How Sales and Marketing Can Work Together to Make a B2B Sales Messaging Program

Bring your sales and marketing teams together to create a successful B2B sales messaging program. Download our messaging template to get started.

If your marketing team is writing messaging for your sales team to use, your sales reps might feel like there’s a Wizard of Oz, sitting behind a curtain, creating content. Marketing thinks they’re paving the way for sales with yellow bricks. Meanwhile, sales is busy looking for the flying monkeys; the content is so strange.

In reality, the argument sounds like:

Marketing:

  • “We spend a large part of our budget creating assets that sales just ignores.”
  • “No matter what we do, reps keep going rogue.”

Sales:

  • “Marketing doesn’t listen to us. We have no resources to create our own stuff, but our reps can’t use what they make.”
  • “The content in there is terrible, but we don’t know what to do about it.”

If you’ve been caught up in that tornado and are ready for brighter skies, you need a strategy that encourages transparency and collaboration between sales and marketing. You need a sales messaging program. 

Isolated messaging costs companies a lot of money

It’s not just a matter of getting these two teams to “play nice.” You’re losing money if your sales and marketing teams are not supporting each other. 

Sales teams who work closely with marketing see 41% greater growth in reaching their quotas. Marketing teams see progress toward KPIs related to adoption and use.

To create a sales messaging program, sales and marketing must work together. Today, most companies have not found an effective formula to make the most of each team’s contributions. Here are a few concrete examples from G2:

  • 90% of B2B sellers don’t use sales materials because they’re irrelevant, outdated, and difficult to customize.
  • 76% of content marketers forget about sales enablement, and 28% of media and marketing salespersons don’t have easy and direct access to their own sales collateral.
  • Sales and marketing misalignment costs businesses $1 trillion each year in decreased sales productivity and wasted marketing efforts.
  • Each year, sales reps spend an average of 440 hours trying to find the right content to share with their prospects and customers.
  • Only 7% of salespeople consider the leads they get from marketing “very high quality,” so how do you think they feel about the messaging marketing puts together?

In our experience these are the initiatives that have helped teams collaborate more efficiently. 

  • Establish a shared understanding of what good sales messaging looks like
  • Create a sales content creation committee
  • Outline your content lifecycle
  • Assign clear ownership to each step in the process

That alignment begins with a shared understanding of the goal, which begs the question: What is a good sales message anyway?

Good sales messaging ≠ good marketing messaging. That’s a good thing. 

If your sales message doesn’t read like a note you’d send to a colleague, then you’re probably doing it wrong. To do that well, sales emails are usually:

  • Conversational
  • Personalized either to the individual, their persona, or their industry
  • Intended to spark a conversation
  • Plain-text
  • Brief (a few sentences, tops)
  • Focused on value rather than product
  • Concluded with a call to action that either requests a meeting or asks a question

Here’s a quick and simple example:

Question about ramp time

Hi {{first_name}},

I’ve been talking to a lot of {{title}}s, and I am hearing a lot of discussion about the high costs of SDR turnover.

I was wondering what your sales team is doing today to equip SDRs to start selling as soon as possible.

Would you be open to a quick conversation about what similar companies are doing to speed ramp time up from a few months to a few weeks?

Thanks,

{{sender.first_name}}

In order to create a message like this, you don’t need a fleet of designers creating backgrounds, finding images, and perfecting color schemes. Instead, you need a strong value driver, a sense of what pain points your customer is feeling, and solid research about what subject lines and CTAs (calls to action) are working at your company.

But don’t let the simplicity of the message fool you; writing an email like this one requires a lot of work and expertise. Choose the wrong CTA? You’ll lose them. Write a bad subject line? Your email will go right into the trash.

Because these best practices are often dynamic, and each company will have its own approach to experimentation and ongoing adjustments, we recommend that you create a sales messaging playbook to document what “good” looks like. 

This documentation establishes clear boundaries and guidelines for all content creators, allowing reps with content creation privileges to spend more time selling and less time Googling the latest trends in email signoffs.

Messaging playbooks also offer transparency. A message will either be approved or sent back for further edits. An objective framework makes this whole process less personal and less likely to introduce conflict between teams or contributors. 

Establishing buy-in around this document is like pulling back the curtain and removing the mystery from the Wizard; everyone feels empowered when they understand there is no magic; it’s just a really good process that anyone can follow. (Does this mean we’re all wizards?)

Even though they’re different, marketing emails are important, too

Marketing messages are sent from a brand to an audience; no one opening a marketing email believes it was written for them. Rather, we’ve all accepted that we’re part of a segment (hopefully the right one), and we’re getting an email other people have received before and will receive again.

Marketing emails often have these components:

  • Design work, including an image, a prominent logo, a varied color scheme, and maybe a button
  • Longer length, though brevity is still your friend
  • CTAs inviting prospects to learn more or head to a specific landing page

While marketing emails are as different from sales messages as the Tin Man is from Toto, it’s still important that they are sharing the same value drivers, setting expectations about what it would be like to further engage with your brand, and warming someone up for a conversation with sales.

Creating a Sales Messaging Playbook

Download our sales messaging playbook template

Provide your sales org with the foundation needed to consistently create sales messages that reflect your reps, tell your brand story, and start conversations with your prospects.

Your playbook includes direction for all writers to replicate “good” messages

Once your team agrees on the purposes for sales and marketing emails, it’s easier for contributors across teams to collaborate on what “good” looks like for your sales messaging. We recommend that those best practices, once decided, make their way into a sales messaging playbook, the Emerald City of your sales messaging program.

You will want to establish “laws” and more flexible recommendations, which are open to experimentation. Your playbook should offer advice for writers on all of these categories:

  • Voice and tone
  • Email length
  • Salutations and sign offs
  • Subject lines
  • CTAs
  • Inclusion of hyperlinks, images, and other external content which can trip spam filters
  • Value proposition
  • Social proof and customer examples

From there, you can evaluate which teams are best positioned to contribute to certain elements and the assets that support them.

For instance, your marketing team will almost always be responsible for collecting and creating customer case studies and making landing pages and other web assets. Your sales team may link to those, gain permission from current and past customers to reference your work with them, maintain success statistics and other proof points, and run events,inviting sales folks and prospects.

These assets will plug into value propositions, social proof and customer examples, hyperlinks for further learning, and maybe even CTAs.

Sales will almost always own voice, tone, length, and CTAs. These components often make a sales email distinct from a marketing message, which might communicate similar information, but to a different audience.

Here’s a sample breakdown of who typically owns creating what Note: both teams should be involved in formulating every asset and strategy.

SalesMarketingBoth
Email templatesLanding pagesFormulating value drivers
SnippetsEventsCreating a shared brand narrative
Sequences or cadencesCustomer storiesIdentifying key pain points for your company’s target audiences
Case studiesCustomer and industry research to inform the overall strategy
White papersUnderstanding how to talk about competitors
Downloadable assets
Assets for sharing on social media

You need a sales content committee to stay consistent

A sales content committee is sort of like the party planning committee on The Office, only better. It’s something people want to be a part of, and those left out feel some serious FOMO, but there’s no Angela-like bully or feuding over cake flavors.

No matter what you call this committee, it’s a cross-departmental group of content stakeholders who are usually either nominated by leadership or vetted from a group of interested volunteers. It should have representation from both sales and marketing, but the majority of members should be the front-line sales reps who will be using the messaging.

Don’t forget to include your front-line sales reps in the committee

Don’t just involve them, either. If your goal is to have adoption, sales reps should be driving the editing and ideation processes. 

One of the biggest mistakes companies make when crafting sales messages is forgetting who is sending them. Sales reps are often under-represented in content creation processes, and they don’t feel any sense of ownership over the end product. As a result, they often go rogue and create their own messaging that better reflects their needs.

That’s why reps are the center of every content engagement we undertake; we interview and include reps from ideation through drafting and finalization. And it works.

We once worked with an enterprise AE who had never used his company’s sales engagement platform (SEP), though his company was paying for a seat. He didn’t believe the messaging suited his needs because the emails were “all marketing-esque blast emails.”

After reluctantly joining a few discovery calls, we presented a draft sequence to him and a few colleagues. He was silent for a few minutes and then said, “this is amazing. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt heard.” 

If you’re seeing adoption issues for the content you’re creating, the sales content creation committee is the single-most impactful investment you can make to start getting buy-in and even enthusiasm from your sales team.

How to make a sales content creation committee at your company

  1. Decide on how your company will structure content creation 

Will this be regional? Will each line of business create their own content? Regardless of how many working groups you have, there should be one single source of truth for managing your sales messaging program. 

  1. Assign ownership to each part of your sales messaging program

Make sure you answer all of these questions as you’re assigning roles: 

  • Who is going to write the messaging?
  • Which end users will be involved in the drafting process?
  • Which end users will be involved in the editing process?
  • Who will make the final call before new messaging is approved? 
  • How is new messaging requested by end users?
  • How will feedback be gathered from end users and relayed back to the writer (marketing team)? 
  • How will success be measured? Who is responsible for monitoring and reporting?
  • What is the iterations process like (think: key metrics, A/B testing, retiring old content)? 
  1. Decide on a meeting cadence

Whether you meet weekly or monthly, your committee should get together to live edit, make and review assignments, share results of ongoing testing, and offer feedback on things sales reps are seeing in the field.

Meeting on a regular basis means you can catch adoption issues early and often, and give marketing an opportunity to adjust assets to suit customer feedback.

Just be sure these meetings feel open and friendly, encouraging everyone to participate. If your end-users are afraid to speak up, then you may as well go back to Kansas.

Consider the full lifecycle of your sales messaging

Your sales messages are sort of like butterflies. They pass through many distinct phases before they take flight. 

That’s why sales messaging is not a “set it and forget it” endeavor. It is meant to be dynamic and benefits from a continuous feedback loop between the messaging creators and end users in order to constantly improve. 

Think back to the previous step of assigning ownership. Instead of belonging to one person, each sales sequence or cadence should pass through multiple hands, as it goes through the lifecycle. 

Sales may own the ideation phase, and then submit a ticket for creation. Someone else picks up that ticket and drafts the content. Then it moves to another owner who records edits and pushes it toward approval, which may come from yet another person. Because many hands have contributed, a lot more stakeholders will feel bought-into the final product. When that happens, everyone wins.

Your final content lifecycle should be documented in your sales messaging playbook and used as an operating framework for your content creation committee. This clarity and accountability eliminates the friction that often comes from unclear handoffs between parties and teams. Here are some examples of those benefits in action.

Case Study One: Mid-sized company

We recently worked with a mid-sized company with reps  in NAM and EMEA. They were starting from scratch with creating a sales messaging program. Previously, marketing had been creating all sales-related messaging and content, and they were not seeing the meeting rates they needed. 

To compensate, sales leadership increased the volume of prospects entering sequences, and reps were exhausted trying to keep up.

After performing a content audit, we recommended that they involve sales reps in the sequence creation process and work on creating more effective sales plays to convert at a higher level, allowing for a lower volume of prospects going through at a time.

They created a sales content committee, which included creating a sales copywriter position. The committee worked with us to workshop existing content, create new sales messages, and set up A/B tests to increase engagement with their messaging. 

Today, they have a robust sales content committee that meets on a regular basis to workshop messages, share ideas, assign writing projects, and check in on key metrics. Because their messaging has a sales voice, their reps are better equipped to hit their number with a more manageable workload.

Case Study Two: Global enterprise

We worked with a global enterprise client, which already had sales content committees in place. Their sales messages were mostly created by reps in each respective region, and they wanted to maintain this heavy involvement from end users. However, they needed to add some boundaries and ensure quality.

We recommended they create protocols and a sales messaging playbook to establish best practices and enforcement procedures. It outlines protocols for refreshing content, sunsetting content that’s ready to retire, organizing content in their sales engagement platform, and assessing quality before a sequence is approved to go live. 

Their committee has representation from both sales and marketing, which ensures that assets are used in the creation of sales plays, and keeps goals aligned between the two teams.

Today, they have a stronger content supply chain which helps to guide all go-to-market messaging and content creation across teams and regions. Within that process, reps have clear guidance for remaining involved in crafting the messages they use every day to create opportunities, close deals, and grow the company.

Take these next steps to build your sales messaging program

  1. Download our sales messaging playbook template.
  2. Email someone on your team who you think needs to be involved.
  3. Decide on a pilot project.
  4. Contact us if you get stuck.
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Greaser Consulting

The Greaser team is made up of sales engagement natives; many of our consultants, including our founder, were early employees at the companies who created sales engagement. We are passionate about supporting revenue generators, empowering them to grow their companies and serve more customers.