What’s the difference between content marketing and content for sales?

I’m a longtime advocate of content marketing. In fact, I teach content marketing in at the University of South Florida Digital Marketing Certificate program.

I am a content marketing practitioner as a blogger, author and podcaster. I’ve been delivering content marketing services to B2B clients for over a decade. I’m also a strong advocate and practitioner of content for sales. I’ve come to realize the importance of having a sales focus in content production.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”What’s the difference between #ContentMarketing and Content for Sales? @BernieBorges explains. #DigitalSelling #B2BSales” quote=”What’s the difference between #ContentMarketing and Content for Sales? @BernieBorges explains. #DigitalSelling #B2BSales”]

So what’s the difference between content marketing and content for sales?

Although chocolate and vanilla ice cream are different flavors, they are both ice cream.

Similarly, content marketing and content for sales are both the practice of using content to draw closer to the buyer. Content marketing is generally associated with brand awareness and top of the funnel lead generation.

Gated content such as white papers and webinars are terrific ways to consistently generate awareness and capture names for your email list. These are top of the funnel leads that can pay dividends to sales downstream.

However, by definition, top of the funnel leads are NOT sales ready leads.

Content for sales is different.

For example, purpose driven content such as case studies segmented by industry, analysis papers debunking perceptions about your product, articles that explain the total cost of ownership of your product, are a few examples of content for sales because sales reps use them to start or continue sales conversations. In fact, some content for sales assets are “vaulted” internally only accessible to the sales team so they can be used selectively to advance a sales conversation. Consider the contrast of vaulted content versus public domain content. The sales team greatly values content where they can control when to use it in a sales cycle.

I’ve heard some people criticize this method saying “it’s just semantics” because all content is intended to support the sales team.

To that I suggest the following litmus test.

Create a content library and make it easily available to the sales team. Organize it by buyer persona and by customer journey phase. Over a six-month period of time, measure which content assets are used most by the sales team.

Be sure to have clickable CTAs (calls-to-actions) in all the content so you can measure contribution to sales pipeline for each content asset. After 6 months, measure which content assets contributed most to your sales pipeline.

Correlate content for sales to closed deals.

You might be able to correlate content assets used by the sales team to closed deals. For example, if 75% of closed deals consumed one or more specific content assets on their journey, you might be able to conclude cause and effect, aka attribution.

Admittedly, it will take more than a casual exercise to determine cause and effect. But you get the idea. The possibility exists that you can produce content that correlates to closed business. And that’s content for sales!

I also want you to pay attention to anecdotal feedback from the sales team about the content they use and the content they say they need to support their sales efforts.

Overcoming The Glass Building Syndrome

It’s been said that no one buys business products or services from glass buildings. People in B2B buy from people, not from glass buildings.

Consider the two factors B2B buyers are most influenced by:

  1. What their peers recommend 
  2. Content that informs them about a topic that’s important to them

In the content for sales model, we intentionally produce content that the sales team can use with ease, to either generate a warm referral by a peer, or to get noticed by the buyer because it’s relevant and valuable. 

Ultimately content for sales is measured by its impact on starting more sales conversations and contribution to sales pipeline.

So, long live content marketing for top of the funnel contribution!

And, let’s accelerate production of content for sales to fill your pipeline.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Overcoming the glass building syndrome. Find out how Content for Sales drives more conversations and pipeline with #CMO @BernieBorges. #B2BSales #DigitalSelling #ContentForSales” quote=”Overcoming the glass building syndrome. Find out how Content for Sales drives more conversations and pipeline with #CMO @BernieBorges. #B2BSales #DigitalSelling #ContentForSales”]

For more on content for sales, I’ve dedicated an entire podcast episode on this topic with Mario Martinez Jr. where we cover actual results we’re experiencing with a content for sales strategy.

Do you want to learn all about B2B sales, including how to assemble your team, the best culture to instill, and methods for increasing sales? Read now our complete guide for modern sellers!

Table of Contents
Add FlyMSG to Chrome. It's Free!