Content creation is often time-intensive. It can be costly. Most of the content you create won't immediately lead to a closed sale.
For B2B companies with limited marketing budgets, this can be frustrating.
While it's natural to want to jump to the finish line and close a sale following a little nudge from the "perfect" content offer, that's rarely what aligning sales and marketing strategies looks like in the B2B space.
B2B sales and marketing teams often need to commit to the long haul. To do this, they should develop complementary content to turn those marketing leads into closed sales.
Successful content strategies do all of the above, which is why they should include a diverse mix of content marketing tactics that can connect with customers and prospects (wherever they are in their buyer's journeys).
While all successful content strategies need to leverage different kinds of content, and the best ones integrate personalization and storytelling, there are a couple of content formats that excel at converting prospects into customers.
They could be what your marketing and sales teams need to accelerate the sales cycle.
Webinars – the Best Content for Connecting and Converting
Most people are wise to sales shticks and they don't enjoy feeling like they're a means to an end or a statistic in a spreadsheet.
Instead, they want to be treated like real people who have real problems that you genuinely want to help them solve.
Webinars are perfect vehicles for expressing your company's authenticity and transparency.
The best webinars show and explain which of your company's strategies have worked (and which haven't), they use statistics and they engage audiences like they're colleagues.
If you attract the right audience, share what you know in a relaxed and relatable way, provide examples, leave plenty of time for audience interaction and include a small amount of soft-selling toward the end (that should never, ever be salesy), you'll be well on your way to landing more sales.
Over time, you can optimize your webinars to turn up to 20% of attendees into paying customers.
(Important reminder: Don't let perfection get in the way of putting yourself in front of a camera and authentically connecting with your audience. Your audience isn't asking for perfection, and people like buying from people, not super-polished sales machines.)
Email – a Powerful Sales Channel
Marketing and sales teams that adhere to email marketing best practices will see an impressive ROI. In fact, one recent study found that email marketing generates an ROI that's four times higher than that of any other digital marketing channel.
Email can also shorten sales cycles without requiring much effort from your sales and marketing teams. By using automation to send a series of emails, you can naturally push prospects (or existing customers) through a sales funnel—the length of which is entirely up to you.
The number of emails you send also depends on the complexity of your product or service offering, but the first emails in the series should be educational. To generate content for these emails, ask yourself, "what problems are my ideal customers dealing with and how does my product or service solve them?" Then, speak to those solutions without mentioning your product or service.
For example, if you're a landscaping company, tease out the key benefits of partnering with a company like yours without saying, "buy our services." However, in these initial emails, you can still add calls-to-action that urge readers to reach out with questions or request an initial consultation. Or you can offer readers an informational guide and direct them to a related blog post.
The next email or two should introduce your product or service offering. You've helped them understand their problems and offered solutions without making it about you—now it's time to make it about you. But these emails shouldn't go in for the hard sell; they should generate awareness. Let your readers know your product exists and that you're there if they have any questions. Finally, the next email or two should be the sales pitch.
If you want to generate a sense of urgency in the hope of shortening the sales cycle further, reduce the time between email sends.
Content Alignment Will Help With Sales and Marketing Alignment
Sales and marketing teams often work in silos, which doesn't make sense, since both teams are responsible for driving sales revenue.
Silos create misaligned objectives, lengthier sales cycles and lower conversion rates.
Developing a comprehensive content strategy that takes into account a customer or prospect's entire journey, from research through purchase, is how to align sales and marketing efforts (or, it at least provides a solid start).
To potentially further shorten your sales cycle and boost conversion rates, try integrating webinars and email campaigns into your content strategies. Both content formats will improve your customers' buying experiences and make the hand-off from marketing to sales more seamless.
Learn more about aligning your marketing and sales strategies in this blog.