How Content Marketing Teams Can Empower Sales Teams (and Vice Versa)

Marketing teams spend so much effort crafting positioning and messaging. They interview customers, do market and competitor research, define differentiators, find something clever to say, and then they…email a document around to everyone.


And then wonder why messaging and positioning information rarely survives the jump from marketing to sales.  That disconnect can look like this:


  • Sales members often end up just doing a product demo or explaining product features because they don’t know where to find or how to use content.
  • Marketing ends up fielding questions they think they’ve already answered and/or creating content ad hoc to meet a specific request.


It’s not the sales team’s fault, but at the same time, this is what I often hear from sales:  “We have no content.” Yet, 66% of marketing content never gets used. 


It doesn’t add up, and everyone feels frustrated in the end. It doesn’t have to be this way.


How to enable your sales team with content


The problem not content, is a lack of sales enablement. Sales enablement is a critical function of content marketing that often goes overlooked.  It’s what happens after the content gets published but before clients come in.  In fact, it can be what makes the clients come in if you have a sales-led closing process.  Your sales team doesn’t have a chance unless marketing does the following things:


1. Provide trainings. Marketing leaders need to conduct formal (but fun) training sessions where they go over the messaging and positioning and teach sale colleagues how to use it in conversations. The training should address questions about how and when to use the content in your catalog.


2. Create reference materials. The content team can put together internal sales material such as talk tracks (messaging around a piece of content) and cheat sheets (summaries of positioning or product). Battlecards are also great; these are one-page charts that show how to go head-to-head against competitor differentiators.


3. Publish content, specifically BOFU, that handles objectives and shares customer success stories.


4. Create strong web content. Customer-converting content on your website includes your corporate story, services pages, and strong testimonials.


How to stay connected with sales


Sales enablement is not just a matter of giving a training, creating content, and then setting them loose. Continued silos between sales and marketing can hurt both sides.  The content team doesn’t know what to write about because they aren’t close to the customer.  They also don’t know if their content is useful. The sales team has no idea what content is being created, where it is, and how to use it.  To combat this:


1. Schedule monthly or quarterly meetings with a specific sales enablement agenda.Share the materials you’ve published recently and talk about how to use them.Open the mic for new content ideas and feedback.


2. Send newsletters to the sales team. A weekly or bi-weekly newsletter about what you’re up to on the content team can really build bridges and keep people in the know.


3. Get to know each other. Reach out for coffee chats. These 2 teams need to build relationships! The content marketing manager needs to be in touch with people on the sales team. If the team is small, then 1/1 meetings every couple months should be doable.

Above all, get leadership aligned. The sales leader and marketing leader need to be on the same page about this.  The ‘why’ is simple: content marketing can’t succeed as a function unless sales is involved.


Other ways the content team can collaborate with sales


Put some mechanisms in place so the 2 teams can flow information and ideas back and forth.


  • Put out a survey to sales each quarter to gather info on how they use content and what kind of content they would like to see
  • Create a board in your PM tool for collecting ideas that routes those ideas to a PM for consideration
  • Have a sales team leader review the content calendar and give input
  • Have a sales colleague read over the lead magnet you plan to publish
  • Hold an ‘office hours’ one Friday a month where you answer questions, receive feedback, and gather ideas
  • Host yearly content workshops – if you have an in-person sales meeting make sure to schedule at least one session that is about content


My college friend Sarah Cheney, who works in SaaS sales, summed up the problem with this chasm between marketing and sales:


“It’s both about the lack of sales enablement and also the lack of marketing understanding what actually goes on in a sales call — I can’t overstate how important it is for marketing teams to make sure they aren’t working in a vacuum and/or developing messaging that is theoretical, unnatural to deliver, or just doesn’t resonate with where customers are. As a seller who has been handed nonsense over and over, I so appreciate the marketers I’ve worked with who deeply understand how messaging is really used, how it lands, and what sellers need to advance a deal to close.”


(Sarah Cheney, Enterprise Account Executive at Ngrok)


In summary:

  • Publishing content does not equal enabling sales to use it
  • Great content requires that sales and marketing work closely together
  • There are structured ways you can bring sales into the content process and keep them trained and informed about what you are doing
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