Today the gang is going to tackle one of the more infamous marketing subjects – aligning Sales and Marketing! Alignment in particular refers to aligning content creation and content use, something that Sales can sometimes struggle with. Given enough advance notice, marketing teams can create exactly the materials that Sales is looking for. But if Sales demands a specific kind of content right now, Marketing usually has to shrug and say, “We wish you had asked for this six months ago!”

That’s a problem, and we’re going to talk about what the latest studies reveal…along with three ways that marketers can help fix this issue!

Let’s Go Deeper Into the Numbers

The Content Marketing Institute, working with LinkedIn, has released a new report on sales and marketing performance that shows the important of arranging content creation between the two groups.  According to their studies, 60% of those surveyed believed that misalignment in this area could damage their financial performance. The study also indicated companies with low alignment really struggled when communicating how to use marketing materials, while successful companies were particularly good in this area.

The Role of Sales is Changing

The report also uncovered that more than 90% of buyers now start the buying process with an information search (a similar number refuse to take cold calls), that more than 50% prefer online research to talking with a salesperson, and that around 75% depend on social networking to research new vendors.

We’re not saying that this absolutely means that marketing is growing more important in relation to sales, but it is a trend that both marketing and sales need to understand: People are more inclined to avoid sales reps and do their own research, which means that marketing content has become incredibly important, especially at the start of the sales funnel.

None of This Matters to the Buyer

The report also makes another note: Buyers don’t really care about any of this. A buyer doesn’t care whether they are talking to sales or marketing when they first make contact with a company. A buyer doesn’t want a sales call because they looked up information about your products. Instead, a buyer wants to create their own journey and find the right content when it is needed, and talk to the right people when they decide to talk: Far from buyers preferring salespeople or marketing content, they don’t know the difference and they don’t care anyway.

Response 1: Create a Growth Team

So, how do we respond to these revelations? First, understand if alignment is an issue. Is a sales team only using part of the content that marketing has created? Do sales teams reliably direct leads to social media and website content? If these things aren’t happening, that’s a big problem! A good solution is creating a growth team of both sales and marketing people to plan out marketing content well ahead of time, so sales can contribute what they want and give marketing enough time to integrate these wants into the next campaign.

Response 2: Improve Communication

When in doubt, talk it out! Sales and marketing need reliable channels of communication that they can use at any time to ask questions, ask for particular content, ask what the right content for a certain situation should be, and so on. There should be ongoing discussion on these topics as both sales and marketing continue to learn from their experience with leads. If sales or marketing has a problem with the number or quality of leads being produced, they need to discuss it immediately – and avoid the blame games.

Response 3: Create Easy Access to Produced Content

One of the most common complaints between sales and marketing these days is that sales cannot locate marketing content to use, even if that content has been created. Marketing teams, on the other hand, consider their content obvious and easily accessed in seconds. The key here is to train both groups on where to store content, online and offline, so that everyone knows where it is and how to use it. This includes cloud storage, social media content, video content that sales may be unsure of, and much more!

But we also want to hear from you! How do you improve communication between sales and marketing? Connect with us on social media @21handshake and let us know your thoughts! If you loved the episode, that makes us really happy – and we hope you take the time to rate us 5 stars on your listening app!