The typical buying group for a B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers. And each of them is armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently. This makes for a complex buyer’s journey and a challenge in sales and marketing alignment. One way to simplify that journey is to provide content, at every stage, that informs, educates and ultimately makes the decision process easier. However, content must also support sales as they interact with customers closing in on making a purchase.
This requires mutual cooperation and shared goals between marketing and sales. However, such a symbiotic relationship can only find success if marketing and sales efforts are aligned from the get-go. According to Highspot, “marketers focus on guiding buyers through the early stages of your buyer’s journey in preparation for engagement with sellers.” Additionally, “sales can offer a wealth of valuable insights into buyer needs, operational efficiency, and product capabilities.”
Where Sales and Marketing Unite
As you can see, this means content marketing and sales enablement are far from mutually exclusive. Each entity can help the other to achieve a streamlined, integrated customer buying process that provides value and mirrors how customers want to interact. After all, 60% want to connect with sales during the consideration stage, after they’ve researched options and developed a short list. Part of this research includes content the marketing team has created. The more it can support sales’ efforts, and the more sales can familiarize themselves with it ahead of time, the better.
Because when it comes to sales and marketing alignment challenges, 47% of organizations cite communication as a major barrier to alignment, and 44% cite broken/flawed processes. The good news is there are ways to fix the flaws that can inhibit true marketing-sales harmony.
Tips on How Marketing Can Support Better Sales Enablement – Part 1
Understanding how buyers approach the purchase journey, and how sales can connect with buyers across touchpoints, will help inform content creation. With that in mind, here are eight tips to help foster sales and marketing alignment:
- Get a clue. Don’t guess at what content is useful. Ask them. What’s worked in the past? What messaging gaps exist? What opportunities are they missing because they don’t have the right information to share? Use their answers to craft a content plan. And don’t shy away from cross-functional “show and tell” activities to gain better product insight by having sales present the same demos they give customers.
- Keep communication going. Have marketing and sales meet on a regular basis to share insights, updates and developments. This includes reviewing new marketing materials and sharing new sales learnings sales gleaned from customers.
- Match message to motive. How can you support buyers? Once you determine what part of the purchase journey you’re after, you can better know what content will resonate. For instance, a “how to get the most out of your latest investment” video would be wasted on prospects, but welcomed by post-purchasers.
Tips on How Marketing Can Support Better Sales Enablement – Part 2
- Set your sights on the right target. Use thoughtful research and insights to craft the top 2-3 buyer personas your sales team targets. You don’t have to target every buyer, just the right ones. Honing in on specific, actionable profiles will help laser-focus your marketing content.
- Get “loopy” with the funnel. The modern purchasing process is a fluid, repetitive one. It’s clear buyers don’t always stick within the confines of the traditional buying cycle/marketing funnel. It’s more akin to an infinite loop of education, comparison, and engagement. By thinking of buyer goals, versus buying stages, marketing can more readily craft content to help sales build lasting relationships and recommend the right solution to meet buyer needs.
- Be flexible with formats. From webinars to infographics, memes to customer testimonial videos, today’s marketers have license to get creative. Don’t be afraid to engage in a little A/B testing with sales. Arm them with the same message in different formats to see which content types resonate best with different personas or activities.
- Sleuth out success. Along the lines of testing comes tracking. Serve up content in a way that’s easy to track, to help sales better discern buyer behavior. Both in terms of what content got the most traction, and which pieces were most popular at what point in the buyer’s journey.
Sales Enablement Content
A final key tip is: Centralize sales-friendly tools. Create content pieces geared at specifically helping sales soar, and house these materials in an easily accessible, centralized location. Examples include:
- Vendor Maps: Interactive maps that display where sales teams are located throughout specific territories or geographies.
- Solution Playbooks: Presentation slides and PDFs to help guide the conversation and win new revenue with existing clients or prospects.
- Sales Apps: Mobile, interactive applications that outline company solutions, services and relevance to your customers.
- Virtual TSS: Promote education and training related to specific solution areas and offerings via a virtual environment.
- Savings Calculators: Interactive digital calculators that illustrate savings and ROI with real client or prospect data.
The Results Don’t Lie
These days it’s all about how your product can help prospects and customers, and how you can rise above the competition. For marketers, this means fostering relevant conversations with the right content, delivered at the right time, in the right place and tailored to the unique buyer needs. And it means doing so in ways that best support sales efforts. Why is this so important? HubSpot noted that companies with good sales and marketing practices generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts. And, when these teams worked together, companies saw 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.
In the end, though, sales and marketing alignment is all about helping modern buyers traverse an increasingly complex B2B landscape.
After all, studies from Forrester show that 76% of buyers choose a vendor that delivers effective value messages. The more closely content marketing and sales can align, the more effectively a clear value message can be delivered to buyers.
To see how our clients have been adjusting their strategies post-COVID, including around sales enablement, check out our recent blog. For other content to help you in your efforts, keep an eye on our OMS blog for regular updates. Also please say hi on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook!
Author: Stacy Greenberg, Content Manager, Outlook Marketing Services
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