So, you have a list of potential customers you want to contact. The problem is, they have no idea who you are.
How are you going to take them from not knowing anything about you to wanting to meet you to learn more about your products and services?
That was my biggest struggle for years. I’m pretty relentless when it comes to prospecting. While many salespeople give up after a few tries, I have no problem contacting them 10 times over a period of time.
I just never knew what I should say when I picked up the phone or typed up that email. It was agonizing. Literally.
This may sound a little melodramatic, but my whole life changed when I read Jill Konrath’s bestselling sales book Selling to Big Companies. In that book, she spoke directly to the angst I was feeling and offered a way out. In it, she said:
“1. You need to carefully craft a variety of sales tools [sales content] that focus on how you help your prospect’s business.
2. You need to develop a well-planned account entry campaign to roll out your customer-centric messages.”
(That’s why I do inbound marketing now – my mission is to help companies create sales content that salespeople can use when prospecting.)
What is Sales Content?
It’s high-value educational information that salespeople can use to guide prospects through the buyer journey.
It includes all the normal content stuff I talk about like blogs, ebooks, case studies, etc. It also includes actual voice mail scripts and email templates that salespeople can pull from when prospecting.
Why it’s So Important
People buy differently now than they ever have in the past. They don’t want – or need – to talk to salespeople to get information.
Studies show that buyers are more than half way through the sales process before they even talk to a salesperson. People want to learn on their own, in their own time.
Salespeople can use this content to feed high-value information to prospects via email and social media, subtly guiding them through the sales process and getting them to the point where they’re ready for a conversation.
If salespeople have a library of information to pull from, they can quickly and easily customize their communication campaign to their target prospect.
The key is to have the right information available at the right time. If the info the salesperson needs isn’t there, it eats up time because then she/he has to go back to “figuring out what to say.”
The best part of this type of strategy is that once the prospect is ready for a conversation, the deal is almost done. You don’t have to spend meeting after meeting explaining why they need to change from status quo and how that will benefit their business. They already know. They’re ready to make a decision.
4 Sales Content Ideas Guaranteed to Engage Prospects
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you in this short blog the process for actually writing ebooks and blogs and all that. Your best bet is to get a specialized content strategist/writer on your team to help. (Ahem...like us.)
But, it’s a team effort to come up with the right content ideas. The salesperson on the front lines talking to customers and prospects all day needs to communicate directly with whoever is writing the actual content pieces. And if sales can write some of the content themselves, all the better.
To figure out “what to say,” you need to have a clear vision of what the business drivers are that makes a person want to change. You need to get into the mind of your target – think from their perspective. Here are four questions that can help you brainstorm on articles that will engage your prospects.
1. Highest Priorities
What’s most important to them?
Think about it not only in terms of accomplishing certain business objectives, such as increasing revenue, reducing risk, and finding good talent, but also from a personal perspective. Maybe they want to climb the corporate ladder or change the corporate culture.
2. Pain Points
What’s frustrating them?
I’m going to use an analogy here. Yes, some wounds are easy to see – a broken arm, a gash (decreasing sales, reduced profitability). But sometimes you’re sick, and you don’t even know it. It sneaks up on you until it’s almost too late.
Then, you’re in scramble mode trying to put together a plan to get healthy again, but you’re panicked and scared and might not make the best decisions. You might even think, “If I had known this was going to happen, I would have done things differently to try to prevent it.”
The same thing can happen in a business. There might be underlying issues that are eating away at a company that they don’t even know about.
It’s the salesperson’s job – duty almost – to use her/his industry expertise to bring these issues to light.
What’s holding them back?
Sometimes people recognize they have a serious pain, but they can’t make a move on it for some reason. It could be a lack of money, time, skills, or maybe the corporate culture isn’t ready for a change.
Good sales content will provide buyers with insights and ideas on how to overcome these obstacles so they can move their company forward.
4. Market Forces
How are external forces impacting the company?
Sometimes things outside a company’s control can impact their success or failure, like changes in regulation, new competition, the economy, buyer habits, etc.
Buyers are often so deep into their own world and overwhelmed with work that they don’t have as much time or resources as they need to stay on top of changes in their industry. And even if they do stay on top of it, they may not have the bandwidth to think deeply about how market forces are truly impacting their organization.
This can be a huge opportunity for salespeople. Decision makers are looking for people that can bring ideas and insights to the table.
Sharing sales content that showcases your knowledge of market forces, insights about how that might impact your prospect, and a course of action they can take is a powerful way to establish yourself as a true business partner. Not just someone out there that offers a “full range of services to...”.
Map Content Ideas to Buyer Journey Stages
When you break the buyer journey down, you can think more clearly about what type of information a person needs at each stage. There are four stages of the buyer journey:
- Clueless: No awareness or concern about any problems.
- Awareness: Expressed symptoms of a problem, but not sure what’s causing it yet.
- Consideration: Clear understanding of what the problem is, and need to find out how to handle it.
- Decision: Know what the various solutions are, and have to decide which one is right for them.
Most companies provide content geared toward the consideration and decision stage. Things like showcasing their features and functionality, the awards they’ve won, how “great” they are, etc.
The problem with that approach is that decisions don’t happen until the prospect passes stages 1 and 2. If you can capture them in these stages, and be the person that’s bringing new insights and ideas, the prospect will be much more likely to consider you as a top contender.
If you let “the other guys” do all the heavy lifting at stages 1 and 2, you’re coming in at a disadvantage. Your competition already has the relationship.
I’m not going to lie – creating this type of content takes a lot of hard thinking. And time, energy and resources.
But man! Once you have it, it’s a total game-changer. The horrible, stressful process of prospecting actually becomes interesting and exciting.
You can reach more prospects, faster, with better results. It’s a snowball effect – prospecting keeps getting easier and easier as you develop more and more sales content.