Image of two young businessmen using touchpad at meeting

The big focus in 2016 will continue to be aligning sales and marketing around the customer. A lot of companies are on board with the sales and marketing lovefest, but have trouble putting that alignment into action. Other companies aren’t on board yet because they think that there’s a reason for separating the departments.

There are key differences between salespeople and marketers, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, but sales and marketing alignment isn’t about throwing tasks at people they’re not suited for (or aren’t interested in doing). It’s about allowing sales and marketing departments to work in parallel, so that as they’re doing their jobs, they can help their counterparts do theirs without stepping on each others toes.

For this post, we’ll be going through tried-and-true ways that salespeople (including our own) have positively impacted marketing content without cutting into their time devoted to selling.

Let Marketers Know What Works

It’s no secret that salespeople ignore much of the content that marketing produces—only about 40% of it gets used. In an ideal world, 100% of it would get used (we’ll get to that in a second), but without knowing what content gets used, we can’t make more of that content.

To gain insight into what happens behind the closed doors of a sales meeting, we don’t have to set long interdepartmental meetings to brainstorm about what content sales reps want to see. We use metrics to see what content is accessed most often from within SalesKit. We can do a few things with that information.

First, we can cross-reference what marketing content our top-performing salespeople use and see what content “assists” in a deal-closing, just like you can with a web page. Next, we can look across the common elements of the most-used content: Are there stylistic similarities? Is the tone of this content any different than the rest of your content? Is video content being used more than case studies or PowerPoints?

From there, we can create new content and raise the percentage that gets used by creating more of what we know that salespeople (and customers) want. When your sales reps aren’t swamped with meetings in the field or calls, you can set up a meeting to run your ideas by them and confirm that what you think is right. All salespeople need to do is use a sales presentation solution that tracks access, and marketers will do the rest.

Let Them Know What Doesn’t

So, what about that 60% of content that’s not getting used? One possibility is that the salespeople can’t find it. With a content management solution with search functionality and segmented user groups (so marketers can give access to content only to those who need it), this shouldn’t be a problem.

If finding the content isn’t the issue, then the marketing content may not be appropriate for prospects who are meeting with sales. For example, if salespeople meet consistently with prospects who are nearing a purchasing decision, they won’t use top-funnel content meant to explain what your product area is.

Marketers can look at the metrics of content that salespeople are accessing and look at low-performing content, and put it in the group of a) Not appropriate for sales meetings or b) content that’s lacking…something. If it’s in the latter group, marketers can do the same thing that they do with the top-performing content. Find the common elements, look for what might be wrong and then confirm with salespeople.

Tell Them When Something’s Missing

For salespeople, there’s three categories of marketing content: content that’s useful, content that isn’t useful, and content that would be useful if it only existed. When they can’t find it, they’ll end up creating their own. Do they have insight into their customers to create their own content? Can they create great content? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that they should be doing it.

When salespeople create their own content, it takes them away from direct selling tasks. They also may not have access to style guides that marketers reference whenever they start the process of creating new content. Finally, when salespeople create their own content, marketers lose visibility into the content that is and isn’t working with sales-ready prospects.

What content is missing isn’t necessarily something that marketers can glean from the passive input that sales can give through metrics on good and bad content. Salespeople can instead flag marketers and let them know that they’re looking for a type of content. Some marketers have “funnel vision”: they tend to focus on top of the funnel or middle of the funnel content (e.g., content that easily generates leads), and so they lose sight of the bottom of the funnel content that salespeople need. The best way for salespeople to get the marketing content that their prospects demand: just ask!

Show Them How You Access Content

It’s not just enough to know what content is being used. As John Burns recently discussed [link], how marketers structure content may not be how salespeople want to access it. Because SalesKit allows content to be re-organized for a sales audience, how salespeople present content is invaluable for administrators to organize content for them.

Again, salespeople can impact content by continuing to do what they do best. Marketers can see the order in which content was presented, and then create collections of content designed to make it as easy as possible for salespeople to access the content that’s relevant to them, in the flow that’s right for their customers.

With that data, marketers can go beyond re-organizing content. They can take related content and wrap it in an interactive framework, empowering salespeople to access relevant content without going through irrelevant slides or brochures (see an example here). Marketers can also create new content based on those metrics; for example, if they see a feature and benefit overview consistently presented before a customer testimonial video, they can create a piece of content to create a better transition between the two. In that case, it could be a summary of data points of how that customer specifically benefited from the product.

Share Content Outside the Meeting

Another place where marketers can lose visibility is when salespeople send marketing content to prospects either in anticipation of a meeting or in following up. We bridge that gap by using trackable Airship links, which allow salespeople to see when the prospect opens the content and gives marketers additional insight into the content salespeople are sharing. From the SalesKit app, they can also share annotations on content that they discussed into the meetings. Marketers can use those metrics to improve content just as they do with website analytics, email opens and now, sales meetings.

By simply opening the doors to the interactions that they have with their customers, salespeople help marketers improve marketing content at every stage of the buying cycle.

See how you can empower your own salespeople. Download the demo version of our solution, My SalesKit, or request a demo tailored for you today!