According to an Aberdeen study of sales enablement best practices, “best-in-class” companies are 92% more likely to provide sales a voice in content development than “laggard” companies. Similar gaps were found in other best practice areas. If your company is relying on inbound marketing as part of its overall business strategy, improving your relationship with sales should be one of your top priorities. In fact, making sales your new BFF will make your job as marketer more effective.
Interview Your Top Salespeople
As an inbound marketing agency, one of the first things we do for our clients is to develop buyer personas. The way we do that is by interviewing two sources: a client’s client and a client’s salespeople. The reasoning is pretty simple for the latter.
Your salespeople, particularly the top performers, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about your customers and potential customers:
- Challenges/pains and how your solution solves or doesn’t solve those challenges
- Goals and how your solution helps them achieve those goals or not
- Likes/dislikes—what is it about your solution that turns on or turns off your prospects
- Objections to your solution—is it too expensive? Too limiting? Too complex? Too 2005?
- What are your solutions’ “Wow!” points—those that set the hook with a prospect
You’ll get valuable insight that may influence some of your messaging and content focus, especially if it’s been a while since you created personas. And sales will appreciate that you’re coming to them for knowledge.
Meet Early and Meet Often
If you’re planning next year’s marketing strategy, invite sales along for the ride. The more you let sales know about your plans, the more they can plan their strategy—and most importantly, the more you can learn what their strategy is. You’ll also get feedback on your plan and suggestions on how to make it more attractive to potential customers.
The Aberdeen study found that best-in-class sales and marketing leaders met 5x a year. This is a good start, but I would suggest meeting once a month. Here’s why.
As a marketer, you’re implementing tactics on a daily or weekly basis. Why wait 2, 3, or 4 months to learn that the messaging in your latest email campaign is misleading prospects about your newest product feature? Find out from sales sooner than later, readjust and move forward.
Create & Share Your Marketing Library
Your marketing team has all of their content assets at the click of a mouse, but can your sales team access those assets? If not, create a shared file that every salesperson can access and let them know when new assets are added.
Also, ask them for feedback about what you’re creating. For example, prospects love case studies and sales people like to share case studies. But if your sales team is fishing for blue marlins and your case studies spotlight sardines, you need blue marlins. And because sales has the relationship, they can make the right introductions between the client and marketing to get the case study conversation started.
Provide Access to Your Marketing Platform
Show your sales team how your content creation and nurturing is making their lives easier by giving them access to your marketing platform (e.g. Marketo, HubSpot, Act-On). They probably don’t know all the work that goes into a campaign so here’s your chance to demonstrate.
Not only will they get an appreciation for the work involved, they’ll see how all of the pieces fit together to go from anonymous web user to qualified lead that lands neatly in their CRM.
Use Sales for Content Creation
This may be more of a “sell” on your part, but try to find volunteers from sales to write blog posts. Here are a few selling points:
- Blogging will help drive organic visitors and leads.
- Their blog posts are “from the trenches” and will have the most authentic feel.
- Well-written articles can be used over and over in the sales process.
- It will give them a chance to further hone their educational (i.e. helpful not salesy) communication skills.
- Articles posted on LinkedIn will help build their personal brand as sales professionals.
- Blogging will increase their connections on social media.
Once sales starts to see how their content pushes qualified leads into their CRM, they will become even more interested in creating an alignment with marketing. When that happens, both sides not only benefit, they become as inseparable as the greatest duos.
Aligning marketing and sales is just one way to improve the ROI on your inbound marketing committment. Learn more in our ebook: What Gets Measured, Gets Improved.