In this age of the empowered buyer, there is no question about the importance of being found when the buyer searches, and being perceived as a leader with whom they want to work.
As content marketing becomes more mainstream, the big question now is how to optimize efforts and investments to actually drive revenue. We have many clients who struggle with how to bridge the gap between the provocative content and thought leadership marketing creates and their sales team’s ability to use that content to find new customers, win opportunities, and grow strategic accounts.
To learn more, we (along with our partner, SellingPower™ Magazine) conducted a survey to better understand what is working and what is not. You can download a PDF of the full study by clicking here.
Key Survey Highlights – Brace Yourself!
- Sales reps do not understand your company’s content marketing strategy.
- Sales reps and managers are reading and reviewing your content, but are struggling to find value that is easily transferable to your customers.
- Your content’s purpose is not meeting the objectives and initiatives of your sales team.
- Although thought-provoking, your content is not helping sales reps and managers throughout the selling process.
- Sales reps and managers are looking for content that is relevant and applicable to the solutions your company sells. They are not asking for more, they are simply asking for better.
The following is a list of statements and questions within the survey along with a summary of the data points:
1. I understand my company’s content marketing strategy.
More than half (54%) of sales reps and only 65% of managers agreed with this statement. This is surprisingly low and reveals that sales reps and managers are not employing an “Always Be Sharing” strategy (Erik Poje). When reps and managers don’t understand your content strategy, they miss out on opportunities to:
- Continuously learn about relevant issues and development in your business
- Build their credibility with clients and prospects as a trusted resource
- Create new opportunities to grow their pipeline through the insight they could bring
2. I read the content my company publishes or sponsors.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of sales reps disagreed with this statement suggesting that they do not read your content at all. This dilemma can create a lack of integration and communication between your sales and marketing teams. Sales reps may be less informed and this may lead to missed opportunities.
According to Genius.com, 66% of buyers indicate that “consistent and relevant communication provided by both sales and marketing organizations” is a key influence in choosing a solution provider. One thing is for sure, if your sales team isn’t reading your content they are not digesting, tailoring, and sharing your content which is a huge lost opportunity for your organization.
3. The content my company publishes is valuable to our customers.
Less than two-thirds (65%) of sales reps believe your content is valuable and relevant to your customers, while more than a quarter (26%) of managers believe your content is off the mark. If they don’t find value and relevance in the content you are producing, they simply won’t use it. It could signal the need for marketing to step down from the ivory tower and talk to some customers.
4. The content my company publishes helps to:
“Differentiate our brand” and “create market awareness” were most frequently cited among sales reps and managers. Surprisingly, “lead generation” happens to be at the bottom of the barrel. Less than 40% of sales reps and managers believe the content your company publishes assists with generating qualified sales leads. You must ask yourself where and how your content marketing strategy fits into the sales process. This may, in fact, be directly related to the survey statement above regarding value and relevance. Sales reps and managers must draw the line of relevance from your company’s content to your customer or prospect’s situation.
5. I am confident in using thought-provoking content to:
Of the six choices, the top two answers for both sales reps and managers related to prospecting. Specifically, sales reps and managers are confident in using your content to support their existing prospecting efforts and to create new opportunities. They are least confident in using it to upsell existing customers, to motivate customers to buy, and to disrupt a customer’s mindset.
Sellers must be willing and able to create a competitive advantage by disrupting the buyer’s mindset and they need help using your content to do so. Your content must assist your sales reps and managers throughout all stages of the selling cycle.
6. How can your company better help you use thought-provoking content to support your selling efforts?
Sales reps are claiming “I do not need more, I need better.” Only 36% of sales reps said they want your company to self-publish content more frequently while 59% requested your company improve its content relevance to fit your customers.
Managers, on the other hand, are requesting that your company create a stronger link between the content and the solutions you sell. Linking content to selling solutions and to customer relevancy is just as important as linking your sales reps and managers to your content. Again, not more, just better.
Create the Connection
Sales reps and managers may be reading your company’s content, but they are not utilizing your content to its full advantage. Create the connection between sales and marketing to reach the end goal of enablement, assistance, and collaboration. Show your people the value and worth of the content you are producing; eliminate the gap, and draw a line of relevance.