Developing content that someone might find interesting is not difficult. But if there’s not a natural bridge for a salesperson to then follow up on the consumption of that content and turn it into a sales conversation, you’re really just creating content just for marketing’s sake. And I think this is where a majority of marketers and content marketing agencies get stuck.
The right approach to content development is to approach it by identifying the high probability pains that your prospect is experiencing. It’s important to get this right because it becomes the basis for a well-trained sales professional to engage into sales conversations.
Identification of pain points comes from asking questions such as:
- What are the things that keeping your prospects up at night?
- What are some of the typical business challenges that they face and are trying to solve?
- As they are exploring solutions to those business problems, what are the things they will care and think about through the different levels of their buying process? (For example, are they an early stage shopper, are they looking at vendors, or are they actually narrowing down their selection?)
A talented sales rep isn’t out there just talking about themselves and their product and telling everyone why they should buy from them — no one wants to hear that. They don’t want to hear it on the phone. They don’t want to hear it when their online alone. They don’t want to hear it face-to-face. They don’t want to hear it any place!
Prospects want to talk to you if you can solve their business problem. So a good sales rep begins with a consultative approach, asking about problems they may be experiencing and how they are impacting the organization.
The critical thing to remember when developing your content is not whether or not it gets clicked through, downloaded and viewed, but rather: how does it actually create engagement that facilitates a sales conversation?
Always remember that the goal of content marketing is to provide actionable sales intelligence; if a prospect has downloaded a white paper on topic XYZ, that’s the foundation a potential sales conversation. We train our business development reps to follow up with a consultative approach:
SALES REP: “Hi Jim, I saw you downloaded our article on XYZ. A lot of our customers have also experienced that exact same business problem. Could you tell me if you’re facing similar challenges in that area?”
Much like cold calling being a numbers game, so is content marketing—it’s just a different set of numbers. But if you’ve created content based on customer pain points, then you’ve opened the door for a salesperson to have a business conversation.
Some people will want to continue to talk to salespeople. Most won’t. Some are going to keep coming back to your web site, consuming more content, but ignoring your follow up until they’re ready to engage. We’ve tracked customers that didn’t respond to us for a year or more, and then suddenly there was digital activity and they were ready to go.