The Incredible Relationship Between Content Marketing and Sales

by Marcus Sheridan

Although the trend called “content marketing” continues to grow with companies big and small around the globe, the gap between producing content and then using it to change the sales cycle continues to be grossly wide, with few companies truly understanding the relationship between these two critical piece of business success.

The more I work with organizations, the more I find myself getting blank looks to this one critical question:

How has your sales process changed since you started using content marketing?

Sadly, this question typically leads to a look of confusion and perplexity.

A few months back, I introduced the concepts of content marketing tipping points and assignment selling. Although this may sound arrogant, I strongly feel that these two marketing techniques will revolutionize any business and organization if used the right way.

And now that I’ve been able to watch the magic of content work with many of my clients, I’m more passionate today about this subject than I’ve ever been.

Let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about when I say integrating content marketing with the sales process.

Changing the Sales Process of an Entire Industry

Just because sales have always been done one way doesn't mean you have to follow the lead.

Since the first inground swimming pool was put in the ground many, many years ago, the sales process (for pool builders) has essentially been the same—A consumer calls “pool guy” and asks him to come out to his/her house to give a quote. And in most cases, a consumer will get 3 or 4 quotes and eventually make a decision.

In other words, the sales process for inground pool builders requires a huge amount of time, travel, money, and follow ups—something I’m all too familiar with after having done it for so many years until I was able to stop about 10 months ago.

But today, at my swimming pool company, our sales model is literally one of a kind in an industry that has thousands of pool builders. In short, this is how it works:

1. Customer calls and asks us to come out to give them a quote.

2. We respond by explaining our process is different—we educate more than anyone in the world with our website, videos, blog articles, and eBooks—which gives consumers everything they need to know about us, our products, and what pool/options suits them the best.

3. Once a potential customer educates themselves through our content, they tell us the pool and options they want, at which point we send them via email an actual quote.

4. If the customer reviews the quote and agrees to its terms, we then go out to their home to confirm there are no hidden costs and write up the contract.

Some of you might be thinking no one would ever agree to buy a 50k swimming pool without “meeting” the contractor first, but the truth is by reading and watching our content, they actually get to “know” us better than they do in a typical sales meeting with a contractor that has never spent 5 minutes teaching them anything about swimming pools before that moment.

I’ve explained our sales process to pool builders around the globe and most still do not believe we’re able to have success this way, yet we’re the #1 fiberglass pool contractor (in terms of sales) in the country and likely have the highest appointment to close ratio in the world—despite the fact that our prices are always on the upper end of the spectrum.

Other Industries

Unfortunately, when I explain the River Pools sales process to other industries, many folks often think their field or niche is the exception to such principles. But let’s look at how this also applies to The Sales Lion for a second.

Each week, I get 7-15 emails from companies that want to work with me and my team in some type of consulting capacity. Like any business, some of these leads are good while others aren’t nearly as qualified/serious.

For a long time, I had a very difficult time filtering out these leads and was ineffective in my approach to handling them, as some would take huge amounts of my time without truly being ready to take action. In order to deal with this problem, I made it a requirement for every lead to do one thing before I would contact them via phone—read my eBook (Inbound and Content Marketing Made Easy).

Considering the eBook is a customer’s best method by which they can know me, my strategies, and the way I work—it only made sense to make this an integral part of The Sales Lion sales process.

Today, my sales cycle is much, much better than it was before. The conversations I have with prospects are way more productive and my actual clients are also much more educated and prepared than ever before.

US Waterproofing

Many of you have heard me talk about my friend/client Matt Stock at US Waterproofing, but few folks are using content as a sales tool as well as this company in their sales process.

To give you an example of how they work, before one of their 30+ sales staff goes on an appointment, the prospect is sent educational articles (from the blog) regarding their current problem/need, a bio of the sales professional they’ll be meeting with, and educational videos as well.

In fact, US Waterproofing now does everything they can to ensure that every email their company sends out has some piece of educational content included.

Content Sells

I could go on and on with examples here, but I hope you get my point—content, when done right, sells. And as I’ve stated before, great content is the best sales tool in the world. It’s the best sales “person.” When we’re all asleep, it’s still working, teaching, and moving prospects in the right direction.

But unless we produce it, and then use it to its potential, we’ll never appreciate the full experience that is the power of content marketing.

Your Turn:

I’m curious to know your thoughts on this question: Why do so many companies fail to integrate content marketing into their sales process? Also, have you seen companies who are doing this well?

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

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