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(Getting Started) Three Ways to Improve Content Collaboration With Your Sales Team

Illustration showing two people shaking hands against a sunset background

“Building a strong and productive partnership between sales and marketing is easy,” said no one ever! Both sides tend to point the finger at each other⁠—to the detriment of business results. When it comes to content, the reality is that most of what’s created by marketing never sees the light of day. According to SiriusDecisions, 60-70% of content churned out by B2B marketing departments sits unused. It’s a waste of time and resources considering $250 billion was spent on B2B content marketing in 2018 according to PQ Media.

When sales believes marketing doesn’t understand what they need, and marketing believes sales is lazy and doesn’t use any of their content, it causes friction and impacts alignment between these two groups. Given today’s buyers are spending up to 25% of their time researching independently and only 5% in direct contact with a sales rep, the role that content plays in influencing the purchase process cannot be overstated. Marketing needs to collaborate better with sales to produce better content, gain buy-in, and drive better alignment. 

Just look at the outcomes of having better alignment between marketing and sales:

  1. When content marketing and sales teams work together, they are 67% better at closing deals

  2. Almost 90% of teams that align content marketing and sales report an increase in leads and conversions

  3. Aligning sales and marketing teams leads to 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth

How to Collaborate Better With Sales

Cultivating a culture of collaboration with sales is not something that happens overnight. It requires deliberate action where both teams appreciate the value the other brings in driving revenue. Here at Uberflip, we think there are three primary ways to collaborate better with your sales team: 

  1. Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

Collaborating effectively on content first requires a mutual lvel of trust between the two teams, which enables open and productive discussion. Sales must believe you have a good understanding of what they do, the challenges they face, and what they struggle with day in and day out. This can be difficult because marketing and sales often function in echo chambers; sales is focused only on activities that directly lead to closing more deals while marketing is busy with strategy, campaign execution, and reporting.

To get sales in your corner and gain a better understanding of what they do, here are some things to try: 

  • Shadow a sales rep for a deal cycle and learn what prospects are asking about

  • Schedule office hours for reps to come in and get help with specific deals

  • You can help with product positioning, enablement collateral, competitive landscape discussions, and more 

  • Attend sales standups and pipeline reviews to understand what deals are in flight and where marketing can lend a hand

  • Ask sales reps how their calls went the day before, what the quality of leads were like, and what the common objections were that were preventing prospects from buying. Leverage existing meetings where you can gather this feedback without taking up too much time from sales activities

Scott Abel, President of The Content Wrangler, sums it up nicely:

“Get out of the marketing department and learn exactly what sales teams do, what motivates them, how they are rewarded, and how they are governed and funded. Then, look for synergies between sales and marketing (and support, and technical documentation, and training) and ways you can improve content experiences provided to prospects and customers alike.” 

  1. Involve Sales in the Content Creation Process

Your marketing team might be the wordsmiths of the group, but your sales team are the subject matter experts with their boots on the ground. They’re out there talking to prospects every day. They hear the same questions, hesitations, and sticking points over and over again. When it comes to understanding what prospects are looking for and what they care about, sales should be your go-to resource.

Creating content that the sales team will actually use and share starts with involving them early in the content creation process. They need to have a seat at the table instead of feeling like an afterthought that gets briefed the day before a piece of content is ready to launch. 

Here are a few tips for how to collaborate with sales during the content creation process: 

  • Schedule a brainstorm session on content creation needs and involve the team in shortlisting ideas

  • At Uberflip, we leveraged a weekly sales standup to validate our assumptions on what content needed to be created. Each BDR and AE got a slip of paper and was instructed to write down a content topic they felt would help move deals along. At the end of the session, we saw common themes emerge and quickly spotted gaps where we didn’t have supporting content. We involved sales leadership in the prioritization process to ensure our proposed release timing was acceptable and then presented our content plan back to the entire team for visibility

  • Identify two or three reps (from newbie to seasoned) to help vet content and provide feedback 

  • At Uberflip, we make it a habit to share content with sales before it is published. Whether that is a review with sales leadership on an anchor piece of content, or something more informal, giving the team an opportunity to provide feedback ensures their opinion is considered and ultimately fosters buy-in when it comes time for release

  • Brief sales leadership on upcoming content plans quarterly and share an updated view of your content calendar regularly. 

    • ​​​​This provides transparency and allows sales to feel confident that you know what’s needed and have a plan to create it, which discourages the creation of assets that are not marketing approved

Your structure may make it challenging to involve sales at every step, but it is important that they are present during the key stages. It will go a long way toward getting buy-in, creating content that matters, and ensuring your organization doesn’t become part of the 60% statistic. 

  1. Share Content Performance Results

Improving collaboration with sales also involves sharing what is working and what isn’t from a results perspective. When sales understands how content is helping to generate SAOs, and ultimately more pipeline, they have a vested interest in using and sharing content. 

Start by including sales in results discussions and proactively ask for context when the numbers fall outside expectations. For example: Is a particular asset not getting the traction you expected? Why are particular assets not being used? What assets are used the most in deals and when?

In our experience, the sales team is often drinking out of a firehose of information on a regular basis and it is easy to lose sight of the latest content available. It can be as simple as reminding sales of assets that have not been used in a while—either in person or through a regular digital communication.  

Putting these three tips into practice will go a long way in improving overall collaboration, producing better content, and ultimately driving better organizational outcomes. Three cheers for smarketing!