Ebony and Ivory: sales and marketing in perfect harmony?

Written by Chris Abraham  |  18, July, 2013  |  0 Comments
Ebony_and_Ivory_(450x299) (1)When Stevie and Paul were singing “side by side at the piano”, they were talking about symbiosis: “two parties enjoying a mutually beneficial, harmonious relationship”.  And this word seems to sum up exactly the relationship between your Sales and Marketing teams, right?


You mean to say that, in an age where savvy business buyers are so in charge of when they are ready to buy (and from whom), your Sales and Marketing teams haven’t yet realised they have much to gain from collaboration?  That they should align themselves more closely, to draw on each other’s expertise and understanding of your customers, to their mutual benefit? Maybe it’s time then to demonstrate how, by centring efforts around B2B content, there will be rewards for both:

Why Sales is invaluable to Marketing?

Defining personas:

While Marketing colleagues will have a good deal of information on your customer personas, from marketing data - blog metrics/comments, eBook downloads, social media activity - the real "meat on the bones", the humanising of this buyer personality will come from colleagues in Sales.  Accomplished sales people will be able to accurately depict what kind of person your average buyer is, what type of business they work in, what kinds of role and responsibilities they have, their likes, their dislikes, their concerns...  All essential details for Marketing to use in their content writing, their decisions on offers, on workflow planning, on campaigns, on the content marketing pipeline.

Right content, right time:

Sales’ insight is indispensable to Marketing for mapping content to the buying cycle, so that prospects can access timely, relevant B2B content, at the time in the purchasing journey they need it.  This mapping exercise should be directly informed by the “at the coalface” guys/girls; their knowledge of what people are asking, what expertise they are seeking, the challenges they are facing, is absolutely vital to ensuring that your company’s content is found and consumed at the earlier research stage of the purchasing process.  In turn, for later in the cycle when prospects are comparing services and then seeking to validate their purchase decisions, Sales’ grasp of what competitors are being considered, what differentiators buyers are looking for, what internal resistance they might be meeting, can inform Marketing’s content writing for this “bottom-of-the-funnel” stage.

Content creation:

We’ve written in an earlier post how your Sales people can (and should) contribute to the content writing process. They can be helpful, for instance, in producing blog content which responds directly to customer questions, in sourcing clients for case-studies, in helping to produce product videos, in presenting online demos of products/services, in hosting webinars or Q&A, the list goes on.

Encouraging consumption:

Sales teams can be incredibly useful to their Marketing colleagues in generating traffic, audience engagement and interest, by sharing new content with their social networks and specific customer contacts.  They might, for example, check in with prospects with an email such as “I see that you downloaded eBook X and thought you might be interested in a post we’ve just written on issue Y”, or else, they can use their “little black books” to engage attendees for webinars or live online events that you are hosting, for example.

Why Marketing is invaluable to Sales?

Providing useful analytics/data:

With the right marketing automation software, for instance Hubspot, Marketing can provide Sales with excellent background information on prospects prior to contact – they can see what kind of content they’ve been reading, eBooks/white papers they’ve downloaded, what they have shared and where, any comments made, etc.  Armed with this type of valuable insight, Sales teams can more effectively prepare for client meetings, anticipating potential questions, focusing on particular areas of interest in your business, pre-empting potential barriers, etc

Lead nurturing:

We’ve spoken already about the right content at the right time; Marketing can use automated emails (having gained prior permission) to make timely offers to prospects based on previous site activity and specified areas of interest: lead nurturing.  This means that leads will have already been fostered through the sales funnel, so that they are as close to sales-ready as possible by the time the Sales team contacts them.   How much easier is it for a Sales person to do their job, when much of the “warming up” has already happened via educative, pertinent content delivered at a time when the buyer requires it.

Equipping the sales team with B2B content (as a sales tool):

The Sales team will feel better equipped to do their job of “closing”, with a suite of informative, customer-focused content to hand.  When they engage with qualified leads towards the end of the buying process, they are able to offer appropriate sales-orientated content to consolidate the buyer’s decision-making - for instance, testimonials, competitor comparisons, demo videos, explanatory webinars, live/online Q&A sessions.

Building credibility/reputation:

The B2B content generated by marketers, especially at the top-of-the-funnel, is motivated to create a thought-leader of your business, to establish your company as one that has something valid to say on industry-wide issues, to be of value and to be trusted by potential customers.  What price a buyer who – based on their evidence of the credibility and validity of your business – is wholly receptive to a call from, or to a meeting with, your Sales colleagues?

Photo © 2011 J. Ronald Lee


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