Who creates the content in your company? Marketing, right? Unless sales can’t find what they’re looking for, and then they create their own. This is generally frowned upon, since sales-created content is less likely to be on-brand, might not be up-to-date and altogether runs the risk of different people giving out different messages. However, salespeople should have an input into content and could even be called upon to create it under marketing’s watchful eye. The same is true for your customer success people and your product development team. Who better to write content or appear in videos than the people who are out there on the front line every day, who have the most experience of customer’s needs and know the most about your offering? Let’s take a look at how to get your organization to collaborate on content.
There are plenty of stats out there to show how important content is in attracting prospects to your website, and helping them through the initial stages of the buying process before they want to make contact with a salesperson. This article from the Content Marketing Institute is a great starting point.
Mapping out the journey of a few existing clients is also a great way to substantiate your claims on content and should help bring your teams on board. Use data from your own website to demonstrate the number of site visits a customer made and what existing content they downloaded before filling out a ‘contact me’ form or requesting a demo. Your sales team will soon see the role that content plays in getting the customer to convert.
Meeting problems with solutions
When asking your team to contribute content, you might come up against some resistance. ‘I don’t know how to write a blog’, your salespeople might say. Or your product engineers might say they don’t have the time or skills to write. Business writing is an art, after all! That’s ok. They can talk – marketing can write, or film, depending on the kind of content you’re aiming for. Sitting down with your colleagues to listen to their ideas is a valuable way of generating content ideas, and if they’re good on camera it’s also an easy way of producing content.
How you ask for ideas is also important. Ask someone: ‘Give me an idea for a blog post’, and you might well be met with a blank expression. Ask them: ‘What was the most recent question a customer asked you?’ and they’re more likely to be able to answer. Questions are key.
B2B organizations with closely aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.
Content = answers
Todd Hockenberry, CEO of Top Line Results, calls questions ‘the foundation of your content development strategy’. Many salespeople will spend the majority of their first appointments/contacts with customers answering the same questions over and over. Those questions should be the jumping off point from which you develop your content.
According to that same article from Todd Hockenberry, 74% of sales go to the first company that was helpful. You know what that means? It means if you can answer a customer’s questions with content on your website before they have to pick up the phone and call someone – or, worse, before they leave your site and continue their search elsewhere – you are more likely to win their business. Plus, it saves your salespeople repeating themselves in sales calls that now take place with a customer who is further through the buying process and, thanks to your help, more open to buying with you.
Keep helping existing customers
Of course, you shouldn’t stop being helpful just because you made the sale. That customer continues to be a customer – and if anything a more valuable one, since they have the potential both to buy with you again and to recommend you to others. They purchased your product/service to fill a need in their business and it’s up to you to see that that need is met. Once again, you might find your customer service team is answering the same questions over and over. Here is another opportunity for content – ‘How to’ videos and guides, for example, to see them through their first hurdles, as well as keen insights to help them get the most from your offering.
What if your team can’t or won’t make time for writing content?
If you can’t persuade your colleagues to sit down with you to talk about content ideas, you’ll have to go to them. That doesn’t mean sitting by their desk looking over their shoulder – these days we can virtually ‘shadow’ a colleague without actually being present. Get them to include you on sales calls – or failing that, record the calls so that you can listen to them. Ask them to BCC you on relevant emails. That gives you insight both into what they’re saying (i.e. the kinds of questions and answers flying between prospects/customers and your salespeople/customer success team) and how they’re saying it. You can adopt the language they use in the content you develop. You could even tailor it to an individual’s tone and attribute the content to that person without them ever having to put pen to paper, so to speak.
When it comes to creating content to inform your customers, there really are no excuses. Yes, you have something to say. Yes, you can find a way to say it. Now all that’s left is for you to decide on the best way to share it with your target audience.