Content is King, and Rules all Stages of the Sales Process

Sep 29, 2017

Article ImageBill Gates coined the phrase “content is king,” over 20 years ago and even hinted at how big the kingdom was. In sales focused organizations, the concept that good content is crucial has been successfully applied to lead generation, but don’t neglect the power of content for every stage of the buyer’s journey.

For years the best marketing minds have been producing content designed to attract attention and lead generation.  And with good reason. According to Hubspot in 2016, only 29% of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, while 62% will consult a search engine. This means the content must be compelling. Another 40% of salespeople say getting a response from prospects is getting harder and over half of salespeople believe buyers are less dependent on salespeople during the buying process. 

Acknowledging the prospect’s thirst for information and desire to find it themselves, marketers became experts in content-driven lead generation. They mastered developing ebooks, hosting webinars, holding real life events, and writing numerous white papers, guides, and customer case studies. This worked to draw prospects in and leads were handed off to sales.

Now, sales and marketing leaders are recognizing that obtaining the lead is just the beginning. Qualified sales leads need nurturing all along the journey in order to make a sale. Marketing budgets are traditionally heavy on lead generation methods and A 2016 Econsultancy stat showed that for every $92 spent acquiring customers, only $1 is spent converting them.  No wonder that only about 22% of businesses are satisfied with their conversion rates.

For companies to improve low conversions, a global approach is needed, which is where a sales enablement function comes in to coordinate efforts between sales and marketing teams. The activities are basically the same as lead generation, but applied throughout the whole sales process, not just the portion of obtaining the lead. Think of it as a rinse and repeat scenario.

Five critical sales enablement and marketing activities specific to content:

  1.  Content creation (for every stage)
  2. Content management and storage
  3. Delivery of content to reps (specific to each stage)
  4. Content sharing with prospects
  5. Reporting and analysis (feedback between sales and marketing)

Cooperation and alignment between marketing and sales teams is key for developing and delivering the right content necessary for advancing the prospect to the next buying stage.  According to the Demand Gen Report, 67% of B2B marketers say they see at least a 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more.  

The sales process in B2B sales is changing and leaders are adjusting their thinking to expand the use of content for more than just lead generation. Hubspot says, 74% of marketers say converting leads is their top priority.  With that in mind, many of the marketing strategies used in attracting the prospect can be used for keeping them engaged and making the sale.

As you perform an audit of your own process, it will become clear what content and delivery system you need for sales reps at all stages. The good news? Content is still king and more powerful than ever.

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