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Writers are NOT on the front line, working directly with your prospects or customers. That’s a position and perspective reserved for those sweet-talkin’ kings and queens of the prospect pipeline, your sales team.
So your sales people are busy trying to make sales. We know. That doesn’t make them any less necessary to your content creation process.
Maybe they really don’t have the time or skill to write a weekly or monthly blog. They should still be made open and available to consult with your website and blog writers. It’s an investment in their own future income.
Unfortunately, the first instinct of clients is usually to shield the sales team from anything that’s not selling. This is a mistake.
Salespeople are a Lifeline for the Marketing Agency You Hired
It’s so tempting to make your content and agency-powered projects the sole responsibility of your marketing department. After all, that’s what they’re paid to do.
It’s a trap.
Here’s the thing, during a website rewrite, your marketing department is a middle man and your c-suite is too far removed from the details to be helpful. They’re not exactly expendable, but when it comes to actually writing your website and blog content (not managing the process), they’re not your MVPs.
The absolute best thing your marketing department can do to contribute to your content is connect the writers to your sales team and product/service managers. Ask them to put the phone down, tell them it’s a priority and make a meeting for us, instead of finding an alternative person for us to talk to.
Salespeople and product/service managers are subject matter experts (SMEs). These cats know your company, customers and services better than anyone in the world. In the detail-driven content creation war, they’re your front line soldiers.
Let me explain how I write a website.
My first meeting is with the marketing team/c-suite, to decide on a tone of voice, learn about buyer personas and craft an editorial style guide to direct the project or campaign.
At the end of that meeting, I slice up the workload of pages into logical chunks we call phases. Then, I work with the marketing team or c-suite to narrow down the most knowledgeable people in their company to tap for details. THOSE are the people I interview for each product/service page.
My mission as a content writer is to research, study your industry and conduct interviews of your team until I understand your products and services so thoroughly that I’m actually qualified to simplify and explain them to your potential customers. (On a level that makes even you forget that I don’t work for your company.)
The only way to do that is to pick the brains of your experts and that almost always includes the sales department.
Copy Needs Strategy to be Relevant and Effective
It’s not enough to just keep your blog fresh by letting your staff write whatever they want about the marketing world. Not only will you get blogs that absolutely none of your customers care about, written for buyer personas you’ll never sell to, inbound marketing just doesn’t work like that.
Think about how the buyer’s journey works. It all starts as a problem and a search for answers. On the other side of that search is your blog and website content, ready to serve up solutions and make you look awesome.
The kind of insights your writers need to get in the minds of your consumers is the same insight your salespeople need to eat and pay their mortgages. Your sales department (along with your SEO team) should be steering the overall direction of your content team, by feeding them information they can take action on, including:
- Current lead and traffic volume or needs
- Trending inquiries
- Why deals are being lost
- Why deals are being won
- Common hesitations
- Competitive advantages
- Frequently asked questions
- Buyer persona insights
In turn, your content and inbound marketing teams can leverage that information into:
- Buyer personas that determine your ideal tone of voice and marketing strategy
- FAQ pages that drive SEO
- More effective web pages focused on pain points
- Blogs that drive the right traffic to your site
- Valuable gated content offers that drive conversions
- Explainer videos
- Campaigns targeting the metrics you care about
Marketing and Sales are Better Together
While they might often be at odds or misunderstand each other, make no mistake that these two silos are way better when they’re working together.
Just think about the core objective of the roles.
The goal of your marketing team is to generate leads for your sales team. Not every website visitor will become a lead. Out of the small percentage of those that do, not all will be good leads. Salespeople use specific criteria that qualify the leads they’ll pursue.
It’s sort of like your sales team is making dinner and sent your marketing team to the grocery store. If they’re open and communicating, the marketing team will have a shopping list. If they’re not, sales is going to have to settle for whatever the marketing team brings home. Yikes.
Make it Happen, Captain
It makes complete sense, so how do you actually get sales talking? Depending on the size and structure of your business, the volume of your marketing and the projects you’re undertaking, there’s a few different strategies you can take:
- Set up interview-style meetings between your content writer and the relevant salesperson.
- Get key salespeople into your marketing brainstorms for content planning.
- Plant a key content strategist in sales meetings to identify opportunities to support the sales team with content.
- Form a smarketing team to create a permanent partnership between the two departments while empowering key staff members to keep the communication flowing.
Stop Sabotaging the Partnership
It’s not always easy to forge a harmonious and mutually-beneficial relationship between marketing and sales. Most organizations unknowingly sabotage it by simply doing what’s always been done. If you want different results, it’s time to think differently.
Value and Acknowledge Everyone’s Contribution
There’s nothing like cash and prizes to drive a wedge between coworkers. Think about offering incentives to everyone, to level the playing field. If sales incentives are a part of their actually pay structure, make sure that’s widely understood. Essentially, you can offer incentives, just make sure they’re being offered in a way that doesn’t drive animosity.
***If your marketing is done by an outside agency, don’t worry about this one.***
Don’t Physically Separate Sales and Marketing
It’s easy to dismiss or marginalize what you never have to see (and so much harder to collaborate). Just being exposed to each other’s notes and conversations can foster better communication and joint efforts.
Be Transparent and Encourage Questions
Share stats, figures and goals with everyone in a forum where they can ask questions. If your leads are down 40 percent, everyone needs to know, in order to discuss both the reasons and solutions together, rather than throwing blame around or trying to solve the problem without a full-circle approach.
Start Thinking of Salespeople as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
Good salespeople have a lot more to contribute to your team than sales, so give them the opportunity. Let the rest of your company see these superstars for the experts they really are. Let them hear the sales team pitch your products, so we can all can understand how they’re addressing the pain points of your consumers in their conversations.
Keep the C-Suite and Send Me Your Sales Team!
Stop hesitating and start changing the way you think about content creation. Let these walking, talking encyclopedias of your services supercharge your content creation, point you in a better direction and be the wind beneath the winds of your content marketers. You’ll be glad you did (everyone will.)