People keep framing sales enablement versus content marketing as some sort of competition. Venturebeat even wrote an article about it late last year.
In fact, back in 2013, only 24% of marketers and sales teams had agreed upon lead responsibilities, according to a Hubspot State of Inbound Marketing survey. It’s likely that that percentage hasn’t increased significantly over the past couple years because sales and marketing are becoming more polarized than ever before. The disconnect between the two teams has been going on for some time now, and has led to an increasing standoffish-ness of both departments at large companies that rely on automation.
This is all really strange when, in reality, sales enablement software and content marketing are meant to compliment one another. It’s an open secret that sales and marketing are on the same side.
Who does what?
But let’s go back to the distinction made between sales enablement and content marketing. For the sake of this post, it might be useful to define both strategies first. Let’s look at their most widely-accepted definitions:
“A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” – CMI
“Getting the right information into the hands of the right sellers at the right time and place, and in the right format, to move a sales opportunity forward.” – IDC
As you can see, both content marketing and sales enablement aim to get “the right information” to the right audience — either sales or consumers.
But it’s important to understand the relationship between these two strategies.
Content marketing is not meant to be salesy. Good content communicates with customers without selling. The very reason great content marketing works is because consumers in 2015 are too smart for direct, in-your-face marketing. If we want to secure their loyalty (and their business), we need to give them valuable information that makes them better-informed buyers. But unless content is informed by sales data and buyer decisions — it’s missing the mark.
Sales enablement, on the other hand, cannot work without a backbone of data-driven content marketing. And the most efficient way for salespeople to get the right information these days is to look at the data behind marketing that works using marketing automation software.
Reorienting the buyer journey
Both sales and marketing need to share the data their teams are producing. The problem is that this just doesn’t happen in most companies (as shown by commonplace disagreements on lead responsibilities).
This is what the traditional, outdated buyer purchase journey looks like:
The problem is that marketing drops off after the “bottom funnel.” They aren’t a part of the final decision or implementation stages of the buyer journey. And sales isn’t a part of anything marketing is doing, either.
In order to connect the disconnected, sales teams have to look at marketing as an integral part of the sales cycle. And marketers need to realize that automation will not solve all their problems. They need to understand buyer scenarios and journeys in order to really understand why the data they’re generating needs to get into the hands of sales. Lead responsibilities have to be agreed on, and data needs to be shared.
Of course, this is much easier said than done. At times, the rift between sales and marketing seems to be an ideological one with no easy solution. But at the very least we can stop sensationalizing problems that aren’t really newsworthy.
Do you have a sales and marketing collaboration success story? If so, please, by all means, leave a comment below. I’m sure we’d all love to hear how you did it.