Content Marketing Institute’s latest trends report reveals that 29% of brands’ total marketing budget goes to content and 85% of B2B organizations attribute their success to content marketing. In Salesforce’s Second Annual State of Sales report, 57% of survey respondents identified high-quality content as a top driver of sales.

And yet data from Forrester reveals that prospects are not seeing the value of sales conversations. Surveyed executives perceive that only 29% of salespeople understand their organization, and just over half possess industry knowledge.

These last statistics suggest sales reps either can’t locate quality content or the content does not address their prospects’ needs.

Follow these tips to correct such an imbalance between content creation and utilization.

1. Tailor Your Content to the Prospect

Successful sales reps seek out content that adds value and addresses prospects’ needs. This content should appeal to the different stages of the buyer’s journey, the product, the competitive landscape, and buyer personas. Moreover, reps know generic content will only make them appear out of touch with customers’ needs. Content needs to speak directly to the customer’s interests.

Without content, mid-funnel engagements with prospects are often dry or overly product-focused, instead of concentrating on their specific pain points. With the right support throughout the buyer’s journey, prospects can build a business case in their organization for larger purchases.

2. Create Content that Brings in Better Leads

According to data from MarketingSherpa, while 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. When we ask sales what they most want from marketing, the number one answer is better quality leads.

In her post for CMI, Anna Talerico suggests using interactive content to identify qualified leads.

“Interactive content, like ROI calculators and assessments, can act as invaluable tools in a sales associate’s arsenal for gauging where customers are in their lifecycle and making sure that they’re getting personal, relevant attention as soon as they’re ready for it,” Talerico says.

3. Nurture Your Leads

According to HubSpot, companies that excel at lead nurturing (beyond the top of the funnel) generate 50% more sales-ready leads at a fraction of the cost. Kissmetrics reports that nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities.

Aim to provide prospects with helpful content that builds trust. Send relevant content like eBooks, case studies, and white papers directly to leads. Create videos, slideshows, and infographics to address questions, concerns, and challenges prospects are facing. Host webinars and send emails to individual leads on industry news and market trends. Using data from Jupiter Research, Hubspot finds that relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.

The key is to share insights, data, and best practices before prospects think to ask for them.

4. Meet Reps Where They Are

Even when content is top-notch, the helpful information may be scattered among blogs, video sharing sites, internal portals, and the company website. In the Salesforce report, 84% of respondents indicated that content search and utilization was the top area that could improve sales revenue.

It would also save reps’ time, freeing them up to focus on nurturing leads and closing sales. According to a study by Docurated, 31% of reps’ time is spent searching for or creating content, and only one-third of reps’ day is spent selling.

Use triggers in your CRM to push content to reps. Or use other tools such as email to reach reps in the places where they live and work. When using a portal or website, make the content easy to find. Doing so will ensure sales reps have an inventory of available content assets.

5. Categorize Your Content

Categorizing your content allows your sales team to easily find the content they need. Consider categorizing by:

  • High-level company themes
  • Buyer personas
  • Buying stage
  • Goal (which could include how-to’s, product data sheets, and thought leadership articles)

6. Communicate

Encourage the sales team to communicate their needs so marketers can create content to educate and inspire leads. The Whole Brain Group suggests introducing the following questions to jumpstart the discussion:

  • What information do you find yourself repeating to prospects?
  • What questions do your prospects ask at each stage of the buying process?
  • What are the emotions they feel (and what do you want them to feel) during their journey?

Make sure both teams have access to information in your CRM—and that both teams share all available data. Use unified buyer personas, and monitor which content drives revenue. When a deal closes, share the useful content and what its impact was.

Aligning your sales and marketing teams affects your organization’s bottom line. An Aberdeen Group study found that businesses with highly aligned sales and marketing teams earned an average of 32% year-over-year growth.

Resolve the dissonance between content production and accessibility/relevance, and your organization will have the opportunity to identify high-caliber prospects, build trust with your customers, and increase revenue.

rochana.rapkins

About rochana.rapkins

Rochana Rapkins is a Colorado-based marketing professional and digital media strategist. She earned her B.A. at Columbia University and her M.A. at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.