Out With the Cold, In With the New!
Baby, It’s Cold Outside…
Let’s be honest, cold calls suck. If you do somehow figure out how to break through the blockade setup by ‘Olga the corporate receptionist’, you have about 5 seconds to make a good impression with the decision maker on the other end. The chances of getting a warm reception are about as good as winning a car in Timmy’s roll-up the rim…
Fortunately, the evolution of online marketing provides hope for those who want to make those cold calls a little warmer. A well structured content strategy can help you shift away from true cold calling and into conversations with customers that are already familiar with your offering and ready to buy.
B2B Prospecting Online
As a B2B sales rep turned online marketer, I could have avoided many demoralizing calls if I only understood how structured online marketing and online engagement can assist with lead generation. It is not a new concept.
Marketing folk have always sought to supply leads to their sales teams. Yet, it’s common to have disconnects between what is actually considered a lead. Online lead generation forms are a good place to start; however, if a contact is immediately passed to sales they may be considered “cold” when they just need a nurturing to the point where they’re ready to speak to someone.
The tricky part is being patient with the process and cultivating prospects without actually speaking to them. That’s not to say that sales reps are off the hook, rather that their roles have evolved. The most effective salespeople understand that success comes when they are willing to contribute and curate content to aid in the complete sales process.
Sales Reps = Content Curators
B2B prospects typically have a longer sales cycle than B2C prospects so they are much less likely to convert to a paying customer on the first visit. Think about it, you wouldn’t walk into a networking event, introduce yourself to someone for the first time and then blast into your best rehearsed sales pitch. Instead, you try to find a common connection and plant enough of a seed that they remember you at the next event. Personally nurturing this lead over time is exactly what a great content strategy can do for you online.
Quality Content & the Sales Cycle
It takes time to nurture a lead in the real world, so why should it be any different online? We need to expect and plan for a prospective customer to visit our site multiple times before they are willing to enter into a deeper conversation. How do you capitalize with so many touch-points? Develop quality content that is customized to each of these groups and your job becomes infinitely easier.
The ‘About’ section of your website is great for a first time visitor to get to know the company (consideration), but they’ll also likely want to learn more about your specific products or services. You need to make this easy for them, both in terms of website usability and CTA/appeal. Perhaps they want to see a ‘how-to’ video or download a white paper (experience) which should be in place to establish your credibility and industry clout. Maybe the prospect needs to read a customer testimonial (advocate) to make them feel comfortable or, even better, can interact with an online community of sorts (you ARE on social media right?)
Finally, think less about selling and more about helping. By providing prospects with information that is helpful, you’ll find that they are much more receptive to being contacted. When done right, a phone call from your sales team will be welcomed; not brushed off. No one likes cold calls, so make 2014 the year of the content strategy and you won’t need to make them any more.