OUR THINKING/ARTICLE

How to get client-facing teams on board with thought leadership strategy

Rob Mitchell

Tension between sales and marketing teams is nothing new. For years, commercial managers have complained that marketing are not providing them with enough leads or the right collateral, while marketing teams say that sales are ignoring all the great content they are producing, or not acting on the leads they provide.

These tensions are unlikely to disappear entirely, but approaching thought leadership strategy the right way can reduce them.

The key is early engagement and dialogue, and a collaborative approach to planning your content. This does not mean adding layers of bureaucracy or accepting compromise. Instead, it is about alignment: agreeing common objectives and KPIs, and ensuring that your campaign meets the needs of both marketing and sales.

How does this work in practice?

1. Engage the sales team early and seek their input

A common mistake is that sales teams are only brought into the conversation half-way through a campaign or, worse, handed thought leadership content once it is complete. This is sure to be a disaster, because the sales team feels no sense of ownership or buy-in to the campaign and is likely to ignore it. So engage sales teams at the very earliest stages of the campaign.

2. Understand the commercial team’s pain points and use thought leadership to resolve them

Every commercial team will have frustrations. Maybe they are finding it difficult to elevate their message and target senior C-suite buyers. Or they are struggling to shift perceptions and make prospects understand the new direction of the business. It is essential to listen to these concerns during the campaign-planning process to determine how thought leadership might address them.

If you have a clear view of the commercial team’s top targets, and the objections they are encountering, you can think more carefully about the framing and messaging of your campaigns.

3. Ensure that there is a clear line of sight between the thought leadership and a commercial conversation

Commercial teams need to see the link between thought leadership and what they are trying to sell. If that link is too tenuous, or the content seems too separate from the conversations they want to have, then they won’t use it.

This doesn’t mean that you should create sales-y content, but there has to be a clear link between the themes you are discussing and the products you sell. Think about your content as an enabler of commercial activity, igniting conversations that can lead in that direction rather than overtly being about the offering itself.

4. Think beyond the bottom of the funnel

Most discussions between sales and marketing focus on the funnel and see the sale as the ultimate destination. But the first sale is only the start of the customer relationship. Good thought leadership campaigns also consider existing clients and how content can strengthen relationships and build advocacy.

So always consider the needs of both business development and account management – and ensure you include their needs in the campaign planning.

5. Don’t focus obsessively on lead generation

Although it is essential to consider the needs of commercial teams as part of the campaign planning process, it is also important to think holistically. Focusing only on lead generation is unlikely to be successful, because a large proportion of your audience is not yet ready to have a conversation with you.

Campaigns need to lay the groundwork to get the audience to that point – some of your audience may not even have identified the problem, let alone considered you as a potential solution. Make sure your campaign serves them too – not just the small percentage who are ready to talk to you. Balance is key, so try not to focus too much on the needs of the commercial team (even though they are clearly important stakeholders).

6. Seek feedback and collect data – or anecdotes

The relationship between sales and marketing has to be two-way. Marketing provides materials and leads to sales, but sales teams need to feed back on what is working or not. Anecdotes from commercial conversations that have been triggered by thought leadership can be worth their weight in gold.

When marketers hear that their content has helped to unlock new conversations or got clients thinking about the business in a new way, it is a powerful validation. Equally, if content isn’t landing, then marketing teams need to know so they can adjust their approach in future.

Are you interested in how Longitude can help align and engage your internal stakeholders and client-facing teams? Read more about our thought leadership strategy offering here.

Book your free strategy call

We’ll help you to navigate and overcome any challenges you currently face and learn how to get more out of your content.

Book a Strategy Call

About the author: Rob Mitchell

Rob leads Longitude’s strategic planning and sets the overall vision and priorities for the business. He manages the board-level relationship with Longitude’s parent company, the Financial Times group, and also oversees Longitude’s finances, people management and administration.

Prior to co-founding Longitude in 2011, Rob was an independent writer and editor. Between 2007 and 2010, he was a managing editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit and prior to that he was an editor at the Financial Times, where he was responsible for the newspaper’s sponsored reports, including the Mastering Management series.

LinkedIn logo | Tel: +44 (0)20 7873 4178

Why great thought leadership is about problem finding – not problem solving

Can financial services win back the public?

This websites uses a small number of cookies in order to improve your experience. By staying on this website, or removing this message, you consent to the use of these cookies. See our Cookies Policy and Privacy Policy for more information.

back to top arrow