Marketing as a discipline has undergone a dramatic transformation over the past 20 years.
Twenty years ago, marketers were tasked with generating brand awareness without much of a way to measure its impact or prove its value. Ten years ago, marketing entered the lead gen era: marketing began leveraging content marketing and an assortment of emerging online channels and automation tools to generate leads for sales. It started to become clear that marketers were in fact contributing to sales’ pipeline, but that contribution wasn’t easily captured or measured with any real data. Especially once marketing qualified leads were passed to sales for follow-up.
Today, marketing is expected to have an impact at every stage of the buyer’s journey, from first touch to close. The discipline of marketing has evolved in to investigating buyers and their journey through the purchase process to understand how they seek information, identify their own needs, and make decisions. Without having this intel and providing sales support at every touchpoint, marketing is absolutely letting sales down.
As is the case with lead generation programs, content is the lifeblood of sales success. 60% of business decision makers say that content makes them feel closer to the company that sends it, yet 62% admit that much of that information is rendered useless or irrelevant. That’s on marketing.
For marketing to truly prove its value, it must provide complete and comprehensive support for sales. Most marketing teams don’t have a shortage of content, but lack of accessibility, relevance, context, and customization of that content is still letting sales down in a big way. Below are five major ways that marketing is failing to live up to its promise to sales:
- Content is irrelevant and outdated: 85% of marketers say that content they produce isn’t effective at delivering business value. That’s right—a vast majority of marketers admit that their own content isn’t useful. It can be difficult for marketers to gain any visibility into whether their content is even being used, never mind if it’s resonating in the field. Marketers need to increase visibility into content usage to find out what content is useful and what needs to be updated or removed altogether.
- The right content can’t be located: Salespeople spend 440 hours each year searching for the right content. That’s because content is dispersed among a number of disconnected files, repositories and sadly) remote desktops. This results in the sharing of irrelevant and outdated content, because reps can’t afford to waste more time finding the perfect content. Marketers need to find a way to consolidate all content into a single repository and make it easily searchable so reps can find exactly what they need quickly and effectively.
- Content isn’t accessible where reps work: Are your company’s sales reps required to leave the programs where they spend the majority of time—email and CRM—to find the right content? If so, this is contributing to the 30 hours of search time cited above. Making marketing collateral available in your company’s CRM reduces the amount of time reps spend searching for the right content, especially if it can be served up contextually based on an opportunity’s CRM details (such as role, stage in sales cycle, industry and more). Bonus points if you can connect your email provider with this CRM information and content as well, which will reduce a sales interaction to a single email view.
- Content isn’t customer-centric: For a time, only 29% of marketers used customer insights to inform their marketing programs. In today’s customer-led buying landscape, prospects will not care what you have to say if it is not relevant to them. Work with your sales team to learn what prospects are saying in sales interactions: what are their pain points, what do they look for in terms of features and benefits from your product or service, and how do they view your product? Mapping marketing content to the questions customers have at each stage of their purchase journey will provide support to sales and ultimately result in enhanced sales interactions.
- Content is static and not customizable: By 2018, personalizing content will result in 30% higher close rates, according to Gartner. The value of content personalization is evident, but marketing can only do so much when it comes to personalization; completing one-off customization requests from sales is not a scalable strategy. By employing dynamic content creation—compiling marketing-approved content and integrating with live data sources—sales reps become marketers while marketing can focus on more strategic initiatives. This means that content is always relevant to the buyer, is up-to-date with the most relevant data, and includes all information that the sales rep requires without bogging down marketing.
The marketing and sales relationship doesn’t have to be a broken one anymore. Marketing has the content it needs to get started, but it needs to go the extra mile to execute on the full promise of becoming an end-to-end sales support engine. Take a look at your own content to see if any of the five points above apply to your organization, and work with sales to determine a way to resolve the issues and become one integrated revenue driving team.