A recent report, published by top advisory firm Forrester Research, highlighted the importance of the relationship between marketers, the marketing content they produce and sales departments. B2B marketing content fuels both effective demand creation and successful sales conversations; that’s why marketers must work closely with salespeople and arm them with the right material to transform them into the ultimate resource for knowledge about their product and service offerings.

Forrester Analyst Peter O’Neill calls these modern sales reps “Content Concierges,” who are more consultants than order-takers. Marketers are key to helping salespeople with this transformation.

When meeting with sales reps, customers are looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems; sales and marketing must work together to collectively understand each other’s roles, and produce and distribute content effectively.

B2B Marketing Content Fails to Win Over Buyers

According to a Forrester survey, decision-makers are unimpressed with the majority of content that B2B marketers produce and that sales delivers, categorizing them as “trash” or “useless.” Content that fails to engage buyers can be costly, and is a core symptom of the lack of communication these two functions.

“Marketing content and campaigns tend to focus on the earlier portion of the buyer’s decision-making,” explains Mediafly Vice President of Marketing, Melissa Andrews, “leaving sales to close the gap between interest and purchase on their own.” If teams aren’t working cohesively to ensure content gets carried throughout the entire sales cycle, salespeople are essentially left to fend for themselves.

Furthermore, B2B buyers are overwhelmed by content volume and underwhelmed by quality. Of that content, 90% goes unused or unseen and gets stored in a variety of places, resulting in frustrated salespeople. So how can marketers produce content that’s both engaging and effective? How can we empower sales easily access the content they need so that every client interaction is elevated?

Engagement is Key to Successful Content Marketing

B2B marketers must strategically develop content with both the salesperson and the customer-audience in mind. How do marketers know what content sales needs and what they utilize without any input from sales? Simply put… they don’t.

Sales and marketing play a vital role in generating business, and knowing and playing off of each other’s strengths can be very profitable. B2B marketers who treat sales as an essential distribution channel for marketing content succeed. With so many sales and marketing departments siloed, the prospect of working together can seem daunting, but it’s easier than it might sound.

Here are 3 ways to start:

    1. Invest in a content delivery system and training to turn sales reps into consultative experts.
    2. Make it intuitive and easy for sales to get the content they need, when they need it.
    3. Track what sales uses (and what sales doesn’t use) by incorporating quantitative and qualitative feedback into your content planning.

Recognize that sales and marketing share the same goal of increasing company revenue. Tracking and reporting content usage helps both teams achieve this, increasing accountability and collaborations. To illustrate how B2B marketers are delivering content that both sales and customers respond to, marketers can (and should) do several key things.

As we mentioned, tracking how sales uses marketing content when engaging buyers is a critical metric. It’s also critical to know if there is content that never gets used. Next, marketing can look at the performance of specific reps: what content are your top-performing sales reps using? You can find out how they’re using it, and use that knowledge to elevate your other performers or inform your content strategy. Finally, communicate about how the feedback loop is improving both collateral and sales performance, both demonstrating the success of your program to executives and improving the relationships between teams.

A Focus on Customers Drives Long-Term Marketing Content Success

Successful B2B companies must be customer-focused to thrive in the digital age. Companies that carry forward a customer-centric philosophy will find themselves in less conflict with sales because the customer’s needs will trump any territorial arguments about what marketing should develop and how sales should deliver it. When top B2B marketers work backwards, starting with the customer, they can understand the specific roles each team plays in solving customer problems, and can subsequently plan, develop, distribute and maintain content to meet those needs. This also builds trust between sales and marketing; allowing you to achieve the ideal balance between managing your message and allowing your sales teams the freedom to leverage their own selling style.

Forrester clients can check out the full report and all of its findings on Forrester’s website (non-clients can purchase it). To learn more about how you can apply the concept of content concierges, be sure to check out Peter O’Neill’s recent Forrester-Mediafly webinar, “An Empowered Sales Rep Becomes a Content Concierge.”