I was speaking to a B2B marketer recently about their need to create content that was aligned to the customer journey. She told me that after a week of meetings between marketing and sales, it was decided that sales was going to create the customer facing content and messaging for the organization. In her words “we have lost that battle.”
The explanation given was that sales has a unique view into their customers and buyers and given that perspective; they should be the group that develops the content and messaging. While it is accurate that sales has a unique view of the buyers and customers, it does not equip them to develop content that aligns to the customer journey.
Below are a few reasons why rather than assume the content marketing role, sales teams would be best served to work in a collaborative fashion with their marketing teams in developing content rather than trying to forge ahead on their own.
You Need More than One Perspective
While it is important to get sales perspective on their buyers and customers as well as understand the insights they are gaining from their daily conversations, it is only one perspective and in fact, it is not the most important one.
The most vital perspective to get about customers and buyers is to go to the source. While one could make the case that sales is doing this during their conversation, you do need better insight than what sales will be able to provide as sales is focused on closing and not unpacking the details of the customer journey.
Asking your customers and buyers questions about their journey, the roles of the buying committee, channels used to engage with content, the type of content they consume at the various stages of their lifecycle; these are insights sales will not have but need to have in order better understood in order to foster better customer engagement.
Sales Does Not Have the Proper Skill Set
I have an incredible amount of respect for B2B sales people and have spent much of my career selling myself. However, the majority of B2B sales people simply do not have the proper skill set to develop content that will align with every stage of the customer journey.
Much as B2B selling requires a certain skill set, so does developing relevant and engaging content and this is not a skill that is found in most B2B sales organizations.
The Role of Sales is Changing
As noted in multiple studies by various groups such as CEB and Forrester, the B2B buying landscape has changed with the majority of the sales cycle having been completed before buyers engage with a vendor. This only underscores the need to have a deep understanding of buyers and customers before content can be created. It also means the traditional way of buying and selling (in most circumstances) has changed dramatically and therefore sales must adapt in order to succeed.
Many organizations still take the brute force approach to selling which is no longer effective. It is vital the B2B sales people understand that their roles are no longer to lead the sale but to engage with buyers at the right time because the idea of “disrupting” the buying process (as I was once told by a VP of Sales) is no longer applicable. A new skill set is needed in order to sell to today’s complex, sophisticated buyer(s).
Rather than try and be the creators of content for their organization, sales professionals should be adapting to their new paradigm, acquiring the needed skills and helping inform, not create content.
There is no doubt content marketing is needed more than ever to reach the modern and sophisticated B2B customer. However, organizations need to understand it is not more content or sales generated content that will work. It is customer centric content, which is driven by marketing and done in a collaborative fashion with sales that will drive better results.