Creating an end-to-end lead generation process with content marketing requires that your top-of-funnel content (the content that focuses on early stage buyers and is commonly found in blogs) is tied together with your premium conversion assets.
But it can’t stop there.
Content can and should be designed to assist sales reps as they move these prospects on through the funnel in the sales cycle.
The problem is that many B2B companies are starting on the wrong end. They decide that they need a blog, write whatever’s the topic de jour, and expect prospects to start finding their content.
That strategy worked in 2006, but there’s simply too much stuff out there for people to consume. You have to get smart about the content strategy you’re developing and lead prospects down a path until they’re sales-ready.
Starting with the end in mind
The end is the conversion asset that you want to drive prospective buyers to. It could be a white paper, webinar, infographic, or educational series—Whatever it is, it had better add value.
Accomplishing this successfully requires that you have a deep understanding of the high-probability pains that you solve for clients.
Then, and only then, can you produce some meaty conversion assets like white papers and infographics on those topics that potentially relieve the prospect of that pain.
The core model actually is that simple. But for many reasons it breaks down in practical application, most notably because your gated assets really aren’t that compelling to begin with.
To ensure that the conversation continuously flows, and there must continuity throughout your subject matter.
Because your end goal is actually for someone to fill out the form for access to your gated asset, all of your blog posts, articles, and early stage videos should address individual segments of the overarching pain point.
Having continuity of subject matter enables your sales team to get into conversations because they have an idea about what the problems in that companyare, assuming that you’ve integrated a marketing automation system with your CRM.
I should note that there’s nothing wrong with having a Valentine’s Day themed blog post if that comes around in your publishing cycle, but ultimately, if your content isn’t feeding the bigger, more core assets that you produce like white papers and infographics, you’re not going to get much lead intelligence.
The purpose of digital content marketing is to replicate what sales reps used to do in real life (IRL)
Consultative sales conversations resulting from content marketing usually originate from some sort of lead intelligence, which arms the sales rep with a frame of reference before reaching out.
When a lead comes in, if the salesperson can see what has been clicked on or downloaded, they’re now more prepared to reach out to this prospect based on the micro facet version of that topic.
if you imagine a good old fashioned sales call of 10 years ago, in a first meeting where you’re getting to know each other, you’re explaining what it is that your company does, and maybe the prospect raises an objection such as, “yeah, that’s great but that won’t work for us because of XYZ. “
So what does the professionally trained sales rep do?
She automatically overcomes that objection and pivots the conversation in the most appropriate direction.
Marketers today can and should do the same thing with content.
In fact, you should be able to pretty accurately predict what high probability objections your sales team or your company will face with buyers and produce assets that address those high probability objections.
How Sales Should Use Content in the Sales Process
Once you’ve developed your meaty conversion assets that every qualified prospect will want to download, conversations (whetherdigital in nature or face-to-face) can be continued to lead the buyer down the path until they’re ready to talk to a sales rep.
Always remember that today’s buyer has a lot more control over the process, so don’t make the mistake of hiding all of these assets until you hear the objection. That conversation may never happen if a prospect raises it in their mind and never shares it with you.
It’s important for content that answers that objection to be readily available where the prospect can self-navigate to it.
Selling in this new world of content marketing requires sales people to know and understand all of the content at their disposal and know when to send it. Just like the sales rep that used to be face-to-face when they hear the objection, today’s rep can address that objection with content.
This can all happen digitally in no more than a quick social media or email exchange, but since there’s nobody on the phone, and there’s nobody face-to-face, the sales rep must have this information at their fingertips, ready to act as quickly and confidently as they once did ‘IRL.’