No You Can't Be a Thought Leader: Should Sales Create Content?

June 22, 2016 Amar Sheth

 

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While this is a question that was asked in the past by sales and marketing leaders, it’s now a hot topic when it comes to social selling implementation.

There seems to be two opposing viewpoints from two camps in organizations. While marketing would (generally) like to see sales create their own content – that is, write fresh, original content under their own names – sales leaders, for the most part, are vehemently opposed to this.

The question of whether a sales professional writes their own content or not is an interesting one, but what’s more interesting is why there are different views on this subject.

WHY MARKETING PRESSES FOR SALES TO CREATE CONTENT

Although I shouldn’t say this in front of polite company, marketing is pretty darn frustrated with sales. They’ve heard (the screams and yells!) from sales that the content being produced by the marketing team isn’t “good enough”.

To stem that criticism alone, more marketing leaders, behind closed doors, are calling for sales to create the content they’d like to see.

While it’s a visceral reaction, it does acknowledge that since sales is on the customer frontlines, they’d naturally hear the most common objections, concerns, trends and gaps in the market.

Additionally, though, marketing genuinely does believe in the power of sharing content. While your marketing team may not have it just right in terms of the content that will spark curiosity and conversation, they do understand that content can educate.

And educating in the early stages of the buying journey is magical. How magical? Our friends at Corporate Visions have done research that reveals that B2B buyers will choose the sales professional that’s first to add value 74% of the time.

WHY SALES LEADERS ARE PUSHING BACK ON CONTENT CREATION

Sales leaders want their sales teams squarely focused on revenue generating activities. That makes complete sense to me.

Given that we’re still very much in the early and awareness stage of social selling, the connection between content creation, thought leadership and sales impact hasn’t yet been made.

What is starting to resonate – slowly but surely – is that content sharing needs to happen. In landmark research conducted by Sales for Life, it was revealed that approximately 1 in 5 B2B sales professionals is sharing content actively to social networks.

While some may view this as a small number (it is, there is no denying that), there is still a positive to this: this wouldn’t have been the case a few years ago. Something has happened to spark change amongst the early adopters in sales.

I’m a firm believer that this bridge needs to be crossed first. Sales professionals and leaders need to see the ties between sales impact and content sharing.

In a study conducted by Demand Gen Report, it was discovered that 95% of buyers chose a vendor that "Provided me with content to navigate each stage of the buying process."

Studies like this help to reaffirm why it’s so critical to share content throughout the buying journey.

THE BOTTOM LINE

I’m a proponent of sales sharing content and moving towards mastery of this. There is immense opportunity still untapped for those sales professionals that do this.

Plus, while I do understand the advantage of creating content, achieving thought leadership/expertise status, can largely be done with curation of content as well.

Following and sharing content from analysts, influencers and other thought leaders while common to some is still largely unknown.

The role of marketing will need to be creating content that sales can share as well. The ability to have a good balance between branded and curated content is the key.

Are you sharing enough content with your buyers and social networks? Let me know your thoughts. Tweet me @AmarSheth or connect with me on LinkedIn to collaborate.

 

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