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88% of B2B sellers use content as a primary way and retain their audience and drive customer action. The takeaway? Creating and sharing compelling content at the right time is more important than ever. Used well, content can help sales reps tell their story, establish credibility, and underscore the value of the product or service they sell. But used poorly, content just adds to the noise, turns buyers off, and shuts down deals.
Using sales content strategically in your process might require some legwork, but it’s not as daunting as it may seem — and the potential rewards are well worth the effort. Use these 5 tips to start transforming the quality and impact of your sales content now.
Collaborate with Marketing
Sales and marketing both have key roles to play in the content marketing process. Reps need guidance on what content to share with prospects and how to market it; marketers don’t typically understand the purchase process in the same way the sales team does.
How can sales and marketing bridge the gap? First, they should work together to identify prospects. When sales and marketing are level-set, marketing can create messaging and content that aligns with the needs and interests of target customers. what questions buyers typically ask and what type of content seems to appeal most to prospects.
If your sales team is out of sync with marketing, you’re not alone:
65% of marketing content is never touched by sales, and 90% of B2B sellers don’t use marketing content because it’s irrelevant, outdated, and difficult to customize.
Keeping sales and marketing aligned is impossible if sales teams don’t provide feedback about the content marketing produces and whether it resonates with prospects. Giving marketers the sales organization’s outside-in perspective prevents them wasting time producing resources that aren’t useful for reps and buyers.
Use Content to Jump-start Conversations
Reps should target prospects early in the buying process with resources such as blog posts and infographics — short and visually striking resources that are likely to catch their attention. More serious buyers are likely to be interested in more substantive content such as white papers, webinars, and eBooks that showcase industry conversation and provide a more detailed perspective. In the final stages of a deal, share content like case studies that demonstrate how companies similar to a prospect’s organization are driving value.
Once the buying process is over and the prospect is a customer, keep them engaged with quality content. Providing instructive content such as how-to pieces, articles, and videos, or inviting the customer to webinars about improving adoption are two strategies your sales teams can use to nurture relationships after the sale.
ClearSlide analysis of anonymized customer data found that only about 1 percent of content deployed by sales teams is video, yet leveraging videos actually increases engagement by 44 percent.
Don’t forget to include rich media content in your outreach (like video emails)- it can make a big difference in how effectively you engage buyers and help you stand out from the crowd.
Don’t Give the Whole Sales Pitch
Show the trailer, not the whole movie.
While prospecting, it can be tempting to email buyers a large volume of content with the hope that one particular message or detail strikes a chord and lands you a meeting. This is a mistake. In a first interaction, buyers are deciding whether or not to talk to you.
If you overwhelm them with information, it’s unlikely they’ll respond. Instead, view initial outreach like a movie trailer. Offer just enough enticing content that the prospect will feel compelled to invest their time to learn more.
Prospects receive 11 pages of content on average but only look at the first five according to anonymized data from ClearSlide, including millions of tracked emails.
The message here is break-in content should be short and sweet — blog posts and infographics are good options. If you do send longer content, be sure the most compelling information appears first to ensure prospects actually look at it.
Know When To Follow Up, and What To Focus On.
One way for sales people to prospect more successfully is to gain visibility into whether content is actually being consumed and what buyers are focusing on. By using a sales engagement platform such as ClearSlide to see when someone opens and views content, reps can time follow-up more strategically. Moreover, knowing exactly what content buyers find engaging on a slide-by-slide level enables reps to provide tailored follow-up that moves deals forward. And by leveraging features such as lead forms and forwarding notifications, your sales organization can gain insight into buyer’s internal decision-making process — improving the accuracy of deal forecasting.
Using email templates is another great way to make follow-ups more impactful. Creating templates for your best content makes it fast and easy for you and your team to follow up with prospects in seconds from anywhere.
Create a Compelling LinkedIn Profile
An uninformative LinkedIn presence raises a red flag and weakens your clout with prospects.
49 percent of B2B buyers use LinkedIn to learn more about a rep before even starting the buying process
A LinkedIn profile is not your resume — it’s your online reputation. Think of it as your calling card; you use it to reach out to your network, and contacts use it to find out more about you. As a sales professional, you may not think of yourself as a brand, but that’s exactly what you are. Your sales success is tied directly to how well you market yourself online, and your profile is a resource for buyers to see how you and your company can add value to their business.
Use your headline and summary to craft a narrative about who you are and what value you can provide to prospects. Finally, don’t forget to add relevant content to your profile, because it will convey how you can solve the real-world problems that prospects and customers face.
Content is an invaluable component of sales success. It should be compelling, personalized for prospect needs, and reflect where a deal is in the sales cycle. Research by LinkedIn shows that 6 in 10 buyers choose a product or service based on the mix of content they receive during the sales process, so using content strategically will help you close more deals. Download the entire guide for more in-depth information on each of these tips on sales content.