sales and marketing alignment

Content creation is often an enterprise that is left entirely to marketers. But inbound marketers know that a close collaboration with their sales team can help them create truly stellar content that attracts more qualified leads to your site, moves them down your sales funnel faster, and helps you outshine the competition when it’s time to close the sale.

How can salespeople help marketers create better content for your very best leads? Read on.

What kind of content are our best leads looking for?

Customers and prospects are constantly feeding salespeople ideas for killer content that marketing can use to attract more great leads. A lot of the time those questions are posed via email. If your marketing team is starving for great lead-generating content, ask your salespeople to forward some of these emails along because those questions are pure gold. Better still, ask your salespeople to answer those questions in a quick bulleted list to help your marketers get started. How do your salespeople usually answer those questions? What are the solutions they provide to your best leads’ most pressing problems? Sometimes, it’s as easy as forwarding an email to your marketing team to strike a match to your next great post.

Which persona should I create the most content for?

Salespeople will pretty much always tell you to follow the money trail. And they’re right. According to the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 rule), chances are good that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your personas. Ask your salespeople which personas are currently accounting for the most revenue and then start there.

What kind of content will help move our leads further down the sales funnel?

Your salespeople can tell you exactly what kind of content is triggering the most questions and conversations among their hottest leads. They know what blog posts your leads are talking about, what ebooks they cherish, and what webinars they love. If you’re having trouble moving leads further down the sales funnel, you might be missing a piece of the content puzzle at a key transitional stage. Ask your salespeople to list the content they hear your leads talking about the most, and then map those pieces of content to your sales funnel. Is there a gap of great, compelling content somewhere in the top, middle, or bottom of your sales funnel? That’s where you should focus next.

The HubSpot users at The Rainmaker Group do exactly that. The Rainmaker Group helps companies evaluate talent, align culture, and develop accountability standards, and collaboration between their sales and marketing teams is a key component of their inbound strategy. Whenever they have a marketing meeting, sales is there. When there’s a sales meeting, marketing is there. When marketing is working on creating a new piece of content, building a new landing page, or crafting an email, they make sure to involve salespeople early and often. And the collaboration always focuses on the same question: What’s our goal with this piece of content? Do we want to attract more visitors, generate more leads, or close more customers? Where in the sales funnel does this content play a role?

What kind of content will get our visitors to spend more time on our website?  

Salespeople know better than anyone else the importance of establishing trust and credibility with your leads before the conversation goes very far. This same principle applies when writing content that will grab your visitors’ attention and keep them coming back for more. Your content should work hard to establish trust and credibility right out of the gate. And there’s no better way to do that than with social proof like recommendations and case studies.

Ask your sales team to suggest a few customers who might like to provide testimonials for your product, volunteer as case studies, or provide partner logos for a page on your site. Often, this is one of the first things a prospect will look for. So if you’re experiencing a high bounce rate, a lack of social proof on your site might be the culprit.

What kind of content will help us go head to head against our competitors?

Your salespeople can offer you real-time competitive intelligence from the field. Ask the folks on your sales team what sorts of things they’ve been hearing lately about your customers -- what are your leads saying about them? -- to help guide your content creation efforts. Use your content to correct any misinformation your competitors might be spreading about your product and services. Counter any rumors that are floating around by providing definitive answers to the most common ones. Sales will thank you for helping them proactively overcome any objections.

Originally published Jul 16, 2013 7:00:00 AM, updated January 13 2014