In an earlier blog post, I talked about the 5 ways that salespeople can help marketing content. Now it’s time that we cover the other side of the coin: how marketers can positively impact sales meetings.
Let’s take a look at how marketers can peek into the previously-closed doors of the sales meeting and empower their sales counterparts to carry content through that last mile.
Pay Attention to What’s Being Used
One of the key ways that I mentioned where salespeople can impact marketing content is to capture what content sales does (and does not) use before, during and after their meetings. But for that to be effective, marketers have to make content usage by salespeople a key metric.
Marketers must audit the marketing content that they provide salespeople in the same way that they would audit content on their website, and they must do so consistently. Sales and marketing alignment requires an active feedback loop.
Even if it were true that buyers don’t interact with sales until they are 70% of the way through their buying cycle, that still leaves a third of the cycle that requires high-quality content delivered by knowledgeable sales reps. Marketing passing over unqualified leads has been a big divide between the two departments, and marketers can’t afford to ignore how content is consumed by sales qualified leads. The view into how sales uses their content allows marketing to develop higher-quality content (and improve or eliminate lower-quality content) so they can nurture and pass over more qualified leads to sales.
Be Diligent About Managing Content
With advanced user and group permissions, marketers don’t need to give every salesperson access to their entire library of content. That means not only sparing sales reps from having to sort through multiple iterations of the same document, image, presentation or video, but also from having to sift through content that has nothing to do with their role, the solutions they sell or the customers they interact with, translating into:
- Less time to search for content
- Never presenting the wrong content
- Giving (or removing) access for large groups quickly and efficiently
Care must be taken so that users are managed on an active basis. If marketers don’t manage regularly and diligently, the content library that various sales reps access can become either unwieldy or missing key content. Marketers should also take care to tag content with metadata, so that even if a sales rep doesn’t know the exact name of marketing content, they’ll have no trouble finding it.
If a sales presentation solution doesn’t help a sales rep during a customer meeting, sales reps may abandon that solution and create their own content, and marketers risk losing access to those crucial in-person interactions.
Become a Trustworthy Source for Content
Marketers are churning out more content year over year, and it can be difficult for sales reps to keep up. Anyone who reads your LinkedIn updates might know about your latest case study, but that’s not the right way to tell your sales reps about new content. Beyond removing old content and keeping files organized for sales meetings, marketing pros need to establish trust so that salespeople know when they’re going into a sales meeting, the content that they’re pulling up is there: with any updates and downloads already taken care of without them having to ask whether marketing has distributed it to them.
If you want to let salespeople know specifically when new content is updated, you can notify them about new content relevant to them. At Mediafly, we use Airship to automate e-mail notifications. By having notifications on a folder-level, we can make sure that we’re only notifying users who actually need that content, instead of sending an e-mail blast to the entire sales force every time we add a piece of content. With banners over new content, sales reps are less inclined to simply gloss over new items.
Respond to Sales’ Needs
Sales and marketing alignment demands that each department meet the needs of the others. If marketing wants sales to follow through with the leads they pass along, they need to pass along high-quality leads. Likewise, if marketing wants sales to use the content that they provide (instead of trying to create their own), they need to pass along high-quality (and relevant) content.
As we discussed in the last post, marketers don’t always have insight into all of the content that salespeople need. So when they get input from sales reps about something that’s missing, they need to consider what they say. After all, B2B sales reps are moving away from order-takers and becoming consultants, having greater insight into what content customers are seeking. Marketers would be wise to use “Content Concierges” to fill in any gaps that might exist in their content library.
Consider the Medium
Although your marketing content should adhere to your company’s branding and your style guide, there are going to be variations in tone and visual style based on how that content is presented. For example, a SlideShare might be a little more pithy than the copy you’ve got on your website. A white paper might be a little more “scientific” than a blog.
Sales presentations are their own medium, with the salesperson and his or her device acting as the channel for those presentations. It’s not only crucial how the salesperson navigates to content; how that navigation looks to the customer is also important. Your company’s branding and vision needs to come through in every meeting. Another way to cater to the interactivity and unstructured nature of sales meetings is to implement interactive content, which can include ROI calculators, questionnaires or tying together related content in a single framework.
Marketers shouldn’t have to actually sit in on a sales meeting, but by putting as much effort into prepping for those interactions as they do for all of their other distribution channels, they can make sure that the time and effort they’ve put into their leads pays off.
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