Here's a question for you. In your organization, who creates more content: the marketing or sales team?

Chances are, you guessed the marketing team. And chances are, you might be wrong.

Here's why.

Docurated asked their customers this question, and 80% responded by guessing that marketing created more content. But when Docurated actually dug into customer data, they found that 40% of the content they had access to was created by sales compared to only 30% created by marketing.

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The situation gets even worse than that. Zooming in on that 30% of content created by marketing teams, Docurated found that only 9% was viewed more than five times by the sales team. In contrast, 57% of the content sales teams produced themselves was viewed more than five times by sales reps.

So sales is producing more content than marketing is, and sales teams aren't using the content that marketing does create. It's like sales teams don't even know they have marketing teams.

What's going on here?

Well, there's most definitely a trust deficit. According to The State of Inbound 2016, only 22% of companies say their sales and marketing teams are tightly aligned. Curiously, the less aligned marketing and sales teams are, the more companies tend to overvalue the sales team's contribution: 48% of misaligned companies said that sales was the source of the highest quality leads compared to only 30% by tightly aligned companies.

So if you're a marketer who creates content with the expectation that your sales team will actually use it, you should probably take a hard look at some metrics and see if they actually are. If they're not, there's a good chance they don't trust you enough to share your content with their leads.

Ouch. How do you fix that?

Here are four steps that will help.

First, consolidate your content repositories.

Docurated also found that 68% of companies have their content spread across five or more storage spaces. And that might sound shocking, but think about your own organization -- aren't you juggling Dropbox, Google Docs, HubSpot, and your computer's hard drive? Do you also have a company wiki? What about all those attachments hiding in your inbox?

Content is everywhere. It's a miracle anyone can find anything. The first step is to do some house cleaning and consolidate your content storage as much as possible. You might not be able to get down to just one repository, but even two or three would be a huge improvement from the six or seven you might currently have.

As you do this, take stock of the content you have. How much of it is outdated? How many different versions of the same piece of content do you have floating around? Can you bucket them into buyer persona types? As you consolidate your repositories, consolidate the content in them, too.

Next, involve sales in content creation.

If your sales team is already creating 40% of your company's content, that's a huge resource for the marketing team to tap into. And it'll be insightful to see how much overlap (and, heaven forbid, contradiction) there is between different the content that different reps are using.

Marketing can take the content that sales has created, add some shine to it, record its existance, and give it back to sales. This will ensure the content is consistent from rep to rep, and it'll give your organization a good place to start in creating new content.

From there, build a relationship between marketing and sales where sales reps default to asking marketing for help when they notice gaps in their content. If marketing responds quickly enough, sales will start to understand the powerful contribution a marketing team can make in the sales process, and that trust deficit will start to fade away.

Wondering how to get started? Check out this HubSpot Academy project for content brainstorming ideas.

Next, solicit regular sales rep feedback.

Once marketing has taken over content creation for the company, it's important that they actively seek feedback from sales people. This accomplishes two things:

  1. It keeps sales reps accountable, which will prevent the company from slipping back into a state where sales isn't using the content marketing produces.
  2. It keeps marketing in touch with sales' needs, which will keep that new-found trust intact.

Finally, provide insight into which content is best.

Now that you have the relationship between marketing and sales ironed out when it comes to who creates the content, it's important to keep tabs on how that content is performing.

Which pieces of content are getting the most use? Which ones are getting the least use? Is there a correlation between particular pieces of content and close rates? As you dig into the specifics of content performance, you'll be able to unify marketing and sales even more tightly around a single content strategy.

A unified content strategy is a great place to start if you're looking for a way to improve the alignment between marketing and sales.

If you're struggling to come up with a content strategy for your business to begin with, check out the Content Marketing Certification to get started!

Start the free Content Marketing Certification course from HubSpot Academy.

Originally published Jan 16, 2017 3:00:00 PM, updated November 17 2017