Ardath Albee of Marketing Interactions, Inc. is one of the most influential marketing strategists around. Her tools and marketing techniques have helped multiple companies find better sales success.
Not only is she the CEO and strategist of her own company – busily helping companies turn their sales strategies around – she’s an author as well. Her books, Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategy That Drive Results and E-Marketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, are targeted toward companies with complex sales agendas.
During her years as a marketing strategist, Ardath has been named one of the most influential people in sales and marketing, making the top 50 list five years in a row. She was also named the 2014 woman to watch in B2B marketing by Fierce CMO.
In our conversation today, Ardath explained how to help B2B sales teams use better content strategies in order to win more deals. Her tips are sure to help take your business to the next level.
Why B2B Sales Teams Need to Focus on Personalized Content Marketing
One of the main complaints of customers is that the company they’re purchasing products or services from is not offering personalized care. They don’t feel that the sales reps are really offering them anything of value.
When it comes to sales and marketing, one of the most important things to remember is that people are always thinking “what’s in it for me.” If your sales team is not providing that value, potential customers are less likely to buy and current customers are less likely to stick around.
Customers are more inclined to research a product, service, or company before ever reaching out to a customer service rep. In fact, according to Ardath, the customer is 70% invested in the process by the time they contact customer service. The service they receive from your sales department could take them all the way to closing the deal, but not always.
If you or your sales team spend time researching your target audience and then create content based on their needs and desires, you’ll hit the sweet spot. When customers come to your site, the “what’s in it for me” question will be answered often. That adds value, and customers are more likely to engage with your sales team and break out their wallet to make a purchase.
Why Aren’t More Sales Teams Using Content to Market?
The idea of adding value and showing customers why a product is a good fit for their needs seems like a no brainer. Why, then, do so many sales teams ignore this?
In reality, it’s not so much that they’re ignoring a key piece of the marketing puzzle. According to Ardath, most sales reps haven’t been taught this approach. They’ve been shown how to close a deal, and probably rather successfully. But they also need to be shown how to draw a customer’s attention in the first place.
Many sales teams will send out typical sales emails to introduce the company. Their hope is that a potential customer will give them a few minutes of their time so that the rep can talk about products or services that their company provides.
This is what customers’ hear: “Let me take up some of your valuable time to talk about my company.” This is what the customers think: “That’s time I’ll never get back.”
Now, your products or services are probably fantastic, but if consumers don’t immediately see how those products and services will be useful to them, you can kiss your deal goodbye.
The Cliffs Notes Version of Content Marketing for Sales Reps
Before focusing on persona-based content marketing, let’s first make something very clear. One of the very first things you will have to do is make sure your marketing and sales departments are on the same page.
You might get some resistance at first – particularly from the sales team – but after a while, they’ll see the benefits. Landing more deals will motivate them to put forth the effort needed to capture the consumer’s eye by providing them with some much-needed value.
Once that’s been done, then you can work on some value-based, personalized content marketing strategies.
1. Explain Roles to the Sales and Marketing Departments
Show your sales department that it is the marketing department’s job to create the content, but it is their job to implement it. But remember – time is money. So it is your job and that of the marketing department to make utilization easier.
2. Content Marketing Helps both the Customers and the Sales Team
One of the perks of having your teams in constant communication is that you find out what’s important to the consumer and what kind of help the sales team needs.
Companies can create a database of content that sales reps can access when customers have questions. This saves a ton of time. And if they don’t find the information they need, they can tell the marketing department that certain content needs to be created to address this question.
3. Repurpose Content
Do you have a couple of common questions that customers always seem to ask? Even if this information has already been shared in a blog or white paper, it can be repurposed.
Some customers are fine with reading a complete white paper, others are more inclined to check out an infographic. Still, others find most of their information on social media or from YouTube videos. There are many opportunities to repurpose content to appeal to new customers or affect existing customers in a way that motivates them ready to buy from you again.
Always Focus Sales and Marketing Efforts on the Customer and You’ll Start Landing More Deals
The main takeaway that many B2B businesses can surmise from our podcast with Ardath is that companies need to focus on the customer. From the sales and marketing teams to customer service – everyone should be concerned about adding value to the consumer.
When you do this, it’s going to be much easier to start landing the deal.
Learn more about the art of personalized marketing by reading her books or checking out her marketing website and blog.
About Ardath Albee
I'm CEO & B2B marketing strategist for my consulting firm Marketing Interactions, Inc. I've spent over 30 years in business management and marketing operations and use every bit of it to help my clients create a persona-driven digital content marketing strategy with compelling content platforms that contribute to downstream revenues. It doesn't hurt that I'm a die-hard writer & storyteller.