Does your sales team make the most of the content you produce? Do they use it the way your marketing team intended–to upsell customers, continue the conversation with leads, and close deals?
Be honest. Because if your company is like a lot of businesses, a chasm probably exists between the marketing team’s content creation and the sales team’s content usage. A 2013 study from SiriusDecisions found that 70 percent of content created by B2B marketing teams is never used. Your sales reps might even create their own collateral, wasting valuable resources on duplicated efforts. That’s a staggering misuse of time for both teams.
Ask around, and you’ll probably hear this go-to explanation: “Sales and marketing aren’t aligned.”
Your marketers tell you that the sales reps ignore their content, while the sales reps will tell you the content they’re given is inadequate. Yet when many CMOs try to to align the teams, they find themselves chasing their tail for a reason they can’t quite define.
So here it is: The real reason sales isn’t using your content is often your tech. Yes, really. Frequently the content breakdown between sales and marketing has nothing to do with your creation engine at all.
Both sales and marketing have grown increasingly technical in recent years. A flood of new tools and technologies claim to solve a variety of issues while boosting ROI–and for the most part, they do. But weaving technical considerations into sales and marketing strategies is still a new practice for many CMOs. Not only do many fail to work with the CTO on implementing new tools, they’re often blind to the role marketing tech plays in determining the success or failure of sales collateral.
To hit the trifecta of platform success for marketing, sales, and IT, try these four steps.
1. Give sales the right access: You want your sales reps to be efficient, right? That means they need access to the right content, when and where they need it.
Instead of sorting through disorganized content repositories or outdated assets that were passed along to them six months ago, sales reps need immediate access to targeted pieces that speak to the right audience. Look for tech that puts the freshest creative at their fingertips, organized so they can find the perfect piece exactly when they need it.
2. Give marketers the right feedback: Look at a typical company, and you’ll see this cycle: Marketing creates content, sales shows the content and closes the deal, and customer support comes in at the end.
Marketing leaders tend to refer to this as a feedback loop, but a more accurate term would be a waterfall. This process causes the content to move farther and farther away from the creator until leaders have no idea how it performed. To connect valuable customer input back into the content creation engine, CMOs should look for tools that can transform their one-dimensional conversation stack into a three-dimensional process. By providing automated analytics that offers visibility into content performance and consumption, marketers can use that data to refine their messaging for greater sales impact.
3. Give sales, marketing, and IT a convenient solution: Maybe you’ve seen this before: Marketing and sales leaders will evaluate a new platform from their own vantage point, assuming that IT will work their tech magic to fit it into the existing stack. Then, not surprisingly, the new tool throws a wrench into the existing system and IT tells them to find something else.
Let’s stop the madness. The best way to avoid this is to think like a CTO from the start and look for tools that are easy to integrate. If the tech promises to play nicely with other platforms and won’t require a cumbersome adjustment to align systems, it’s much more likely to be accepted by IT.
Another factor: security. Your CTO likely has compliance and data protection standards to meet, so be sure your tech can assist in that regard by sharing content without sending data and intellectual property out of the company network.
4. Give IT a convincing argument: Every good sales person prepares counterpoints to overcome buyer objections. For CMOs, that means presenting new marketing tech in an attractive light to IT.
Even if you know the new tool can help you intensify ROI, that doesn’t mean the IT team will immediately accept it, so have a well-mapped plan ready to pitch. A project plan that offers a hassle-free pilot, with no IT assistance required, will sound more appealing than a plan that ignores IT concerns while requiring tech support and involvement at every stage.
It’s no secret that sales wants effective, relevant content that persuades leads and prospects to move forward with a purchase. By choosing the right tech, CMOs can put sales and marketing on the same page–and generate the kind of content that helps sales reps close deals.