Gathering buy-in from internal stakeholders on a content strategy often can be a difficult feat. One of the most successful and helpful ways to get everyone in the boat rowing together is to involve internal stakeholders in the content marketing process early on. Sales teams, in particular, can be helpful in shaping content strategy as they typically have a deep well of knowledge about both the products you sell and your key prospects.
The next time your team sits down to map out a content campaign, consider including your sales team as part of the strategic discussion. Here are some of the ways they can contribute and help strengthen your content marketing strategy:
Are there particular products or services your organization is focused on? What interest is sales seeing from prospects—are there any particular areas of demand? How do these products fit into overall sales goals? Is a product launch on the horizon? These and questions like them are helpful to kickstart discussions with sales to help identify areas where you should focus your marketing support and resources.
Once a product focus has been identified, it’s time to concentrate on identifying your prospective buyers. The next step is to begin fleshing out the buyer persona(s) for each product, i.e. the profiles of your target client. This is where sales can be tremendously helpful since they are on the front lines interacting with prospective buyers on a day-to-day basis.
Guide your sales team in a discussion that extracts the characteristics of each of your targeted customer personas. They can help answer questions like, what are the buyers’ pain points and challenges? What problem are they trying to solve? Who is the ultimate decision-maker within their organization, and how can we arm the persona to make an internal case for purchasing? Going through the persona exercise with your sales team will help you not only get smarter about your prospective customers, but it also can help you identify content ideas—blog topics and areas of downloadable content (e.g. case study, white paper, guide to selling up, etc.)—that can help aid prospective buyers through the awareness and consideration phases of the buyer’s journey.
If you’d like more help setting up your persona exercise, including the right questions to ask and how to format your research in a compelling way, check out our Buyer Persona Template.
Who knows better than your sales team what constitutes a cold, warm or hot lead? Getting sales involved in setting the lead scoring for your content marketing strategy is crucial to its success. After all, your content strategy is meant to nurture leads that eventually get passed on to sales so getting their input on the essential pieces of information needed to qualify a prospect is critical. Ask them what the key indicators are for determining whether a prospect is a fit for the product or the signs that may reveal intent to purchase. This could be anything from buying horizon to budget to company size or location. These qualifiers will differ from organization to organization, but for a more in-depth guide to setting up lead scoring, see our Lead Scoring 201 blog post which outlines how to get started with developing a lead scoring system for your organization.
In addition to sales’ product and persona insights, they also can contribute to the actual content of the content marketing strategy. Their knowledge can help address common persona questions and develop content around specific pain points or challenges your personas are experiencing. (This is especially useful for blog content.) Here’s another instance where a guided discussion with sales can help. The marketing team should put together questions around a particular blog topic that addresses a common persona pain point and use the questions to interview sales about that topic. In that way, marketing can come away from the interview with enough relevant, high-level information to put together a blog post that prospects can relate to.
The last, but by no means least, way sales can be involved in the organizations’ content marketing strategy is by sharing your team’s content once it’s actually live. Getting sales to share or re-tweet content from your social channels helps you reach beyond your organization’s network and helps get the content in front of the most important audience: your prospects. Also, any time a new piece of premium content is available, having sales send an email to prospects with a link to download is a great way to help nurture leads through the funnel.
Putting these practices into action and involving sales early on in the content marketing discussion can not only win their buy-in, but will help strengthen the overall strategy as well.