Do you remember that scene in the movie, Glengarry Glen Ross (f-bomb alert – NSFW), where Alec Baldwin tells his sales people that coffee is for closers? It’s an awesome movie scene and I think it actually applies to content marketing and how it can close sales for your company…ABC…always-be-closing.
Have you noticed that how people buy has changed? The traditional landscape of advertising to get a consumer’s attention followed up by cold calls from outbound salespeople has changed dramatically. Buyers have become great at filtering out advertising and using tools that block ads; revealed caller IDs and time shift TV programming give control back to the consumer.
Here at Vertical Measures, the phone hardly rings anymore. In fact, entire weeks will go by without an inbound call from a lead. Almost all of our leads come from referrals and our inbound marketing. No longer do we have outbound salespeople. That is, we are not reaching out to potential clients with cold calls and emails. We’re too busy following up on leads that come to us through our website.
Our outbound sales people are actually blog posts on our website. We’ve replaced our sales people with content marketing.
But don’t we still need salespeople?
In a word, yes, but their role has changed. Consumers have become more sophisticated in their research prior to buying a product. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, 92% of consumers regularly or occasionally research products online prior to making a purchase.
This is what they are looking for during that time:
- Warranty information
- Model information
- Comparisons to other like products
- Product Reviews
- Payment information
- Shipping information
- Service Information
- Selection and Availability
- How to’s
- Versus information
How Does Content Marketing Help your Sales People?
A good sales person knows their products and services inside and out. They can answer any question about the features and benefits. They spend a great percentage of their time educating potential customers about those features and how they will benefit the customer.
The previous list contains things successful salespeople know about their products and services. But relating this information to a potential client takes up a great amount of time. This allocation of time is necessary with each lead since a single salesperson is not scalable.
What if you could replicate this consumer education, confidence building and discussion that a salesperson would normally provide, but instead do it by using content? And, what if this content worked for you 24/7 instead of 9-5, Monday-Friday? Content marketing can do just that.
Content marketing can bring leads through your sales funnel to a point where a salesperson validates what they’ve already learned and uses their valuable time to sign them up. In fact, research has shown that, in some cases, 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete prior to talking with a salesperson.
Where do most of your leads come from?
Going back to using Vertical Measures as an example, my work phone hardly rings any more. Most of our leads come via email. They already know who we are, what services they need and they have a good idea of our quality of work.
They’ve done their research by reading the content on our site. If you should happen to browse through our site, you’ll find free guides, e-books, case studies and many other content resources that answer every conceivable question a business may have about digital marketing. We’ve answered all their questions, built their confidence in us and given them granular details on how we think and what we can do for them.
Let Your Content Do the Heavy Lifting
We recently talked with a potential customer who told us that they didn’t want to answer too many questions on their website as they wanted to leave that up to the sales people. I would argue that this company has it all wrong. Your presence on the web should answer any and all questions that your potential customers may have.
If you’re not answering their questions on your website, someone else will. Instead of a potential customer, you’ve lost the sale.
Remember, content is for closers.
Our content drives leads and business. I would much rather talk with someone that knows all about what we do rather than someone that has never heard of us and doesn’t know where to start.
So how does content marketing help improve your sales?
It actually emulates your best salesperson in the following 7 ways. As you read the list below consider that I substituted the word ‘a great salesperson’ with the words ‘content marketing.’
1. Content marketing creates awareness.
Have you ever heard, “I had no idea you provided this product or services?” Use content to create awareness of your products and services. Reach potential customers at the very top of the sales funnel before they’ve even made a decision on what they need.
2. Content marketing educates.
As Marcus Sheridan, a content marketing guru says, “They ask, you answer.” Think about how many times you search the web by using a question. Many searchers are asking full-fledged 7-9 word question rather than typing in a short 2-3 word keyword phrases. Smartphones have accelerated this kind of search. Users are holding up their phones and speaking searches like:
- How much does X cost?
- Product A vs. Product B
- How do I XYZ?
- How long is the product warranty for X?
70% of people want to learn about products through content vs. through traditional advertisements (Inc.com – 2015). The old adage, knowledge is power, rings true with the Internet and the ability to find out anything about a product or service.
Tap into your sales team here. Ask them what questions they hear all day, every day. Then, present
3. Content marketing builds trust.
If you publish frequently, your content will build trust not only with your potential clients but also with the search engines. Search engines want to deliver the very best content possible to the audience using their engine. If you publish frequently, the search engines will immediately suck up your content and index it. If you’ve done a good job with basic SEO, you’ll start to rank as well.
Your potential clients will trust you more as you are providing transparency around your products and services.
4. Content marketing builds relationships.
Your content draws leads into your sales funnel. Publishing on a frequent basis allows users to interact with you on a regular basis…building a relationship. Sales will happen as a natural byproduct of this relationship that you’re building with your potential customer.
5. Content marketing reinforces your brand.
A brand is a promise. It’s an expectation of an experience. Content marketing has been called the “new branding” as it consistently reaches your potential and current clients and reinforces that promise.
You need sales and product information on your site with specific details so users can understand your offerings and compare and contrast them to others. This kind of content is not what is considered content marketing in the normal sense, but is necessary to support your brand and service or product information. Keep the sales content separate from your ongoing content marketing efforts.
Content marketing takes information about your company to the next level by providing transparency, thought leadership in your space and in-depth knowledge about you and your products and services. Your brand has a story to tell and content marketing does just that. In fact, deploying a well-thought-out content marketing strategy can bring a brand ‘to life.’ Content marketing is a powerful tool that you can use to communicate your company values, style and voice to help build a your brand.
6. Content marketing helps retain customers.
The playing field has changed in the business world. Now, at a minimum, you need to provide ‘excellent’ customer service. Businesses that take the time to create content can shape their customer’s experience and build customer loyalty. According to the latest research from the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, most brands have caught onto this fact: 90% of non-media companies create original content, in some shape or form, to attract and retain customers (CMI).
Content marketing continues long after the sale as it constantly reminds the customer of you and your business. We create content to not only answer questions but to help our clients learn more. A well-educated client is a better, more long-lasting client.
In order to build customer loyalty, provide additional value through your content long after the sale is done.
7. Content marketing sells.
Content marketing does more than drive clicks; it helps sell your products and services.
Don’t you wish you could clone your very best salesperson? Think of the increased sales and conversion rates. Trouble is, you can’t. The good news is your content can and does sell. Let the stats convince you:
- Inbound or content marketing tactics saves and average of 13% in overall cost per lead. (State of Inbound)
- Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound tactics. (Square2Marketing)
- 34% of all leads generated by marketers in 2013 come from inbound marketing sources. (HubSpot)
- Customers who receive email newsletters spend 82% more when they buy from the company. (iContact)
- 61%of customers are more likely to buy from a company publishing custom content
Content marketing is not a channel or a technology; it’s an all-in strategy. You can’t just ‘do’ content marketing; it needs to become part and parcel of how you approach your entire marketing. Content marketing lives up to the ABC’s of selling…always-be-closing.
Content Marketing doesn’t replace salespeople but it does make their job easier and helps close more sales faster. Content is for closers!
No salespeople were harmed in the making of this blog post. You may want to read more on content marketing and sales. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and review the links below that were used in researching this post.
- 26 Stats the Prove Content Marketing Increases Sales & ROI
- Why Use Content Marketing?
- 6 Content Marketing Hacks that Increase Sales
- 5 Ways Content Marketing Will Increase Sales
- Improve Sales Leads, Improve Revenue
- How to Drive Sales with Content Marketing
- Improve your Sales Conversations with Content Marketing
- 5 Psychological Hacks that Improve Your Content Marketing Strategy
- 15 B2B Case Studies that Show How Content Marketing Drives ROI