The value of great content

Carola van der Linden

‘Content is king’ and ‘context is queen’ are phrases that are used a lot in relation to social selling. By sharing highly relevant and valuable content sales departments can build their personal brand in an authentic way. It enables them to increase their credibility and establish themselves as experts in their field. Leading B2B sales organizations recognize the value of content: in gives them the right to engage with their buyers. Now, how can commercial organizations make this work for their sales departments?

Understand that content sharing and content curation are powerful and interactive ways of challenging people. It sets the foundation for engagement. Sales can demonstrate knowledge and expertise by sharing content written by influential people in the industry, in addition to sharing own content and blogs. It’s important to note that there needs to be a healthy balance of company-branded and non-company-branded, or curated, content. Customers today are overwhelmed by huge amounts of content, so they are looking for relevance. People need help and insights from someone who can show them their latent pains or needs.

No customer wants to follow a sales rep who only posts company blog posts.  In addition, this means that the content that is shared needs to be super relevant and deliver the right context: specially tailored to the the needs of the reader at the right moment. Your glossy whitepaper maybe very appealing but more important is to think how this piece of content will help a particular prospect. If it doesn’t than it should not be shared, as it will only frustrate the customer since it has no value for him/her. Don’t run the risk of driving him or her away.

Relevant content
What is relevant content? Relevant content is content that challenges a future buyer on its latent needs. This can be needs that he didn’t think of himself, but does need in order to reach his ultimate ambition or solution. Often latent needs are identified in time. It’s the job of the sales person to identify these latent needs and to make them visible or active. That’s creating more incremental value to your customer than your competitor in order to stand out and make a difference.

How does your organization challenge customers with compelling and exciting content?

The goal is to enlighten salespeople on why content sharing is important, what the right frequency is, and what content to share with whom and when. It’s essentially building the Social selling competency and making it really easy for salespeople to find and share content, allowing them to be socially successful. Experience shows that salespeople do not always feel comfortable sharing relevant content on social media platforms. Consider putting in place a quality training program so Sales can learn social selling skills and make it part of their daily practice. Marketing can provide sale with relevant content.

Content calendar
It’s important to have a content calendar that identifies what will be sent out on what day of the week. A calendar will help to create consistency and a steady flow of information going to customers and prospects. How to determine what content to include in a content calendar? It’s best to do this by using the customer success portfolio (CSP). The CSP identifies all parts of a customer solution. The parts that contribute the most are the parts that can be used to write content about. Relevant content always addresses one part of the customer success portfolio in context to the customer dream solution. It often ends with an open question “What would this mean for your organization or for you personally? It’s also possible to share articles from other sources with an open question. This maximally challenges the future customer!

Many companies invest in a dedicated content platform: one place where preselected branded and non-branded content is posted. This will make it easier for all company employees to become socially active and expand the company brand. Sales can search by topic and select the best content for their customers and share directly via different social platforms. Having such dedicated content platforms will also create consistency in message. This approach also allows senior management to see which employees are active in content sharing and this will help to identify best practices. These success stories can be shared with the wider organization so people can see what works well and what doesn’t.

Social selling means having in-depth knowledge about the customer, doing some Social listening and using offline contacts to identify key customer challenges and pain points. Finding the right content that brings across that message is the responsibility of the salesperson. No tool or content can turn a lousy salesperson into a good one.

What is relevant depends on how strong the ties with the customer are. There are different types of content (Dutch):

Types of content
There are many different types of content: articles, blogposts, podcasts, websites, mobile app, games, webinars/webcasts, microsites, webconferences, case studies, newsletters, eBooks, digital magazines, infographics, wideos, white papers, research reports, events, print magazines, case studies and reference.

Levels of content
What one should not forget is that the competition is reading your content as well. Your competitors are likely following your company’s content. That’s why it’s important to distinguish different levels of content. Many organizations will use simply one level of content and will share all on public platforms. This will allow your competitors to read all of your content, including the insights that make you stand out from your competitors:

Level 1 content, which is used on public platforms and sites and for everyone to read. This type of content uses the right level of insights to challenge the reader, but does not include too many details .

  • Level 2 content, which is used in a one-on-one relationship, when you know who you are sharing your content with. On level two it’s possible to share in-depth content that shares more details and insights than level one. It’s important to protect the information that establishes and confirms your differentiating edge.

The impact of building a daily practice of content sharing will help Sales to create relevance and make them stand out as experts in identifying existing and future customer latent needs. Customers are looking for experts to help them maneuver through the buying journey. These are the people who notice it when their LinkedIn profiles are checked and start receiving inbound requests for information and sharing insights: activities that lead to more contacts and opportunities for leads and orders. These activities are all part of qualitative Social selling. This requires a different mindset of both the organization as well as its sales community. The process can be supported and accelerated by putting in place a dedicated training and coaching program. This program will help Sales to understand the value of content and what to share with the right customer.

How does your organization’s support its sales teams to leverage quality content?

How does your organization make a difference by having the sales department share relevant social content and create leads?

Do you want to learn more about what a modern sales machine and commercial blueprint should look like? Book an inspiration session and challenge your team to find ways to make a difference with your organization. For more information: carola@thesocialsellingcompany.com or +31 88 730 55 00.

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