Content marketing is incredibly effective for generating leads and advancing current prospects through your funnel, and it can be just as valuable for influencing later-stage sales opportunities, too.
Prospects are hungry for insights and information at every stage of the sales cycle. In fact, the HubSpot sales blog reported that 95 percent of buyers selected a solution provider that offered ample content to help them navigate the buying process.
Content is critical in the sales process, yet we still find that of the content that marketing teams create, up to 80 percent of it goes unused by sales. While it’s hard to know for sure, not leveraging that content across the sales team for lead generation, nurturing, and closing could be part of the missing equation.
Let’s take a look at some common reasons sales reps don’t take full advantage of content and explore how marketing teams can better support and enable members of their sales team.
You may have dozens or even hundreds of pieces of content out there, and that’s a lot of material to filter through — especially for someone who doesn’t regularly create, publish, and distribute content.
And when you combine the sheer abundance of content with the fact that it’s often not stored in one central, easily accessible location — sometimes scattered throughout your team’s content management system, website, and other owned media — it’s no wonder sales team members don’t always know where or how to get their hands on your marketing team’s content.
To simplify the search for content that your sales team can use to educate, nurture, and close leads, unite your content sources into one location, or, more realistically, use technology to collect content from multiple sources. Technologies like content aggregators, powerful marketing asset management, or tools that proactively push content to salespeople are all great solutions.
When a salesperson needs content, it’s often because he or she is trying to answer a particular question or help drive a need. In either case, that salesperson is looking for something specific that will resonate with an individual prospect’s pain points and persona.
If the only content your sales team has access to is that fantastic infographic you produced for lead generation, it’s probably going to land with a resounding thud with this audience at the bottom of the funnel. To really add value, your sales team needs content that’s mindful of a prospect’s unique point in the sales process and speaks directly to that prospect’s needs.
Empower your sales team with the right content at the right time by:
You probably have more than once piece of content for each persona at all stages of the funnel, so even though you organize your content in a central location, it can still be unnerving for a sales rep to know what piece or pieces of content to send.
Maybe a certain e-book is a winner with most bottom-of-the-funnel prospects in this persona, or maybe this long-form blog post has a higher success rate at helping close sales than your rep’s favorite e-book. If your sales team members are making decisions based on a feeling of content’s effectiveness, they’re probably not serving their prospects very well.
By tracking the performance of your content, though, your marketing team can make evidence-based recommendations to sales reps to help them determine what pieces of content are most effective for accomplishing specific goals.
Sometimes, sales team members just don’t see the value in content. Your sales team members know there’s value in providing data and supporting materials to leads, but they haven’t quite gotten onto the content train.
The best approach here is to rely on results. If your sales reps can see exactly what role content plays in the sales process — from qualified lead generation to prospect nurturing and bottom-of-the-funnel sales decisions — and how positively it can affect the bottom line, they’ll be more likely to use content in future opportunities.
To help your sales reps know how and when content affects a deal, track the journey of pieces of content through the sales process and record and measure the results. And don’t be afraid to toot your own horn when that content is successful.
Content is designed to add value to your audience and guide your most qualified leads through your sales funnel. To make the most of it, uncover what works best and build a plan to get the most relevant, winning content into the hands of your sales team.
Peter Mollins is the vice president of marketing at KnowledgeTree, a vendor that combines prescriptive analytics and content marketing. Peter has directed marketing at startups, public companies, and startups bought by public companies. He got his start at Netscape Europe and has been the voice of more IVR systems than he’d care to recount. Press 6 to hear more.