How to Empower Sales with Content
Bernie Borges, Co-founder and CMO of Vengreso, Corey McCarthy, Chief Marketing Officer at Socio, and MarketMuse Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Jeff Coyle examine how content can be used to build credibility, create trust, and nurture conversations. After the webinar, Bernie and Corey participated in an ask-me-anything session in our Slack Community, The Content Strategy Collective (join here). Here are the webinar notes followed by a transcript of the AMA.
The Buyer Journey is not Linear
We like to simplify the buying process as a concept consisting of four major stages:
- Identifying the problem
- Looking for a solution
- Determining requirements
- Selecting a supplier
While it makes it easier to create a content experience, in reality, the journey far more complicated. Within each of these stages, there is a great deal of activity occurring and reoccurring as circumstances change. Adding to the complexity is the non-linear path that this added activity takes.
Use Video in the Sales Process
Most of us immediately think of written text when discussing content. But did you know that video is five times more likely to start a conversation than any other format. Consequently, it makes sense to make video a major component of your sales content. But don’t get hung on what platform to use, it’s all in your delivery skills. While there are many use cases for video, three popular ones are:
- Sales proposals
- LinkedIn connection follow-up
- Closing an agreement to meet
Create Content Based on User Intent
Content marketing covers all types of content including social, community, video, as well as traditional content. Due to the non-linear nature of the buyer journey, you must have sufficient content to answer all the possible questions a prospect could have. That volume of high-quality content creates an image of expertise which leads to trust.
Understand What Sales Needs
One of the best things you can do is teach your marketers to think like a sales rep. It helps level the playing field and provides marketers with a heightened appreciation when they get requests from sales for specific content. Getting marketers to understand sales goals, and have their own marketing goals aligned with sales is a recipe for success.
Use Rich Media in LinkedIn Profiles
Trust is the biggest factor that buyers consider when evaluating a salesperson with which they have never worked. Think of your LinkedIn Profile as your website, where content can be used to establish that trust. And the right content can help start a conversation. In this section of the webinar, Bernie examines two LinkedIn profiles illustrating how this is achieved.
Measure the Effectiveness of Content
Measuring the impact of content on the sales process enables you to create highly targeted content that resonates with your prospect. Understanding how your content builds expertise and trust can be achieved in a number of ways. Use data to discover:
- Who’s reading what parts of your content?
- Who’s forwarded?
- Who’s shared?
- Is the content comprehensive?
- Is it connected to the right stage of the buy-cycle?
Take Advantage of Events and Communities
Over the past few months, events and communities have blended together, offering additional possibilities. Unlike events, communities have long-term potential upon which marketers and salespeople can capitalize to start conversations. Communities can pick up where events leave off, after they’re over. They allow one to listen in to social conversations and reach out authentically at the right time, without it seeming forced or awkward. If you have a recognized subject matter expert on your team, they are best used to start conversations which can then be passed on as leads to salespeople. It’s a genuine method of lead generation that works.
How do you use LinkedIn SSI in your training?
Corey: In B2B we find that social channels are fairly weak if the campaign isn’t attached to an event with influencers.
Bernie: LinkedIn SSI is just an indicator of activity. It’s a measure of how well someone is engaging. I’m not aware that LinkedIn allows any integration with other analytics tools.
What implementation would you have in mind for virtual events, bots or just having on-demand chat?
Corey: Both, I believe. I haven’t implemented it into my events yet. This is an idea that the CMO of Drift recently shared in one of my mastermind groups.
- Alignment on high-level strategy so that both sales and marketing understand how to prioritize ideas and suggestions.
- Marketing should sit in on one sales call per week
- Sales and marketing should have a relationship where sales can give productive feedback on what is working and what isn’t and because marketers have the ability to think like sales, they listen and interpret the suggestions into actionable content updates.
Can you walk through the group demo promotion vehicles and sequences you have recently adopted?
Corey: We have 3 tiers to our demo form. Highly qualified prospects auto book, good prospects are routed to an MMR and fair prospects are guided to the group demo.
Once the group demo happens, they are split into registered and attended – sequences flow from there.
Once a group demo participant expresses more interest, they are routed a late-stage lead.
How do you personalize video at scale for outbound that is genuine and doesn’t seem cookie cutter?
Bernie: Personalizing content at scale is somewhat of an oxymoron. You can have pre-developed landing pages and re-use them. You can produce generic videos such as a LinkedIn connection welcome message. However, to send someone a personalized message requires recording a personalized video. When the opportunity warrants it, that’s worth the 2 minutes of time to record.
How can I build my company’s LinkedIn profile to produce rich, lead driving, and valuable media?
Bernie: If you’re referring to your LinkedIn Company page, consider posting content that is valuable to your ICPs. Use the 80/20 guideline with 80% of the content being valuable and the balance promoting things like your events, promotions, etc.
Do you have any thoughts or advice for this #ama community? Would love to know how you could see this growing!
Bernie: I think your team is going a great job building awareness for this community already. Maybe you could get testimonials from community members and share them in social media, newsletter, etc. Another idea (ahem) is for you and the rest of the sales team to send video messages selectively to your customers inviting them to participate and include a link to join.
How do you measure the effectiveness of the content your sales teams are using? And how often you ask them to refresh/update what they’re using?
Corey: We have an internal spreadsheet where we track SEO rankings, CTR, and layer in anecdotal sales feedback.
Bernie: We use several tools including EveryoneSocial. It tracks which content gets shared through social media with tracking URLs for website visits. We also have an internal content database that we keep updated and periodically get our sales team to rank the value of the content.
Do you have any guidance you can provide our audience on the core principles that a company should execute against to effectively engage potential buyers on LinkedIn?
Your team is exemplary in adopting the principles we teach. The key principles are “finding” your prospects using search logic…Engaging with prospects with value and that’s where content helps along with value messaging. Personalized video is very effective. Then, comes “converting” the online conversation into an offline conversation. As you know, we shouldn’t sell on LinkedIn. We should build a network, build trust and seek to create conversations. Also, asking people in your network for permission to introduce you to someone is very effective. But, make sure the salesperson’s LinkedIn profile is credible or all these practices are moot. The profile (home base) must exude credibility and trust. Hope that helps!
What challenges have you faced in using content to empower sales?
Corey: One of the challenges we’ve seen is visibility. To overcome this, we’ve started sharing our content roadmap//calendar in a special slack channel and presenting it at the “Marketing” happy hours that we host. The other challenge is product knowledge in the marketing team. We do tours of duty where a marketing team member produces an event using our platform. This ensures that when we write, we have a mastery of the function and the product that make our pieces more authentic.
What are your best video practices for sales teams?
Corey: Training goes a long way – @Bernie‘s program is perfect for this. Google gave its employees $1000 to upgrade their home offices and make them look more presentable. Proper lighting, cameras, mics, and equipment goes a long way. Just like you would cast for roles, think of a home office as a set. Remember to add a little branding into the mix.
Bernie: To learn more about using video in sales I recommend you read a series of four blog posts. We spell it all out. 3 Use Cases for Video Sales Messaging Beyond Direct Sales Prospecting has links to the other three posts. It’s rich in best practices information.
Can you tell us a bit about the Hackathon you recently ran, concerning the planning, execution and results?
Corey: I’ve been getting so many questions about the hackathon that I wrote a playbook on it (manifesto as my team would call it) – all the details are there! Socio’s Hackathon Playbook — No Coding Needed – Socio Blog
What are the best ways I can use the content you discussed to increase engagement and have more quality interactions?
Corey: Ask more questions. Listen more than you speak. Discover goals, uncover pains, and anticipate objections. Send content that helps educate and support your claims around their goals, pain and objections you find. Then go back and check that you’ve resolved their needs and uncover the next layer!
Bernie: To use content for sales conversations, be mindful of the person you want to reach. Read their profile and try to locate content that will be relevant for him or her, then send a link to the content in a LinkedIn message with your personal note. This approach is likely to get their response and possibly agree to a conversation as long as you are not too pushy and you’re demonstrating value.