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How Content Marketing Can Help Your Sales Team

Not all sales funnels are designed to be highly automated and devoid of human interaction. Some potential customers simply respond better to a sales approach that has a strong human element. The same can be said for specific products and industries. 

With so much focus on low-touch sales models nowadays, it’s tempting to consider traditional sales roles obsolete. It’s not easy to make the unfashionable decision of relying heavily on a hands-on, high-touch sales model. However, an organization that cleverly implements a personalized approach in the customer’s journey is one that truly understands what they’re selling and who they’re selling to.

If you run such a company, this post is for you. We’re going to take a good look at how you can incorporate one of the most important facets of digital marketing – content – into your sales processes.

Why Do Companies Need a High-Touch Sales Approach?

Firstly, some B2B prospects prioritize relationships over products. They know that having access to a dedicated, professional salesperson is as available as a product that perfectly meets every single one of their lengthy list of requirements.

Secondly, no matter how innovative your tech product is, you may be selling it to prospects that appreciate an old-school sales approach. It could simply be a cultural thing in the company – a mindset passed down from the executive team. Or, it could be a product of the industry they operate in; some are notoriously conservative.

In these cases, the people experiencing the pain point, or those responsible for procurement, may find interacting with an online sales process a massive turnoff. If they’re going to be paying enterprise-level prices for a product that promises the earth, they’ll want to sit across the table from the person selling it to them.

Lastly, some products are simply too complex to be sold without a super knowledgeable human doing the pitching, nurturing, and closing. Simple as that. No matter how beautifully constructed your automated sales funnel is, it won’t be as effective as an experienced salesperson who knows the product inside out.

Keep an Eye on Customer Acquisition Costs

What these three cases above have in common is that the revenue generated by a sale warrants the high-touch approach. Typically, these sales cycles are longer and the cost of acquiring the customer is higher. Salaries, travel expenses, commission payouts all add up.

If you are considering shifting your sales model to a higher-touch approach – or a hybrid of high and low-touch –  it’s really important that the lifetime value you enjoy from each customer is worth the additional cost.

This is especially true if you work on a recurring revenue model. Software as a Service (SaaS) companies are often reminded to keep their CAC : LTV (Customer Acquisition Cost : Customer Lifetime Value) ratio to at least 1:3.

How Does Content Help Salespeople Prepare for the First Call?

Leads find content mostly via Google as they search for a solution to a specific problem they, their company, or department, are experiencing. A solid content marketing strategy involves finding all the problems that prospects can experience, then providing smart, objective, actionable solutions to these in the form of blog posts. 

A great content strategy will keep the visitor engaged on the site. As the visitor browses and consumes more content, various lead magnets will encourage them to perform some action that gets them onto the sales team’s radar. When this lead is logged on the CRM, it’s possible to know exactly what content pieces they had been reading. It’s even possible to log the search term that helped them find your site. 

How much more effective can a salesperson’s pre-contact research be if they have a solid idea of the pain point the lead is experiencing? 

An experienced salesperson with an in-depth knowledge of the lead’s industry will be able to do their homework and draw some very handy conclusions – conclusions that will help them make a very good first impression when they make contact.

There are two things the sales team needs the company to do if this is a tactic they intend to use: 

  • Implementing a visitor tracking tool. These are relatively inexpensive and can be integrated into most CRM solutions. 
  • A resource of content topics wide and deep enough to generate the necessary information. Every conceivable pain point that could act as an avenue to your site’s content must be covered by more than one content piece. 

In addition, each content piece should intelligently promote related posts. This will help generate even more helpful data on the visitor. Did they read only one of your articles relating to data protection compliance, or did they read all of them?

Havocshield’s blog shows us how to create a logical relationship between posts. Each content piece is allocated a set of topic tags that are displayed as hyperlinks next to the content itself. 

These links make it extremely easy for a reader to find more information that speaks to them. At the same time, they make it extremely easy to build very helpful knowledge about their pain points and needs –  knowledge that a sales team can cleverly incorporate into their initial pitch.

How Can Content Help Educate Salespeople?

Typically, it isn’t considered great practice for blog content to focus heavily on selling a product. In fact, many company blog posts will hardly make mention of their product at all. 

A large part of content marketing happens at the very top end of the marketing funnel, a spot where a hard sales pitch can be awkward and counterproductive. 

People visiting your site because they searched for a solution to a problem aren’t looking to be sold a solution. They’re looking for helpful, objective information which may or may not make mention of a specific product.

These content pieces usually discuss a broad range of topics that are peripherally related to the company’s product or service. A well-devised content strategy will ensure that these topics are discussed in ways that are exceptionally meaningful to the user. 

The content will be objective, up-to-date, and highly actionable. The content will make the reader aware of the industry that your company plays in. It could even educate them on your competitors – that’s how objective great content should be.

Most importantly, a great blog educates a reader. It gives them the information they didn’t know they needed to make a purchasing decision.

With that as one of your content strategy’s main objectives, a well-populated blog becomes an invaluable source of training material for new salespeople. Especially those new to a specific niche or industry. 

Zoma’s blog is a really great example of what I’m talking about here. That’s because it is crammed full of information that’s of use to both prospective customers and the salespeople who may be interacting with them.

From primer articles like “What Mattress Base is Best for You?” through to more complex topics like “Sleep Training: How Sleep Affects Athletic Performance,” Zoma casts their informational net really wide. This benefits both leads, who need nurturing, and salespeople, who need to understand the industry and the nuanced needs of their customers.

How Can Content Help Close a Deal?

While it’s true that content should mostly be used as a mechanism for lead generation and nurturing, there certainly is space for posts that have a stronger sales focus.

Take a look at the topics covered by Amazon repricer Aura’s blog. As you’ll see, the majority of the posts stick to the strategy I talked about above. Posts tend to avoid discussing specific repricing solutions and focus more on the business of being an Amazon seller.

However, among posts that don’t even mention repricing, let alone the company’s flagship product, there’s a post entitled: “The Best Amazon Repricer to Increase Profits.”

The article doesn’t shove Aura’s product down the reader’s throat. It sets up the sales pitch gradually and logically. It leads with all the criteria that a customer should take into consideration when shopping for a repricing solution. The writer mentions Aura only after this is covered, positioning it above two of the company’s competitors.

When an Aura salesperson is in contact with a prospect that’s primed for a harder pitch, supplementing their interactions with an article like this can be extremely helpful in closing the deal.

At the salesperson’s discretion, an article like this could either be used to prepare the prospect for a final pitch or as something to leave with the prospect as they make their decision.

How Can Content Reduce Churn?

Churn is the nemesis of every business that uses a recurring revenue model. If you run a SaaS company, retaining your customers, especially those signed up to your most expensive subscription plan, should be (at least) as important as acquiring new customers.

Content can play a big role in preventing the loss of customers, but this has to happen in partnership with the sales team.

Salespeople should become very familiar with warning signs that a particular customer isn’t getting the most out of the product. 

Whether it’s in response to a net promoter score survey, seeing infrequent log-ins, or noticing that some key features are being misused, there are many ways a dedicated account manager will spot red flags.

When this happens, an instant phone call or emergency meeting may feel a little intrusive. This could be a delicate situation, and barging in with all guns blazing could be counterproductive.

A great way to gauge the customer’s state of mind – and perhaps even get them back on track with using the product correctly – is to get them reading content that highlights features they could be misusing.

It’s very feasible for a company’s blog to include topics that educate both existing and prospective customers on how to get the most out of their subscriptions. Having a library of these ready for submission to someone who seems like they’re losing interest is very helpful for a vigilant salesperson.

Asana shows us how this is done with this blog post that highlights a feature that many users may be unaware of or are using incorrectly. Being sent a link to a post like this could very easily reignite a customer’s interest in your product.

Some Final Thoughts on the Importance of Communication

Salespeople can’t simply rely on their marketing colleagues to preempt their content needs. To ensure that these two departments understand how they can help each other, schedule recurring meetings between people representing each team.

Creating a forum where the sales department can let content strategists know what kind of content will be helpful to nurture, closure, and retention is a smart move.

In the same sessions, salespeople can also provide the marketing team with information that’ll help them understand the mindset of the company’s prospects better and create content that’s more effective at generating traffic and leads.

The relationship between your sales and content departments can be a two-way street. Treat it that way, and you will see the rewards.

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