As a product marketer, you’re probably flooded with requests. Maybe a new feature launched and it requires new one pagers, or a high-profile lead has sales requesting more content. And let’s face it, sometimes you’ve probably been ever so slightly unwilling to collaborate with sales on their requests (maybe they’re asking for time-consuming content that would only benefit one customer) and vice versa. It’s OK to admit that.  

When sales requests something you find superfluous – or you pass content to sales that they don’t end up using, it’s usually because there’s a lack of understanding between the two teams. You don’t understand what’s happening on the sales side, so you don’t truly know how to help. We’ve got a simple solution: talk to each other. Schedule 30 minutes to chat with your sales team, and we guarantee you’ll leave feeling better. To get you started, here are four questions you should always know the answer to.

What does a typical sales call look like?

Sometimes it’s best to go back to the basics. Ask your rep what a typical meeting looks like. How often are they on the phone versus corresponding on email versus chatting during an in-person visit? How long is the meeting – 10 minutes? 20? An hour? How many calls in do they do a demo?

Depending on the type of call, a sales rep might need to use a variety of tools to close the deal. When you talk to your reps, ask specific questions about what tools they use. If they are having an in-person meeting, are they using a tablet, a laptop, or printed materials? If they are conducting a virtual meeting, will they be sharing their computer screen?

When you ask this question, go a step further and ask what their methodology is and how they use it. How often are they talking to their customers and when do they follow up? Product marketers often have no idea what the sales process looks like so this might be an eye opener. Now that you can picture yourself in the meeting, it’s time to understand what sales reps are doing with marketing content.

So what type of content do you use?

It’s the elephant in the room. We’ve heard that 80% of marketing content goes unused, which for some marketers, is personally upsetting. What if there was a way to find out what content sales reps actually used, saving marketing wasted hours of creating pointless content?

Turns out, there is. Just ask. Your reps will gladly tell you what content they use, what content they don’t use, and what content they’d love to use – if it existed. This might be the most useful part of the conversation because you’ll learn not only what type of content they use, but how they use it.

For example, if they are using a one-page overview, you can ask if that’s shown during an informational session or in a closing meeting. Sales reps love case studies because it helps give a real-life example of how your product made another customer successful. Ask your reps what type of case study is most helpful – a video or a written case study – and at what point in the buyer’s journey.

This is a great question because most likely you’ll find out you should be creating less content, not more, and you’ll have a better understanding of what that content should be.

Can you tell me more about your customers?

If you’re going to create effective content that’s useful for the sales reps, you need to find out more about their customers. Your reps are the ones talking to them and can give you a clear picture of what makes them tick and what makes them swoon. Here are just a few things you can ask that will not only help you understand your sales rep, but more importantly, what your rep needs to really connect with his or her customer:

  • What are the biggest pain points and challenges their prospects are trying to solve that you don’t currently have content for? 
  • Do their prospects respond better to printed or digital collateral? 
  • What do they say to differentiate your company from the competition?

To really make your content stand out, put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Look at your product through the eyes of the customer (and the sales rep).

Bonus: What can I do to make your life easier?

If you really want to score some extra points, end your meeting with this question. Such a simple question can have an enormous payoff because it doesn’t necessarily open the door for more work for you. Instead, you show your sales team that you are invested in their success and want to work together to delight customers and win deals.

So with these four questions and just 30 minutes, you can start to break down the sales and marketing dividing wall and better understand the sales process. As WAR once sang, “Why can’t we be friends?” Well, now you can be.


Last update: May 10, 2017

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