The difference between closing and losing a deal always comes down to one thing.
Did you align the value of the product or service with the needs of the prospect?
If not, you might as well say goodbye and good luck.
The key ingredient in the conversion process is knowledge. Your understanding of the value proposition must be great enough to confidently respond to the concerns and questions of the prospect. After you make your pitch, the prospect has to have the impression that this is his best option to take.
How do you gain that knowledge? One source may surprise you: content marketing.
Content marketing has changed the way companies approach the sales process. It’s become more of a two-way channel whereby engagement is encouraged. Prospects are not pushed but pulled inside the sales funnel through great, relevant, and engaging content.
For salespeople, content marketing has the potential to become a powerful tool that can close more deals. Here are five ways B2B sales teams can leverage content marketing.
1) Build a Relationship With the Customer
All relationships start with two or more people who have something in common. In sales, this means finding prospects with needs that align with your product or service.
Content marketing can become the differentiator, here. If your company’s content is consistently top-quality and follows an effective distribution strategy, it will generate a large number of leads through engagement. This two-way interaction between marketing and the consumer becomes a valuable source of information.
Salespeople should be able to use this information to develop a keen understanding of the buyer persona. Content engagement explores these questions:
By uncovering the answers to these questions, a salesperson would know the best ways to approach the prospective customer and address her concerns and frequent pain points. Conversely, the prospect will see that the salesperson is not only knowledgeable about the product, but also cognizant of her needs as a consumer.
This is how you establish trust and move her further along the sales funnel.
2) Land the All-Important First Call
Great content builds a following because it enhances your company’s reputation. But generating leads is one thing; capitalizing on them is another.
Salespeople have to be aware of how followers are engaging with content. For example, if your business offers leadership training and someone posts a comment on the need to build his front-line people, there’s your golden ticket.
You can send a customized email to that prospect. The content of the email should specifically state the comment posted on the thread to validate the correspondence.
It’ll be even more effective if you attach a newsletter, article, or even an ebook containing more information on the value proposition.
And always close with a request for a phone call to further discuss what you’re offering.
3) Overcome Objections With Confidence
Contrary to what people think, the success of restaurants does not depend exclusively on the quality of their food. After all, how can someone discover the quality of the food if she doesn’t purchase it?
A restaurant’s success begins with its own salespeople: the servers who captain the dining room. Diners can have eclectic tastes, and if the dining team can’t overcome the objections of the customer, they could lose a potential sale per dining table.
This is why restaurant managers spend so much time training their dining crews on the menu. The crew has to know the items and ingredients like the back of their hand.
Salespeople should also keep themselves informed about the latest developments and trends in the industry. Tastes and preferences are constantly changing because of social media. If you’re able to land the first call but are ineffective in responding to questions and objections, any potential for a sale will be lost.
4) Gather Insights
In some organizations, content marketing isn’t restricted to the marketing department. Some integrate marketing with sales to allow salespeople to interact directly with the market.
This is a great idea because it gives the you an unfiltered contact with the prospective customer. You can create content that will establish a communication loop with the market. You’ll will be able to reach out and assist the marketing department in areas that fit your expertise.
5) Retain the Market
In the battle for market positioning, the key isn’t solely building new markets. With tighter competition, greater access to information, and the influence of social media, businesses have acknowledged that the battle may be won on their ability to retain markets.
Content marketing is the perfect avenue for retaining markets because it’s an ongoing medium for building up your relationship with customers.
The best content marketing practices involve salespeople implementing a high-touch approach after a sale. They can send a survey form or an email to the customer asking how their experience was or how and if the product or service has benefited their business in any way.
Later, sales can send customized content updating customers on their latest offerings—especially as the industry continually evolves.
Winning customers is just the first step to building the business. The bigger challenge is to ensure they stay with you for the long haul.
Content marketing is more effective than traditional marketing methods, simply because it gets the message out directly. Those who agree with your message will subscribe willingly.
Theoretically, it should be easier for you to convert the lead to a closed deal. But the rules of engagement still hold true.
You need to be in touch with your market and its demands to take advantage of content marketing.
So watch, listen, and learn—then act!
Felix works with the SEO tool, Monitor Backlinks. He enjoys writing about business and entrepreneurship. You can connect with him on Twitter.