understanding the customers’ challenges.
Marketing creates different content for multiple communications purposes. Depending on sales stages or conversations with customers, product-specific content tends to be frequently requested by the sales team. Examples of marketing-created content that would also work for sales communications include:
- Product videos
- Product pages on the website
- Product sheets
- Solutions briefs
- Customer success stories
- Case studies
- ROI reports and ROI calculators
- White papers, industry trends, and survey reports conducted by marketing
- Competitor comparison guides
- Topic-specific blog posts, podcasts, and the like
These types of content come in handy and should be part of the sales playbook or part of the sales portal, especially as a follow-up to a productive conversation or meeting. According to research, the Picture Superiority Effect indicates that people will recall learning more frequently and easily when they learned through visuals. As the article notes, only 10 percent of what you say or write will be recalled within two days of your meeting. That means that in a short period they will have forgotten the vast majority of what you were trying to convey. Therefore, after conversations and meetings, it’s important to share content to validate, reinforce, or remind customers of your key points. Content, if used appropriately, can benefit both marketing and sales, keep the brand top-of-the-mind for customers, and facilitate sales processes.
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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute
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