If you want to make money — in any business — you have to be able to sell. It’s that simple. You have to invest in your sales department, and the members of your sales team need to be out generating leads, scheduling calls, and closing deals. But they shouldn’t have to do it alone.
Your sales reps need support, and they need adequate preparation leading up to important phone calls so that they have the best chance of closing those deals and generating revenue for your business. And the best sales support comes from marketing.
Your marketing team doesn’t just exist to spread the word about your brand; it’s also your primary sales enablement unit, and content is its secret weapon. Your marketers can create content geared toward answering customers’ frequently asked questions, explaining your most important service processes or product features, and highlighting the results your customers should expect to see after working with or buying from you. These content assets can be extremely valuable. They’re useful for potential customers, and they’re also useful for your sales team.
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Imagine a salesperson is right on the verge of closing a big deal, and the prospect suddenly asks a complicated, highly specific question — maybe about how your digital marketing team does keyword research. Instead of panicking and trying to formulate a response on the fly, he or she can simply reference existing content — like a blog post or infographic — to provide the perfect answer.
When your sales team can tactfully navigate these types of situations, it demonstrates to prospects that you’re prepared and have plenty of experience with the product or service you’re selling. That’s a good thing.
If you want to start putting content to work for you to help close deals and generate revenue, start with these basic guidelines.
In order for the members of your marketing team to create content that’s actually useful to sales, they need to know the ins and outs of your sales process. More importantly, they need to learn everything they can about your customers. That way, they can create content that addresses common customer questions and perhaps even less common questions, as in the example above. Content can also equip prospects to become great customers and get the most out of your offering, as well as coach them on how to pass along the most valuable information to other decision makers on their own teams.
Your marketing team should be familiar with all of the touchpoints that connect your sales team with prospects — whether at conferences, over the phone, or online. Work on creating content that helps facilitate those connections and enhances outbound selling. For instance, you can create collateral that can be emailed to a prospect after an introductory phone call or simply inserted into your email signature. You can make videos or whitepapers that can be used at conferences to help your sales team describe the benefits of your offering, or you can design visually compelling infographics and case studies that can be included in a product portfolio or passed along prior to an intro call. These materials will allow your content marketing team to flex some creative muscle and give customers something to remember you by long after a call or in-person meeting.
Contrary to what some agencies may tell you, there are actually a variety of ways to track the ROI of your content marketing efforts. It all starts with clearly documenting your content strategy and goals and knowing exactly what you’re trying to accomplish with each individual asset. If you’re using a case study to generate leads, for instance, you can insert a URL leading to a custom page on your website and know exactly how many site visitors came to your site after reading the case study. From there, you can track how many became marketing-qualified leads, and then how many converted into sales. This means you’ll want to implement a lead-scoring methodology to both evaluate lead quality and keep track of where engagement is coming from. Ultimately, the metrics you choose to use are up to you, but they should always be tied back to specific business objectives.
Content marketing is about more than just raising brand awareness. Content is a versatile tool that you can use to directly impact sales. Just remember, you never want to be creating content for its own sake. Keep your customers in mind with every asset you develop, and those assets will ensure that they keep you top of mind when it’s time to sign a contract or make a purchase.