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Making Content Marketing Your Best Lead Gen Tool

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Finger-pointing between sales and marketing has been one of the oldest business blame games for years. Sales complains that marketing doesn’t do anything to help generate leads and marketing complains that sales doesn’t follow up on leads or that they can’t close the leads they get. It’s the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. Those days are behind us and the modern sales professional can not afford to head off hunting for new deals without joining forces with marketing — and vice versa. Marketing needs sales to help make their work actually work, and content marketing may be their best lead gen tool.guys rocks.png

“The lines between sales and marketing are blurring, the roles are blending, and the customer doesn’t care if you’re in sales or marketing,” according to Social Selling Consultant, Jill Rowley (@jill_rowley). “They care about the value you can deliver”.

Rowley, a seasoned and proven sales professional whose resume includes stops at Eloqua, Salesforce, and Oracle, today consults with businesses to improve sales results. She says one of the biggest challenges her clients face is figuring out how to unify sales and marketing efforts.

“It’s the age-old problem,” she echoed during her presentation at HubSpot’s annual Inbound Conference in Boston this week. She added, “The modern buyer is digitally-driven and they are socially connected.”

From the Sales Funnel to Sales Enablement

This fundamental shift in sales behavior has sunk the old sales funnel and turned it into spaghetti junction because the buyer is now in control. Their journey is not linear and they don’t really want to talk to a sales representative while researching products and services. Instead, they are digging around online, learning about products and services, typically reading reviews, checking with references or leveraging other crowdsourcing tools.

“No one wants to be sold, everybody wants to be helped,” Rowley asserts, which is why social selling and content marketing has become such a critical dimension of marketing and sales.

"Finger-pointing needs to end and both the sales and marketing teams need to move towards sales enablement models"

When sales and marketing is aligned, companies are up to 67% better at closing deals, according to Marketo as stated in this Wheelhouse Report. Which means the finger-pointing needs to end and both the sales and marketing teams need to move towards sales enablement models. SiriusDecisions predicts a 70% increase in sales enablement budgets over the next 2 years. Without question, the idea of sales enablement is growing in its importance and function. So, how can you begin to move in that direction?

Generate Leads with Content Marketing

Rowley points to the following action items sales and marketing leaders can work towards to move towards a more unified sales and marketing organization:

  • Work towards collaboration on new digital content between marketing and sales. This is not only blog content, but also video and social content. Help your sales team understand how to best leverage that content.
  • Make it easy and fast for your sales team to find and access the content through the creation of a content library. When a sales person has a productive sales call and needs to send a prospect a blog or video, you don’t want that person to have to hunt to find those documents. Speed and ease of use is of the essence.
  • Identify external sources for content and uncover ways to curate that content. Not all helpful and informative content has to come from you. Act as a resource for your prospects.
  • Train sales people. First and foremost, invest in training your sales people. Sure, you may have a natural “salesman” in your business, but not all people are actually born this way. So train your sales people.
  • Train sales people how to socially share content because this is not just a marketing responsibility. A sales person who can develop relationships in social media has the opportunity to help his network of friends and followers with valuable content.

The old sales model is dead and gone. Cold calling doesn’t work and your sales team can no longer sit in a silo waiting for marketing to deliver leads while your marketing team drowns in a sea of digital and traditional marketing tactics. The landscape has changed and proactive businesses are changing as well.

“We have to evolve the model,” Rowley laments. “If you need to grow revenue, you can hire more sales people to make more cold calls and sales will make quota about 50% of the time. Or you can take the sales person you have and make them more efficient and productive through sales enablement.”

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