For much of my soon-to-be decade at IMPACT, I held the herculean responsibility of getting everyone in our organization to contribute content to our marketing efforts.
From leadership and admin to client service and design, I worked with every member of our team (up to 65 people at its highest) to each put together a piece a least once a month.
Running a successful content marketing program is no small feat. It requires a full investment and support not only by marketing, but by your entire company.
One team that is of particular importance in your content marketing effort is sales.
Now, I know what many of you are thinking — “Sales needs to focus on selling” — and I won’t lie to you; getting our sales team to contribute content was probably one of the hardest because of this belief.
The immortal words of Alec Baldwin in 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross
But this sales-needs-to-focus-only-on-selling mindset is increasingly outdated.
You see, modern buyers are more averse to sales pitches than ever. They want to navigate more of their buyer’s journey on their own and only interact with salespeople if its absolutely necessary.
They don’t trust businesses or salespeople to have their best interests in mind. They expect salespeople to do anything to make the sale; to trick them buying something that’s not right for them.
In order to overcome this stereotype and win the trust of contemporary buyers, salespeople need to pivot to focus less on pitching and more on helping. Enter content.
Sales’ insight is the secret sauce in content
In a perfect world, by the time prospects engage with you in a sales conversation, they’re ready to act.
They come to your reps with a good understanding of your company and what it does and also feeling like they can trust your team to help them make the best purchase decision for their needs.
Content has the power to help you build this trust with potential buyers before they’ve even met you.
It lets you offer valuable information and education; to answer the questions keeping them up at night and be seen as a helpful guide.
Nobody knows this information better than your sales team.
They speak to your prospects every single day. They have detailed insights into what potential customers need to know and hear to feel comfortable making a purchase no one else does.
This is the first-hand information that will set your content apart from your competition and truly resonate with your audience.
But how do you get your sales team invested and excited about creating content for your company?
How to get sales teams excited about creating content
Here are six lessons I’ve learned about getting sales to lean in.
1. Lead with the sales process
Great marketing content can be a salesperson’s best friend.
It’s like having an assistant that works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to educate and qualify your prospects and never needs a raise or vacation.
This “on-demand” nature can be of particular value to folks in sales.
That said, to get your sales team excited about creating content, lead with how they can use content when reaching out to prospects.
Explain how offering something of value to cold prospects (like a blog article addressing a problem they’re facing) is a more friendly and effective way to grab their attention than simply asking them to set up a call.
Furthermore, talk about how sales reps can use content in the sales process (a practice we call assignment selling) to address questions or combat objections buyers might have as or even before they come.
Doing this helps both prospects and sales reps save time on sales calls discussing common questions and more time diving into a prospect’s specific needs and goals.
Better educated, qualified leads means more efficient and effective sales conversations.
2. Ditch fluffy topics
I can’t stress enough — if you want salespeople to contribute content and you’ve started with why it’s going to help them, you have got to come to them with topics that will actually educate prospects and help them close.
Nothing will kill your sales team’s enthusiasm more quickly than having them create content they’ll never see the value in. If they don’t see the clear benefit of how a topic will help them close deals, it will be like pulling teeth every time.
So how do you avoid this trap?
Ask them what questions they get most frequently in the sales process. What questions do they wish they had a resource to share when prospects asked them?
More than often these questions will relate to your price and how you compare to competitors, among other things. However, rather than assume, let your sales team brainstorm their own topics so they are fully invested in what they’re helping marketing create.
3. Offer to interview them
Okay, so you’ve been reading so far, thinking, “this all makes sense, but my VP/CEO/COO will never in a million years sign off on my salespeople spending the requisite time to write a blog post.” Or maybe it’s, “my salespeople aren’t writers!”
Believe me, I’ve heard excuses dozens of times.
But here’s a solution for you: Have marketing interview your sales people.
As long as sales reps can effectively communicate their knowledge, they can be a part of the content creation process.
All they have to do, in this instance, is make themselves available for 15-30 minutes to talk through the subject matter to whoever will be creating the content.
Someone from the marketing department can then either ghostwrite an article for them, use the information to inform their work, or simply publish the interview as the article.
With this approach, your sales reps don’t have to be the ones to actually sit down and write the content.
As long as your sales team is contributing what they know to your content marketing effort, they’re doing their part to put their expertise on display and educate the market.
4. Explore other mediums
Great content doesn’t have to be written.
If you have a salesperson or sales team that can’t or isn’t willing to write, or would rather not be interviewed, there are plenty of other ways they can contribute to your content marketing effort.
It can be a podcast, video, infographic, or webinar, to name a few. In fact, many people in your audience may prefer these mediums.
73% of people say they’d rather watch a short video than consume any other type of content. They are also twice as likely to share video content with their friends.
If your sales team doesn’t like to write, have them record videos answering common questions. You can then publish this to social media, use it as is in the sales process or on your website, or even transcribe it into article in the future.
Where there is a will, there is a way. Be flexible and work with people’s strengths.
5. Show them the impact
I can’t say it enough: Sales wants to see that what they’re contributing their time and effort to improves the bottom line.
That’s why the best way to get sales excited about creating content is by showing them how content has contributed to closed deals.
Share reports of how content was consumed throughout a customer’s journey to close.
For example, you can analyze how many pages or articles a customer viewed before becoming a lead or the page that brought them onto the website for the first time.
(Tools like HubSpot Attribution Reports can help you dig into this information.)
Doing this will help sales reps better understand how content fits in the big picture of closing new business and, in turn, make them more inclined to help where they can.
Sales needs content as much as content needs sales
As essential as sales insight is to successful content, great content is essential to an effective sales process.
Each feeds the other and only when marketing and sales teams lean into this reliance will they be able to drive better leads and sales results in the coming years.
Need more help getting your sales team on board with your marketing efforts? Check our free on-demand courses, “Assignment Selling: Content Is Your Greatest Sales Tool” and “The Revenue Team Approach to Sales Enablement Content.”