Chasing sales and marketing alignment is like being an ancient alchemist, waiting for the stars to sync up so you can turn a lead into gold. Sales and marketing departments exist independently, with their own forces, powers, processes and politics. But for a business to find success, the two must move in tandem, because when they click, magic happens. B2B businesses with an integrated sales and marketing strategy see 38% higher sales win rates, and 36% greater customer retention. Leads need shining to turn to gold. Achieving these outcomes requires diligence, attention to detail, patience, and planning. The process can leave marketing directors and sales directors alike frustrated by a lot of effort that doesn’t result in, you know, the lead turning to “gold” by converting to a customer. What gives?
Well, in a market where B2B buyers don’t contact a potential vendor until they’re 60% of the way through the purchase process, if you’re not offering content that persuades them to buy, a customer will lose interest. And if that doesn’t sound high-stakes enough, the same study found that by 2020, it’s expected a customer will be 80% of the way into making a buying decision before they even reach out to a vendor. Will your prospective customers be impressed enough by what they find online to connect with you over competitors? In this information economy, vibrant and interesting content is essential.
The good news is, you already have everything you need to create it, with the right approach and applied expertise. By embracing your sales team’s value as subject matter experts and including them in the content development process, B2B marketers can create content that both transforms quality leads into customers and keeps the sales and marketing departments working as a team toward the same goals. If that sounds easier said than done, well, here’s some insight into the first steps toward success.
Step 1: Build a Lead-Focused Strategy
Before you can figure out how to convert leads into gold through content, marketers must sit down with the sales team and establish a basic, unified understanding of what gold looks like. What kind of leads does the sales team want most? What data does a sales person need about the prospect? Are certain service areas more critical to talk about than others? What information is essential for a lead to understand before sales can reach out? With answers to all these questions and others in hand, the team can take a focused approach to lead conversion. Rather than simply trying to speak to everyone, both will have a better idea of the most important audiences, and what they need to know.
However, once the marketing team understands what a quality lead looks like, it’s time to ask sales for help developing the content that will transmute them into a client.
Step 2: Let Sales Share Their Expertise
Now that the sales team has told colleagues in marketing what each category of lead needs to know, it’s time for marketing to help generate and share that information with the customers they know so well. Their expertise is what will help your marketing stand out from the competition, and truly compel prospective customers to keep researching and learning more. The marketing team should interview sales and other expert to get insight for written content, show their voice and personality through a video, and use data and industry thought leadership for infographics, email blasts, and earned media opportunities.
It’s especially important for sales and marketing to align on audience segmentation. Marketing is usually focused on the high level of the brand’s reputation, while sales is more concerned with the one-to-one relationships with prospects that develop over time. With marketing focused on averages, and sales focused on specifics, they must have a united front about the “business of their business,” and be consistent in the stories they tell about the brand from both perspectives.
Step 3: Get Outside Perspective
So this might be the part where you’re thinking, easier said than done. Busy sales teams may not have time to talk in-depth with marketing to develop lead nurturing content. Or, tensions between the departments might make such conversations more painful than productive. This is where an external team of writers can make a significant difference for both departments. When a busy B2B sales executive is finally able to make time to talk about details of a service offering or product line, an experienced professional writer will know what targeted questions to ask to get the right details in the most efficient way possible. When the alignment is full of opposing forces and imbalances, the presence of an external content writing agency can provide a buffer, an unbiased ear to hear both sides’ perspectives and unite them. And for a marketing director, an external writing team means the ability to judge content with greater perspective, rather than trying to self-edit.
Space might be a vacuum, but the content creation process can’t be. Sales and marketing must communicate across the void to achieve the outcomes they both desire. Companies that have already discovered the benefits of integrating sales and marketing generated 208% more revenue from marketing over their competitors in 2016, and content is the essential material that supports this integration, in many formats and mediums, across many channels. If full alignment on audience segmentation, topics, brand messaging, or more hasn’t yet manifested between your sales and marketing departments, a team like ours can help. Our outside perspective is an influence like another gravitational field, drawing both teams into a collaborative mindset that breaks down old ways of thinking, outside usual habits. If you’re tired of leads that never turn to gold, let us show you some magic.