As a B2B marketer, you are likely aware that for sales, there has been a dramatic shift from relationship selling to insight selling. Salespeople must now provide insights and personalized communications at each stage of the buying cycle to earn prospect trust. This presents a major challenge, as buyers are doing homework on their own and often engaging later in the process, and they are only engaging with a person and company with expertise they respect.
Adding to that, buyers don't care about your product or service. They care about the problems and opportunities they face and how your expertise can help them. Consequently, marketing and sales share a common goal: earning the right to connect with buyers.
So how can you achieve this? Your marketing content is the key.
Given this, how can you help sales best use the assets you provide to them to demonstrate expertise to prospects, gain their trust, and win new business? Here are five tips:
1. Catalogue content and make it quick to locate and clear how to use
Provide your sales team with an easily accessible online inventory of each helpful asset-a content library that is streamlined, current, and impactful that they can tap into from anywhere, anytime. Consider mapping and categorizing content to sales' needs, e.g., by pain points, buyer segments, and/or stage in the sales cycle, making it most easy for your sales team to find. Doing this will enable them to then focus on personalizing information for specific buyer needs.
2. Provide multiple media and multiple voices
Help sales to further demonstrate their expertise by including content in your library that goes beyond just marketing materials to include case studies, whitepapers, articles, educational videos, research reports, blog posts, etc. And make sure to include not only your company's content but also content from respected third parties to further validate your knowledge of the space and prospects' needs. The objective is to offer variety to help sales spark discussions with prospects and deliver the value-added insights that earn trust.
3. Identify the appropriate social media venues and create nuggets for sales to offer in these channels
It's key to help enable salespeople to engage in the best conversations. To support this, identify and share with sales the most influential and pertinent social media forums for them to subscribe to and follow. A good approach is 3-2-1, meaning identify for different sales teams three blogs to read, two LinkedIn groups to join, and one Twitter list to follow. Once they have done this, suggest they "deconstruct" pieces of marketing assets, as Ann Handley and CC Chapman's Content Rules book suggests. This will enable them to rapidly and successfully participate in social media exchanges. It's much more impactful to call out a point or two from an e-book most relevant to a specific prospect or discussion than to send the entire 20-page document. Boiling it up to a digestible tidbit will help to demonstrate value, encourage participants to read the full piece and drive engagement.
4. Streamline content for sharing
In addition to making it easy for sales to find content to share, make sure that content is easy for prospects to share, subscribe to or follow after sales provides it to them. This will encourage referential marketing, with buyers "marketing" for sales. When information comes via a prospect to an influencer or another buyer-either within or outside the company-this implied endorsement is often the most powerful.
5. Incorporate feedback loops
Similar to how you regularly build feedback loops into marketing materials to capture opinions and leads, also include feedback loops with sales to ascertain the value of the assets you provide to them. Since they are the direct contacts with prospects, they are able to capture prospect input on materials they receive, which, combined with timely trends, new research, etc., help to drive continuous enhancement of content.
By working closely with your salespeople to ensure they are leveraging the great content you are creating as effectively as possible and maximizing it throughout a buyer's journey, you are helping to make them the smartest team in the industry and enabling them to stand out from the competition. This, in turn, helps them to build relationships with prospects that are based on trust, as well as relationships that extend into new business for your company.