Sales and Marketing Alignment: How to Shorten Your Sales Cycle

According to a recent study by Marketo, organizations with strong sales and marketing alignment experience roughly 70% higher conversion rates and over 200% more in revenue. But if we know alignment is so important to our bottom line, why do so many of us struggle to get it right?

Maybe you’ve been publishing marketing content but aren’t sure why the sales needle isn’t moving. Or you’re in sales, unsure exactly why your marketing team even creates content in the first place.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A lot of the businesses that come to us have these exact same struggles. 

We all know a well-oiled sales and marketing machine can transform our businesses, whether you operate a B2B or B2C — but understanding how to make it work is where most of us get confused.

The following is a straightforward framework we teach our clients, and if you use this strategy too, your sales team will walk away knowing exactly what content your marketing team is producing and how to use it. In return, they’ll experience a dramatically shorter sales cycle and increase sales

We promise.

Ready to get started? Here’s what to do.

Focus area #1: See the value of content

The first step toward aligning your sales and marketing teams is creating a content-creation culture in your business. 

You might be thinking: What does this even mean? 

At IMPACT, we believe that “programs” are abandoned just about as fast as the time it takes to set them up. But when we change the culture of our business, it becomes the way we live, breathe, and exist in our organizations. 

Now, we know that culture change can feel daunting, but it’s not as hard as it seems. It starts with leadership. If company leaders believe in the power of content to attract, educate, and build trust with your audience, you’ve got the foundation you need. 

If the leadership team is on board, everyone else can follow suit. If not, there’ll be no progress. 

Sales needs to buy in

To build a true culture of content at your business, your teams need to know what’s in it for them — especially your sales team. They need to know the what, why, and how.  The truth is that the right content will make them better salespeople. They will close more deals and they will close them faster. However, salespeople are notoriously resistant to change, so this will take some finesse. 

Without this understanding, content marketing will feel like any other marketing trend. Help them see the light. Provide the educational opportunities that help your team learn what’s possible. For instance, we recommend this free course in which author Marcus Sheridan explains how salespeople can use content to close more deals.

Marcus advocates for a They Ask, You Answer approach in which salespeople are educators instead of persuaders.

Once they catch the vision of what’s truly possible, you can all work together toward the rest.

Hire a content manager 

When we say content needs to be a culture within your organization, we don’t mean you need to turn all your employees into world-class actors or writers. What it does mean is that you need their intelligence — these subject-matter experts know the ins and outs of your products and services.

What this also means is you can’t dump content creation on an engineer, salesperson, or anyone else who is working a full-time in your organization. You need to have one person on staff who owns the content production process — start to finish. 

We call this person a content manager, and not only will they ensure content is published regularly without fail, they will also:

Obsess over creating high-quality content that accurately reflects the true tone and spirit of your brand.
Interview your company’s subject matter experts and capture their insights (and your company’s unique perspective) and integrate it into your content.
Work directly with the sales team and help them integrate content into the sales process, allowing them to close more deals faster.
Monitor your organic search performance and routinely improve ranking and traffic results.
Update existing content to ensure it remains relevant and effective.
Oversee the other areas of your sales and marketing initiatives where content is critical (including your website, email, and social media).

This needs to be a full-time job for one person within your organization. They will regularly meet with your sales team, and be the sole person in charge of publishing at least three pieces of content per week (blog articles, podcasts, videos, etc.). 

We’ve seen organizations take shortcuts here, and it never works out. Inevitably your content creation process will be put on the back burner, and you want to keep up the momentum.

Learn more here:

Content Manager Job Description for Marketing Teams (All Industries)

A Weekly Onboarding Guide for Your New Content Manager

Focus area #2: Bring your teams together

Once you get buy-in from your team and hire a content manager, you’ll want your sales and marketing teams to meet regularly. Without shared meeting time, they’ll never get out of their silos.

They will meet to form a connected vision of how marketing can help sales get the content they need to close more deals faster. 

We tell our clients to form a “revenue team” with members of sales and marketing focusing their efforts together. This is a place for 



How it works: Instead of working in silos, where marketing creates content they think sales needs, they meet with salespeople to discuss which pieces of content the sales team needs.

It could be a new buyer’s guide, a product comparison video, or an article explaining your services. Anything that will help sales close more deals faster.

Focus area #3: Become a trusted source of education

The future of sales and marketing is buyer education.

If your content educates and informs, if will help visitors become leads and leads become customers. 

Implement assignment selling 

Assignment selling is the act of using content during the sales process to address major objections and questions your buyers have.

Assignment selling, when set up and used correctly, will be your sales team’s No. 1 selling tool for shortening the sales cycle and driving up revenue.

The plan is easy to draw up and use, and if you design it the right way for your company, you will see unbelievable results in sales cycles, timelines, and closing rates.

It works — and it will always work — because your prospects will always care about one fundamental thing: learning as much as possible about what they are going to buy. Your prospects have questions, and instead of spending your time addressing them on each call, let the content do the work for you.

Assignment selling: How to

Using content to accelerate prospects through the sales funnel means educating buyers before your sales call. Well-informed prospects are more prepared to buy.

When ‘assigning’ content to a prospect:

Include a definitive “why” you’re giving them the assignment. For example, “I’ve attached a guide to read before our meeting that will answer all your questions in advance so we can make the best use of our time together.” 
Offer a tease about what’s in it for them: “Here are all the options you need to consider before making a purchase.”
Get confirmation they will complete the assignment: “Will you take the time before the appointment?”

If someone’s not willing to take the time to read your content, they’re likely not a very serious buyer, so the process weeds out bad-fit prospects along the way. 

Assignment selling is the best and most efficient solution for shortening the sales cycle and zeroing in on the right potential buyers. To do it right, you need your revenue team to obsess over what content will improve your sales cycle the most. 

Ditch the silos and start selling more

When you commit to aligning your sales and marketing teams, you will see shortened sales cycles, higher closing rates, and improved ROI.

All the tools and examples we shared with you here are from a busienss framework we teach our clients called They Ask, You Answer. The framework has helped hundreds of businesses just like yours gain millions in revenue.

To take the first step at implementing They Ask, You Answer in your business, talk to one of our coaches who can walk you through how to finally take the guesswork out of your sales and marketing. 

With strategic coaching and hands-on training for your marketing and sales teams, we can help you improve your metrics and scale your business with great content.

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