How to Align Sales and Content Marketing Teams

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Businesses traditionally grow to a size at which Sales and Marketing are forced into separate corners. But business leaders recognize that these two departments affect each other at every step they take. Without the help of the sales team, Marketing might fail to properly understand the needs of its target market. And if Marketing were to vanish tomorrow, leads for the sales team likely would as well.

Yet the teams often don’t work as collaboratively as they should. In fact, they may even be at odds. Sales might blame Marketing when leads are lacking, and Marketing might criticize Sales when a lead falls through the cracks. The result: more division, less revenue.

Only 46% of marketers describe their sales and content marketing teams as well-aligned. That means 54% of companies are relying on sales and content teams with too much tension between them and not enough cooperation.

To get the maximum return on investment from their content marketing and sales teams, executives need to create a culture that enables those teams to work together. Here’s a three-step guide to creating that kind of company atmosphere.

1. Make communication easy

You don’t have to hold more meetings to encourage communication. After all, nobody likes to sit in a meeting when she could be cracking away at her to-do list. Marketers want to be creating content and marketing materials, and salespeople want to be closing more leads. So rather than cramming these two teams into a room together for a few hours a week, encourage collaboration in an organic, enjoyable way.

At my company, our marketing and sales departments sit right next to each other. When one of our marketers has a question for the sales team, all he has to do is scoot a chair a few feet away or get up and take a short walk. That isn’t just an easier way to answer work-related questions, it also allows these teams to chat and get to know each other better. And it’s a constant reminder that the two departments need to work together cohesively.

If your sales and marketing departments can’t work in close proximity, they can still interact in a beneficial way. Encourage communication through Slack or Skype. You can create specific chat groups or threads that can be designated for the sales and marketing teams to ask questions and collaborate.

Some companies, such as LinkedIn, eBay, Uber, and Google, swear by Slack. Instead of letting large company size interfere with their departments’ communications, they use the platform to enable those departments to regularly interact with one another. When rapid decisions need to be made and key inter-department input is needed, there’s no holdup; and that leads to much more efficiency and transparency.

When borders, halls, or streets have to be crossed to achieve in-person communication, it’s crucial to implement a strategy that allows for faster response time, but it can be difficult to get the masses on board. The easing of this process truly does begin at the top, so a great way to get your departments using these types of communication platforms is by first encouraging the leaders within your company to adopt and use them. Others will follow.

2. Involve both teams in content creation

Isn’t content the marketing team’s job? Well, yes, but that doesn’t mean only the marketing team should work with it.

One of the biggest alignment-related issues is that sales teams often don’t know how to use content in their roles. Though marketing teams are great at creating content that ranks well on Google or pulls in clicks on Facebook, that content might not be easy for the sales team to use for helping potential clients.

The best way to overcome that issue? Get Sales involved in the content creation process. According to CMI and MarketingProfs research on business-to-business content marketing, feedback from Sales is one of the best ways for marketers to research their audience.

Salespeople will know what questions their customers have most often, and marketing teams can create content to address those questions. And hey… your salespeople might even want to create a piece of content themselves!

And content isn’t just blog posts. It can take the form of videos, infographics, podcasts, and other formats.

I’ve found guest posts in relevant publications to be especially helpful. Potential clients are impressed when your company leaders write for trusted industry publications, and sales teams can help you learn what publications their clients love. At Influence & Co., our 2018 research found that the vast majority of publication editors planned to publish the same amount of guest-contributed content, and this year’s numbers show no signs of diminishing. Marketing teams have a huge window of opportunity to guest-post.

When salespeople are involved in the content-creation process, whether by providing a question that needs answering or by recommending a type of content that clients will respond to, they feel more invested in marketing efforts. They’ll know what the content covers, and they’ll be more inclined to share it when an opportunity arises.

3. Keep content updated and accessible

If you have a great marketing department—and I’m sure you do—it’s probably created amazing content about every topic under the sun. But for a salesperson, accessing that content isn’t very easy. Nobody wants to scroll through pages and pages of marketing material to find the right article to share, so most salespeople just don’t.

There are a few ways, however, that marketing departments can keep their sales department informed:

  • First, ensure your team has a content marketing strategy mapped out: 81% of B2B marketers say a documented strategy helps align teams so they can work toward a shared mission and goals.
  • Second, provide the sales department or the department leads with weekly updates. Start by sending an email with links to and summaries of each piece of content published during the week. That email takes just a few minutes for salespeople to review, and it ensures that they know what content is available as it goes live. If a salesperson requests an article about a specific question, send that article to him or her individually.
  • And third, create a content bank or a resource library. Includes all content your marketing department has ever produced internally, and organize it according to the sales situations in which each piece of content is most useful. That will make it even easier for your sales team to use it.

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Those are just a few steps you can take to better align your sales and marketing departments. When those departments work hand-in-hand, your content is more effectively and frequently used and clients are better served.

Getting your sales and marketing teams on the same page is the best way to achieve content marketing success.


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