It's the good, the bad, and the ugly out there — and I'm not talking about the Clint Eastwood flick, though sales sometimes does feel like the Wild West. I'm talking about not knowing what kind of reaction you'll get when you call leads. Some are delighted to hear from you, while others want to read you the riot act about everything wrong in your industry. Beyond that, some conversations take a turn for the totally bizarre.
As a sales rep, it's your job to guide even the most off-the-rails conversations back on track and toward a win for your team. You have to identify the prospect's problem, explain how your service or product can help, alleviate hesitations, and develop a good rapport so he or she trusts you and your brand. Juggling these responsibilities is no simple feat, but there is one way to make the process much smoother — and more effective.
Using content in your sales calls and follow-ups is a great way to manage those responsibilities, achieve sales goals, and close more deals. And considering that it usually takes five follow-ups to make a sale, content provides you with valuable reasons to connect while you're working toward that "yes."
For example, a member of our sales team spoke with a lead who wasn't sure whether we had a strong enough understanding of her niche industry (or enough credibility and authority to help her place articles on the online publications that reached her target audience). Our team had just finished a blog post that took a deep dive into the world of online publications, and our sales rep included this article in one of her follow-ups. Later that week, the client signed with us and cited that article as a reason why.
Content can be a powerful tool in sales interactions, and it can help you guide conversations in the right direction, especially when you're experiencing the bad and the ugly of sales calls. Let's dive into some common sales scenarios and explore how content can help you turn them around:
This happens a lot when you offer referral bonuses. A current client wants to earn a discount or perk, so she recommends your service to a bunch of friends and colleagues who really have no idea what product or service you offer and are confused by the content you're sending them. These people could probably make great clients — after all, 84 percent of B2B decision makers rely on referrals when selecting vendors, but they're clueless as to why they'd want to work with you.
A creative explanation video, short whitepaper, or infographic works great in these scenarios, especially if you send them out promptly. When you reach out to leads within five minutes of them signing up or being referred, you'reto qualify that person than if you waited. Tell these prospects who you are, what your company offers, and why you think it's worth their while for them to talk with you. They'll feel much more comfortable and informed when they get on the call, and your conversations will be more productive.
Maybe you met this person at a conference; he complimented your service as being really forward-thinking and said he'd like to learn more about what you do. Sure, that sounds promising, but he won't rush to schedule that conversation if he doesn't know what pain point you could solve for his organization.
And truthfully, some potential clients just aren't sure what their pain points are. They know something isn't working — or they don't know that just yet and need you even more than they realize — and know nothing more specific.
When this happens, content that describes the various common pain points your company solves can help your prospect better visualize and understand exactly how your product or service can help them. Sending content like this sooner rather than later can encourage your lead to schedule that call in the first place and can make it more valuable for each of you when the time comes.
If a lead, especially an inbound lead, is price-checking companies across the industry, you need to slow her down and educate her on the difference between you and your competitors. During the call or immediately after, share an infographic or piece of content that breaks down your service offerings and return on investment compared to that of your direct competitors. She'll come away from the call with a more dynamic and well-rounded view of your value proposition.
When a prospect isn't making the connection between your offer and his pain point, show him how past clients with the same problem benefited from your service. Case studies and bottom-of-the-funnel whitepapers that really dive into these examples are vital during and after these conversations. Leads who are on the fence need assurance that you really can deliver for them (and that hiring you isn't a waste of their time and money).
We hear this a lot in our field. People have been burned by a lack of results from PR firms and marketing agencies that struggled to capture their tones or match their target audiences. Our team has developed a lot of content that showcases why we're different from other companies and types of agencies and how our approach will yield better results for them.
If your sales team is meeting similar objections in sales calls, using that kind of content — the kind that shows exactly how and why your methods will work when others have disappointed them — is important to help your prospect overcome that skepticism and build trust before you ask her to put part of her company's success into your hands.
Influence & Co.'s team members often find ourselves in these conversations. A marketing director comes out of a big meeting where the leadership decides to invest in content marketing. That falls under the marketing director's jurisdiction, but she doesn't have time to develop and execute a full strategy, and she worries outsourcing her brand's content marketing ultimately means hiring her own replacement. And that's not the case at all. In that situation, we might send her a blog post or whitepaper detailing how we collaborated with another marketing director to implement a strategy and create content with her and her team's thought leaders — not remove her from the process entirely.
Always use your content to educate and reassure prospects. You're not there to take their jobs; you're there to make their lives easier and to help improve their companies' performances.
Every member of your sales team should share success stories — and even challenges — when it comes to using content. That way, your team can learn what works well and what needs to be improved to better sales calls and nurture your prospects to a sale. Sales reps are motivated by closing deals, making money, and solving problems for their customers, and seeing colleagues drive that process through content will inspire everyone to draw on those materials more often in their own sales conversations.
Content allows you to build trust and authority with your leads even before your first phone call with them. The more content you have — from blog posts, contributed articles, and whitepapers to case studies and videos — the more confident your prospects will feel about your ability to help them (and the more success you'll see as a sales team).
I'm the president of Intero Digital's Content & PR Division. My goal is to create an amazing experience for our clients from their very first interaction with us. My happy place is anywhere with good wine and cheese.