Sales is #1. We all know that.
That’s what Sales Consulting is for. But what about Content Marketing? Isn’t that just blogging? How do you connect content marketing with your sales team? The essential point of this piece is that even a great sales consultant can’t make up for a weak Content Marketing Strategy.
Unfortunately, in many Austin businesses, and even some marketing companies, Content Marketing and Sales efforts end up operating independently from one another. This happens for many reasons, and I’ll go into a few of those, as well as some suggestions for fixing or improving this in your own business.
When considering this for the first time, it may be that you do not feel that it’s a big deal to make sure that you connect content marketing with your sales team, but I would argue that it’s highly dysfunctional for your business and needs to be addressed.
Sales and Content: Same Team?
Sales people are notoriously disinterested in connecting with marketing efforts like Blogging, Social Media Campaigns, etc…, and this is usually a culture thing. Since Sales People are typically measured on straight performance (number of sales, hitting targets and benchmarks, etc..), you can’t blame them. In a way, you’re actually telling them not to pay attention to content marketing by your culture if you haven’t put in the hard work of tying them together or building great content.
Here’s the Hard Truth:
Let’s look at a factor that’s a little less comfortable: many times your Content Marketing, um…stinks. Bland blogging, disconnected social media campaigns or weak writing on your core web pages does little to nothing to move the needle in sales, so why should they put any effort into it if you won’t (again, a sales consultant won’t help you if your Content Marketing stinks)? Look, if your content strategy doesn’t work, no amount of sales consulting is going to help.
If your content is bad enough, a good sales person will actually steer prospects away from your site. This is actually a gift, though; you can poll your sales team to get a read on your content. You might not agree with everything they say, but you will glean a lot by hearing them.
How to Fix the Disconnect Between Your Sales and Content: Sales Consulting 101
How can you fix it? Here are a few tactics that should help (I’d love to hear back from you after you try these to hear how they worked for you).
5 Ways to Connect Content Marketing with your Sales Team:
Reviews are your lowest hanging fruit to connect your Content Marketing to your Sales Team, because you have a direct tie between your sales and content in the review itself. Here’s why: you have the customer essentially telling other prospects why they should buy from you, and they are doing it in content form. So if you then can build that review out into content, it’s a win-win.
Ninja Content Marketing Tip; put on your Ninja pants!
Write a blog post (more on Blogging Your Reviews a bit later) on the 5 aspects of this review that make it important for the reader, or the 5 things the reader might not realize about this review.
You could also build out the products or services that the review references, and use images and video to support that. Mark these up properly, and you have a nice piece of content built directly out of a Sales-related piece.
In any case, you should aggregate all of the review and endorsements you get on LinkedIn, Yelp, Google and other review sites and put them on one page on your own site. You should also sprinkle them throughout your site on pages that are relevant to the review. If you have a service making sandwiches, put the review about the Ham on Rye on that page. You might be surprised how few business owners do this, so you’ll stand out when you do. Incidentally, if you’re thinking of hiring a sales consultant but don’t have any reviews on your site, do that first. It’s more valuable.
What do the Content Marketing experts say?
- Paul O’Brien, of Seobrien.com, says of the value of Reviews, “You’ve heard the saying that companies are really owned by their customers? That Coca-Cola is a brand, but what that brand means is how consumers perceive and enjoy it. Imagine how important that is from the standpoint of creating credibility for your product or service by sharing the experiences customers have? Reviews today are evolving from mere ratings and opinions to many different ways you can enhance content with customer experiences. From images and videos to platforms such as rivet.works making it possible to embed customer stories in your mobile app, product page, or even your newsletters, customized with the stories (reviews) that matter to your audience.”
Blogging Directly from Sales Person’s perspective
Don’t overlook your Sales People when you are thinking about creating the content itself. I believe that the heart of the Sales/Content disconnect is simply the way we think about the concepts of Content, Marketing and Sales. We can tend to think of them as separate functions, and that’s a critical error.
Remember, the purchase by a new customer is the most validating function in your business. It means that a prospect found you, recognized your product or service as a solution to their needs, and paid good money to gain that solution. Creating content that is directly informed by that process seems like it would be a good idea, right? Let’s look at how you can source blogging content directly from your sales team.
Needs of the customer.
Meet regularly with your sales team and listen to what the customers are saying (on a side note, this is exactly how some of the greatest innovations have been discovered. The Sony Walkman is a great example). Your Account Management people (who usually double as front line sales people in most small businesses) hear directly what the customer needs, and you can create content that bolsters your position in the marketplace as a solution for this need. In this way, you’re sort of supplying your own sales consulting.
Easy. What next?
I talk a bit more in depth about blogging your reviews a little later, but they are definitely a part of this idea of “blogging your success stories”. You should look for any opportunity to drill down and unpack customer experiences before, during and after the sale to tell your story. What makes you different? How did the customer feel during the process of being served by your fulfillment team? What was their experience before with other vendors?
What the sales person needs internally from the business
Perhaps the most overlooked, the sales person can many times best advise you as to what the frontline people need from the content. Warm up the customer when at a certain stage? Support the benefits of the product or service? Bolster the accuracy of a certain type of review that would better inform future customers? These are all sales-supporting functions that your content can and should have; and your sales people are right there ready to give you the input you need to create this awesome content. If you don’t know how to do this, hire a sales consultant who is well-versed in online marketing (even if it’s not us).
Blog your reviews
As I said before, your reviews are both your lowest-hanging fruit and your most focused existing content. Since they come directly from transactions involving your Sales Team, they will many times mention these very people by name, further focusing your outcome from the content (Sandy at ABC Corp writes: “Bob helped me get exactly what I was looking for, and did a great job”, which is read by other prospects just like Sandy, resulting in social proof, that someone just like me got the result I was looking for by buying from Bob [and you, of course]).
Creating content directly from your reviews is arguably the easiest and strongest way to support your sales team. The sales people mentioned will have a much higher interest in sharing the content (you know that Bob is going to be crowing about the above review), and this sharing creates a beneficial cycle going forward. Sales consulting firms that ignore this are making a critical mistake.
Build out “What happens if you DON’T solve abc problem” content
This points prospects directly into your sales funnel, and your sales team will love you for it. It also gives them a direct connection to your content, as well as a real reason to point prospects back to the website. “Yes, Sarah, we hear that complaint a lot from people who haven’t bought from us yet. In fact, we just wrote a series of blog posts on the top problems faced by project managers in a similar position as yourself; you should read them. I’ll email you the link”. (Again, Sales Consulting services are useless without proper content marketing strategy in the modern age.) Now you have a two-fold benefit: first, you have a sales person talking about your content. Next, you’ve given your sales person one of the most powerful tools they can have; a reason for the prospect to call them back, or for them to reach out and touch the prospect again.
Write to Your Optimum Client
Writing to your Optimum Client will take some practice, but once you get it down, it will produce abundant rewards. Speaking directly to the person who is the best fit for your services pays huge benefits. Speak to their pains, their uniqueness, tell stories about exactly how your services make their life better (and make these stories as specific as possible); bottom line, put lots and lots of effort into this idea.
This is a great tactic, because it does two things simultaneously: first, it focuses your Content Marketing efforts. By naming your ideal clients, you reduce your attention to only these prospects, and your content creation gets instantly better. This also underscores the selfsame focus to your sales team, and if they’re any good, they’ll get the message: “Don’t waste time going after sub-par prospects just to fill out your call quota”.
In the Sales Funnel, you’ll have a much higher response rate from ideal clients, reducing the time that is usually wasted by bad leads, poorly qualified buyers, etc… that professional sales people loathe.
Starting down the road of connecting your content marketing with your sales team requires discipline, planning, and persistence, but it pays off huge in the end. It’s definitely a place where hiring the right sales consulting firm can make a huge difference in your bottom line.
By Connecting your Sales Team to your Content Marketing efforts, you will increase the value and efficacy of your content, increase the loyalty of your Sales Team, and put a consistent path to purchase in front of any prospect that enters your site.
Even if you don’t hire us, you should eventually consider hiring a Professional Sales Consultant to walk along side you and your team for a time to point out and assist in growth opportunities. It’s ideal to hire one who has experience in both Content Marketing and in Sales.
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