Right now, content is the number one sales tool I have in my arsenal.
Forget ‘sales techniques’, books about influence or even the Salesman Podcast. There is no other tool that will help you close deals in the internet age more effectively than by sharing content.
To nail content selling you need to perfect the following –
- Sending relevant, value adding content. Not crap, pop articles that are throwaways.
- The content must be timely and useful in the moment. Nobody goes back to an old email to retrieve that week old article link.
- It must be tracked to help you understand what is working and the ideal time to turn the emails into a conversation.
That last point is important.
The ability to not just forward content but also have a real human to human conversation is the only leverage we sales professionals have over the marketers who are hungry to steal our jobs, commissions and status as the hero’s within the business world.
Content should have one goal, to lead to a conversation.
Content is abundant
There is more content online right now, on every specific subject imaginable that if there was no more ever produced we’d still never be able to consume it all.
Every single minute –
- Youtubers upload 72 hours of new videos
- Instagram users post 220,000 new photos
- Bloggers post 1,400 new posts
Some sales gurus are recommending that sales professionals should be creating their own content to share with their prospects. This would –
- Increase the perception that they’re an industry expert
- Create the potential for inbound enquires if someone discovers your published content
However I have to disagree.
There is so much content out there already that you can add value by curating the best and most specific, useful information for your prospects.
Sharing this top 1% of articles and videos with the people you want to have conversations with takes 1% of the time and far less effort compared with creating it yourself.
Content gives you engagement
You might not be in charge of the content that is on your company’s website but perhaps we salespeople should be more involved.
We’re on the front line and from interactions with our customers we know that on average –
- 3% of the prospects we interact with are ready to buy, like right now!
- 67% might buy in the future
- 30% will never want to buy from us
So why does your corporate website sell, sell, sell?! Shouldn’t they be grooming those ‘might buy in the future’ prospects into taking the next step?
Well if your company’s website isn’t going to help you close prospects, you curate content that will yourself.
Have you ever asked this question? –
“How do I get in contact with that prospect who seemed to be hot but then went cold without chasing them for the business and looking desperate”?
Content is the answer.
You can use a service such as ClearSlide (partner of the Salesman Podcast) to forward your prospect a piece of relevant content which adds value to your relationship, brings you back to being top of mind and might just prompt them to close the deal.
Everyone gets distracted but that one email containing an exciting piece of industry news might be just enough to pull the prospect back towards the close.
Content gives you context
And that’s not all.
You can gain massive context on where your prospects are in their buying cycle by leveraging the tools a service like ClearSlide have to offer.
You can track whether the prospect is opening and reading the initial brochure you sent them (in which case they are likely in the 67% “might buy in the future” group).
Perhaps they’ve been opening your emails, forwarding them up the food chain but they haven’t replied to you personally.
No problem. Use content to get the conversation back on track.
Send them a relevant industry article that you enjoyed as a way to reconnect without having to resort to that sin of an email “Hey, I… just wanted to check in”.
You can even start a ‘Live Pitch‘ with a prospect and share your screen or go straight into a product demo if you’re going back and forth over email and you sense they’re ripe for a quick close.
But until you have something to send them, you don’t have the opportunity to track the interaction.
How to build your own personal content library
You might in luck!
Has your company’s marketing team already put together a sophisticated library of data proven articles that you can share with your prospects at predefined points within the buying cycle?
I didn’t think so.
Are they producing daily content with GIFs of cats sitting on babies faces that get lots of ‘engagement’ on Facebook but drive little value to the prospect?
I thought so.
OK it’s time to take a couple of hours out of your selling time and nail this for yourself. The great thing is that once you have a collection of articles, videos and content (that other people have spent thousands of hours and dollars creating) you can reuse them over and over.
STEP 1 – Make a list of all of the stages within your sales cycle where you would A) like to have more contact with your buyer B) their levels of communication tend to drop off and you’d like to re-engage.
STEP 2 – Use Google to find 2-3 articles or videos that are relevant for your industry which again would be relevant for that part of the sales cycle. Each article must have the following characteristics –
- Be from a credible source
- Give a specific result/research data/view point which is polarising
- Must be entertaining (if you thought it was boring then so will they)
STEP 3 – Create a stock question about the polarising article to nudge the prospect into giving you a reply on their own thoughts.
STEP 4- Set up a email tracking tool to make sure your content has been opened.
A personal example
We offer a partnership package which allows companies within the sales industry to reach over 200,000 salespeople per month. This includes ad spots on our podcast, mentions in blog posts like this and banner ads like the ones to the right of this page.
Generally I will reach out to a VP of marketing, have an initial conversation to see if we can guarantee them a positive ROI on their ad spend with us. Then If I’m confident we can hit this they start their way down our content sales funnel.
Unless the company I’m dealing with has worked with podcasters before I always hit a sticking point just before they’re ready to close the deal.
It’s been the same issue with 4/5 of the last deals I’ve put together and I’ve used the same piece of content to break through it.
The brand always asks this exact question, “and how are our podcast ads going to sound?”.
I send them some examples of the work we’ve done with the likes of Salesforce.com, Pipedrive CRM and many others and the response is “er… that’s not what we were expecting”.
They were expecting a professional, well rehearsed, TV voice over style ad that you might hear on the radio.
They do not work in the podcast world.
I’ve experimented with them and the audience gets turned off instantly.
I try to explain that my way of reading an ad, like I’m chatting with my audience drives the most engagement as –
- The audience trusts me and my voice when I explain that I’ve personally used the product and I like it
- That there’s no point in running through 20 features as the listener can’t take in more than 2-3 of them
- How this is the industry standard way of doing them because it simply works!
But they never listen.
Things go quiet for a few days…
So I end them this article from slate.com and instantly they call me back and request an invoice to secure their partnership deal –
MailKimp, SchmailChimp. Podcast ads are rambling and unpredictable. So why do sponsors love them?
It has worked every single time.
If you’re in sales and you’re not leveraging content to secure more deals, keep sales funnels flowing and the conversations going then you’re missing the biggest revelation to happen in the industry for 100 years.