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He Said, She Said: Content's Role in the Sales and Marketing Marriage

If content marketing is supposed to support the sales cycle, why are so many companies so bad at it?

arguing_couple_shutterstock_81052651.jpgSo many companies think the answer comes from the right marketing automation system or any other bit of technology that gets content in front of a customer or prospect. It’s not.

It’s about sales and marketing not having walked the proverbial mile in each other’s shoes. So many content efforts sink because neither side takes the time to truly understand each other.

It’s not just about speaking the same language. Plenty of people in this world speak English and look how out of touch we are with each other.

It’s about understanding each other’s perspective.

Why Marketing Needs to Think Like Sales

One of the great pieces of career advice is that everyone should have a stint in sales. Whether it’s a full-fledged sales role or simply as a Girl Scout or Boy Scout. The lessons you learn by having to sell something — including yourself — prove invaluable. I think this applies doubly to anyone in marketing.

The 2012 IDG Enterprise Customer Engagement survey shared some interesting insights. The purpose of the survey is to better understand content’s role in the decision to buy for major technology products and services.

Of those surveyed, 38 percent said that finding trusted information was extremely challenging/very challenging and another 43 percent cited it as somewhat challenging. That leaves just 14 percent who think marketing’s doing a good enough job. The biggest hurdles included vendor bias, sales pitches and trustworthiness of the information.

Sad. Especially in an environment when we marketers have to continually prove our worth and battle for budget.

Really great sales people know that it’s not about you. It’s about them.

But because most marketers have never sat in the hot seat across from a prospect or customer, they don’t know the feeling of a face-to-face fail when the content they generate misses the mark. It’s not the format. It’s not the volume. It’s the ability to recognize what content’s truly relevant for a sales team and then understand how to generate it. Consistently. And with high quality.

Why Sales Need to Think Like Marketing

Research conducted by the Customer Content Council points out that 61 percent of people feel better about a company that delivers custom content and are more likely to buy from that company. Makes sense.

Yet so many sales teams stand disconnected from the impact that content marketing can have. There’s no conversation with the group planning and generating content to know where it’s showing up, what it means to their customers and how to make it more relevant.

Content marketing isn’t solely marketing’s responsibility. And just like their marketing counterparts, sales teams need to take ownership of making sure they understand their audience, where they “live” and how to reach them.

Unlike salmon swimming upstream, content won’t instinctively migrate to where it needs to go.

Riding Into the Sunset

Clearly, communication needs to be a two-way street. Both sales and marketing need to realize that lively conversation can bring about better-quality and better-positioned content. This dialogue should serve as a forum to explore the needs of each other, not defending a long-held position just for the sake of a he-said-she-said argument.

In the end, when sales and marketing can’t see eye-to-eye it’s not just the content that suffers, it’s the customer.

Image courtesy of Michal Kowalski (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Want more of Carla's insights into content marketing? Read Content Marketing: Start With Your Story.
 

About the Author

Carla Johnson, principal, Type A Communications, writes, trains, speaks and works with companies to help them discover their story, then use it as a foundation for their branding, messaging and content marketing initiatives.

 
 
 
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