This is a buyer’s world, with more choices than ever before. To make sense of these choices, buyers today rely on self-education long before they talk to a salesperson. And they educate themselves with content they find online.
The dividing line between sales and marketing has blurred and teams have to work together to be successful. Marketing can’t create content for the sake of content, they have to think about how the effort will tie back to revenue. And sales can’t ignore the practice of incorporating content into their prospect conversations, because they are stuck in their ways.
“Only 29% of people want to talk to a salesperson to learn more about a product, while 62% will consult a search engine.” - Hubspot
Wondering how you can stand out? This is why content is an important strategy for your sales team in a buyer-driven world.
The Value of Knowledge Sharing
We live in a knowledge-based economy where educational value is celebrated. The reason why so many of us are plugged into social media and online content is because we are searching for something—an answer to our question.
Sales content can be tricky and the tendency is to push too hard to try to close the sale. As long as you stay focused on sharing knowledge versus features and benefits, the buyer will start to see the value you can offer.
Before you create content with sales in mind, remember that your job is to provide the answer to their question. When in doubt, remember the classic question: What’s in it for me? And, answer that with your content.
Related: 3 Components of Thought Leadership
It Takes Multiple Touch Points to Close the Sale
There is a lot of debate over the number of touch points it takes to close a sale, but the real answer is that there isn’t one. It’s different for every organization, based on where the prospect is in the buying cycle.
When a prospect watches an explainer video about your organization...that’s only one touch. One piece of content is not going to close a deal when someone has never heard of your brand before.
You are just like the buyer you are trying to reach. So, put yourself in their shoes and think about the last thing you bought. You went through a process from research to purchasing. There are many different names for the buying stages, but it encompasses a sequence of behaviors and actions that happens with every prospect. The sales content you create should follow that same pattern.
Understanding this cycle means that multiple content types and channels are necessary to engage a buyer. Where are many buyers today? They’re on social media.
“Sellers who’ve embraced social media are creating new opportunities that totally bypass traditional sales channels. It’s about good selling—using all the tools that are available to you today.” – Jill Konrath
Social selling is a great way to connect with your buyer in a place they frequent, but remember that social is intended to be conversational. Follow them, interact with thoughtful comments beyond “great content” when they share great content, and share your own. Above all, don't act sales-y.
Be a Thought Leader, Not a Salesperson
Thought leadership is an ongoing strategy that takes time and effort. When content is done right, you can build a following that turns prospects into potential buyers...or even fans.
Content has the power to make your organization look like an authority on the very challenge your buyer is looking to solve. Plenty of companies are selling something, but not everybody can be a thought leader.
Educational content in a blog post, a nurture campaign, or content you’re sharing to support your social selling strategy will set you apart. People expect more from brands—they don’t want to be sold to, they want to learn something.
“96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from industry thought leaders.” - DemandGen Report
Remember, we live in a knowledge-based economy. Think, value. And trust that the sale will happen if you are creating valuable content for buyers.
Being thoughtful with content can really make a sales team shine, and social selling is a great way to engage with a buyer on their terms. The key to effective sales content is to educate, not bombard people with things they don’t want to hear.
Create content that supports the sales cycle—and the educated buyer who’s seen a thing or two before. Meet them on their level, exceed their expectations, then close it.