3 Ways Sales Professionals Can Learn from Content Marketing

Translate content marketing strategy into sales success by understanding how content plays a role in social selling.

May 17, 2016

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Content marketing has been and continues to be one of the fastest growing and most relevant strategies for B2B marketers in the last decade. But wait—before you click away, this post isn’t a generic list of content tips for marketers. We’re here to talk about how sales professionals who are adapting and developing their social selling strategy have a vested interest in heeding advice formerly reserved for marketers.

Working to break down the silos between marketing and sales is nothing new. Still, you may not have considered how to bring some of the most successful components of content marketing strategy into social selling.

Let’s start with some of the most heralded advice and incentives for social selling:

1. The way sales professionals open and develop relationships with prospects has shifted from a cold calling model to one focused on shared connections and social outreach.

2. Due to the increasing amount of content that prospects consume before engaging with sales professionals, sales messaging must be even more relevant, timely, and personalized than ever.

3. Sales professionals are expected to be influencers and experts, providing relevant insights into their prospects’ interests and needs.

Even if you understand social selling inside and out, it’s time to draw some important parallels between this highly impactful sales practice and content marketing.

If those two words make you cringe and think things like, “out of my hands,” “impossible to measure,” or “that’s marketing’s job!”—think again. Content marketing’s best practices relate inextricably to the tools in a social seller’s arsenal. Here’s how.

1. Relevance & Awareness

Both marketers and sales pros need to create more relevant outreach with personalized messaging. Prospects need information from not just marketing, but sales professionals that answer their questions at every stage. Building out this content and messaging strategy starts with research.

The best place to conduct that research is on the social channels where you buyers are actually looking. The first step to creating and sharing great content is listening, and while marketing is listening to your organization’s broad audience, you, the sales professionals, have an unprecedented opportunity to listen to the individuals.

2. Craftsmanship

For many, this might be the most vexing piece of the sales process when it comes to content. But you don’t have to be a marketer to create compelling content. When you’ve done the research by listening, the rest is easy.

Whether you’re creating the content yourself for an email or social post, ask yourself whether you’re addressing relevant buyer problems, inspiring interactions, educating, and appealing to the buyer’s emotions. Content fails when it is all about your company.

Your job is to frame value by regularly sharing insights in whatever form you’re most comfortable with. Again, while this section is called craftsmanship, it’s not necessarily about your turn of phrase or word choice, but the motivation behind your words. Even if you leave the editing to the writers, successful social sellers take the messaging into their own hands.

3. Content of Conversation

For sales professionals, content isn’t necessarily an email blast, website content, or case studies. In all likelihood these responsibilities lie in the hands of the marketing team. Your job is the content of the conversation. Certainly, part of the struggle is creating a warm enough relationship to have the conversation in the first place, but the second step is even more important.

According to Demand Gen Report’s 2016 Content Preferences Survey Report, the buyer reviews an average of three to five pieces of content before engaging with sales professionals. If they’re talking to you, it’s likely the content they consumed inspired interest. Your conversation needs some of the following content to be successful: messaging about why they should choose you or why they should change; a strong connection to the prospects business needs; and personalized commentary and insights that align with distinctive marketing messages.

As sales organizations move towards a social selling model, the lines between marketing and sales efforts and metrics blur. This cohesion doesn’t have to cause discomfort. Instead, both sales and marketing should make an effort to adopt the best strategies offered by the expertise of the respective teams. In this case, content marketing skills should be added to the seller’s toolbox quickly and effectively. Leading sales organizations prove this time and again.

Learn more social selling tips from the experts by downloading our latest eBook: Proven Strategies from the World’s Top Sales Performers.