Why Are 76% of Content Marketers Forgetting Sales Enablement?

Isolation 3

Isolation 3 (Photo credit: michael.heiss)

24%.  That is it.  At the recent Hubspot Inbound Conference in August, this percentage was mentioned.   It represents the percentage, from Hubspot’s recent State of inbound Marketing report, of marketers surveyed who do have agreements with sales on defining lead responsibilities.  Very surprising and no wonder there have been increasing indications of content marketing ineffectiveness.

Half The Story

Statistics being statistics let us presume further validation would still be close with a plus or minus 5-percentage spread.  It means it is quite possible nearly three-fourths of marketers are not in alignment with sales on an important issue.  A read into this state says content marketing is not supporting the entire path-to-purchase of buyers.  Of which buyers and sales are interacting on a good portion of this path.  This includes the pivotal moment of lead handoff.

This can also potentially indicate content marketers are working in isolation when it comes to understanding the various buying scenarios and buying cycles of buyers.  Concentrating on the tactics of demand generation narrowly.   Forgetting the crucial value of well-place content during the entire path-to purchase of buyers.  Meaning, content marketing efforts are only addressing half of the buyer’s story, which includes sales interaction.

Plausible Explanation

As the concept of inbound and content marketing has risen in popularity, I believe marketing may be heading towards further isolation.  Spurred on by the literal belief about the buying journey being nearly 70% complete before sales assistance is requested.  Just perhaps, being led to believe sales is non-relevant?  Can this be one plausible explanation for this surprising result?

I have witnessed marketing departments working feverishly to understand buying processes and buyers on their own.  Gathering “intelligence” and creating buyer personas on traditional sales intelligence facts – as if this sales intelligence were newfound revelations.  Doing so without the collaboration of sales.  Only to later find out sales has built a repository of such intelligence and the “insights” they provided were in fact old style sales intelligence.  Can this be another plausible explanation?

Another plausible explanation can be what is now referred to at an organization, as inbound and content marketing is in fact – old style product marketing online.  Thus, the status quo remains the same.  Sales perceiving they are not getting the help they need and seeing what used to be features and benefits oriented literature online.

There may be more.  What is common is both marketing and sales working in isolation.  While this may be what we can say is a “disconnect” internally – it is an even bigger “disconnect” with buyers.

What To Do

To move into the 24% pool, content marketers will need to embrace three important principles:

Understand Buying Scenarios

Too strong of a fixation on buying stages and buying processes can limit the ability to see what buyers are actually experiencing.  Content marketers can be more effective at both content and supporting sales enablement by understanding the various scenarios by which buyers buy.  Allowing them to see the path-to-purchase and how interaction with sales takes place.

Collaboration with Sales

By understanding buying scenarios, you will better be able to collaborate with sales.  It starts with the CMO and CSO making this happen.  The throwing over the fence of content for sales to use is not working.  Rather than focus on the “content pieces” sales needs from marketing, focus on what supports buyer goals, their buying scenarios, and helps them complete their path-to-purchase.

Do Not See Sales Enablement As Technology Only

I have found an interesting perception on occasion.  It has to do with equating sales enablement to technology enablement.  Automation is good, if the container of automation is filled with the right items.  This is how I have seen it work typically.  The content produced is made available to sales via automation.  Yet, that is it.  Lamentations usually follows on how the sales organization does not make use of this content, which is filtered through an API from marketing automation to sales automation.  Sales enablement is more than just establishing an API.

If you consider your organization in the 76% pool, it is time to work on getting out of it.  The disconnect between content marketing and sales enablement internally is highly visible to buyers externally.  Perhaps magnified unpleasantly.  Resulting in both content marketing ineffectiveness as well as sales ineffectiveness.  The issue comes down to this, if content marketing and sales do not learn how to play together, then there just may be no playing at all.

(Schedule time with me and a conversation to help you build collaboration with sales enablement.  I am very interested in getting your thoughts and perspectives on how this can help you make content marketing more effective.  Please share widely – your peers and colleagues are trying to get out of isolation.)

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Article by Tony Zambito
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