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Seven Ways to Help Sales Use Marketing Content to Win Buyer Trust

by Cliff Pollan  |  
January 7, 2013

Buyers don't care about your product or service.

They care about the problems and opportunities they face and how your expertise can help them. Consequently, Marketing and Sales share a common goal: earning the right to connect with buyers.

As marketers, we're well aware that our priority has shifted from outbound to inbound marketing. For Sales, a similar dramatic shift has occurred—away from relationship selling to value selling. Now, salespeople must provide insights at each stage in the buying cycle to earn trust; that's an incredible challenge when buyers are doing homework on their own and engaging later on in the process—and only with a person and a company with expertise they respect.

Owning "awareness and lead generation," and then lobbing a lead over to Sales, is no longer sufficient for Marketing to do.

Generating qualified leads via inbound marketing and then helping Sales use content to address buyers' needs across the lifecycle has never been more important for creating opportunities and closing business. I'm referring to resources and insights that capture buyers' attention, spark conversation, offer problem framing and solving perspectives, demonstrate value, and trigger action.

The proverbial tough nut to crack: getting prospects to engage as early in the process as possible.

That's not an easy task when 70% of the buying process is complete before the buyer engages with a salesperson (SiriusDecisions). But it's all the more critical when 65% of the time executives go with the vendor that's been helping early on to set the buying vision (Forrester) and 39% of top producers offer buyers a novel perspective about how to win in the marketplace (The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation).

If those statistics don't grab you, then consider this: 66% of B2B buyers credit "consistent and relevant communication provided by both the sales and marketing organizations as a key influence in choosing the company they ultimately made a purchase from" (DemandGen Report and

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Cliff Pollan is a co-founder and the president and CEO of Postwire. Get Cliff's latest e-book to share with your sales team: Be Relevant or Be Deleted: The Top 10 Ways to Sell Value.

Twitter: @cliffpollan

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  • by Jason Pinto Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Thanks so much for sharing these tips! In terms of helping sales reps utilize social networks more frequently, I've found that providing sample content/tweets to them has proven to be beneficial. Yes, I want them to use their own voice when sharing our content with their networks --- but in order to get them to take that step, you really have to make the process as simple and direct as possible.

  • by Carole Mahoney Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Cliff, all great points. Marketing Profs was wise to use your subject line in the email they sent. Otherwise I would had likely tuned it out. Which brings me to a question of sorts.

    What is a marketer to do when sales still ignore their content and doesn't want them involved in their sales process?

    I agree that all of the things listed are certainly what marketing should be doing, but based on observations, conversations, and experience- marketing tries and for the most part, still gets ignored by sales. It is only pressure from executive management that moves that sales and marketing needle to get the two teams to truly collaborate.

    Why? While marketers intention is to try to make it easier for sales, sales perspective is usually that they don't want marketing messing with their hard fought relationships and established trust.

    May I offer a slight twist? If #1 is to establish persona modes that are created with involvement from sales as to who the ideal prospect and customers are, it helps sales and marketing to align and collaborate. Sales has a say, a BIG say, from the beginning. By changing #1 to 'Establishing multi-dimensional buyer persona modes' that are created by both sales and marketing- that puts sales and marketing on the same page and focused on the same thing- the customer.

    Then, jumping into your steps- marketing's job is to inventory the current content, as it aligns to the agreed customer perspective and THEIR buying process, not the company's sales process. (The two should be the same, but focusing first on the customer process helps to bring the company's selling process in line)

    Also #2- those multiple voices should also be the sales voices. Sales helping to create content is a win-win-win. It's relevant, it's real-time, it's buyer problem focused (and not company benefits focused). That is, if they are decent sales people. As you said, buyers don't care about your product or service, they care about the problem they want to solve. (notice I didn't say need- that's intentional)

    Of course, #7- build in the feedback loops, so critical. Otherwise you lose sight of not only each other (sales and marketing) but also the customer.

    I guess I am just trying to warn the other marketers out there, if you start out trying to "help" sales, you are likely to get shut down, sales doesn't want your help- even if they don't say it to your face. If however, you ask sales for THEIR help- starting with persona modes, then you can start having those conversations that put you both on the same page as your customer.


  • by Cliff Pollan Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Jason - Excellent suggestion. I do believe that marketers are in a great spot to grease the skids for the sales team by providing sample tweets or sample language to use when sharing the content with customers and prospective customers. Also, to your point, if there is an eBook you are sharing, share with sales the critical points the ebook makes so the sales person can easily use one of those points in communicating with their contact . This will help to get the contact to read the content. Sharing those summary points with the sales rep makes it easier for them to use the content and leverage the knowledge that marketing has into the content.

  • by Cliff Pollan Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web


    What a critical insight - " Ask sales for their help", not "We want to help you". If sales people are part of the process then it is a team effort. They will almost always embrace you with this approach and the joint effort will create a much better set of resources that will get used. Otherwise you are acting on your own and almost always doomed before you start.

    Also, this is a wonderful starting point for getting sales and marketing collaborating which will drive overall success. Laying the foundation with this content collaboration will lead to a positive collaborative environment.

    As always, Carole, thank you for your great insights.


  • by Shawn LaVana Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web


    I think Cliff is keying on the most important area here -- give sales a seat at the table. Poor relations between marketing and sales are often the result of a breakdown in communications. To help win your sales team over and use the content you're developing, bring them in on your communication and strategy plans. Ask for their opinion. You may not always adapt it as they see fit, but they'll feel more involved and bought into the process by knowing what you're doing.

  • by Glenn Gow Mon Jan 7, 2013 via web

    Cliff, you make excellent points in this article. I agree with them strongly.

    To tag onto the conversation about the involvement of the sales organization, I believe it goes deeper than involvement -- it requires sponsorship of the sales leadership. And the way to gain sponsorship from the sales leadership is for the CMO to create a working relationship that enables that.

    Your points about providing great content and enabling sales to act on it when the time is right are absolutely true. But itís your last point that is the most important and powerful one. The marketing team needs to meet the sales team where they are and provide the sales organization with exactly what they need based on where they are.

    This often translates into educating the sales team on social selling. The rest of your points are getting at some of the core elements needed for successful social selling.

    Thanks for a great article.

  • by treb Tue Jan 8, 2013 via web

    Cliff, you created a fantastic issues in this content. I totally agree with them. Your issues about delivering excellent material and allowing profits to act on it when the time is right are definitely correct.

  • by Brandon Uttley Tue Jan 8, 2013 via web

    "Your content matters... but only if you get Sales to exploit it at every stage in the process."

    I totally agree with this statement and many of your points. It's part of our mission at Sales Performance International to equip sales people with both the right tools and the right process to demystify social media and make it an integral part of their sales methodology.

  • by Mike Ogden Tue Jan 8, 2013 via web

    Rock solid post. Sales and marketing must join together to map out the buyer's journey and deliver content and experiences that guide them. Yes, B2B buyers do their homework and devour blog posts, white papers, case studies, etc. One tactic near and dear to me is case studies. ( B2B case studies let prospects experience the before and after of working with your company before making the plunge.

  • by Terry Stidham Sat Jan 12, 2013 via web

    Well stated again. # 5, Trigger Action increases the customer lifetime value exponentially.

    Carpe Diem

  • by Cliff Pollan Sun Jan 13, 2013 via web

    Hi Glenn - Your call out that the most important point is that marketing and sales leadership must truly collaborate is one that I want to second. Without that all the best plans are for naught. But even more, as you indicate, they must really be ready to walk in each other's shoes.

  • by Cliff Pollan Sun Jan 13, 2013 via web

    Treb - Thanks you. There is so much opportunity hear to take the great content, and use it to bring revenues in the door. Exciting times. Cliff

  • by Cliff Pollan Sun Jan 13, 2013 via web

    Brandon - There is such an opportunity for marketing teams and sales experts like you and your group to help sales people to demystify the use of content, as well as how to harness social media.

  • by Cliff Pollan Sun Jan 13, 2013 via web

    Mike - I love case studies as one of the best content pieces. One way that folks don't often think about is to describe how the current customer made their decision to proceed. Often potential buyers are on the fence. Hearing how someone else was on the fence and how they decided to proceed can really help to get a prospect to yes.

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