When B2B companies develop and implement a content marketing strategy it should be obvious that big change is afoot. Not just for marketers, but for everyone involved in the demand-to-revenue generation process. The most pivotal thing that needs to change in parallel across roles is the "conversation."
There are at least 3 types of conversations that will change in the marketing-to-sales process when a full-bodied, buyer-focused content strategy is put in place.
Content Conversations: These are the conversations that are generated by the valuable ideas that marketing content shares to answer questions buyers have during each stage of buying.
In fact, when a content marketing strategy is implemented, the word "campaign" should be stricken from the company's lexicon. It's no longer a stop and start endeavor, but a continuum that must be addressed ongoingly. Content marketing focused on buyer needs, preferences and priorities should get people thinking and talking about how to solve their problems using your ideas.
The interaction and engagement established via content marketing can be labeled a dialogue, two-way communications, or whatever you like, but it's still about enabling conversation.
Inside Sales Conversations: Once content conversations occur, inside sales can no longer follow-up with the lame script we've all experienced that's focused on selling or mining the prospect for qualifying information without delivering any value in return. A conversation must be mutually beneficial or it won't continue.
As I've said in another post, content marketing changes expectations. Addressing these new expectations must be apparent in everything that follows. It's about the "experience" of the conversation. A self-serving call focused on what the company wants to know/sell/get isn't going to cut it.
The problem is that you cannot just hand inside salespeople a new script and expect that to do it. Changing the conversation requires a change management process that includes orientation, education, tools and ongoing support/coaching with a feedback loop that enables refinement.
Let's face it, content is a wonderful tool, but it's not definitive until it's validated to have done what it's supposed to do. In a complex B2B sale, that means human contact by inside sales. If the orientation, purpose and "content" of the calls doesn't reflect the expectations and experience set by your content, all that hard work and investment can be cast aside by a prospect who feels mislead by a wasteful conversation.
Sales Conversations: Salespeople are now coming into conversations with buyers differently than before. Buyers are educated, informed and self-focused. Salespeople need to understand just what that means and how they add value when they're no longer building releationships from the start - in many cases.
Stepping into the conversation where the prospect expects it to continue is the new competence that sales must embrace. But they are not clairvoyant. Marketers and inside sales both need to contribute to improving this transition. After all, they know what's transpired prior to the handoff.
Getting buy-in from sales (at all levels) is needed to change the conversation. How does changing the conversation fit into your content strategy framework?
Have you considered what it means to change the conversation?
How will you go about collaborating with all the teams involved to ensure the demand to revenue generation process will be a consistent conversational exchange that evolves as it needs to result in customer acquisition?
And finally, the end result of how well all of this works is reflected in Buying Committee Conversations. And those will play a major role in the decision to purchase.