This Week’s Big Deal: Sales Content that Sells
February 4, 2019
"We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in."
This quote, which boils down to the essence of content marketing, comes from Sendle co-founder Craig Davis, who made his name as Chief Creative Officer for J. Walter Thompson.
Many of today's B2B sales pros are finding that Davis’ words ring uncomfortably true. It has become far too easy for people to tune out messaging that isn't interesting and relevant to them.
Cold-calling is about as popular as a polar vortex. Unsolicited outreach has become more of a fool's errand than a numbers game. Earning the attention of buyers and decision makers is an uphill battle, to say the least.
But while these professionals tend to be very busy, they still make time to consume content — especially content that helps them solve problems and work smarter. If sales reps can deliver legitimately helpful content (not just straight-up sales collateral) to prospects, they start to become what those prospects are interested in, rather than an unwelcome interruption.
This is a fundamental cornerstone of B2B sales in the modern era. As Jamie Shanks of Sales for Life defines it, digital selling “involves creating an organizational structure around content, and an ecosystem to measure the content consumption of your customer.”
That’s all well and good. But the eternal struggle is in pinpointing those types of content that will actually make an impact on your pipeline. And while there is certainly no one-size-fits-all answer, we do have some resources and insights to guide you.
Connecting with Prospects via Sales Content
Findings from DemandGen’s 2018 B2B Buyers Survey Report make it clear that consumable, quality content is a difference-maker in the vendor selection process:
Based on these results (and plenty of other buyer preference research), it seems fair to say that the sweet spot is found in content that:
- Is high quality
- Is easily accessible
- Demonstrates expertise
- Shows an understanding of the prospect’s company
But before any of these strengths can shine through, the content needs to attract attention.
The Water Cooler Buzz
The office water cooler is the epicenter of interest. It’s where coworkers gather to discuss Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode, or last night’s buzzer-beater shot, or a trending news story that’s shaking up their industry.
Last week, the LinkedIn Sales Blog unveiled a new feature called The Water Cooler, in which we’ll regularly provide rundowns of content that is being engaged with most by decision makers on LinkedIn. This provides sellers with context around what’s top-of-mind for executives and purchase influencers at a high level.
Unsurprisingly, many of the articles in this batch were from, or about, respected and prominent business leaders (such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet), with a heavy focus on productivity, corporate culture, and self-improvement. When you can find timely content that intersects these themes with your particular industry or niche, you’re on the right track.
Once you start gaining visibility and attention with topics that intrigue your audience, you can start sharing content that makes more of a direct sales impact. Sending someone a case study or product data sheet out of the blue may feel like an interruption, but when that person has already come to view you as a source for useful information that isn’t totally self-serving, it’s easier to bypass that barrier.
More Sales Content Inspiration
Here are a few other pieces from the past week that do a good job of illustrating the power of sales content in action. If you want to further brush up on the subject, these are recommended reads:
At AdWeek, MXM president Georgine Anton explains How to Turn a Cacophony of Content Into a Symphony of Sales. “The goal is to surround the right consumers with the right content. ‘Right’ isn’t just targeted; it’s also quality content that will help to establish a level of trust that mere advertising can’t.”
At G2 Crowd, Devin Pickell compiled 10 different definitions of sales enablement from industry experts, and several of them drive to the heart of what we’re discussing here. “Ensuring sales has ‘content where they are’ and that it is easily found and deployed is crucial to enablement’s success,” according to Liz Kane of PrimePay. “Finally, ensuring that overall enablement efforts are having a positive impact on productivity through constant content measurement.”
This case study on Nykaa, via BuzzInContent, shows how a beauty brand fuels its digital selling through omnichannel content distribution, and calls out some eye-opening results achieved by this approach.
Conducting regular check-ins with marketing will be extremely helpful when it comes to aligning content with the needs, wants, and interests of your customers. LinkedIn Marketing Solutions recently unveiled a new feature in Campaign Manager called Interest Targeting, which enables companies to fine-tune their ads based on the types of content being engaged with by their target audience. Insights gained by the marketing team through this tool will be of acute interest to sales pros.
Through a collaborative, cohesive, and data-driven strategy, sales and marketing can work together to foster a sales content pipeline that helps your brand become a point of interest, rather than interruption, for its best potential customers.
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