If the content that marketers are producing isn’t tailor-made for their target personas, the hand-off from the marketing team to the sales team can be messy—and it often is. SiriusDecisions reveals that sales teams don’t use 60%-70% of the marketing content available to them, and sometimes that number is higher. Luckily, there’s a simple solution.
Marketers can fix disconnects with their sales team by using a similar strategy as one used to find potential leads: by understanding their buyer personas. Understanding your target personas and their journey through the sales funnel will help marketers determine what content to create, and open communication between both departments will help them know how and when to make it.
Here’s how to do just that:
Think Like Your Sales Team
Before starting a campaign, marketing should know how their sales team operates and what has and hasn’t worked for them in the past. For example, if your sales team mentions that they feel more comfortable using content with more visuals or statistics rather than qualitative data, keep that in mind.
As mentioned earlier, sales teams typically don’t use a lot of marketing content. This is because that content isn’t relevant to them making the sale. These departments are often not aligned because their goals differ. Marketing generates a lot of activity, but sales doesn’t always see the connections between those activities and revenue.
To fix this, marketers must change their perspective when writing content from product-centric to customer-centric. While explaining the product’s features might be useful capturing a lead at the bottom of the marketing funnel, it’s often just extra information to the sales team. Sales teams build more intimate relationships with their customers. To convince their leads to buy, they need content that shows how a product or service can solve a problem or improve the quality of the buyer’s life.
Once the marketing department has a clear understanding of the kind of content their sales team likes and how it should be written, it’s time to determine when this content will be needed.
68% of B2B organizations don’t have defined stages in their sales funnels, so by knowing the three main stages (Awareness, Evaluation, and Purchase) your team is already off to having a competitive advantage. Here’s how each stage works from a sales perspective, as well as what content is relevant in each stage, and why:
Stage 1: Awareness
Awareness occurs at the top of the funnel. At this point, it’s all about getting your brand in front of your audience and quickly establishing value. Not all of them will continue down the buyer’s journey (it is a funnel, not a cylinder, after all), but the more relevant potential customers that you can intrigue, the better your chances are at meeting your quota for marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
Marketing leads at this point are primarily researching your product and answers relating to a problem that they need resolved. Generating buzz across your social media platforms fits into this stage well. Posts about your product or short videos demonstrating what it does can capture a potential buyer’s interest. Be sure to clearly communicate your brand and to include a call-to-action (CTA) in your post with a link to a relevant landing page.
Well-written, focused blogs can really stand out in the Awareness stage as well. Blogs that feature “how-to” content relevant to the leads’ pain points will help drive your marketing leads to the next stage of the funnel.
E-books are also useful in this stage, particularly for qualifying and capturing leads. There’s no better way to come across as a subject matter expert than to be able to say, “We wrote the book on this!” Also, e-books are much easier to write than you think. If you have a blog, the content you need to put in your e-book is already written! Take your best and most relevant blog posts, string them together in a cohesive manner, write a smart forward and afterward with a CTA, and then starting offering it as a free guide.
Stage 1: Awareness – Potential leads are looking for more information
Relevant Content – Social media posts, blog posts, and e-books.
Stage 2: Evaluation
The Evaluation stage is considered the middle of the funnel. Your work in the Awareness stage has paid off, but now you have to deliver content to your sales team that proves that your product or service is the best solution to their problem. Customer-centric content is especially relevant here because this stage is about building a relationship with your potential leads and your brand.
Case studies and testimonials are useful here because they use detailed information about your product or brand that is up-close and in-depth. When conducting a case study, make sure translate any technical jargon into easy-to-read language that your potential customers will understand. The more comfortable they are with the information, the better.
Whitepapers work well in the Evaluation stage, too. Whitepapers give you the opportunity to show what makes your product stand out compared to a competitor’s, which is precisely what your potential buyer is looking at right now. A well-written whitepaper can easily convince your lead to move onto the Purchasing stage of their buyer’s journey.
Interactive content fits into the evaluation stage as well. Webinars and other live interactions put you in direct contact with your target group and allows them to ask you questions and get an immediate response, while you can post questions for them in return. It’s a unique and constructive way to get to know your audience better, and it gives you the opportunity to interact with potential leads afterward if they need more nurturing.
Stage 2: Evaluation – Potential leads are determining if your product or service is the best one to solve their problem.
Relevant Content – Case studies, whitepapers, interactive content
Stage 3: Purchase
The bottom of the sales funnel is the Purchasing stage. While a well-executed CTA on your website can drive people to buy, what’s most important about this stage is making sure that you have aligned it with the Awareness and Evaluation stages. A marketing lead is much more likely to buy when they can clearly identify their buyer’s journey with your product from beginning to end.
Content for the Purchasing stage focuses on making the buyer feel more comfortable and confident in their decision to buy. Offering special discounts, such as coupon codes or first-time customer promotions, could give your potential lead that final push. Free trials or special onboarding can be just as effective.
Having estimations is also useful content in the Purchasing stage. When you provide an estimate, make sure to have a list all of your product’s benefits by rehashing information from case studies, whitepapers, and Awareness stage content.
Stage 3: Purchase – Potential leads are determining if they are ready to become customers.
Relevant Content: Estimations, free trials, consultations, special discounts
Thinking like your sales team. Identify what content is needed for each stage of the sales funnel, and work in tandem to determine what content works best for your unique teams. You will find your sales team using your content more often, and both teams will enjoy a higher customer conversion rate.
What content does your sales team find is the most helpful for them? Leave a comment below.