When you work with a sales team, you often find that hunters and gatherers aren’t Paleolithic relics — they’re the lifeblood of thriving organizations.
At Influence & Co., our hunters excel at generating new leads. They’re adept at turning a casual conversation into a business opportunity, and they can work a room like no one else. But as many hunters on sales teams know, follow-up and proposal development could always be improved.
On the other hand, our gatherers are rock stars on the back end. They remember the fine details about people, and they work those touches to close sales. They’re more comfortable behind a phone or computer than they are at a high-energy conference.
When your team’s hunters and gatherers are forced to switch roles and perform tasks that don’t come as naturally to them, frustration can occur, and leads can sometimes slip through the cracks. Think about how many leads your team is working at any given time and how quickly potential customers go MIA. It’s tough to stay ahead of them and keep them engaged, especially when you have 100 other leads who are responding to emails or picking up the phone.
Your team can get stuck focusing on immediately engaged leads, which is why the average rep only tries to connect with a prospect twice and 44 percent give up after the first attempt. Sales reps can only “check in to see how things are progressing” or “touch base about that budget conversation” so many times before they become just more noise in inboxes that are already too loud.
So how do you grab and keep your leads’ attention? Well, my team and I have found that thought leadership content helps. Rather than force your sales team to come up with different reasons for reaching out, empower them with fresh content. Giving potential clients something of value — like a relevant article written by someone on your team or a new blog post — entices them to raise their hand sooner than your sales rep solely focusing on the ask.
Look at the difference between these emails.
How are things with your company? Do you have a few minutes next week to hop on the phone and catch up?
In this email, the wording is vague, and there isn’t a clear call to action. It’s easy for the lead to overlook.
I just wanted to make sure this didn’t fall off the radar. You said you were excited to explore our services and that you’re trying to determine whether it would be better to work with us or hire internally. Here’s the link to a guide we recently published to our blog on creating an in-house content team: http://blog.influenceandco.com/can-you-afford-your-own-in-house-content-team
Do you know when you’ll be able to review the proposal with your VP?
In this second email, the rep references the lead’s specific concerns, provides him with valuable information, and asks a direct question that requires a response. This kind of message gets results.
Of course, you still need to get creative when sending content to prospects. Consider how you can work these approaches into your follow-up emails:
If your content can help a lead solve a problem, complete a task, or simply make his or her day better, you’ll earn a lifetime client. Take the time to tailor the content you send in emails to challenges that frustrate your prospects. They’ll appreciate the help and feel more confident that your solution will work for their needs.
Referencing a specific concern shows that you’re paying attention to your leads’ situations, and it helps your team overcome the objections that typically follow those concerns. Our sales team frequently references an article that discusses the costs, benefits, and challenges associated with the decision to build an internal team or outsource to an agency to oversee content marketing. Many businesses are a little hesitant to sign on with an outside content firm because they believe that managing content in-house is easier and cheaper than outsourcing, so this article is valuable to both our sales team and our leads in addressing this common concern.
Did your company win an award or garner a high-profile mention? Shout that victory from the rooftops — in a totally humble way, of course. Showcasing your brand’s accolades is a great way to boost your business’s reputation. Sure, no one likes a braggart, but if your victory is relevant and can move things along, find a natural, humble way to work it into your conversation.
For example, when Content Marketing Institute selected Influence & Co. as a finalist for its Content Marketing Agency of the Year, our whole team was excited. Not only was this a huge honor, but it also meant that a well-known, respected industry leader had recognized our company and the work we do — and that’s great fuel for sales.
Don’t limit your sales team to the open content on your blog or the articles your team’s thought leaders are publishing. Include relevant gated content pieces in your outreach by sending new worksheets, checklists, and templates as you release them, especially if it’s something you’re sure they can use. These useful content pieces can get your leads’ teams talking positively about your company, and because these leads are already in your sales CRM, you’re not missing out on the chance to collect valuable prospect contact info by sending the gated content to him or her directly. For more tips on gated content creation, review our list of dos and don'ts.
Let prospects know when you’ve published an article, and share the story behind it. Rather than a generic, newsy-looking mass email from your team’s sales manager with your company’s latest content, send a direct, personal email to your leads with a link to your article, the story behind what motivated you to write it, and why you’re sending it to them. This signals that they’re top of mind for you and that you’re excited to share this content with them.
Original content relieves your sales team of the need to come up with different — and often ineffective — strategies for every lead, and it enables your hunters and gatherers to do what they do best: engage prospects and draw them toward sales.
I'm the president of Intero Digital's Content & PR Division. Intero Digital is a full-service digital marketing agency whose Content & PR Division helps businesses improve their lead generation, SEO, sales enablement, and thought leadership — all powered by content marketing and PR.