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Why Marketing and Sales Content Need to Be Aligned

Why do marketing and sales content need to be aligned? This probably seems like one of those no-brainer questions. After all, everyone knows that marketing creates content, and sales uses it to sell—to close deals and generate revenue. But hold on.

There’s one piece of that response that demands a second look, and that’s the “everyone knows” part. It might be more accurate to say “everyone but sales knows.”

In theory, marketing folks have a finger on the collective pulse of the market. They know what customers need, what they want, and the kind of content that will best convey the value proposition. So they produce this content, expect sales to use it, and are frustrated when they don’t.

And sales reps really won’t use it an estimated 90% of the time.

So marketing creates tons of content that sits unused without much ROI. Clearly, there’s a big difference between theory and practice here.

Although there are obvious benefits to cooperation and collaboration, getting there is not always easy. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.

Why Marketing and Sales Should Create Content Together

Most of us have probably heard that more than 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a rep even enters the picture. While there may be some truth to this in simpler sales scenarios, the rep is still a critical component in more complex sales engagements. Reps do need and want content.

Today’s complicated sales environment has multiple stakeholders, and the rep is the key driver responsible for navigating a maze of variables, including competitive posture, financial and pricing details, geography, size of the deal, and use case scenarios—to name a few. It is simply not feasible to believe that Marketing can tweak content to meet the needs of individual reps in a myriad of sales situations.

Faced with that reality, sales reps don’t use Marketing’s content because it doesn’t meet sales' highly specific needs.

Instead, they look for other content they feel would do a better job. Or create their own. DIY content is usually frowned upon for a number of reasons. It may not be consistent with corporate branding or messaging. Or it may violate style and usage guidelines established to guarantee a consistent look and feel. There's also the potential for such content to come off as amateurish—embarrassing at best and, at worst, an aesthetic disaster.

The bottom line is that sales reps end up spending a lot of time looking for or creating content—more than 30% of their time according to one source. And this is time NOT invested in active selling.

In fact, the same source suggests that reps spend only a third of their time actively selling. But that’s a problem that goes beyond content and gets to the nitty gritty of how reps are managed and the non-selling demands on their time.

The real question is: Does it work? Does the content sales creates get the job done? Does it close deals—which is, after all, the ultimate responsibility of all reps? The answer may surprise you.

Who should create content within an organization?

So we've examined the often uneasy alliance between sales and marketing. We've looked at reasons reps ignore an estimated 90% of the content produced by Marketing and spend a full third of their selling time looking for or creating their own content. And we've concluded by asking—but not answering—a central question: Does it work? Does the content created by Sales close deals?

The common perception is that marketing produces content, and sales uses it to sell. According to recent research, those responding to a survey believed that Marketing created 80% of the content generated within their organization. However a deeper look proves that the responsibility for creating content may be spread more widely across organizations and actually looks like the table below.

CONTENT CREATION WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION

Sales

40%

Marketing

30%

Engineering

10%

Services

10%

Other

10%

Taking the research a few steps further reveals another major surprise. An analysis of more than 20,000 closed deals to isolate exactly what kind of content was most likely to close a deal indicated the following:

WHAT TYPE OF CONTENT CLOSES DEALS?

Created by Sales

61%

Created by Marketing

26%

Created by Other

13%

Whoa! Is this a classic case of the right hand (marketing) not knowing what the left hand (sales) is doing? It seems clear that, despite the success of Sales-created content in closing deals, too much content is still produced by marketing in isolation from sales. Segregated in separate silos, the two departments are ignoring the benefits that visibility, alignment, and collaboration would surely produce.

Perhaps it's time for a wholesale re-evaluation or examination of the who, what, why, and how of content creation and use.



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