How Salespeople Can Open Doors with Other People's Content

February 27, 2018

Yellow Exterior Door

It’s been said there are no new ideas, only new executions. The opportunities this axiom presents to sales professionals become more apparent when you consider Mark Twain’s full quote:

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” ― Mark Twain

Sales pros are constantly told to “deliver value,” which is easier to say than to do. Twains words free us from spinning our wheels – we don’t need to deliver value from scratch.

Twain’s belief that we can build on one another’s ideas for the benefit of us all is even more potent when you consider the community-building effects it can generate. The ideas that flow forth from content communities and social networks facilitate goal achievement for buyers and sellers alike.

This is great news for sales professionals because, chances are, your most helpful or persuasive content already exists – no need to spend hours creating original content from scratch to gain a prospect’s interest. In this post, we examine a few ways to use other people’s content (OPC) to fill your pipeline.

How to Use OPC to Fill Your Sales Pipeline

If you’re like most ambitious professionals, you already read other people’s content. Now it’s about making that reading time more purposeful. When reading other people’s content, try to learn about the subjects your prospects care most about. While doing so, view the information from the lens of your prototypical buyer. Doing so helps you gain a more balanced, more informed perspective about topics you’re sure to discuss, so seek out considerations that aren’t necessarily covered in your company’s sales literature.

By filling your own knowledge gaps, you are better positioned to add value to people who need it most, in a context they will be receptive to. Decision makers find LinkedIn the ideal platform to discover useful content, network, and get acquainted with other businesspeople. The use of existing content as a vehicle for relevant conversations, commentary, and questions opens a new road for delivering insight where it’s needed most. Here are a few ideas for finding and applying insights from other people’s content.

Follow People Your Prospects Follow, or Should Follow

Your prospects are pressed for time just like you and everyone else. Many don’t have as much time as they’d prefer to follow their industry high-level, let alone the more specific aspects your solution addresses. Just as a savvy seller connects each benefit with a broader business goal, you can connect the underlying messages from other people’s content to the future state you can deliver. In other words, you’re leveraging the credibility of established thought leaders to lend credence to your own story. Not only that, someone the buyer trusts more than you, and is not affiliated with your company, can help you establish context or urgency on your behalf.

Did you know you can follow non-connections on LinkedIn to get updates of their activity directly in your LinkedIn feed? And speaking of your feed, if you’d like to reduce the clutter, it’s easy to temporarily filter out updates that aren’t relevant to your goals.

Follow the Company Pages of Your Prospects

Company pages can be a good source for discovering recent news, employee contacts, and company growth trends. Many companies share blog content and big announcements on their LinkedIn Company Page, and when it comes to making a case, it doesn’t get much better than using a person’s or company’s own words in your argument. Additionally, it might be worth your while to check out how people interact with the company’s content on LinkedIn, and where applicable, use the interactions to discover people who may aid your efforts.

Build and Maintain Lists

This time-tested organization tactic of list making is a great way to organize other people’s content in a way that suits your objectives. For example, you may consider monitoring your targeted prospect list on LinkedIn daily, while monitoring Twitter lists such as “industry thought leaders” or “current customers” or “competitors” at whichever frequency you deem necessary.

When building thought leader lists, don’t just limit it to the people you follow, but the people your prospects are likely to follow as well. You may not agree with everyone on your lists, but if your prospects are plugged into them, it’s better to be aware. These people may be shaping your prospects’ perceptions, and you’ll want to be prepared with a well-informed counter-perspective.

Create Alerts to Know When Ideal OPC Exists

What type of messages best support your sales process? Is there a specific type of research or statistic that would give your claim much-needed weight? While you’d probably start by searching for this type of information, it’s also wise to create alerts for the exact information you’d like to see. For example, you might set a Google alert for “[Your Industry Name Here] survey” or “[Generic Category I sell] testimonial.”

Alerts are automated, so most of the work is done on the front end to establish your ideal notifications. Ask yourself: which third-party stats, research, and opinions would best validate my POV and encourage action? Give it some serious thought because this type of investment has the potential to pay for itself thousands of times over.

Your Content, Your Stage

Remember your own activity flows into the feeds of others. Share a mix of OPC and even some original content (which can include a reaction to OPC) through status updates. Call out connections who might have something relevant to add. You can boost engagement with your own posts when you attribute content to its source. Plus, giving credit where it’s due is another old idea that never goes out of style.

For more ideas that can help you win sales in the modern buying environment, check out our latest e-Book, The Future of Sales: Rise of the Strategic Seller.