In today’s world, many firms experience a disconnect or challenge at some point along a buyer’s journey, which causes a growing divide between sales and marketing. It’s an age-old argument. marketing blames sales for not closing leads, and sales blames marketing for not providing qualified leads. Meanwhile prospects fall through the cracks.
How can firms stop the blame game and solve the real problem? Further, what is the core issue?
Common problems that lead to misalignment between marketing and sales teams
A changing consumer causes confusion — With the increased access to information provided by the internet, customers and prospects no longer need to rely on a salesperson for information. This new type of consumer is the core of a growing misalignment between marketing and sales. For example, suppose an investor is interested in a wealth management service. Where are they going to start their search? Often, it’s on Google or LinkedIn by typing in “wealth management companies” or something similar. Perhaps, they want a firm that will help them with specialty assets like real estate interests. They will then search for that specific niche as well. For a company to show up on the search engine results page, they have to create content optimized for the relevant keywords. The investor will then do their research to find a few front-running options. While they may call a company to speak with a sales representative about the details, they may find enough information online to decide without speaking to anyone.
This shift has left many firms scrambling to make sense of how to successfully engage their buyers and guide them towards a conversion. To get involved with the self-directed consumer’s education process, marketing teams need to step in and create strategic content. Further, they need to work in collaboration with sales so either team can step in and meet the consumer when they are seeking information.
Content disorganization — With so many pieces of content that are all designed to serve different purposes, a high-level content management system is needed. According to a Content Marketing Institute report, 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. A documented strategy outlines the buyer's journey and how each piece of content fits into the puzzle.
As a result, if content interactions are tracked and documented, sales teams can gain insight into the information that buyers have received before the point at which they enter the conversation and after. However, many firms don't have a documented strategy, which leaves them creating content without a defined purpose and hoping for the best. This can be confusing for sales reps who don't understand what buyers are learning, why they are learning it, and where they are at in the buying cycle.
Compliance issues — Compliance in content marketing is an important issue, especially in heavily regulated industries like financial services or healthcare.
Every piece of content must be compliant with the industry regulations. When a system for compliance isn't built into the content production process, it can result in legal ramifications that put firms and customers at risk. Further, if the system is inefficient, it can greatly slow down the production and delivery of the necessary assets to the right teams.
Brand inconsistency — The power of a brand relies on its consistency. When buyers see the same logo and colors and read the same brand voice repeatedly, they begin to associate it with that brand, which makes it easier to remember. However, when a firm's communications lack consistency, they won't be as effective at connecting with the audience and staying top of mind.
Many firms struggle to ensure all of their communications are consistently on-brand from both the marketing and sales teams. Marketing may have brand guidelines for the content, but if sales need a piece of content and can't get it on time, they may develop something on their own. This leads to off-brand communications and misalignment. Sales need an easy way to get the on-brand assets they need at the moment they need them.
Content performance disconnect — Many firms are creating content but don't have an understanding of how it's performing. In fact, a recent survey of over 1,500 organizations found that 39% of firms with a content marketing strategy were not measuring their ROI. Without understanding the return on investment, firms have no way to gauge whether the steps are working or not.
Imagine a scenario where a firm is not reaching its targets. The leaders begin to try and investigate what is wrong and how to improve. The marketing team argues that they are following all the best practices to inform and educate buyers along the buyer's journey. They are creating blogs, email campaigns, whitepapers, social posts, etc. However, sales argue that they are not getting enough leads. The content is not converting or driving leads in at an adequate level. Without any measurement or tracking, it's impossible to figure out what content is working and what's not. Firms won't know what levers to pull to drive results, so they wager the future of the business on best practices.
The missing piece for those firms is often a unified cross-channel analytics program that helps them to understand what's resulting in conversions. It's a complex puzzle to track, but a lack of analytics can create an environment where teams become frustrated, and production becomes expensive without justifiable returns.
No personalization — Personalization has been found to increase visitor engagement, improve customer experience, improve brand perception, increase conversion rates, and increase customer acquisition. However, at times, firms fail to connect with their audiences because they can't easily personalize messaging at scale. This is especially true for sales reps who can't personalize content without a time-intensive process involving the marketing team.
Sales teams need to be able to seamlessly customize communications to their specific target audiences. For example, sales reps should be able to customize each newsletter they create based on the demographic of the recipient to ensure it is filled with articles and photos that are relevant to them. To take it a step further, sales reps should be able to add in their personal bio and contact information to introduce themselves to their prospects and encourage replies.
Enabling personalization in this way helps to give the end consumer a connection with a real person rather than a faceless firm. Here are some creative ideas for personalizing content.
Accessibility of materials — Sales teams need to access content in real-time as they are speaking with prospects and customers. In many cases, they must contact marketing or another department to access the content they need. This may cause delays and disruptions to close deals. Over time, this can lead to tensions between the two teams.
All of these challenges cause bottlenecks in the lead generation and sales processes, which can slow a firm's growth and productivity.
Often, the biggest hurdle is communication. Both teams have their goals to hit and tasks to complete. But taking a step back to see the bigger picture can reveal how the goals and tasks align. Then, the teams need to align with a documented strategy, stay in communication, maintain a culture of collaboration, and utilize a content management platform that can streamline all operations for both teams.
Empower the sales and marketing teams to work together with a content management system. When aligned, firms see revenue growth, reduced cost of market entry, shorter sales cycles, and a reduction of costs associated with a new sale.
Gain more insights and tips on aligning your sales and marketing teams by downloading our whitepaper, Sales and Marketing Strategies to Overcome Challenges in 2021.