content is key to sales success

What does it take to become a successful sales professional today? Is it charisma? Is it luck? Is it a compelling personal brand?

The answer, of course, is all of the above.

But when it comes to gaining competitive advantage, there is one tool many sales pros often fail to use: content marketing. When used right, content can provide salespeople with the ammunition they need to support their pitches to prospects and stay competitive in their industry.

Here are 4 ways you can leverage content to elevate sales and use it as a silver bullet to close deals.

1. Prove that you know what you’re talking about.

Buyers today are very knowledgeable. They have so much information at their disposal that they probably know just as much—if not more—than you do. When they’re looking to buy products and services that will solve their problems, they want to know that they’re in good hands and that you know what you’re talking about.

The good news: Content can help establish the credibility of your company. In fact, if you’re producing content yourself, it can also help build your reputation with buyers.

Produce content that’s useful, insightful and provocative. This is especially true for “top of the funnel” content like blog posts and infographics. The purpose of these pieces isn’t to sell. Indeed, the biggest mistake you could make in content marketing is talking too much about your product. Instead, you want to use content to establish thought leadership, position yourself as an expert and bring buyers into the conversation.

2. Establish your trustworthiness.

Let’s face it: many buyers believe salespeople are crooks. The sales profession still has a reputation for telling lies and over-promising. This reputation is why buyers usually do their own research before approaching sales professionals. They want to be equipped with (what is hopefully) objective information so they’re not going into the sales conversation completely clueless.

Of course, the bad reputation of the sales profession isn’t entirely fair. Most sales professionals are honest and transparent about what their products and services can and cannot do. But content can help build trust with prospects more quickly.

Also, buyers don’t just buy based on features and functionality; they buy based on emotional factors, too. They’re more likely to buy if they know why your company does what it does. Through inspiring and interesting content, your company can communicate this why and get buyers to buy into your own perspective.

Embracing transparency in your content can also help you gain trust. One thing you could consider is to create content that objectively shows what your company can offer compared to what competitors can. When done right, info sheets and other types of content that compare the buyer’s choices can make the buying process easier for prospects—and if you offer the solution that they’re looking for, you’re more likely to win that deal.

3. Move the conversation forward.

If you’re in the enterprise space, the sales cycle can be anywhere between 6 months to a year. Given the price of enterprise software, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it takes that long to close deals. But the worst thing that could happen is for the talk to halt to complete stop—for prospect to stop talking to you.

Content gives you a good reason to keep communication open with the buyer. Sending new, relevant blog posts and other types of content to your buyers could help ensure that you’re top of mind. Of course, the key is to make sure that you’re not being annoying: make sure that when you’re sending content to buyers, it’s relevant and you’re doing it in a personalized and non-obtrusive way. Briefly explain why you’re sending the content to the prospect so they don’t think of it as spam. When appropriate, ask for a good time to connect on the phone about the content.

If you’re sending content in the form of PDFs, you can even get analytics and figure out which part of the content resonated most with the buyer. Doing a quick analysis can help shape your conversation with buyers and increase the likelihood that they’ll move forward with you.

4. Provide more information to the buyer.

Once you’re close to closing the deal, the conversation becomes about case studies, pricing, implementation, security and other specific topics. This types of content are valuable to sales success. Work with your marketing team to produce bottom-of-the-funnel content to make sure that the messaging is consistent and accurate.

Content marketing shouldn’t be just a marketing thing. When done right, creating content that’s useful and thoughtful can help sales people do what they’re supposed to do: sell more.