A lot of lip service is paid to the strategic alignment of Sales and Marketing.
But if my clientele of large/enterprise companies and enterprise-sales focused businesses are any indication, Sales and Marketing are not talking to each other at all when it comes to content.
By content, I mean marketing assets, yes — but I also mean sales enablement assets: the one-sheets, white papers, email sequences, etc. that help the sales team educate and nurture prospects.
More companies than ever are dedicating budget to these sales enablement assets. And though copywriting is considered a marketing function, it makes perfect sense that it’s often the sales team that calls on my copywriting company to write these sales enablement assets.
Here’s the thing, though: More often than not, sales enablement content is identical to marketing content. Identical in scope, execution, and even how they’re used.
So why are sales teams taking responsibility for creating them?
When I ask, the most common answer I get is that the sales team has been using marketing content, and that content is just not cutting it.
Sometimes it’s because the marketing content doesn’t address the specific issues that the sales team knows customers face.
Sometimes there are gaping holes in the content map, and Sales doesn’t have the content they need for a specific point in the customer journey.
Sometimes, though, it turns out that Marketing has exactly the content that Sales needs, but the two departments aren’t communicating well enough … so Sales just didn’t know that.
Marketing and Sales have to work hand-in-hand to drive growth. The lip service has to end, and true collaboration has to happen, or the company won’t reach their full potential in the marketplace.
Part of my process of getting to know a company and their product is to get on the phone with a sales rep to get “the pitch.” I want to hear how Sales is talking about the product, and how their typical customer engagement might go down. Marketers are often confused at first when I ask for a call with a sales rep, but then they get excited that I’m taking the time to immerse myself in this way.
As a content writer and copywriter, I’m usually considered an extended arm of the marketing division — but as I see it, I need to be part of that Sales and Marketing alignment, too. Though I may be a “marketer,” it’s equally my job to be well-versed in my clients’ sales processes and connected to their sales team. That’s how I make sure that the content I write serves everyone — Sales, Marketing, but most especially the customer.
Silos don’t serve companies, and they certainly don’t serve customers. This applies to outside vendors as well.
It’s not my job to force Marketing and Sales to work together, but I can certainly do my part to encourage the sharing of information for everyone’s benefit. Here are a few things I do pretty regularly with Horizon Peak clients …
- When I’m hired by Marketing, I ask my point-of-contact to invite one or two people from the sales team to our business review calls.
- I request metrics and reports to help me see how the content my company wrote actually performed. I want to know how customers engaged with the content, but I also want to know if we can attribute any sales to the content. (This isn’t always easy — especially with top-of-the-funnel content — but I ask nonetheless.)
- I ask the marketing team what content the sales team needs — and if they don’t know the answer, I work with them to set up a meeting with both teams so we can have an open discussion.
- When I’m hired by Sales, I ask them what marketing content they are currently using. This can give me a good idea of how well the two departments are communicating.
As an outside vendor with a reputation for getting results, I don’t get a lot of pushback when I make these asks. The value of pulling the teams together is apparent.
If you’re working within a company, however, it’s easy to fall into the trap of “this is just how we do things.” So how can you make a difference? How can you get Marketing and Sales talking, sharing content, and pulling together toward the same goals?
Here are a few ideas:
- On a regular basis, include a few representatives from the other team in staff meetings and content planning meetings.
- Create a system for tracking what content is available. A content catalog, if you will. A simple spreadsheet can work for this, or you can use a more robust tool like Airtable or a content management app. (Bonus: This is an incredibly valuable resource for onboarding new hires!)
- Pull the other team in for a briefing when any big initiatives are about to launch. Marketing: Pull the sales team together and fill them in on a marketing campaign going live next week. Sales: Pull the marketing team together and share the details of the new sales program.
I see more and more consultants beginning to specialize in improving the strategic alignment between Sales and Marketing — which tells me this need is becoming greater. But a great place to start internally, whether you’ve hired that strategic consultant or not, is by getting Sales and Marketing on the same page with your content.
Content should serve your customers, and be a valuable tool to help them understand the problem you are ideally suited to help them solve — and start to get their heads around the solutions you offer.
But content should also serve your marketing team and your sales team. Content is a tool, and everyone should be able to use it to meet their goals and help grow the company.