I read an interesting post by Peter Gracey over on the AG Salesworks blog that has a lot of merit. His point needed to be made. I can’t even tell you how many calls I get that start with some version of the example below. The gist of his post is that when inside sales starts a call like this, they’re doomed from the start:
“Hi Jim, this is Pete from AG Salesworks. I recently sent you xyz document and I was calling to see if you’ve had a chance to look at it”
I agree 100%. My response is usually, “No, bye.”
This said, I’m not saying that inside sales reps should avoid discussions related to the content your prospects view or download. Just that they need to do it differently.
In fact, the entire point of content marketing is to have it help you get invited into conversations with prospects. Right? Content alone will not sell a complex solution. Content marketing is about connecting with and growing relationships with your potential (and existing) customers. Once you’ve done that, the natural extension should be conversations. Then more content, then more conversations – do you see the rhythm?
If that’s not what’s happening – you’re doing it wrong! Seriously.
What’s wrong with the example above is the question that’s being asked.
There’s no context. Your prospect’s mind is on a gazillion things and it’s not likely that one of them is the white paper they downloaded. Instead, think about how your inside sales reps can use the information in the white paper to promote a useful conversation.
Try these ideas out:
“Hi Jim, this is Sam from ABC company and I saw that you downloaded our XYZ white paper. I was wondering if you thought the idea about X had merit?”
“Hi Sally, this is Norm from Solution X. You recently requested our paper on [topic] and we’ve had a lot of response to the statistic that [whatever it’s about]. Would you agree that it’s a concern for your company?”
“Hi Dave, this is Sally from Random IT Company. I’ve got an update on the case study that was in the paper you downloaded and thought you might be interested to know how things have changed since the company is similar to yours.”
The point is that evey content asset you produce should be approached from a reader perspective as well as in relation to the type of conversations it can motivate. And not just between your company and your prospects, but also among those involved on the buying committee.
In addition, if you design the conversations well, they serve as a type of progressive profiling that helps you learn more about your prospects without putting them through the usual survey that we all recognize as self-serving with no added value for the prospect on the line. Initiating conversations based on relevant business reasons is how most of us talk with our peers and colleagues. It’s time for inside sales to step up their game!
Your content should be motivating conversations based on the ideas you share even when you’re not in the room – but most certainly when you are involved in the communication stream.
Otherwise, what’s the point?