6 Simple Ways to Use Content to Shorten the Sales Cycle

by Marcus Sheridan

selling

I had a great conversation the other day with a B2B client in the medical space that was happily telling me how his company’s sales department was blown away with the impact their content marketing efforts were having on shortening the sales cycle. Specifically, he related a story where they recently closed a deal (in the millions) that only took 4 months to wrap-up. Although you may be thinking 4 months is a long time, it’s nothing when you compare it to their average sales cycle, which is 18 months.

From 18 to 4 months—all because of the power of content. It’s a classic case of:

Great teaching + Helpful Information= Trust

When you take away all the fluff found in the content marketing space, that little equation is what all of this stuff comes down to, and its importance cannot be overstated.

The fact is, there is no better sales and trust-building tool in the world right now than great content.

And when companies understand how to use their content to shorten the sales cycle, that’s when incredible things can happen.

It is for this reason I decided to write this simple post on different ways content can be used by sales departments small and large to get great results:

6 Ways to Use Content Marketing to Shorten the Sales Cycle

1. Talk about money on your digital platforms: I’ve been yapping about this for over 4 years now, but the need to openly and honestly address consumer questions about cost and price on a company’s website has never been greater. If consumers feel like we’re hiding something as a business, they’ll lose trust and no contact (be it phone, email, walk-in, etc.) will ever be made. But if we’re willing to talk about the things *they* care about versus what *we* think they should care about, then magic can happen.

Powerful Fact: Of our many clients here at The Sales Lion, the #1 traffic, leads, and sales generating content is always on the subject of cost and price. No matter the industry or the type of business, this reality is true in every space we’ve ever worked in—B2B, B2C, and B2G—services and products—it’s the same thing. People care about money.

A great example of this comes from the folks at Block Imaging (client), showing an extremely successful video they made discussing the cost of a used MRI machine.

2. Online Quoting Tools/Apps: This again coincides with #1 but more and more companies are developing apps to use on their websites that can essentially guide prospects and shoppers through the buying process (again, this applies to product and service based businesses). The specificity of these apps can vary, but giving shoppers and consumers the ability to immediately learn more about what something may cost is an incredibly quick way to earn trust, build your database (through lead capture), and also separate qualified from unqualified leads.

There is nothing more frustrating for a sales professional than to go through the entire quote/proposal process and find they are not even close when it comes to budget. By openly discussing numbers and costs early on, sales people will save major time, prevent significant frustration, and have a higher overall morale.

3. Pre-Sales Appointment Content: It’s a crying shame when sales departments allow their prospects to go essentially “uninformed” before the initial sales appointment. This often occurs because of the silos that exist in organizations between sales and marketing, which leads to sales people not knowing what content tools are available to them for helping prospects and also means the sales team is likely aloof of what type of impact company content is having on consumers.

At River Pools, this eBook gets downloaded over 50 times a day and is a major part of the sales process.

At River Pools, this eBook gets downloaded over 50 times a day and is a major part of the sales process.

The fact is, the more educated a consumer is before the initial sales appointment the more likely they are ready to make a decision—and every sales person in the world needs to clearly understand this, therefore motivating them to push content consumption early on in the process.

4. Use video to promote familiarity: Here is another problem most companies have: Prospects and consumers generally don’t know what their sales person actually looks like until they are in the initial sales appointment and can see them for the first time. This being said, what would happen if before every sales appointment a video of the sales person was sent to the prospect telling them a little about themselves, their job, and why they love what they do?

With the simplicity of quick video production and sending tools today, there is no reason every prospect can’t see and get to know their sales person before the face to face meetings actually occur.

5. Use content to resolve concerns before and after the 1st sales interaction: In almost every sales interaction there are obstacles, concerns, and issues from the prospect. Unfortunately, many sales professionals fall short of properly helping prospects overcome these issues. But the best sales teams in the digital age not only are very aware of the potential concerns of their prospects but also actively seek out to address these issues with content throughout the sales engagement period.

Tip: Using your sales team, create 10 videos that address the 10-20 most common concerns of your prospects. Once created, have the sales team use these videos throughout the sales process. Also, include these videos in follow up emails as the prospect is still making his or her decision.

6. Use content to get to the decision makers: Anyone that has ever been involved in sales knows getting to decision makers can be difficult when trying to close a sale. And for those occasions when it’s simply impossible to get a face to face meeting with a company CEO or decision maker, emailing that person an article or sending them a personal video can often times be just the trick to getting a decision maker’s attention and advancing further down the sales funnel. With so many contact opportunities in today’s age (LinkedIn, email, website forms, etc.) there is no reason a decision maker shouldn’t be touched by content in some way, shape, or form.

Your Turn

As you might imagine, I’m just scratching the surface here as to the number of ways in which content can shorten the sales cycle. Tell me, what ways have you seen content alter your company’s sales methodology? What are your most effective means of using content to generate more sales success?

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