Published on March 3, 2014
Connecting with Content A Salesperson's Guide to Content Marketing
Table of Contents Keep this in mind next time you take a sales call: Whoever is on the other side of the phone is probably halfway to a purchase. 01 What is Content Marketing? Actually, CEB found that 57% of a purchase decision is made before the buyer even talks to the company.1 02 Why is Content Marketing Important for Sales? So...they’re more than halfway. 03 Contributing to the Content Machine When someone can access millions of webpages in a fraction of a second and poll hundreds of peers among their social network, it’s no wonder they rely less on a ﬂashy brochure and a 30-minute call with a sales rep. 04 11 Quick Tips for Getting the Most Out of Content This is why you’re hearing so much about content marketing. Perhaps it’s been bandied about by your colleagues in marketing. But what does it mean, and why is it important for sales professionals? 57% of a purchase decision is made before the buyer even talks to the company. -CEB Why Solution Selling No Longer Works. CEB. 1 Connecting With Content Page 2
What Is Content Marketing? First, a deﬁnition. Content marketing is the creation, publication, and distribution of engaging and educational information to attract the attention of a target audience and move buyers toward purchase. The word “content” can encompass several types and formats— e-books, blog posts, videos, infographics, podcasts, images, interactive media, and more. Marketers are tapping content to generate a big pool of web traﬃc, which turns into leads, and then gets passed on as qualiﬁed opportunities to sales. Creating content about beneﬁts and features is rarely enticing, therefore, marketers focus on producing valuable, informative content that speaks to a buyer’s pain points and challenges. This attracts the right visitors and leads based on their needs, not how well they know your products. And when done well, content marketing accelerates the sales cycle, aids reps in building relationships with prospects, and aﬃrms value and conﬁdence when an opportunity is ready to buy. Content. Connecting With Content Page 3
Why Is Content Marketing Important for Sales? Glad you asked! Sales representatives need more than good phone skills these days. The best reps are thought leaders, industry experts, and knowledgeable resources. As the best-selling book The Challenger Sale notes, the sales rep who pushes buyers to think diﬀerently, educates buyers with new insights, and tailors conversations to their needs consistently outperforms the others.2 Good content marketing helps achieve these goals. The content you share should deliver insights that engage your prospects. With it you can share thoughtful commentary through channels such as email, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, making you a valuable resource for your prospects. But in order to produce and distribute content that supports your goals, sales and marketing need to work hand-in-hand. Sales Spotlight Mark Hunter Not only is Mark Hunter an expert on sales proﬁtability, keynote and motivational speaker, and workshop leader, but he’s also a pro content marketer. His website and blog, The Sales Hunter, helps sales professionals reach today’s buyers and close high-proﬁt deals. For Hunter, informative and educational content plays a key role in attracting the right audience. "People don't search my name. They search a subject and a topic. That's how they ﬁnd me." And it works. "I was talking to a Fortune 500 company on the phone, and they mentioned very speciﬁcally a couple of my blog entries." Ultimately, content marketing is about building relationships and earning the trust of your audience—goals closely aligned with the sales process. "Your objective on every sales call is to earn the right, the privilege, honor, and respect to be able to meet with that person again. And that's what a blog post has to do. A blog post is to earn the privilege, honor, and respect to be able to meet with that person again. And if you do that, wow, that's huge." 2 Dixon, Matthew & Brent Adamson. (2011). The Challenger Sale. New York, NY: Penguin Group. Connecting With Content Page 4
Contributing to the Content Machine Up to 70% of content created by B2B marketing teams is never used by sales, according to SiriusDecisions.3 Here are a few ways you can support the creation of content that will impact the decisions of your prospects. Why? Share Questions, Comments, and Feedback The content sitting unused by sales teams is product-centric instead of buyer-centric, and speaks to the beneﬁts of a “solution” instead of examining the problems facing a prospect. And the prospect isn’t interested. According to Mark Hunter, sales expert and keynote speaker, "Every question that a customer asks, every objection that a customer has...becomes a viable blog post and/or a viable e-book.” The conversations you’re already having with customers get at the heart of their challenges, and the best content marketing seeks to answer these questions. Sales reps need the right content to succeed. And the only way to get it is for sales and marketing to collaborate. Write down the most common questions you receive from Up to 70% of content created by B2B marketing teams is never used by sales. - SiriusDecisions 3 Estep, Erin. (2013). B-to-B Content: The Revolution is Now. SiriusDecisions. Connecting With Content Page 5
Contributing to the Content Machine prospects, and share these insights with marketing so they can strategize the best way to address those topics with content. stockpile. "If you're attacking the biggest problems and challenges, you'll ﬁnd you're ﬁlling those gaps," said Kyle Porter, CEO of SalesLoft. Share Your Content Needs Offer to Create Content Do you need more testimonials? A case study for a speciﬁc industry? More support in explaining important processes or best practices? Share these needs with marketing, and tell them why these topics are important to you and your prospective customers. Providing marketing with that context will help them prioritize production. There’s no better way to get the content you need than to create it yourself. Your insight can aid marketing in ﬁxing holes in their content Public-facing assets such as blog posts, articles, and podcasts help your prospects see you as an industry expert and thought leader. By sharing your insights and ideas, you’re simultaneously helping out marketing and building authority in your industry. CONTENT MACHINE Feedback Needs Collaboration Content Connecting With Content Content Page 6
11 QUICK TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF CONTENT Okay, so you’ve got the content. What’s next? Use these eleven tips to strategically promote content and track your eﬀorts. Connecting With Content Page 7
#1 #2 #3 Take Advantage of Every Email. Don’t Use Attachments. Use Trackable Link Shorteners. Deliver Content Specific to Pain Points. Email is one of the most powerful ways to reach and engage your target buyers. In fact, email has a 2x higher ROI than cold calling, networking, or trade shows.4 At SalesLoft, Porter says that his sales reps place unresponsive prospects into unique drip campaigns, through which original content is delivered to them on a semi-regular basis. When you want to share content in an email, don’t send an attachment. Use tools like bit.ly to shorten links to that asset, whether it’s a blog post, article, e-book, or video. When you’re crafting that follow up email after a demo or presentation, include content that addresses a speciﬁc pain point raised by the prospect during your conversation. This shows that you’re paying attention to their needs. Content provides you with an excuse to stay in touch, or to reach out to cold leads through email, and eﬀective reps take every opportunity to make an impact. 4 Link shorteners allow you to track clicks on speciﬁc links. Not only will you know whether a buyer acts, but it’s also more convenient for the recipient. Clicking a link is easier than downloading an asset. Not to mention, attachments can be stripped from emails by protective software, particularly for heavily monitored and regulated organizations. "We simply ask them, ‘Why is it that you called me? What was it in particular?’” says Mark Hunter. “Then, when we get done talking, we will email them links to some additional content. We stay in communication with them." . 20 Shocking Sales Stats. (2013). BuzzBuilder. Connecting With Content . Page 8
#4 #5 #6 Track Activity, Then Propel Them Forward. Leverage Visual Media. Use a Variety of Content. Technology such as marketing automation and CRM software allow marketing and sales to track the actions taken by prospective buyers more closely than ever before. Use this information to your advantage. Videos, infographics, and images are fantastic assets to use during the sales cycle. Typically considered top-of-funnel assets, these eye-catching pieces can actually engage your buyers at every stage. In line with the last tip, don’t limit yourself to written content. People respond to diﬀerent channels, diﬀerent formats. Take a look at what your buyers are doing before you reach out to them. Can you tell which topics they care about based on the e-books they download or the webinars they attend? Is there a piece of content that speaks to those same topics, yet moves them one step closer to understanding how your product ﬁts into their needs? 5 Visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text.5 When you’re sending emails or following up with a prospect, visuals make an impression. . “You have to have multiple levels of content,” says Mark Hunter. “Not everyone is engaged with just text. The infographic is really taking oﬀ…videos, audios—we have to be able to engage our customer or prospect in as many diﬀerent manners as possible." . Why Do Infographics Make Great Marketing Tools? Neo Mammalian Studios. Connecting With Content Page 9
#7 #8 #9 Set Up Alerts for Your Accounts Create Twitter Lists for Your Top 25 Opportunities. Subscribe to Your Company’s Blog. If you’re paying attention to what’s impacting your prospects—to the news around their organization or industry—they’ll see you as more than just someone pitching product. Aside from alerts, Twitter is a fantastic way to stay in the loop. But it can feel overwhelming to keep up with every new tweet. “Every member of the company should be subscribed to your own blog,” Porter says. This ensures you’re updated on all the new content being produced by your organization, and gives you ideas for new content to share during conversations and calls. Set up alerts for each of your top prospects using a tool like Google or Salesforce. You’ll receive an email once a day with news on that company, providing you with additional fodder for conversation. Even better, share an article or content asset relevant to these updates—even if that content isn’t created by your organization. Connecting With Content “For salespeople, social is that last frontier that not a lot of people have adopted,” says Porter. “We're advocates of our salespeople ﬁnding their top prospects, and following them on Twitter. The way you do this is to go into your CRM and ﬁnd the people who are opportunities...Put them on a private Twitter list. Then, you can use tools that will send you an email of the daily digest of their tweets.” It might even spark some ideas for addressing content gaps, which you can share with your marketing team. . Page 10
Sales Spotlight #10 Kyle Porter #11 Kyle Porter is the CEO of SalesLoft, the Subscribe to Your Prospect’s Blog. Join Conversations Online. Keeping track of their blog will supply you with valuable ideas while keeping you updated on the prospect’s goals. If you understand your buyers, you’ll be able to use this information to target the content you share more eﬀectively. And it gives you a catchy way to reach out. Go where your prospects are. Simple, but eﬀective. simplest way to build accurate and targeted lists of leads on the internet. They serve over 12,000+ sales professionals with their prospecting product and that number is growing rapidly. They were recognized by the Technology Association of Georgia as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in the If there’s a relevant group on LinkedIn, join it and participate. If there are Google Hangouts that will get you in front of the right people, mark them in your calendar. state. Porter is an avid writer and speaker on the topics of sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Content marketing is a team eﬀort at “One of my favorite cold emails…that someone wrote me to sell me a product, had the subject line, ‘Your Seven Quotes Blog,’” says Porter. “I had just written an article that was seven quotes...They took the time to read it, reference it in the email, and they went on again to reference it in the body of the email.” Connecting With Content These are real opportunities for sharing content organically, and to engage with your target buyers. SalesLoft. Every morning, the company has a stand-up meeting and salespeople share their roadblocks. "It's important to have a good relationship between whoever is in charge of sales and whoever is in charge of content." This constant communication inspires valuable content for the sales team and their . prospects. Page 11
Conclusion “Marketing” might be the word that follows content, but that doesn’t mean sales doesn’t play a big role. And you’ll earn their respect as a thought leader and industry expert. Content creates an opportunity to contribute to more eﬀective assets, reach out to prospects, and monitor interest during the sales cycle. Couple your insights with these easily implemented tactics, and you’ll be able to have more meaningful conversations with prospects and opportunities. Remember, buyers are already halfway to purchase before contacting sales. Stand out from your competitors. Prove you’re paying attention. Share relevant, valuable content. Kapost™ helps enterprise brands grow revenue with content. Their content marketing software simpliﬁes and centralizes the creation, distribution, and analysis of content across a range of channels. Marketing teams of all sizes can collaborate on content, manage assets in one platform, organize extensive campaigns, and establish an eﬃcient, process-driven operation. Hundreds of the world’s top brands — including Lenovo, AT&T, and VMware — use Kapost to create, publish and scale their content operation, so they can focus on serving their customers and growing their business. Connecting With Content Page 12
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