Companies are investing thousands—if not tens of thousands—of dollars in content marketing each year. To some sales teams, that could seem like a lot of cash for just one strategy in one department. This reaction is especially true if the sales budget has been particularly tight lately.
But here’s the thing — content isn’t just for marketers, and it’s not just for audiences, either. Content fuels the sales process. It’s an investment that impacts your entire organization.
Content gives sales reps a way to nurture their leads. Sales people use content to advise their prospects by sharing content resources that help further educate potential buyers. And when sales reps run out of reasons to touch base, sharing a piece of content creates the perfect opportunity for outreach. If sales people learn to treat content like fuel to keep the sales process in motion, they can speed up the sales cycle and guide prospects from open to close in a shorter timeframe.
Here are five steps sales people can take to begin using content to fuel the sales process:
Step 1: Become a Subscriber
It’s a little difficult to use content when you don’t know what content exists. Subscribe to your company’s blog and understand how to navigate the content collection. You should be able to access articles, eBooks, guides, white papers and every other form of content quickly as the need arises.
Step 2: Work with Marketing to Think Up Helpful Content
Marketing and sales should work together to create content. The sales team fields questions, listens to pain points, and spends quality face-to-face time with prospective buyers. They know which questions get asked repeatedly, and what challenges are shared across audiences. The entire point of content marketing is to provide answers to those questions and solutions t those challenges through valuable content.
As you work your way into marketing’s creative lair, ask yourself, What is missing from our organization’s content collection? What has one of my prospects needed to know for which I did not have a content piece to explain?
Step 3: Start Tapping the Keyboard
Before you tense up and corroborate with that voice in your head saying it’ll be a cold day in…hear me out.
A successful content strategy requires commitment from all departments, including sales. Each piece of content should answer a question, offer advice or add value to the buyer’s journey in some way.
But on a larger scale, your organization’s collection of content tells the ultimate story about your brand as an industry expert and thought leader. It’s documentation of your brand’s reputation. This is a major initiative that requires all hands on deck. Round out what your company is talking about by offering your expertise. After all, nobody knows your customers as well as you do.
Step 4: Join the Conversation
Share your organization’s content resources with your social networks. Ask your colleagues to share your work. Offer to share their work. If your marketing department publishes a new guide — help distribute the content by putting your social signals to good use.
Step 5: Incorporate Content into Your Sales Strategy
From your first interaction to your last, content can be the glue that helps you bond with each prospect, lead and customer. Warm up your initial outreach with a relevant piece of content that will help your prospect in some way.
Hint: If you’ve been following our blog and understand the power of prospecting, figuring out which piece of content to share with a prospect should be simpler than it sounds.
After every interaction with a lead, follow up by emailing them a piece of content that supports your most recent conversation, or helps guide the next interaction. Remember, relevance is key to making content work for your sales process.
Pro Tip: Sales and marketing should create content that supports every stage of the buyer’s journey. When done correctly, sales will always have the next resource on deck to keep the prospect moving in the right direction.
Now that your sales team is part of the content action, help improve strategy by providing marketing with feedback on how well (or poorly) content performed with your leads. The more you understand your leads, the better you can nurture them until they reach a purchasing decision. This degree of care is what creates a memorable buyer experience and helps your brand build an exceptional reputation.