It used to exist – that clear and definite line between the marketing material creators and the people that closed the deal. Marketing and sales professionals knew exactly what they had to do, did it, and to paraphrase the immortalized words of Kipling, never the twain did meet. Even when recruiting for positions in these two departments, the personality type and skills required differed vastly.
With the digitization of our personal lives, the business landscape in which we operate has changed dramatically. As technology controls our personal lives more and more, the way in which we communicate (and with it our personal boundaries, and expectations) has shifted. The line between sales and marketing has blurred, and this “grey, blurry area” we call content.
Content is where sales and marketing connect and even overlap. In our content driven society the main aim of anyone (sales, marketing, support, finance) is to provide the right content to the right people at the right time. While marketers have known and accepted this for some time now (and this used to be the exclusive space of the marketer), it is becoming increasingly obvious that sales professionals who can’t, or won’t get with the content program will be left behind in their numbers game. But what does content marketing mean for sales, and why is it such a vital part of the social selling phase we have entered into, as B2B businesses?
Social selling by definition is about nurturing potential customers by monitoring what they’re doing on social media (social media tracking if you will). It adds a more personal touch to the relationship – real people providing real services and solutions to answer the real challenges and needs that real people face. The simple act of sharing a link can add value to a conversation and be seen as providing an insight. A person who contributes value to a conversation is someone who can be trusted. Content supports the tweaked individual message that sales send out, bringing with it an element of trust and faith in not only the seller, but the company as well. It almost removes some of the mysterious, even scary idea of online communication/selling.
While there are strong arguments for and against the POSITION of content marketing in a sales professional’s social selling strategy, there is little argument about its need in the strategy. For sales people who employ a social selling strategy as a main part of their sales strategy, content marketing IS key. Why? Content is great at attracting the right kind of leads – those who are driven by and to your content. Secondly, content can be used to nurture the lead while they’re right in your line of sight (or in the actual sales funnel). Here is where is gets important – relevant content nurtures the lead and drives them to the sale, while building trust in you and your organisation. But (there is always a but) the wrong content becomes annoying, spammy and works against a company trying to build a brand, an awareness, and a reputation. By minimizing the importance of content marketing in the strategy, you run the risk of not only creating or using the wrong content, but sending it to the wrong people and alienating them. Worse yet, by sidelining content, you run the real risk of becoming irrelevant and out-of-touch with your sales target.
Next week we will give you a simple 5-step process to jump-start your social selling strategy and start adding value to the marketing-sales funnel, while remaining relevant in front of your leads.