How to Empower Your Sales Team With Content

By Aaron Taube November 12th, 2015

Being a B2B content marketer is a little bit like being a midfielder in soccer. You need to have the vision and creativity to produce scoring opportunities out of thin air, but it’s ultimately the responsibility of one of your teammates to make the final touch that leads to the goal.

And just as a soccer team won’t score many goals when strikers and midfielders are out of sync, it’s similarly difficult for a company to generate revenue when the content and sales teams aren’t on the same page.

Unfortunately, this type of miscommunication happens quite a bit in organizations that are still figuring out how content marketing fits into their sales funnel. All too often, salespeople receive content they don’t know what to do with. In some instances, they may not fully understand the value of content marketing in general, ignoring what could be an extraordinarily valuable tool to use in conversations with potential customers.

During the “Secrets of Storytelling from the Best Content Marketers” panel at last week’s Contently Summit, Magnet Media CEO Megan Cunningham explained that the fastest way to motivate salespeople to use your content is to show them exactly how much revenue it’s generating for your organization.

“Marketing needs to stop thinking of itself as a cost center that spends countless hours going through thousands of metrics trying to prove their value and instead just look at where the efficiencies are gained from a cost-savings perspective and a revenue contribution perspective,” she said. “Once you do that, you can have a rallying cry of ‘Content is … actually contributing to the value of the story that we’re all trying to tell.'”

Cunningham, whose company, Magnet Media, combines the services of a marketing agency and a video production company, was joined on the panel by OneSpot CMO Adam Weinroth and Avaya Senior Director of Global Communications Jeremiah Glodoveza.

Glodoveza echoed the importance of tying your content to ROI, saying that his team is incentivized to work closely with salespeople because Avaya’s marketers have a fixed revenue goal of $300 million they need to hit each year.

“When you put the marketing team on notice like that, on almost a quota-based system, it really changes the organizational structure and the sense of urgency that the team has,” Glodoveza said. “And I think that’s a good thing.”

In order to reach the benchmark, members of the sales team actively join in the company’s content planning meetings. There, the marketing team explains the intent of high-level campaigns while salespeople help develop concepts for the pieces of content they will use as talking points during sales calls.

For the most part, Avaya creates whitepapers, case studies, and customer testimonials focused on topics lower in the funnel that persuade customers to upgrade their existing communications technology.

At OneSpot, a content distribution platform, Adam Weinroth’s team provides salespeople with field notes full of suggestions for how different pieces of content might spark conversations with prospective clients. In fact, the company will sometimes take its sales–content synergy a step further by developing pieces of content specific to the individual prospective customers the sales team is courting.

“Sometimes it’s more bottoms-up, here’s a cool topic, something that should be of interest to all content marketers, or everyone in a vertical, or some aspect of digital marketing,” Weinroth said. “But sometimes, we zoom into a very, very account-specific audience. It’s a segment of one.”

When salespeople and marketers are able to work together, the results can be very powerful. Take, for instance, the video series Magnet Media created for the information storage company Tintri. The series was based on a character called Carl, a comically hapless IT guy who turns to Tintri to alleviate his work problems. When the company’s salespeople arrived at an industry conference with Joe Tantalo, the actor who plays Carl, they learned very quickly that they had developed something of a cult fanbase. Tantalo was besieged by admirers, who waited on line for him to autograph their clothing.

Magnet Media and the Tintri marketing team had crafted the perfect attack, and it helped Tintri’s salespeople get in just the right position to capitalize on the opportunity.

“Seeing is believing,” Cunningham said. “The sales team starts to see video moving the needle because they have one of the most popular booths at the show.”

When sales and marketing have a clear understanding of how their respective efforts will help the bottom line, collaboration between departments will only make both sides better at their jobs. What good is a brilliant pass if the person on the other end isn’t prepared to put it in the back of the net?

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