What are some of the strategies for a productive, successful conversation?
No matter who we’re speaking with, or the circumstances surrounding a conversation – whether we’re speaking to a friend, asking for advice, or passing the time of day with a stranger – a conversation must convey relevance and value to both parties for it to continue.
For modern buyers, that immediate and contextual relevance -receiving the right information at the right time – is now an expectation across digital interactions with brands too. It is a key aspect of buyer empowerment and decision-making. In fact, conversational inside sales and marketing techniques, such as live chat and intelligent chatbots, are playing a huge role right now in personalizing, humanizing, and building trusted relationships between buyers and organizations.
However, it’s not all smooth sailing! From the buyer’s perspective, there’s still a lot of information out there. There is plenty to consider when looking for the right-fit solution – particularly in B2B. In fact, often there’s so much information that buyers experience analysis paralysis when they feel swamped by information overload and indecision.
For a B2B sales leader today, finding a way to cut through the noise, and deliver that expected timely engagement with the right level of insight, is the answer to generating effective sales conversations.
To do so, sales professionals require the right resources and an understanding of when and how to use them. Having the correct mix of supporting content (assets that address buyer challenges across every stage of the purchase journey) is essential to build trust, position sales teams as advisors, and help accelerate conversations through the nurture process.
5 Tips To To Close More Deals With Content
1. Consider Your Content
What easy-to-understand, buyer-focused and helpful content do you have available from your business, your partners, and/or your market? You should have content assets that address pain points through the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. It should also be in a variety of formats – dependent on the content types, you see your ideal buyers and existing customers engage with most frequently.
If you don’t have a variety of content that’s resonating with buyers, work with your marketing and content teams to review what you have today and create what’s missing to help bridge the gaps in your sales process and storytelling. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does your content articulate your value proposition effectively? Or do you need to reconsider the angle?
- Does it contain customer evidence and proof points?
- Does your content truly align with buyer pain?
- Does it address the objections you commonly hear, in the language your buyers use?
- Do you have the right nurture content in place? – For example, you may have a good volume of top-of-funnel, awareness content, but lack more in-depth consideration and decision pieces needed to nurture and convince qualified leads through to close.
Auditing how effective your nurture process is can help to identify areas for improvement. Although the marketing department is probably responsible for creating and controlling the nurture content, as a salesperson your feedback and observations can be really helpful towards improving it.
2. Understand How B2B Purchasing Decisions are Made
Once you have good-fit, resonant content assets that your buyers will find valuable, the next step is to position content in front of the right people at the right time, to educate, nurture, and help your buyers build a business case for change.
In the modern sales landscape, there has never been more opportunity to help buyers find and digest quality content to aid their buying journey. But to see success, it’s important to understand how B2B buyers purchase. Unlike in B2C, decisions are made by multiple stakeholders and often by a panel, especially in enterprises. There is usually a key decision maker. However, they will be heavily influenced by trusted advisors and influencers who are both internal and external to their business.
In our recent study on the 2018 B2B Buying Disconnect, we learned that B2B buyers generally use five sources of information before making a decision.
So, no matter how great your content, if it can’t help an influencer or decision maker build the internal business case for your solution at a wider level, you may struggle to secure the customer. Make sure you understand this process and are sharing content that allows the individual receiving your content to understand how your solution will help them meet their goals and priorities. It should also make it easier for them to justify the investment to other stakeholders. This, in turn, will build your credibility as someone who adds value, rather than as someone simply seeking to “close”.
3. Share Content In a Timely, Thoughtful Way
Already have great content? Confident that it can effectively nurture, and build the case for change in your target buying account? The next step is to design a process to get the right content in front of the right buyer at the right time.
To do so, it’s important to create a process that works to:
- Identify an individual’s buyer stage and active channels.
- Build out the buyer’s sphere of influence.
- Acquire insight into the buyer’s key challenges and priorities.
You can then deliver content to your buyer that’s appropriate to their stage in the buyer’s journey. You can share it via the channels and influencers/influential sources that they are engaged with. With the right content, insight, and understanding of the buyer, you as a sales professional, can put yourself in a position to help the buyer better understand the challenges they are seeking to solve. Then you can offer the best, timely solutions.
How does this work in practice? Let’s say you receive some insight into a target account, based on propensity to buy data, or a trigger event through LinkedIn Sales Navigator, such as a press release. By going into Sales Navigator, you can uncover the right people within that target account to connect with. Some basic social listening will often help you understand what’s top of mind with account contacts. Reviewing a contact’s recent articles, posts, and social activity can also help to uncover their key challenges, priorities, most used channels and interests.
By leveraging content combined with insights as part of an initial engagement strategy, sales leaders can position themselves as a potential resource to the buyer, rather than just another salesperson trying to push a product or service.
4. Personalize Content and Messaging When Appropriate
Quality conversations hinge on relevancy. For sales teams looking to leverage content to secure positive results, it can help to have content that’s not only relevant to buyer’s challenges, but that’s also personalized. Such as by vertical, company, or for high-value, high-propensity accounts, to that specific individual themselves.
Strategies such as account-based marketing prioritize this approach, where personalized content and messaging are crucial in order to engage and build trust with a key account.
When looking at personalization as a part of a content development process, consider:
- How can you create personalized content suitable for a specific target account’s buying stage? Often this will require some collaboration with your marketing team or agency. This should incorporate sales insight and social listening. Note that content personalization must always be appropriate to the buyer stage and opportunity ROI for it to be effective. Don’t invest a lot of time and money creating personalized content for accounts that aren’t likely to buy, or aren’t likely to generate much revenue once they do buy.
- Alongside mapping to buyer stage, personalized messaging must also be in context with the relationship you have with the contact. Don’t get too personal too early – you may be making the wrong assumptions.
5. Consider Your Wider Sales and Marketing Plan
Of course, there’s more to leveraging content to close deals than just sharing the right webinar with the right person. Your entire marketing and sales process should be aligned, collaborative and poised to support activities. This can be anywhere from creating the right content assets to sharing insight on the best ways to engage buyers, to building an effective nurture process, and more.
For your content leverage process to be truly effective, it must start with strategy. To deliver content and messaging that works, you must have a plan that considers:
Sales & Marketing Alignment
Without sales and marketing alignment, it’s difficult for campaigns, and particularly account-based marketing campaigns, to resonate. Sales and marketing teams must be completely aligned on the buyer, with shared clarity on campaign goals, objectives and account focus.
When it comes to content development, sales and marketing teams must regularly collaborate, not only to develop the right content for the right buyer stage but to establish:
- What is realistic in terms of turnaround
- If the content is on brand and on message with the wider go-to-market or account strategy
- What additional messaging is required to align with the content offer and value proposition
- How to access the content. According to CSO Insights, 7.2% of companies have a standalone sales enablement platform to share content with sales teams. Other teams may use a cloud storage solution or a collaboration tool that’s not specifically designed for sales content. Whatever system you use, make sure everyone’s on the same page about where assets live, how they are organized, and how to share them.
Buyer Channel Preference
Which channels are your buyers are most active on? Are you active across the right social channels, working to consistently share relevant content to those channels, and engage in a quality way with target buyers? If you have a cross-channel strategy, are you effectively reinforcing your message, or just being repetitive? Make sure the content you’re sharing is tailored to the channel and is something that would appeal to your buyer in the context of that channel.
Monitoring and Analysis
How do you track and analyze the effectiveness of your content sharing? To optimize and improve your content and sales messaging, you need to be able to track the engagement and success of activities. A quality marketing automation or sales email platform may be able to deliver this tracking. However, you measure it, be sure you have a means to optimize your process on a monthly or quarterly basis, working with your marketing and sales enablement team.
By having a plan and process in place before you begin, you can move quickly, start to scale, and achieve results without compromising on the quality of the content and messaging you deliver.
Use Content to Build Trust & Close Quality Customers
With the right collaboration between marketing and sales, and the development of quality content, it’s possible to build a considered process that is able to deliver valuable and resonant content to the right buyers at the right times. When done consistently, this activity helps sales teams to build buy-in and trust and positions them as helpful advisors; which in turn, grows faith in the wider organization’s expertise and service offering – resulting in accelerated deal cycles and higher quality, better-educated customers.
This guest post was written by Lucy Jones from Strategic.