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Watch your Close Rates Climb! Content Marketing meet Sales Enablement

Posted by Cliff Pollan on 05, Oct, 2013 Cat Climb

Win rates of  70% on sales opportunities?  Unheard of you say, but let’s take a look at how this can happen- by having content marketers align their content with one of their best channels – the sales team.


Today, the most common statistic is that buyers are well through the sales process before engaging with a sales person.  For example:

  • 70% of the buying process is complete before a buyer engages with a salesperson – Sirius Decisions

But wait, there is another 70% number, which shows the opposite, that buyers will engage with sales people early in the process:

  • 70% of buyers want to engage with sales reps before building their shortlist of solution providers – ITSMA

Finally, the most important of the 70% numbers comes from Forrester:

  • 70% win rate for the sales person who is first to help the buyer create a vision with a clear path to value – Forrester

At first glance, these stats may appear contradictory.  But here’s how I reconcile them.

Buyers, while doing research on-line, are still looking for someone who can help them really understand either the problems they have or inspire them to do things differently.   If more sales people could demonstrate a clear path to value from the outset, then more buyers would engage with them early in the buying process and rely on them as trusted advisors throughout.

This is the combination of the ITSMA and Forrester numbers.  ITSMA says that a buyer will engage early in the process, but sales people need to be good business consultants, knowing both the industry and company issues as well as their product.  Just knowing your product will not suffice.

Forrester tells us that if you get in early and  help your buyer to create the vision, then you will win the business 70% of the time.  So, many buyers will let you in early and if you do it right once in, you will win the business 70% of the time.

But how do we put sales people in the right position to have those insightful business conversations?

Quite simply by connecting sales people with the content being created (or curated.)  Much of the marketing content is what we call “thoughtware” – content that discusses the macro changes that prospective clients should be aware of and are the foundation for the early stages of any cycle.  These are the  “Epiphany” and “Awareness” stages as Julie Schwartz and Dan Armstrong of ITSMA define them.   This is just the type of content that the sales team needs to have in order to create insights during buyer conversations.

In this case, it is not just connecting the reps with the content, but truly having them be fluent in its key points.  They need to rely on their fluency to have those credible conversations with buyers.

Today, we too often see sales and marketing leadership miss this opportunity.  Marketing focuses their content plan on top of the funnel as understandably they are often goaled on creating marketing qualified leads.  Sales people often have trouble finding content to share and keeping up on what is being created.  Often,  when marketing shares content with sales, they fail to educate them on what is in the content and key points it makes.

Take a look at how you can extend your content to your sales team and make them the smartest team in your industry.  Armed with that confidence and knowledge, with information they can readily share and bring to life,  watch your close rates begin to climb.

Do you think this approach can help to raise win rates?  What is your experience in having your reps use content in their sales process?

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