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Using content systematically in your sales process to close more deals

Sara Cronsioe
January 05, 2020
Marketing has funnels, sales has funnels, but customers? Customers don’t have funnels. Customers have journeys.


While a customer journey might follow some sequential steps, a prospect probably won’t follow those same steps every time. During the customer journey your prospect will most likely check their emails hundreds of times, spend many hours scrolling through social media channels, browse websites, and attend virtual events, all of which present opportunities for you to provide your prospects with inspiring and educational content.

The shift in focus of the sales organization

Sales have often been considered its own specialism, with a little need to collaborate with other departments, as sales have a very set role to grow the business. But this is changing. Salesforce’s latest State of Sales report reveals that 60% of sales professionals say collaborative selling has increased productivity by more than 25%. 

There are many different factors why sales teams should collaborate more, particularly with marketing. Today customers are more informed than ever. Customers buying motivations and behaviours have never been more important, and marketing has the key to the customer insights that sales need.

The important bridge between marketing and sales 

Aligning marketing and sales will enable the sales teams to understand the profiles of the prospects they are selling to. It will also give them a better chance to educate the prospects on why their solution is the bet fit for them, and at the same time give them a smooth customer journey. It will not only benefit your customers. It will also help both sales and marketing to better understand the customer journey and the two teams will pave the path for each other to reach the same goal - to close more deals. 

 
Did you know that 60% of sales people say selling collaboratively with other departments has increased productivity by more than a quarter.  

 

Building a marketing activity roadmap for sales 

In marketing, one of the most important things is content. Integrating content into your sales process is one way to target the right prospects, by educating and inspiring along the buyer's journey. It's important to engage the “everywhere customers”, to meet the prospects changing expectations and preferences in all different digital channels. 

Engaging marketing content for the buyer journey

Below are a couple of examples of content and activities that successfully can be integrated into your sales process and customer journey to build engagement and interaction.

A blog

According to HubSpot marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to get a positive ROI. The equation is simple, more blog posts will generate more organic traffic, which will generate more leads, compared to companies that do not constantly produce and publish relevant blog posts and articles on their website.

A whitepaper

A whitepaper is an in-depth, well researched piece of educational content that has a more formal tone than a blog post. The whitepaper should include a higher degree of rigor, depth and value. The goal here is of course to assume that the prospects will download the whitepaper, but the whitepaper is a great asset to attach directly to the prospect throughout the buyer's journey. 

An ebook

The benefits of an ebook are similar to a whitepaper. It is another great opportunity to show your prospects that your brand as a resource of useful and inspirational content. The ebook could be available to download on your website, but like the whitepaper it is a great asset to attach and share directly with your prospects throughout the buyer journey.

A case study

There is a power of case studies. Imagine that your prospect is browsing through your company's case studies on the website, reading how another similar company has made a huge difference for the featured customer. Naturally, the prospect will think that “this will work for me too”. Using case studies in your sales process, is a great example of a marketing activity that can be included in the buyer's journey. Easily add the url in email or create a one pager, attached as a pdf. 

A webinar

In a world of written content, it sometimes can be a challenge to stay “personal”, and there is a wish of adding something more human. Hosting a webinar is an opportunity to provide valuable information about your brand and your product, doing it in a highly engaging and personable way. Don't forget to invite your prospects to webinars, this is a great way of showing your brand identity and to connect with your prospects in a more personable way. 

There are many benefits of sharing and integrating content into your sales process. 

    • Building trust and credibility: Whenever you create value adding content for example blog articles, webinars, events, case studies your will start to gain trust. The more your prospects trust you, the more likely they are to become a customer. Each piece of content consumed is an opportunity to gain trust and credibility. 
    • Closing more sales: By giving prospects more content to look through, they become more confident that you are the right choice. Targeting their pain points with the right content will also show them that you understand their needs and are willing to address them.
    • Saving time: If you already have all of the information your prospects need, it is a good idea to invest in a sales enablement tool that can automate your workflows. Automatically providing content to your prospect, will save you and your sales team time to focus on the next deal. 

The content is just as important in the sales process as it is in marketing. Content in the sales process is an excellent way to nurture prospects down the funnel to eventually become customers. 

HubSpot study found that buyers feel they have a favorable sales experience when the salesperson listens to their needs (69%), isn’t pushy (61%), and provides relevant information (61%). Furthermore, 75% of buyers want marketers to “curb the sales messaging” in their content according to the Demand Gen Report

How to integrate high quality content into your sales process

There are for sure many benefits of adding content into your sales process. But, the integration doesn't happen without a strategy, to achieve these benefits there are a couple of steps to follow.

 1. Define

Before you create content, you need to have a goal in mind. What are you trying to achieve? Is it more leads? More sales? It’s important that you clearly define what your team wants to achieve. This will help you to create a clear purpose driven content that will make an impact on your prospects. 

 2. Create

With a clear purpose, it's easier to create relevant content. The most common content is usually educational content that provides value, making customers interesting and engaging in what you’re selling. 

It's important to match your content with the different stages in the buyer journey and to targeting a specific persona. You can create blog posts, ebooks, webinars and more, depending where they are in the sales process. 

3. Involve

The sales reps have the “real” experience with your customers and the best insight on them as well. To create impactful and effective content, use the sales team to get feedback on what topics you should cover and what kind of content they feel could be useful to include in the sales process. 

4. Distribute
When new content comes out, let your sales team know through work channels like Slack, or email. This helps them stay on top of any new opportunities to educate and inform your prospects.

5. Recognize

Encourage your team to participate by recognizing when someone contributes in an impactful way. Reward your people if they create or contribute to content that gets a lot of traffic, if they did a good job of promoting it to customers. Celebrate your wins!

More deals will close

With aligned goals, understanding and motivation, the two teams, marketing and sales, will operate with increased performance and agility. Problems will have better solutions, prospects will feel more attended to. More deals will close.

As technology blends the roles of marketer and salesperson more and more, marketing and sales team integration lets you design a journey and process around the customer. 

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