We all know that politicians have speech-writers, and
famous celebrities get their books ghost-written by professional writers, but
what about sales executives? Does it really help you to sell if you publish
blogs and other online content?
In the marketing game it’s called content marketing,
but an important shift in emphasis has taken place in the past couple of years.
It used to be that a company could earn better results on Google if they
published content regularly. It makes sense - publish interesting content about
the business and this will improve the search results.
However, this is now becoming important for
individuals who sell. Any time you approach a prospect, what’s the first thing
they do? They go to Google or LinkedIn to check you out. What appears in that
search result has an enormous effect on whether they call back and want to
engage with you. Blogs and content are no longer about marketing the brand of
your organisation, they are a real tool for driving sales.
According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), over
90% of sales are now based on a recommendation and 84% of B2B buyers start out
with a referral. You might ask what is important about this. In short, it means
that people buy from people they know. The image of a salesperson cold-calling executives
and hoping for an order is hopelessly outdated.
But if you are selling widgets and you want to look
beyond your current crop of customers, how can you look further if nobody takes
calls from strangers? By demonstrating that you are a leading expert in your
field using content on platforms such as LinkedIn and trade journals.
If you are not convinced and still think that there is
only a tenuous connection between your online footprint and sales success, then
consider some of these stats from the HBR research:
- 82% of
B2B customers say that the social content published by their chosen
supplier plays a significant role in that buying decision.
- 72% of
B2B business development specialists report that their use of social tools
helps them outperform their peers who are still relying on traditional
buyers are five times more likely to engage with someone who offers ideas
and insights into their industry on their LinkedIn profile.
sales professionals using social networks to improve relationships are six
times more likely to exceed their quota than less social-savvy peers.
Do those stats sound intangible? 82% of people are
checking what content you have contributed to online before engaging with you?
Now try a Google or LinkedIn search on your own name - how do the results look?
That’s what your prospects are finding. We are not talking about massaging the
marketing effort of your business. This is sales support at the front line.
To use an example, imagine you are a leading supplier
of contact centre software and you are trying to win business from a company
that wants to create a secure network for home-based employees. Before pitching
your ideas to this company, you create some content talking about the best
solutions, the worst mistakes, and the future of supporting employees at home.
You don’t just sell your services, you write an article as if it were for a
business journal, but discussing the subject where you are an expert.
Publish that content on your corporate blog, on your
personal LinkedIn, maybe on some trade journals - editors are usually happy to
take free content provided you are offering valuable ideas, not just flogging
Now go and make a pitch to that company.
What happens? If they check LinkedIn to see who you
are, or Google your name, a deluge of content hits their screen with ideas and
tips showing how you are a leading expert in this field. If the result of a
search like this influences 82% of B2B customers, then can you afford to be the
person who is socially invisible? In fact, if you are socially invisible today
then you are not making any sales, no matter how many lunches you keep on
The way we all communicate with each other today has
been heavily influenced by social networks for the past decade, but in the B2B
environment there is a more fundamental change. Don’t be a social stranger,
consider how content shapes the way that potential customers think of you - an
expert partner offering help or some annoying sales guy you want to block.
Empoweryour sales team. Connect with a content writer who gets social selling or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.