Shorten the buyer's journey and influence decision-makers with content for sales enablement.
Recently, our work got a great shout-out from a client that we’ve been assisting with blog content creation for the last few months. “Keep those blog posts coming,” he said. “They’re electronic gold!”
It didn’t come from the marketing team, who we typically work with—but from someone on the sales team.
Often, content marketing is seen as a strategy to boost brand image and raise visibility, but isn’t linked directly to sales. In fact, sales teams often struggle with identifying the right content to send to their prospects, and waste valuable time searching for content, or even creating their own content when they can’t identify a good fit. According to BrainShark’s 2013 “State of the Sales Rep” report, more than half of reps had trouble finding the right materials, 41% felt the materials they did find were out of date, and 28% felt the content wasn’t relevant to their prospects. Clearly, many businesses are failing to properly align sales and marketing, and they’re wasting resources and losing sales as a result.
But, when developed with a sound strategy and used wisely, your content, too, can become “electronic gold” for your sales team. Here are some guidelines for integrating content marketing into your sales process successfully.
While developing a blog is a great way to boost your site’s visibility through organic SEO and both paid and organic social media promotion, it’s also important to plan some “gated” content assets that prospects will be willing to enter their contact information to acquire. A well-designed white paper or ebook is an ideal piece of collateral to lure in new prospects, using a pop-up box when visitors land on your website to encourage sign ups. You can then follow up with these prospects with email marketing newsletters, or even reach out personally to offer your services.
Often, prospects have trouble jumping on board with a new product or solution if they can’t see how it makes sense for their specific business. Focus on developing detailed customer case studies that showcase how the product or service was used, and demonstrate the positive ROI it had for the customer. If your customer is willing, include his name, company name, and genuine quotes that spotlight the benefits of your solution.
When a new prospect is on the fence about working with your company, your sales rep can send relevant case studies from that prospect’s industry to them for review, and discuss the specifics with her over the phone. Case studies provide more than mere platitudes; they showcase actual, genuine results. That’s a powerful potion that will go a long way towards convincing a prospect that you’re the real deal.
Case studies provide more than mere platitudes; they showcase actual, genuine results.
You’ve got a prospect who’s ready to get on the phone. But do you really want to spend the whole meeting educating him on why you’re the best solution, and fighting back on his initial impressions? Now that you’ve got a meeting scheduled, it’s the perfect time to prime your prospect with content that showcases why you’re the best fit. For instance, if your pricing is higher than your competitors’, avoid a snap judgement by clearly laying out the reasons for why you charge a premium in your sales materials.
If you know that your prospect is considering several different strategies for accomplishing a goal, provide a guide that lays out the pros and cons of each, and lets them come to their own decision. For example, Marcus Sheridan of Sales Lion uses a free guide all about what to consider when purchasing a pool to inform prospects during the course of the sale. By offering educational, non-biased information, your prospect will gain more trust in your company, and become more eager to invest in your solution.
When you talk with a prospect, he’s likely to have a lot of questions, and you might not have the chance to dig into all the answers in a 30-minute product demo. That’s where your content marketing assets can come in—if you’ve already built a detailed library of content assets, you can send your prospect a personalized follow-up message that includes links and PDFs for materials that answer his questions more thoroughly than you could on the phone.
You have a prospect who’s on the fence about committing to your solution. Or maybe they’re already on board, but they haven’t communicated with you in a while and you’re feeling uneasy about things. A generic sales pitch isn’t going to win you any favors—instead, stay top of mind by sending your client or prospect a personalized message that includes a link to a recent blog post about an industry-related topic, and ask for their thoughts. If your content’s good and relevant, your prospect will find it valuable and want to keep the conversation going. (That’s how our “electronic gold” client successfully used our collateral.)
Content marketing’s main goal is to elevate a brand—it’s not necessary in all cases to tie it back directly to meeting sales goals. But when your sales team has access to an up-to-date library of relevant, educational, and engaging content, they’ll be able to build stronger relationships with their prospects—and find their way to “yes” more often.
Want to learn more tips on mastering content marketing? Get our 19-page guide for content marketing for B2B tech companies.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than 16 years.
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