When I started with Synopsys, a software security company, managing content was a constant struggle. We were creating a lot of it, but we always heard the sales team say, “We aren’t getting support from marketing. They aren’t providing us the assets we need, or if they are, we have no idea where to find them.”

Marketer or Librarian?

We were equally as frustrated. Not only were we producing the content they were asking for, we were trying every method we could think of to get it into their hands: emails, Confluence pages, webinars. Yet people were constantly sending us emails or popping in to ask if we could create items (which more often than not, we already had) or to ask where they could find an asset they knew existed.

I felt more like a librarian than a content creator.

But if we didn’t help them access the content they needed to do their job,  we knew that sales would end up creating their own. And you can’t fault them for that: They need what they need. But, of course, that meant there were inconsistencies in what people were presenting, saying, and doing—inconsistencies within sales as well as between sales and marketing.

To make the situation even more urgent, the company had gone through several acquisitions and brand changes in just a few years. Since sales reps couldn’t find content, they resorted to using whatever they could find (or had saved on their computers), which were frequently assets that were way past their expiration date: old branding, old messaging, old products.

Identifying the Problem

Every year we would assign someone to fix the problem. But none of these “fixes” actually stuck. We weren’t getting at the root problem.

It occurred to me that we needed a solution that integrated into where the salespeople already were—allowing them to find what they were looking for in their sales management system. The other big piece was making sure that they always had the most up-to-date version of every asset—one that would be automatically updated whenever we, on the marketing side, made changes.

Just as importantly, we lacked two-way communication with sales. They had no way to request what they needed or to provide feedback about the content that didn’t work. It would also be extremely useful to have transparency into which assets were actually being used.

At the same time, on the marketing team, we had big problems with the way we produced content. We had both internal people and outside consultants developing content for us, and I relied on a mammoth spreadsheet to track the location and status of each and every piece. I was constantly going through my email—spending the majority of my time just looking for things.

How We Aligned Sales and Marketing

Something had to change. So we brought in a new content marketing platform and implemented a whole new content operation.

But we knew we couldn’t make changes in a vacuum—we would have to get sales on board if we wanted to see results.

Of course, there will always be growing pains when trying to get people to learn something new. And we were asking them to learn both a new approach to content and a new system to support that approach. But at that point, they were as frustrated as we were and thrilled to try something new. We demoed the solution live at a sales training event, and they were immediately excited about it. From the get-go, they were saying, “Oh my gosh, look, I just found it myself!”

That was the beginning of a big turnaround.

Naturally, there have been learning curves and struggles since then (getting the hang of correctly tagging content, for example) but the important thing is that the sales team now knows where to go to get the content they need—and are confident they will get the most up-to-date version. I still get calls, but they’re no longer: “We can’t find anything.” Now they’re more of a: “Can you remind me what this was called?” Or even better: “I have an idea for how we can organize things better.”

From my team’s perspective, we can now see who’s actually sharing content with customers and partners. We’re also able to collaborate better with each other, with other teams, and with third parties. Even as the team (and our workload) has grown exponentially, we always know where content is and what the status is.

Takeaways

In the end, fixing our big disconnect with sales has paid off in both expected and unexpected ways.

As we hoped, sales and marketing now work together with greater clarity and efficiency, and are delivering a common set of messages to the market. Sales is better equipped to take on their own challenges and meet their own goals.

Meanwhile, on the marketing team, we’ve increased our efficiencies; we do gap analysis faster than we used to. And we’re much better prepared to refresh the content that we already have or launch new projects from scratch, all of which has a major impact on our ability to tackle future strategy and decide with confidence what we will focus on moving forward.

To hear more of Cameron’s story, check out her on-demand webinar, Winning Marketing-Sales Alignment.

Guide to B2B Content

Cameron Caswell

About Cameron Caswell

Cameron Caswell has been building effective digital content strategies for more than 15 years for companies such as AOL, Huffington Post, ePals, and Synopsys. She also mentors middle and high school girls, inspiring them to become strong, independent women.