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5 Reasons Your Sales Team Is Not Using the Content Marketing Creates

by Stacy Bouchard | Oct 4, 2016 2:00:00 PM

sales-not-using-marketing-content.jpgIn my Twitter feed this morning, I came across a statistic that got my attention. Here it is. According to the American Marketing Association, 90% of marketing deliverables are not used by sales.

WHAT?! 90%?! As a marketer, I am well aware that the sales team doesn’t always use the materials marketing creates for them. But 90%? OUCH.

Why is that? Are we really so disconnected from our sales team (and apparently our customers too) that 90% of what we create never gets used to actually close business?

I don’t know about you but I have spent a lot of time over the years creating content. Everything from case studies to web copy to blog posts to articles to slide decks. The intent of everything I have ever created is to support the sales process.

Of course, some content is aimed at the top of the funnel while other content is focused on the middle or bottom. That said, the purpose of much of what is created is to be used by the sales team as they work to close new business.

Reading that statistic is very disheartening to me…and probably to most marketers. Yes. We all recognize that in many organizations there is still a long way to go in closing the great sales and marketing divide. But content is fundamental to what we do. Even if this statistic isn’t entirely true in your organization, knowing that sales isn’t using even 50% or 30% of what we create is alarming.

So as marketers, what can we do about it? We can start by understanding why. Here are five reasons why sales isn’t using your content and how to address them.

1. Content isn’t in line with the buyer’s journey

When sales reps are working with a prospect to move them closer to being a customer, they need content for every phase of the buyer’s journey. Within each phase, prospects will have different questions and different objections. If the content marketing is creating doesn’t provide that information, it isn’t helpful to the sales rep or the prospect.

Make sure your buyer personas identify the questions prospects ask at every phase of the journey. Also, address common objections. If you have that information, it will help you plan and create content that has a better chance of being used.

For example, if a common objection to purchasing your product or service is the time it takes to implement it, develop case studies that demonstrate that time can be minimized and how other customers have accomplished that. Be as specific as possible to the common objections

Also, if you haven’t already, create a content map. It will help you track and identify all of the content you have for each phase of the journey and where you may be weak.

2. Content is created in a silo

In many organizations, sales does their thing while on the other side of the building, marketing does theirs. Sales talks to and emails their prospects while marketing creates content – never really stepping outside of their individual silos to see what’s happening around them. They might have monthly meetings but they don’t really work “together.”

Creating effective content that the sales team will use requires a team effort. Invite your sales team to a meeting. Ask them to tell your team how they use content and what content they are using. Resist the urge to become defensive or argumentative. Use the time to listen and learn.

Hold a second meeting with just the marketing team. Identify where the true weaknesses are and develop a plan to address them. Keep the sales team informed and continue to ask for feedback.

Taking a team approach to content will improve the process for everyone. After all, you’re in this together.

3. Marketing assumes sales knows how to use the content

When a new piece of content is completed, how do you let your sales team know? Do you simply send an email and say here you go? Or maybe post it to a common location both teams have access to?

Relying on the sales reps to “figure it out” is a disaster waiting to happen. If you have invested time and energy into creating content, it is worth the effort to develop a process to share everything about it.

When you share the piece, define the target audience and stage of the buyer’s journey. Summarize the key points. Provide examples for how to use it. Ask for feedback.

4. Sales can’t easily find appropriate content

Knowing how to use the content and how to find it go hand-in-hand. Did you know that sales reps spend at least 25% of their time on administrative tasks instead of actually selling? One of those tasks that eats up a lot of time is finding content.

If your sales team can’t easily locate content, they will never use it no matter how good it is.

Invest the time into creating a system for organizing your content in a way that makes sense to the sales team. For example, organize it by buyer persona, type of content, phase of the buyer’s journey, how to use it, etc. Figure out what will work best for your organization and implement it.

There’s plenty of sales enablement technology out there to help you with this. However, it may be as simple as creating a folder system on a common drive to help you get started.

5. Sales wants personalized content for every prospect

I have heard this argument from sales teams in multiple industries. They all want something specific for every prospect. It has been a battle I have fought many times. Marketing wants to control the integrity of the content. Sales wants to make it their own for every prospect. Thankfully, you can accomplish both.

Earlier this year, I wrote a post called 7 Tips for Creating a Flexible Messaging Approach that Drives Sales. In it, I describe the battles I have had with sales and how, despite what I believed in the past, it is possible to have harmony on this issue and more importantly, drive sales.

At the end of the day, sales and marketing teams are working toward the same goal. It’s time to start working together on the basics – like content creation – and have a real impact on results.