By Jonathan Franchell published December 4, 2016

10 Ways Content Marketing and Sales Teams Can Work Together


Too many companies keep their marketing and sales separated into two teams. They don’t connect with each other nor do they have access to each other’s data. This silo mentality results in a huge lost opportunity for these businesses — upwards of 10% or more revenue annually, according to IDC as compiled by HubSpot. The curated research also reveals:

  • Companies that align their sales and more practices in place generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts (Marketing Profs).
  • Companies with dynamic, adaptable sales and marketing processes report an average 10% more of their salespeople meet their quotas compared to other companies (CSO Insights).
If marketing and sales work together, revenue could grow upwards of 10% annually via @IDC via @HubSpot. Click To Tweet

If your company wants to see similar benefits from a sales and marketing alignment, it’s time to restructure the two teams to facilitate better workflow between them.

1. Share all data

Don’t ever let one team gather data that the other team can’t access. Sure, some marketing data is irrelevant to sales, but more often than not, it’s not. Don’t put parameters on what either team will share and that includes ensuring marketers access to the CRM. Universal access will lead to better communication and deeper insights, and will prevent duplicate work.

Universal access to sales & marketing data will lead to better communication & deeper insight. @xaltd Click To Tweet

2. Have unified buyer personas

Analytics and data must be shared across both teams. Using these insights enable more accurate, uniform buyer personas to be developed. In turn, the sales team is more adept at connecting with the target audience. The marketing team is better informed as to who it wants to read or view its content.

3. Define life-cycle movement

A whopping 68% of B2B marketers haven’t identified their marketing-sales funnel. If there is no customer journey process, how can you improve it? Both the marketing and sales teams should have a clear understanding of not only definitions but also of how a lead is pushed down the funnel to become a client. Both teams should have a clear vision of how this works.

68% of B2B marketers haven’t defined their marketing-sales funnel says @marketingsherpa via @xaltd. Click To Tweet

4. Agree on qualifying criteria

Marketers should know what qualifies someone as a lead, a marketing-qualified lead (MQL), and a sales-qualified lead (SQL). If the two teams are not defining these terms in the same way, the leads are more likely to be scored incorrectly, resulting in a lot of missed opportunities for the business and improper crediting of leads within the company.


5. Create content based on the funnel

Up to 70% of marketing content goes unused. Why? It isn’t aligned with the interests of the target audience often because marketers ignore or are unaware of the sales funnel. The sales team isn’t going to use irrelevant content (and neither are the target buyers). The sales team should make its content needs clear through a detailed sales funnel as well as direct outreach to marketing. Marketers then can create content to inform, inspire, and educate leads, pushing them down the sales funnel.

The sales team should make its #content needs clear to marketing through a detailed sales funnel says @xaltd. Click To Tweet

6. Use progressive profiling

Sales teams ignore 80% of marketing leads, which means the time and resources to earn those leads is wasted. If marketers offer better quality leads by improving the vetting process, the sales team can take these leads more seriously. Progressive profiling uses automation to gather intel on prospective clients, leading to better conversion rates. Together, sales and marketing can use this technique to produce more qualified leads.

Sales should explain why leads are not a fit so that marketers can adapt says @xaltd. Click To Tweet

7. Use relevant content in emails and drip campaigns

At times, the sales team will write copy for an email marketing campaign without consulting the marketing team. Plus, 75% of buyers want content that curbs the sales-speak. Given that marketers know how to write copy that can attract clicks and engagement without sounding overly salesy, the sales team should take advantage of this internal resource. If the sales and marketing teams work together to craft the campaigns, the recipients are more likely to be interested.

8. Automate processes

Many sales and marketing processes can be automated which frees team members to work on higher-level tasks. Unfortunately, many employees do not fully understand how to use these technologies. Sales and marketing teams should be fully trained (and retrained, if necessary) to use the available technology properly and efficiently.

9. Don’t just say ‘the leads are bad’

For marketers honing their lead-generation practices, it’s not enough for salespeople to simply label a lead as “bad.” Sales should explain why leads are not a fit so that marketers adapt what they are doing to help produce better qualified leads.

10. Recycle sales leads to marketing

If a lead isn’t ready to buy, it should go back to the marketing team for more nurturing. Remember, 95% of buyers end up choosing a solution provider that “provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.” So if a lead isn’t quite ready to pull the trigger, maybe valuable content will help them along the sales funnel.

In addition, even if the former sales lead isn’t going down the sales funnel today, that doesn’t mean marketing shouldn’t continue to nurture this contact. At a later date, this former prospect may be ready to buy and it’s invaluable to have your company on its radar.


The benefits are astounding when sales and marketing teams are aligned — they are 67% better at closing deals. Plus, almost 90% of teams that do sync sales and marketing report measurable increases in lead conversion. While it might not be a smooth road to alignment, it’s clear that when these two teams work together, much more can be accomplished.

Want to help your sales team learn more about how to use content marketing to improve their sales? Encourage them to subscribe to the CMI daily newsletter.

Cover image by Helloquence via

Author: Jonathan Franchell

Jonathan Franchell is the founder and CEO of Ironpaper, a digital agency based in New York City and Charlotte, NC. Jonathan holds a deep-set belief that marketing is a union between science and art, and Ironpaper embodies this union to drive measurable, business results to clients using inbound marketing. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @xaltd.

Other posts by Jonathan Franchell

  • Jason Adams

    Nice article Jonathan

  • Candyce Edelen

    These are great tips. The closer sales and marketing work together, the more effective they’ll be. Here are some other examples of how that interaction can help:

    Sales relays customer questions: One of my clients has an email group that includes sales and marketing. After customer meetings, they relay notes about the opportunity in an email to the group and include questions asked by the various buying committee members. This is essential to our content strategy, as we can develop content that answers those questions in depth. The sales person can give a response in the meeting, but also have something to provide in a follow-up discussion. We also include the questions and answer in our nurture program, and since we know where it came up in a real customer’s buying process, we know where to inject it in our nurture programs.

    Marketing synthesizes content for Sales: Another client was having problems with content going unused, and Sales not being able to find the content that would answer customer questions and help further the deal. So we started developing cheat sheets that summarize the content for Sales and tagging the content based on common questions to help Sales find what they need quickly.

    Marketing “snoops” on email conversations between Sales and customers: Another client makes all email exchanges between prospects and Sales accessible to Marketing. This allows them to go through the emails and observe the cadence of communications, capture questions, and see how Sales approaches the answers. They’ve been able to use this to enhance nurture programs, provide templates to Sales that speeds up their responsiveness, and provide training to newer or less experienced sales people to help improve their effectiveness.

  • Abegail Smith

    Nice article1! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Ameer Ahmad

    Sales and marketing may have different jobs but they must work together in order to make their company very productive. This blog provided the information needed in order to reconcile these teams. There is no other effective way to make thing get done more that a working hand.

  • Hitesh Parekh

    Very much agreed 100% in aligning sales and marketing. This is the challenge for teams consisting of martketing + sales and their department heads.