Content Marketing Should Change How You Sell, Here’s How

content marketing and salesContent marketing, the modern approach to sales, has changed many things about the sales process. Potential customers are more informed and can enter the sales process at various steps through what was traditionally known as the “sales funnel” but is now being referred to as a more circular experience, or as coined by McKinsey, the “customer decision journey”.

The current sales process, thanks to social media and technology, is not linear anymore, and we must change our behavior to suit the current sales landscape. Although we’ve always needed to cater to each client individually we must be especially careful to examine each potential client’s history and needs. According to the Harvard Business Review article on the subject, “In both B2B and B2C businesses, customers are doing their own research both online and with their colleagues and friends. Prospects are walking themselves through the funnel, then walking in the door ready to buy.”

According to McKinsey the five steps of customer decision journey are awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, loyalty. How do you help steward a client through this journey? Here are three ways:

1.  Prepare to be Pulled

In the past traditional outbound marketing occurred in the form of marketers  “pushing” information to the clients through direct mailing, ads, and commercials. Now, with the rise of inbound marketing, and thanks to technology and the interconnected global economy, clients “pull” product information to familiarize, consider, and, hopefully, purchase. Often awareness is already there in the mind of the consumer, who is actively seeking more information on a product they need.

Fill your window display, so to speak, so that when people are searching for your products, you have them on full display. If information isn’t clearly, readily, and easily accessible the consumer will move on. Blogger for econsultancy, Chris Lake, has a fascinating list of 25 reasons people will leave your website within 10 seconds. Haven’t we all had the experience when we exit a purchase, or pick up another course of action because a website isn’t helpful, is slow to load, or has too many hoops to jump through?

Think clean, clear, and ready when it comes to your content marketing approach. Prepare to be pulled.

2.  Prepare a Pitch

Everyone hopes a purchase will happen without too much prodding. The dream is that a consumer finds you, likes you, and clicks the purchase link or asks to for a contract immediately. Life would be much easier that way, but it’s seldom the way things develop.

Once a lead has been identified and nurtured, do thorough research. How many times have they visited the site? Which value content did they access or download? What information can you gather on the consumer, such as age, gender, profession, etc.? Knowing this information may help you prepare your pitch.

You should have processes in place. Think pitch preparedness. What content do you have prepped to share with them if they have specific concerns or interests? Is the first connection via email or phone? What’s the purpose of each plan to connect, and how many attempts is too many during a certain period of time? Be prepared for a journey. This process requires patience and tenacity.

3. Please the People

Once you are engaged with a client keep on charming them. Loyalty is critical to a successful and profitable business, and the basis for a loyal customer often starts well before the experience is over. Loyalty is an ongoing process, not something that happens after one successful transaction. According to Forbes, “71% of customers who ended a business relationship did so because of a poor customer service experience.” The bottom line is: be helpful and be there for your client through all steps of your relationship.

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