A Content Marketer’s Guide to the Sales Process

We write a lot about aligning your content marketing goals with your company’s overall goals. Since any company’s overarching goal is to make money, content marketing and sales teams can’t stay snuggled in their comfy silos.

Instead, they need to support each other through every step of the sales process. It’s content collaboration – and it can help your company slash its expenses and increase its revenue.

We get it. Large companies – particularly longstanding leaders in their fields – come with crippling layers of bureaucracy. For that reason, we often see them toppled from the number-one spot in Google searches, usually by upstarts whose agile ways of doing business work better in today’s connected world.

Departmental silos get in the way of agility. And, without agility, your company wastes time and money on redundant processes. Which, in turn, inhibits your company’s return on its investment.

So, get to know your sales teams and the process they follow to generate sales.

A Quick Look at Standard Sales Processes

Most sales teams follow either a 5-step or 7-step sales process. During your collaboration sessions, learn which process your sales teams use so that you can create content that supports each step. Here are the basic steps in each:

The 5-Step Sales Process

Billed as a “simple, linear approach” to sales by process flowchart company Lucidchart, this process boils down the sales process to the essentials:

  • Reach out to the prospect.
  • Discover the prospect’s needs.
  • Provide the prospect with a solution.
  • Close the sale.
  • Wrap up the sale and follow up with the customer.

The 7-Step Sales Process

Image via Lucidchart

Similarly, the 7-step process takes a more detailed approach to sales – although, in reality, it’s just an expanded form of the 5-step one. It consists of the following steps:

  • Discover the prospect.
  • Prepare the presentation.
  • Reach out to the prospect.
  • Present your sales talk.
  • Handle the prospect’s objections.
  • Close the sale.
  • Follow up with the customer.

Now, connect these stages with the marketing funnel you’re likely more familiar with. That way, you can correlate your content to your marketing operations to best support your sales teams.

Image via CrazyEgg

Connecting the Dots Between the Marketing and Sales Processes

The 5-step process starts when a salesperson approaches a prospect. However, unless your company’s sales force uses old-school cold calls, there are a lot of things that have to happen before your sales team reaches out.

The Awareness Stage

That’s where content marketing comes in. Creating brand awareness among your target market with helpful content can turn audience members into prospects by building trust.

Awareness includes more than helping your audience view you as an authority in your space. At this stage, your content needs to help them become aware of challenges they face – challenges that they might not have even been able to put their finger on.

Once your audience recognizes their problems and sees you as a possible source of relief, they’ve entered the interest stage.

The Interest Stage

Here’s where partnering with your sales teams can help them prepare for their initial approach. The key to that partnership lies in the first three steps in the 7-step process: discovering prospects, crafting a sales presentation, and approaching the customer.

  • Discovering prospects: As audience members show more interest in your brand through email and blog subscriptions, requests for ebooks, or becoming social media followers, it’s time to begin sharing pertinent social media and content analytics with your sales teams. That way, they can dig into the data to know more about them before they even make contact. In addition, giving your sales teams access at this stage can help them qualify those people who are most likely to buy your products.
  • Preparing the pitch: After your sales teams study your prospects’ data, they can prepare and refine their pitch to appeal to each segment. Additionally, your content teams can create sales enablement content to help your salespeople receive a warmer welcome once they contact the prospects. Ebooks and videos that demonstrate how your prospects can solve common problems, as well as case studies that show the success others have enjoyed by using your products, are excellent choices at this stage.
  • Reaching out to the prospects: Before your sales teams make their first call, it pays to send your prospects content that ends with a call to action to book a consultation. That way, they’re making the choice. When they feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, they’ll be more receptive to your sales teams.

The Decision Stage

Prospects rarely buy on their first encounter with your sales team. However, your content teams can help put your brand at the top of their shortlist.

  • Discovering prospects’ needs and providing a solution: If you’ve done a good job informing your salespeople about your prospects’ challenges, your sales teams only need to confirm those pain points during their initial meeting. Sales-focused content, such as brochures, white papers, and case studies that demonstrate how your products help them solve their problem and meet their needs, can help your sales teams move closer to a “yes.”
  • Handling objections: In addition, other content, such as FAQ pages or a point-by-point comparison of your product with your competitors’ products, can help ease prospects’ jitters. And, if your product is highly technical, how-to videos that demonstrate how easy it is to use it are extremely helpful to seal the deal.
  • Closing the sale: At this point, you can entice prospects to try your product with a free trial. Videos that show them how to get the most value out of their free trial go a long way toward helping your sales team close the sale. Partnering with your customer support teams to create helpful materials, such as instructional videos and manuals, can help them visualize how your product will make their lives easier. Then, all your sales team will have to do is give them the pen to sign.

The Action Stage and Beyond

Once your sales team completes the paperwork and your prospect becomes a customer, your job doesn’t end there. Your content teams need to follow up new sales with onboarding content that will help your customers maximize the value they get out of their purchase.

Collaborate with your support teams to create troubleshooting content for common issues. Make life easy for your customers, and they’ll likely reward you with referrals, recommendations, and positive reviews. There’s nothing like great customer experience to turn customers into brand ambassadors.

With a content marketing platform where you can collaborate with sales and support without leaving the content you’re working on, you can incorporate their ideas immediately. And if that platform includes analytics, you can see exactly where you need to make changes to drive more sales and reduce marketing spend.

DivvyHQ can do all that and more. It simplifies and automates the content production process from ideation to collaboration to the final result. But don’t take our word for it. Find out for yourself with a 14-day free trial!