An effective content marketing program can help boost sales and keep customers engaged.
But how can sales teams actually use that content effectively? How can you be sure your AEs and AMs and BDRs and CSMs are incorporating marketing resources into their interactions with prospects and customers?
This should be a joint effort between marketing and sales. Marketing will lead the way, but sales leaders need to reinforce the importance of using content to enrich their client relationships. Here's how.
1. Make content easy to access
The marketing team should set up an internal repository of content that anyone in the company can access. Depending on the size and structure of your company, this library could be as simple as a shared Google Drive or Dropbox folder, or as sophisticated as a dedicated content platform. Include all your current public-facing content in this repository, as well as an index of that content.
The content index should make your content easily discoverable. Consider adding tags or categories, as well as suggested audiences for each of your pieces. Indicate what stage of the buyer's journey a piece of content is most applicable for. Make it searchable by content type, as well.
Don't just send the sales team to your company's public resources page. The easier it is for a salesperson to find the piece of content they need, the more likely they are to use that content.
2. Be clear about the content’s value
As much as marketers would like to believe otherwise, most people inside an organization are not actually going to read company whitepapers or listen to the CEO's podcast. So it's important to make sure everyone knows what a piece of content is about and how to use it.
Create an executive summary or list of key takeaways for every piece. Include positioning tips for the sales team so they can quickly explain why a prospect or customer would want to read it, and what they can get out of it. For your largest content launches, consider preparing a brief slide deck with key messages to present to the team, explaining how this content can be used at each stage in the buyer's journey.
Again, the easier your content is to use, the more likely sales teams are to use it.
3. Communicate regularly
Tell your sales team when you've got new content. Send regular updates about recent content and tips for how to use it. This could be as simple as a monthly internal email with a list of recent and upcoming content.
If you have a high-volume content production team, consider a dedicated Slack channel that posts links to new content as soon as it's live. People can ask questions and discuss the content there, too. If you produce only a few pieces a month, you could just announce new content in existing customer-facing team channels without overwhelming them.
Be clear about what's coming up, especially when your marketing team is working on a major content project. This lets the sales team start to think about how they might use it, or even preview it to prospects.
4. Incorporate into onboarding and training
Be sure all new hires know about your company's content program and where to find existing resources. Reiterate these things in regular trainings. Consider a periodic lunch and learn to talk about what content your marketing team has published recently and how they can use it. Sales leaders should remind their teams about content resources, and help them understand how to best use content in outreach.
5. Get feedback from sales
Marketing leaders should check in regularly with their company's sales teams for feedback on how they're using the content and how prospects are responding. Salespeople are out there talking to customers and prospects every single day. They know what questions people have and the problems they're dealing with. They can be a great source of inspiration for future content. So talk to them about it.
A company's frontline customer-facing teams can also help marketing understand how content is performing out in the world. They may get feedback from prospects - positive and negative - that can inform future projects. Maybe a particular content format is easier for your prospects to consume, or they felt a piece didn't go deep enough into its topic. Listen and learn.
6. Measure everything
Marketing and sales leaders should understand the impact content has on the sales process. How is content contributing to revenue in your company? We reviewed some of the metrics you should be focused on here. Think about what content leads to demo or upgrade requests and opportunity creation in particular.
But also think about measuring content-related activity specifically around sales and retention.
- How often is content included in customer outreach?
- What kind of click or view rate does it receive?
- Which content is included? Which content is rarely or never included?
- Does content perform differently further down the sales cycle than it does in the early awareness stages that marketing is responsible for?
The effective use of content is just one way sales and marketing can work more closely together. And when done well, it can keep prospects and customers more engaged with your company and contribute to better sales outcomes.
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