In this webinar, Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara discusses proven strategies to help you initiate more sales conversations using content with Viveka von Rosen and Bernie Borges, co-founders of Vengreso, the largest personal branding and social selling training provider for sales and marketing professionals.
The Difference Between Marketing and Sales Content
Content marketing has traditionally been recognized as the ongoing publishing of content to attract and retain your target audience. Fundamentally, content marketing is owned by the marketing department. It primarily consists of building top of the funnel leads versus the bottom of the funnel or sales-ready leads.
Content for sales, however, is content shared between a salesperson and a prospect. It’s always one to one. Salespeople select and share specific content to build trust and loyalty to influence the buyer’s mindset. Salespeople prefer this type of content because it helps them create more productive sales conversations.
Content marketing and content for sales are not mutually exclusive. While content marketing builds awareness, credibility, and initial demand, content for sales enables salespeople to engage and connect with buyers on a more personal level. Both must work together in order to grow your business.
How to Build Your Personal Brand
Salespeople should focus not only on sharing business information but also on sharing content to build their personal brand and establish themselves as trusted advisors. Take relationships beyond the business lobby and build connections based on Jon’s “five F’s of life:” family, friend, food, fun, and fellowship. Make sure you engage not only with prospects and customers but the constituency you need to build around your business; whether it’s with editors, bloggers, analysts or investors. Building your brand and nurturing your network is vital to your success.
Understanding the Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey generally consists of the following stages: awareness, interest, consideration, and action. Your buyer journey may look slightly different depending on your industry.
According to Forrester, eighty-two percent of B2B buyers consumed five to eight pieces of content from the vendor they selected. Understand your buyer’s journey and consider how you can influence them through your content production. Providing valuable information allows you to engage with your buyer and build a stronger connection. It also helps to ensure you are the resource that buyers are looking at and not your competitors.
Keep in mind you shouldn’t just be thinking about this content during the sales process, but throughout the buyer journey, from discovery to decision. By sharing content that is relevant and discoverable by your buyer through social and digital channels, you insert yourself into the buyer’s journey. If you wait to establish yourself as a trusted advisor, you won’t be top of mind and won’t be part of the conversation when they are ready to buy.
Map Your Content to the Buyer’s Journey
Creating content for each stage of the buying process will educate and inform your buyer and move them further along in the sales funnel. In order to match your content to the buyer, you must recognize the buyer’s stage in the buying journey.
If you want to get on the radar with a company executive, share early-stage content like thought leadership such as blog posts or articles. On the other hand, an assessment or ROI tool is a great way to capture the attention of a prospective buyer that’s further along in the buying journey. Map your content to the various stages of the buyer’s journey and use content marketing to engage customers at each stage.
For high-value content, secure these assets and make them accessible to salespeople, but not to the public – meaning the content isn’t posted on your website, blog, resources section, or shared on social media. House the content where you can access it privately and use it very selectively. Salespeople can then share the content with qualified buyers for deeper engagement.
Organize Content By Buyer Persona
Organizing content by buyer persona and understanding which types of content resonate with each will help you have more constructive conversations. Because you don’t sell to one person at a company, there are many different buyer personas you may encounter. Here are some general ones to consider.
Executives want to be progressive and understand how to improve their company’s top line and bottom line. Thought leadership content can be a very effective way to engage them.
Managers require proof that your solution works in order to convince them to continue to talk to you because their job may be on the line depending on what you’re selling them.
Doers need to know how your solution works because their job or performance reviews are on the line.
Technical Professionals also must understand how your solution works but at a very detailed level.
Define your buyer personas – their journey, pain points, emotions – and map them out with an avatar or picture of each buyer persona, giving you a visual representation of what that buyer might look like age-wise, their demographics, etc., to better understand them. As you’re producing content that addresses each persona, you’ll have a clear understanding of not only their role and function but also what drives them.
Where to Share Your Content
There are many different ways you can share content with prospective buyers to build top of mind awareness. LinkedIn gives you the ability to share content directly with someone and start a conversation.
Personalized videos are another way to share content. Share a video calling attention to a case study or article you published, talk about your unique selling proposition or use it to answer questions customers are asking. Your videos don’t have to be perfect. You can simply record one on your phone and share it; then listen and engage.
You can also use content curation, alleviating the burden of originally producing all of your content. When you come across an article you think will be of value to your buyers or you’re using a system to identify third-party authoritative articles, share that content. It’s some of the best content you can share with your prospective buyers because it’s not from you, it’s from an authoritative source.
Distribute Your Content
There are many ways to distribute your content; through socially enhanced CRMs like Nimble, employee advocacy tools, and social channels. These channels can help you distribute content to people inside your company, making it easy for them to share it out to their networks.
Don’t overlook distribution just because you develop a strategy and produce the content. You need to have a plan for distributing that content and analyzing what’s working and what isn’t. Then you can focus your efforts on where you are seeing success.
How to Measure Your Content
There are a number of different ways you can measure the contribution of content to your sales efforts. Ask your customers if they remember which content they viewed and was influential in their buying decision. What type of content is your sales team asking for and what are they telling you really works? You’ll learn a lot by asking these questions.
Marketing automation tools can help you track and measure how people are using your content. Systems like these give you insight into what content the customer consumed and how much time they spent consuming it. Analyze and study the content consumed the most by new customers, and take everything you learn into consideration when planning your content strategy.