When targeting B2B buyers, the content of your messages needs to be direct, engaging and of immediate interest to your audience. Achieving this requires a singular content marketing strategy that is shared across the marketing and sales departments. This puts you in a better position to define specific roles in the partnership while making buyers more comfortable.
In many companies, the marketing and sales departments are siloed, which leads to a host of issues. Content may be produced twice, have conflicting purposes or fail to be exploited to its full potential. In the end, it equates to either a waste of money spent or the loss of potential revenue.
Producing effective marketing messages to target B2B buyers brings to mind the maxim: if it appears simple, it was likely difficult to create. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t highly achievable. By synchronising their efforts, top marketers can put their money to better use and create a singular marketing strategy that focuses on what their buyers want – and what their sales agents can deliver.
Unusable content wastes time and money
Developing a singular content marketing strategy streamlines current efforts that unnecessarily drain resources. According to Forrester, for every business worth around $1 billion in revenue, $1 million of that is wasted creating content. In fact, business buyers consider up to 60% of the content they receive from sellers to be useless.
Sales and marketing content silos
Marketers need to take more time to understand how sales agents use the content. While a standard content-marketing approach focuses solely on target needs, the sales department can end up as the middleman, with little regard for their content needs to close deals. Yes, content should be created with the buyer in mind – but the sales department should also be kept in the loop during creation.
What content do sales teams want?
Sales teams primarily need customer-facing content with persuasive, customised messaging that can convert. Without this, sellers spend up to 19 hours per week creating or modifying content – time that could be better spent with customers. These issues are further exacerbated by the lack of systems that unite sales and marketing. While one in two B2B marketers in 2017 had implemented a content marketing platform (CMP), only 24% said they used it to support sales.
All of this results in a waste of time and money, while also missing out on opportunities. After all, sales is where conversions take place between real people. As the B2B landscape shifts and buyers seek a more personalised service, this becomes increasingly important.
Embracing the Smarketing department
By joining forces, the marketing department can produce content that the sales team can use. This requires both systematic and mindshift alterations, which can be summarised in four key best practices.
1. Data automation
The first step is to automate how data is tracked and to synthesise usage insights. In this way, the department can look beyond what they believe buyers and sellers want, to focus on the evidence presented. These real-time insights help close the content loop and can also be used to spot predictive patterns and stay on top of trends.
2. Sales as the top content delivery channel
Marketing content is invaluable for a business, but in the B2B sphere, the majority of conversions still rely on the sales team. This should be embraced by connecting marketing to the selling experience so the conversation started by marketing seamlessly passes over to the sellers. Through content hubs, you can help sellers deliver personalised content that prospects can browse in their own time.
3. Collaborate as a default
For any of this to be effective, the relationship between marketing and sales should be collaborative from the outset. Sales is as important in terms of insights as data tracking – after all, they interact with buyers on a daily basis. Not only can the help in the content creation ideation process, they are also a fantastic source of feedback on content effectiveness.
4. Develop modular content
Content clutter is off-putting for sales departments and potential buyers alike. It’s important to keep content organised, fresh, relevant and personalised. Modular content consists of separate, smaller components within a larger content piece. By developing short-format content, such as reports, articles and infographics, you can form larger content pieces that are more engaging. What’s more, with robotic process automation (RPA) technology, you can make this content more dynamic while eliminating repetitive tasks.
The results of aligning sales and marketing
Forrester credits successful B2B marketers with connecting content development and messaging activity to both customer issues and sales’ needs in engaging with them. They claim this interdepartmental synergy helps accelerate and close deals.
And it comes as no surprise. By working in this way, marketers can audit content to address every stage of the customer’s lifecycle, while fostering customer retention and growth. It also allows them to adopt agile feedback methods and better use data to identify leads. If you make an integrated content marketing plan your end goal, you can provide a set of steps marketing and sales can take together. This will help both buyers and sellers take advantage of modern sales platforms, save time and money, and create content that sellers can deliver successfully.
With 15 years’ experience as digital strategy consultants and CRM experts, redk supports companies looking to enhance efficiency and profitability through world-class tools that optimise performance across organisations.