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Everyone in sales has been in this situation before:
“Good morning, Stacy,” says Steve Thompson, a sales rep from ABC Makers, as he walks through the front door. “Here to see Bob Simms.” Steve knows Stacy’s name because he’s called and left a message with her every time he’s tried to reach Bob via phone.
Bob, who’s a purchasing agent is the perfect prospect and is currently using a competitor’s product, but Steve knows his product will outperform it. If he could just get his product in front of Bob.
“Hi Steve,” says Stacy as she checks her computer. “Hmmm, I don’t see an appointment on Bob’s calendar. How can I help you?”
“Our new Widget 5000 is reducing the cost of making products like yours anywhere from 25-50% annually. I know he’ll want to see it. I just need five minutes of his time.”, responds Steve.
“I’m sorry, he doesn’t have availability right now. Do you have a card? I can let him know you stopped by and give him (a version of) your message.”, laments Stacy.
Smiling pleasantly, Stacy silently extends her hand and waits for Steve’s materials.
As he walks to his car, Steve reflects, thinking, “This would be such an easy sale if I could just get in to see this guy and show him the Widget 5000. There has to be a way…”
The good news is that there is a way – content marketing.
Cold calls, drop-bys, sales blitzes, prospect lunches, coffees, dinners, and drinks are integral to the sales process and aren’t going away anytime soon. Steve didn’t get through this time, but if he’s on your sales force, chances are he gets through to enough prospects that he makes his quota.
The problem is that Steve’s job, done solely using traditional methods, is getting harder and harder.
Because some of his leads are being siphoned off by Competitor A, who is consistently publishing relevant content to the web. This allows prospects to discover them through search, social media, and other mediums. And just like that, Competitor A is past the gatekeeper and meeting with your customer.
If this idea makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to get curious.
Go to your competitor’s website right now and see if you’re intrigued. If you are, I bet your customers will be too. And if they continue to be engaged with quality information, over time, a customer you’ve known for years will be open to making a change.
The good news is that if you’re leveraging this strategy, the converse can become true for you. You can cultivate a relationship with your competitor’s customers and build a case for why they should begin to buy from you instead.
Today’s savvy buyer is demanding more information. And you know your prospects and their challenges better than you think you do.
So prove it!
Make a list of their challenges and then describe how you would solve each one by applying your expertise and your unique point of view. Publish it on your website and leverage it on social networks so that prospects will find you.
You need to do this. If you’re not already doing it or planning to do it, you’re not listening to your customers. In fact,
70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before the buyer reaches out to sales
They are demanding to be able to consume information tailored to where they are in the buying journey (though they would not put it quite that way) and if you don’t provide it, they will go elsewhere.
Much of what makes your company different is born out your collective ability to solve customer’s problems better, cheaper and faster than your competition can.
Sharing your problem-solving prowess will get your customers’ attention and keep them coming back for more because as they continue to find value in what they are reading, they will begin to perceive you as an expert and someone who can act as their trail guide.
When you are positioned as an expert in your industry, you’re going to have prospects reaching out to you instead of spending time and money chasing them.
Content marketing (done correctly) can reshape and realign how everyone in the company thinks and talks about your brand.
That’s because the process of committing what you know as an organization to paper is powerful.
You may be overwhelmed at first, but the discipline of writing will result in the alignment of your teams and position you all as experts.
Over time, your company will transform.
Here’s what happens:
You begin writing content to generate leads, but over time the discipline of generating and publishing content on your website organically reshapes the organization and builds a stronger sales team.
The growing knowledge base brings you together as a team, aligning brand and purpose and generating more quality leads because of common belief system.
Once content is created it continues to serve your customers over and over again. Continuously creating new content that answers their questions and offers solutions to their problems, results in a series of annuities that can pay big dividends over time.
Be aware that a potential lead could read/interact with your content as soon as you post it or it they could come across it two years later.
Have patience, check your analytics, and make adjustments based on behavior. If the content is relevant, meaning it speaks to a real problem your customer is struggling with, it always pays dividends. And with the way search works, that two-year-old article might present itself as a “home page” to your next prospect. What a great opportunity!
Think of content as a sales tool that drives customers through the buyer’s journey, drives leads, and helps you to get around that gatekeeper you struggled to get past during your daily drop-bys and cold calls—so the conversation could go something like this:
“Steve Thompson? This is Bob Miller. I found your article on trends in Widget technology on Google and read a few other blogs you wrote, very interesting. Do you have time to talk to me about the Widget 5000?…”
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