Your sales team needs your content to work hard for them today.
It’s tough being a sales rep in today’s environment especially if you are selling B2B services. Key contacts are safely cocooned in an almost impenetrable anti-sales fortress. Simply having tough skin and persistence isn’t getting the job done.
The modern sales rep needs the support of a well-designed sales-friendly content marketing plan.
What Does Content Do for Sales Reps?
The right content does three things well:
1. Establish Need: Sales prospects often are unaware of their need to purchase your product. They may see the symptom of an underlying problem but can’t figure out the cause or how to address it. Targeted content can walk these prospects through a simple process for self-diagnosing their situation and deciding on their next step. This means that sales reps are making their first call to an educated prospect that is ready to listen.
2. Demonstrates Expertise: It’s getting harder to separate the experts from the “wanna-be’s.” Anyone can put up a great looking website that gives the appearance of competence. One of your prospect’s top concerns is finding someone with bonafide expertise. Great content effectively demonstrates expertise by walking prospects through your approach to solving their problem. Over time, your content will address their questions and solidify your position as an authority. This is pre-selling at its best.
3. Show Value: I believe that people are willing to pay almost anything to reliably solve an important problem. Salespeople rely on discounts when their company hasn’t done a good job showing the real value of their products. Content is particularly adept at framing the cost associated with a problem and showing the value of solving it with a specific service or product. I’ve seen companies discontinue their discounting program after a few months of publishing value-boosting content. This means that your sales rep can earn better commissions because they aren’t pulled into a race to the bottom price war.
How to Turn Your Content Into a Sales Tool
An “advance team” goes ahead of the President of the United States to prep a location before he arrives. This prep includes security, meeting location logistics, lodging, and a host of other minute details. The President just shows up, delivers his speech, and leaves. Think of your content as your sales rep’s advance team.
Here’s what you need to do to prep your content for selling:
Target the Right Reader: Spend time creating personas – comprehensive profiles of your prospects. The objective is to accurately describe the goals, needs, fears, and expectations of your target buyer. Review your current customer profiles to get started. Your sales team and customer service reps can also provide valuable real-time descriptions of their best contacts. Use your personas to connect your content creators with the reader. You’ll be surprised by how much better your content will do when you create with a specific person in mind.
Uncover Core Questions: Abstract so-called thought leadership topics don’t work well for pre-selling your product. Instead, huddle with your sales team to compile a list of 10 common questions they hear from prospects. These questions should pinpoint specific prospect pain points. Make sure you understand the context for each question and how the answer relates to the prospect’s buying process. Use these questions to guide your content topics.
Write “Why” Content: I encourage my clients to write a “Why” story whenever they add a new product feature or service. The Why story emphasizes the prospect’s problem and how the feature addresses it. Review each Why Story with your sales team to make sure it highlights the key pain points and details the value of the new service. Turn this why story into a blog post and link to it from your services page. Give your sales team an easy to remember link to the Why Story, so they can offer it to prospects via email and social selling.
Leave Breadcrumbs: We know that people hate to be sold. Direct selling of your services via blogs, ebooks, infographics and other content usually is a non-starter. Content needs to demonstrate a need, relevance, and value first then subtly sell second. Currently, the best way to subtly sell is to hyperlink a relevant word to an in-depth service page. I suggest setting the link to open the page in a new window/tab so the reader isn’t distracted. This tactic works best when you’ve delivered helpful information first. Prospects will see an attempt to hide a sales message with flimsy useless content.
Rapid Follow-up: An old lead is a dead lead. Create a process that puts qualified leads in your sales team’s hands within minutes, not days. For example, a service specific lead that came via your services page should be followed up with a phone call and email within an hour. If your CRM can’t notify your team quickly then replace it. If you or your team can’t do this, then rework your process. Time, in this case, is money.
Sales Ready Content Is a Mindset Not A Campaign
Evaluate your content’s performance weekly and report the results to your sales team monthly. Make a habit of asking “How can this content be more effective at creating the right situation for our sales team?” Savvy CMO and Marketing Directors organize their entire team around creatively answering this question. Get started today. Your sales team is waiting.