Content + Sales = The Perfect Match for Marketing ROI

If you think back to middle school, getting that girl/guy to say yes to that first date meant you had to put yourself out there. Remember that nerve-wracking process? Passing a cheesy note through a friend (“Do you like me? Yes or No?”) amounted to nothing, because how could you possibly get that guy/girl to go on a date with you if you couldn’t speak to them? To get noticed, you had to do two things: (1) physically talk to your “crush,” and (2) know what you were going to say.

Marketing today is failing because we, as marketers, have forgotten that lesson. We still hide behind a friend (whose name is “Outlook”), passing anonymous emails through it to potential prospects with a campaign that still boils down to “Do you like us? Click for Yes. Ignore for No.” And the results are the same. Our campaign dashboards sit empty…

But I think we can fix this. Read on.

I believe our Sales Team is a hidden content distribution branch that is already solving for one of the two things it takes to get noticed. They are physically putting our company out there, speaking to potential customers one-on-one. THIS is where I think marketing needs to re-orient their efforts and capitalize on the face to face conversations sales is already having. At MarketBridge, we decided to take on a small experiment that led us to not only get that “first date,” but get a 17% increase in first dates (sales meetings) across the board!

The Experiment

At the end of 2016, around September to be exact, our CEO decided to test splitting the sales team into verticals – and by verticals, I mean teams made up of Sales VPs, reps and BDAS focused on specific industries. There were three teams and marketing was asked to support the vertical teams with content, messaging and anything else to generate industry specific demand.

The process was as follows:

Vertical Marketing and Sales Process

  1. Insights & Understanding – Both teams to collectively gather insights on the industry and to run industry specific plays
  2. Messaging & Content – Marketing to work with sales on the best messaging and content
  3. Ongoing Campaigns – Teams to run campaigns – BOTH sales campaigns and marketing campaigns (I’ll explain this in a bit)
  4. SFDC Opportunity Planning – Planning and discussion of first meetings and demos for each vertical opportunity
  5. Report & Refine – Self explanatory

The first reason why this process was so different than anything we had done before is that we hadn’t worked one-on-one with our BDA team to create industry specific content in the past. This gave the marketing team extensive insight on accounts that the sales team had been working on – the industry reports, revenue reports, press releases and published content that they had been so actively digging into to understand their buyers.

Secondly, it developed a HUGE collaboration between the two teams as each week we needed to work together, hand-in-hand, to run sales and marketing campaigns. Marketing was in charge of fueling the other channels with content, but sales too had to run their own “topical” industry campaigns through LinkedIn, personal outreach including emails and phone calls. Because sales was so proactive in fueling their own channels with the content we created, it was almost like we opened the flood gates to increased content usage and views. The value of our content skyrocketed beyond a single “one and done” email promotion and social post as sales WOM brought meetings, interest, almost like we didn’t expect it to (which we should have).

Here is some insight into how all of this turned out (without letting loose any private company information):

  • When comparing marketing campaigns that led to first meetings vs. co-operated vertical campaigns, we saw a 17% increase in meetings per month through co-operated vertical campaigns
  • We started measuring follow-up meetings from these efforts for the first time. Before the new mandate, marketing was only responsible for “top of the funnel.” Now, we actually felt like we could see some value in the middle!
  • Lastly, we saw some increases outside of “vertical” efforts. Webinar invites and content shared directly through our sales reps and BDAS led to a 60% conversion rate – the rate in which prospects went from just clicking on links to actually registering for our webinars or downloading our content. Compare that to just 13% from our other marketing channels!

Maybe it was that some type of marketing-sales appreciation was taking place… Or maybe these weekly calls gave team members additional insight in to all of the stuff we were working on and how our ideas, thoughts, collateral could be exchanged and used across all of our joint efforts… But either way, we were on to something! Marketing supports sales -> looks good on marketing!

Let’s be honest, every day you, me and your mother are bombarded by tons of marketing emails (just today I have 43 emails in my “promotions” tab in Gmail) and advertisements (whoops, just passed by the 10th one on my Facebook feed) that no one seems to take notice of (ok, you might actually click on ads here and there). It’s not that the content we are creating isn’t good… it actually is! It’s that we are using the same old exhausted channels that everyone is using to market. 21st century consumer demand is built by being 1-on-1, personalized and relevant. This is where we will see sales begin to have the upper hand in demand generation over marketers.

Unless, that is, marketers focus more of their efforts on enabling sales, and making sales teams their advocates.

If you are an organization in which your marketing team IS CRITICAL in generating top of the funnel leads, what I said above might not apply to you, but consider the illustration in the chart below. Your leads mean nothing if sales can’t convert them. Your content distribution framework has to push the buyer toward a path-of-sale, meaning SALES needs your content too. Collaboration, more relevant content creation and working one on one to understand what is worth creating and what is not, will do wonders for your content ROI…

Marketing ti Sales Funnel

Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.