Marketing has changed dramatically over the last decade but selling has changed too. This post shows sales people how to use great content to help them open doors, build relationships and win business.
We have recently surveyed 100 of our UK business contacts, and asked: “Which methods have motivated you to buy products and services over the last six months?”
- 92% mentioned ‘online research’
- 71% ‘recommendations from people we trust’
- 43% ‘social networks’.
Only 5% said they’d bought in response to direct mail and a measly 1% were motivated to buy after receiving a telemarketing call.
With Forbes reporting that 60% of the sales process is now conducted online before engaging a sales rep, does this herald the death of the sales person? Definitely not in our book. It just means a change in the way people sell.
Using valuable content to open doors and close business
Great content is at the heart of effective business development practice today. If you share valuable content on the web you will draw people to your business. Executed in the right way, this is also a highly effective outbound strategy. Proactive sales contact is not dead, if you do it right.
Being in sales is tough. Clients and customers are increasingly busy, cynical and over-sold to.
Here are a few ideas on how to use valuable content – on and off the web – to help you sell.
1. Build relationships with valuable content, not brochures.
So you want to do business with someone who has never heard of you before? Valuable content is the perfect conversation-starter. This is the type of information that flies under an organisation’s anti-marketing defences, because it is useful – to them. Sending an interesting, relevant article, whitepaper, or guide is far more engaging than sending a brochure at first contact. It shows you understand their issues, demonstrates your expertise and motivates people to talk to you.
2. Keep in touch the valuable way.
Not everyone will buy after the first sales meeting. Inertia, lack of time, other pressing priorities – there are many valid reasons why first meeting doesn’t lead to an immediate sale. Instead of increasingly desperate demands for a decision, keep the dialogue open. Send them something they will value: a link to pertinent industry news or research; an article or new case study; invite them to join your mailing list with newsletters that build trust and keep you front of mind. Valuable content makes the perfect sales follow up until they are ready to buy.
3. Get on social media.
Social networking sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook offer a new way to build and deepen relationships and find out more about your customers’ world. It’s the perfect place to distribute all that great content you’ve been creating. If your customers aren’t there now they soon will be. Join the conversation. Remember, this is a place to engage, not to sell.
4. Make sure your website is up to the job.
If you pack your website with valuable content you will attract more inbound enquiries. Lots of good content helps you get found on the web (Google ranks relevant content) and ensures people like and trust you when they get to your site. Adding a blog is an easy way to add valuable content and keep your website up-to-date. Ask the marketing department to create one for your firm.
5. Sales people make the perfect content creators.
You hear first hand the questions that prospects and customers ask about your industry, your company, your products or services. Create valuable collateral that answers their questions:
- FAQs on your website
- Articles on your blog
- Case studies in written or video format, written from the customer point of view
- A short e-book or guide that gives them tips to solve a pertinent problem
Both marketing and sales people at the coalface of customer communication have a role to play here. Creating valuable content together is a great opportunity to get the two departments working closely.
Valuable content is the kind of information that customers appreciate and will help you get the sales results you need. Use it to help you open doors, nurture those leads and close sales and you will build stronger relationships with clients and customers.