Using Content to Bridge the Sales-Marketing Divide
Too often in content marketing circles — and marketing circles in general — we see a separation between the work marketers do and what their counterparts in the sales department do. That’s not healthy.
Combating that issue can be a tough nut to crack — really tough if the culture in your organization is wrong. But there is something you can do to route around at least some of the problems this rift creates, even if you can’t get the Hatfields and McCoys to lay their muskets down on anything else.
Content to the Rescue
The key to getting anyone’s attention is helping them solve a problem. Reaching out to offer your sales team content can help them solve problems that they undoubtedly experience every day.
Before you start, though, you may want to assess just how relations are between sales and marketing. If the atmosphere is particularly chilly, you might try this outside official channels. That is, approach a friendlier member of the sales team and treat this as a pilot program.
Getting to Go
Your initial pitch shouldn’t be a pitch at all, but a question: When you’re able to get a prospect’s ear, what's the one question they want to answer most urgently? If you have a piece of content that already answers that question, offer it up and suggest how the sales person might present it to a prospect based on what kind of contact, if any, has already occurred. (Being careful not to overstep your marketing bounds into sales territory, of course.)
If you have the technical capabilities, you might even customize a landing page with the content to include the prospect’s name and company logo, and tailor the offer or lead magnet to their needs specifically.
Obviously, this only works for bigger ticket sales, but the same idea can be applied to smaller, more commoditized sales if you segment your list by industry or the prospect’s role and create content or landing pages for each. (A payroll clerk is going to have different concerns about your accounting software package than a CFO will, for example.)
Drip, Drip, Drip
Once you’ve established a relationship, you’ll need to nurture that relationship — folks who are excellent prospects may not be ready to buy right when you initially connect with them.
Content comes to the rescue again as you work to stay on the prospect’s radar until he or she is ready to act. Sending content that is relevant to the prospect’s pain point is a much better way to stay in touch than the dreaded, ignored, and unproductive “just checking in” email or call. The content should also be relevant to your solutions, but this is absolutely not the place to be selling. Not even a soft sell. Focus on being useful and providing actionable information.
Track and Expand
If you undertake this behind the scenes, be sure to stay in close contact with your sales department champion. You should both be tracking what content is being used and how it is being received. With solid data in your pocket, you can expand the program and begin looking at expanding your collaboration from guiding use of content you’re already creating to creating custom content expressly for the needs of a particular part of the sales team or a particular sales effort. (Keep in mind that this isn’t a one-way street. You’ll be providing great value to your sales department and at the same time, getting great data back from them that should guide your broader content marketing efforts.)
Bridging the sales/marketing gap should improve your organization’s bottom line and increase demonstrable ROI for your marketing team.
Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?
A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.
His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications.
Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")