In the world of B2B sales, content is the new black. The Content Marketing Institute reports that as of 2016, nearly 9 out of 10 B2B marketers are using some form of content marketing.
But is your organization getting the most out of its content? Lots of companies are still struggling to bridge the gap between the marketing departments that produce content, and the sales departments that engage with content-generated leads. Broadly speaking, there are two ways sales reps can use content:
1. Building Relationships
Sales reps are on the front lines of customer interaction. A good rep understands the problems their prospects are having, then creates relationships with them by providing a solution – or knowledge that can help them find that solution.
Content is the perfect tool for a rep to establish or further a relationship with a prospect. Most buyers don't want to hear a B2B company's messaging – they would rather get information from an actual person. Interviews, blog posts and videos are just a few examples of how sales reps should use content to improve their personal brand, inspire trust, and position themselves as a reliable advisor to prospects and customers.
It takes a team effort for this "relationships through content" approach to work:
- Marketing departments must create, update and store valuable content while helping sales teams understand how to use it.
- Sales teams must be willing to incorporate content into their sales process and collaborate with marketing during content creation.
Content can also be used as a relationship-building tool to educate sales reps so they're better positioned to add value for prospects. These days, B2B buyers are usually over halfway through the buying process before they engage with a possible vendor. Reps not knowing where a prospect is in the buyer's journey is the recipe for an awkward, unhelpful interaction. Content can help bring sales teams up to speed on what buyers are thinking about during the vendor evaluation process so that they can move forward, not play catch-up with an uninformed salesperson.
2. Minimizing Time to Close
Lots of sales content is used in the final stages of the sales funnel when a lead is close to becoming a customer. Case studies, proposals, and samples are among the most common.
Right now a lot of B2B companies are using boilerplate templates and then changing them as necessary. Companies that sell complex services with a long sales cycle can only use so much canned content – their customers require a unique, tailored solution. Yet if the sales team is spending a lot of time creating this personalized content, it takes away from their ability to focus on revenue-generating activities.
The solution is to look at each piece of sales content as a module in a larger system. You might not be able to use the same exact boilerplate template for client proposals, but you can create different pieces of sales content tailored to specific types of buyers and problems they face. From there, you can compile the right mix of modules to create a solution that's personalized but doesn't require tons of time and effort for a sales rep to create.
During this step, content should be made under the assumption that it will be shared with every possible stakeholder – even ones that may not have been involved earlier in the sales process. Videos, proposals, case studies and other sales content in the closing phase should be made so they can be understood by multiple people in a customer organization.
PandaDoc helps enable your sales team with great, personalized content. How do you use content when selling? Let us know in the comments!