I’ve been involved in some very successful Marketing and Sales efforts (read Revenue) for B2B HR Technology in both the SMB and Enterprise segments. In every one of those successes we believed that marketing and sales needed to be looked at as one thing. More like a continuum and less like two processes. In today’s world of social media and search this has never been more true. Sirius Decisions research tells us that up to 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done on-line before engaging in the active buying process.
There is little to no debate, in the world of B2B marketing, that vendors good at developing quality content attract more qualified buyers into, and accelerate, their revenue funnel. We know a lot about the HR Buyer from both experience and Psychographic data. Both decades of experience and real research on the buyer tells us that quality content resonates with the HR audience.
We’ve been building toward, and pushing the boundaries of, content marketing in HR Tech long before we called it that. Content marketing, or Inbound Marketing, is really being taken to the next level by successful HR Tech vendors of all sizes.
What I continue to see as a struggle, even at some of the successful shops, is the link between marketing and sales. The lack of that continuum.
Back in the late 90s and early 00’s we built the bridge between sales and marketing with seamless coordination between the departments, along with good campaign tracking and a well defined sales process. We didn’t look at marketing conversions/stats – and then a sales funnel separately. We could look at each campaign’s performance from content/offer to sales conversions and sales.
Here’s the challenge: Just because someone consumes your killer content doesn’t mean they want to initiate a sales process, or take a product demo. It generally does mean that they are interested in the topic and possibly learning more about it. This nuance – having a conversation as a Subject Matter Expert, offering guidance, and possibly more content that moves a conversation forward and presents an opportunity to convert to a sales discussion. This is where I see sales teams blowing the opportunity that was handed to them, and hurting their conversion rates.
This is Content Selling. It takes the right sales people. Professionals that build credibility with the buyer and differentiate via the conversation first, then via the product. It takes the right approach. At some level all sales people are “coin-operated”, but a sales team that can manage this nuance will see results exponentially improve.
Does this increase the sales cycle time? No. The tandem of content marketing and content selling accelerates the funnel and brings the qualified prospects to the top. The great thing is that qualified prospects aren’t just the ones you want to talk to. In this model, they also want to talk to you. I’ve seen this bridge from interest in content to interest in product get crossed in one conversation.
In today’s market you need to enable your sales team with the tools to understand the buyer and the approach that will make both the sales rep and the prospective customer successful.