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Sales Prepping Through Content

By Heidi Anspaugh | Small Business

Sales Prepping Through Content image shutterstock 65599660Sales Prepping Through Content

New realities for today’s sales professionals are raising some big questions. Sales teams often consider how to win over new potential clients with an appeal to value in an age where many industries have become more competitive and reliant on “quick facts.” New media like the Internet also makes a difference. As the business world moves toward an always-connected, data-centric, and digital model, sales teams also need to evolve and change with the times.

One of the ways that sales professionals are adapting and getting a competitive edge is by taking advantage of existing marketing content generated in-house and maintained online or in print materials. In sophisticated marketing campaigns, marketing content sometimes takes a variety of forms: some will be explicitly sales-oriented, while other items, like white papers and other technical writing, may be more informative. Some of these materials won’t address customers directly, but they can still be useful in a sales context.

Strategies for “Content Prepping”

The idea of content prepping is essentially that sales professionals can use existing content in numerous ways. One example is a case where a potential client may have already read an interesting article on the Internet, where a sales professional can follow up by explaining something in greater detail. Another common strategy is in some ways the reverse, where salespeople will send potential clients internal content, or links to this content, in order to get them interested.

This kind of synergy between marketing content and sales is often key to generating market share and reaching out to new clients. MarketingProfs goes into specifics on how salespeople can use different kinds of internal content to help potential clients to engage early in the sales process, and to get them educated about the value of an employer’s products or services. Reports like these also show how a multi-step sales process usually works: according to this article, the majority of businesses finalize their decisions before engaging with the salesperson, and also tend to buy from vendors that they encounter in early research. Marketing analysts report that maintaining a consistent “bridge” between sales and marketing can be the single most important component in landing certain types of new clients and contracts.

While lots of sales pros may find that this approach makes sense intuitively, for some, the idea might not “click” until it is implemented. Many of those who take the time to talk with potential clients every day may find that their job just got a lot easier, where instead of guiding someone through complicated industry concepts, a sales leader can simply make a quick reference and allow some of that important conversation around a brand to go on through the written page. That’s the power of “information-based” marketing: this approach doesn’t seek to hit people over the head with a proposal; it allows potential clients valuable breathing room to meet a vendor or seller on their own terms.

Recommendations for Content Synergy

The aforementioned article makes various good recommendations for how to set up your sales teams for success. One tip is to create a “content inventory” that makes it easy to find the best resources for client education anywhere in the sales process (This is often done with a well-designed Content Management System or CMS interface that can be sent to remote devices like smartphones.). Another tip is to provide diverse kinds of content and different kinds of input that will reinforce what a potential client has already seen. There’s also the idea of creating interactive forums for ongoing communications.

All of this is in aid of a substantial new philosophy in sales; namely, that salespeople don’t have to operate in a vacuum, that they can use part of the online infrastructure of a business and work with it to offer new potential customers an experience that seems validated and backed up by research, rather than something that’s presented as a single individual’s professional viewpoint. Proactive sellers or any of those involved in business leadership should think carefully about how to create these kinds of opportunities, to keep control in a changing market context.

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