Using Blogs and Other Content to Drive Sales

To many sales reps, content creation is a marketing tactic that can’t be tracked and has only a questionable connection to lead generation. But those who take this view of content are ignoring one of the most valuable weapons at their disposal.

The internet and social media have led to a more educated and empowered class of consumer. By the time prospects engage with sales reps, it is far later in the sales cycle and consumers prefer companies where they have an established a relationship. This means salespeople have to provide real value to prospects.

Blog Hanging TagRather than “Always Be Closing,” Cliff Pollan notes that the new mantra is “Always Be Helpful.” Buyers don’t care about your product or service. They care about the problems and opportunities they face and how your expertise can educate and either solve their problems or enable them to exploit opportunities. One of the best ways to help is through the use of content.

According to Carla Young, “Where a business card lets you market to people one-by-one; a small business blog harnesses the power of one-to-many marketing. Thanks to social media, blogging lets brands build relationships with their target audiences, serve and support existing customers and create a community of loyal fans.”

Business blogging is about increasing traffic, leads and sales. But more importantly, it is about increasing the right kind of traffic, leads and sales.

The Salesforce.com blog outlines five advantages of content creation for sales:

  1. Build relationships. Content gives you the ability to nurture leads that aren’t ready to buy yet. You can educate people and help them through the process by providing insight and information that could move them closer to purchasing.
  2. Check in. Prospects typically don’t welcome the regular call or email by salespeople. But if you are not disruptive and offer information that addresses a question or problem they have, you’ll find the phone is answered more frequently when you do reach out.
  3. Consult. Good content helps you to increase your knowledge and will serve as a foundation on which to establish your authority. This keeps communication with prospects open.
  4. Build credibility. Generic marketing or sales messages don’t inspire trust in consumers. But if you have content such as case studies, blog posts and infographics to back up claims, you reinforce the expertise of your company on all topics related to the industry.
  5. Get leads. If potential clients are coming to your website, completing contact forms and downloading items to continue reading content, you’ll have is a steady flow of interested prospects to target.

Sale TagsHere are a few other ways you can use content:

  • Increase retention. Use blogs, white papers and webinars to inform and help existing customers get the most out of your products and services. Content can improve customers’ view of your company, increase loyalty, generate additional sales and boost revenue.
  • Be specific. Buyers expect individualized, easy-to-access and easy-to-share information. Combine content with the information you have from social media, conversations and other details you may have available to present personalized, easy-to-access, digestible content that educates them based on their needs and where they are in the buying cycle.
  • Reach other buyers. IDC research revealed that the size of buying teams has grown by about 40% over the past two years. As a result, effective selling today means convincing more people in less time. With blogs and other content, you can equip buyers with the tools they need to make decisions and to sell on your behalf to other influencers.

In addition to using content for sales purposes, it is critical that you provide internal feedback. If you are regularly encountering the same questions about how to use product or services, tell the marketing team so they can create blog posts or white papers that solve problems for potential customers and help you convert them to new business. In turn, be sure to request an editorial calendar from them so you know the subject of upcoming posts and can be proactive.

When it comes to using content for your sales effort, there are also a few things you should NOT do:

  • Send emails with lots of large attachments. Instead, consider links to blog posts and PDFs.
  • Overwhelm people with information. If you want to share a 20-page ebook, you should call out the most relevant points for the prospect. This is how you provide value and unique perspective.
  • Sell products rather than solutions. According to Forrester, “69% of executives take an appointment when a vendor addresses an existing business problem.”

So the next time think about the company blog and wonder what the point is, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you do when your marketing team publishes a new blog post (Do you even subscribe to the blog)?
  • Do you start thinking about individual prospects and what challenges or concerns they have that can be solved by the latest post?
  • Do you tell marketing when you get positive responses to content you share with prospects?
  • When was the last time you shared with marketing some objections or obstacles you found difficult to overcome?

If you are in sales, how have you used your company blog to establish industry expertise and differentiate your company from the competition? Do you have any creative ways to share content that gets the right kind of attention?

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

4 Responses to Using Blogs and Other Content to Drive Sales

  1. msienicki says:

    This is an excellent blog post. So many people fail to recognize that buyers shop differently now. The internet allows them to do research and then purchase a product, usually without the input of a sales person until they’re in the final stages. Great content puts you on the map, making your company a source of knowledge and your brand trustworthy. Thanks, Kelly!

  2. This is definitely an area that I am working to “master”. I feel it’s important to learn something everyday about using social media especially as it pertains to branding, advertising, and connecting to business partners, customers, etc. Thank you for the information! :o)
    http://www.reneequarchioni.com

    • Kelly Glass says:

      You are welcome. I hope this was helpful and that you will submit requests for other topics we can cover!

Come on, don't be shy

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: