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Solo vs. Chorus: How Sales, Content Marketing Can Sing From the Same Hymnal

Content means different things to marketers and sales staff. Here’s how to make both sides co-exist.

For sales staff, successful content is a magnet for qualified prospects.
For content marketers, successful content builds reputation, awareness and buzz.
That’s an often-fatal mismatch of expectations, says Craig Rosenberg, chief analyst with TOPO, a Redmond City, Calif.-based consulting firm that researches and advises on sales and marketing. He’s so fascinated by the sales process he blogs about it at, playing off the classic metaphor for the process of converting prospects to customers.
Sales and content marketing staff too often operate in their own spheres, talking past each other, says Rosenberg. Here’s what he thinks they need to understand about driving mutual success.

What’s the big miscommunication between sales and content marketing?

Content marketing movement is oriented towards using content to reach as many people as possible. Sales is about reaching one person, the right person. Content marketing wants to get the word out with content that people share, but that great blog post that went viral may not be the right thing for a salesperson to send to a qualified prospect who’s halfway through the sales funnel.

How can sales and content marketing get on the same page so content works in both directions?

Content marketing needs to understand what it takes to get buyers to the next step, and then look for ways to convert content to synch with those steps. Usually if you ask sales what kind of content they want, it’s a sales sheet or something like that. But sales can work with content staff to tailor some pieces to specific steps in the sales process, and that’s usually stuff that you wouldn’t share publicly. For example, you might take a white paper and create a version that sales can use late in the buying cycle that’s, say, an executive guide to buying this product.
For one software vendor, we created a ‘threat readiness report’ with canned best practices and a rating system, that sales could customize in ten minutes and send to a resistant CIO who didn’t think that he needed to look at that kind of software.

How can sales staff best collaborate with content marketing to roll out content that sales can use at specific stages?

Salespeople crave specifics. A good content team will meet with sales every two weeks and ask what they’re facing and figure out what content can help. That’s where you see real return on investment in the selling process. If you rank content by how effective it is in driving sales at each stage, you’ll find the sweet spots. If you create the ultimate piece of content for sales, you’re a hero.

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