Why content marketing is so important in sales; content based on understanding customer buying signals

This short video podcast (5 minutes) sees Geraint Holliman discussing how content plays a massive role in helping move customers towards purchase.

Watching this video will ensure you help you see where marketing content can be deployed effectively to customers at different stages of the buying process and how asking and answering specific questions can drive great content creation.

Caroline: Sometimes people just think, just put the sales message in. And I’m thinking, no, it’s too early, we need to engage. You’ve got to get people interested first before you go for the heavy sell.

And some of the salespeople I’m working with don’t quite understand that. And they end up putting big red pens, in a figure of speech, through my work.

And I think it’s just being able to try and, through this module, understand how you can bring people with you and get those decision-makers to “we understand there, Caroline, what you’re trying to do, you’re taking people on a sales journey or an engagement journey before you go in for the killer thing at the end”.

So any tips or advice you’ll have on that would be helpful. Thank you.

Geraint: Well, I’m glad that you mention that actually, because one of the things I was thinking as you were speaking was this speaks to a wider marketing issue rather than simply to digital comms or data content generally. But it illustrates why content is so damn important in the marketing armoury, if you like.

Which is, you said that your sales friends say … just weighing in functions and features and pricing.

And I used to hear, I don’t hear it quite so much these days, and maybe you do, people talking about punchy, hard content.

Well, punchy, hard content isn’t what you need. I’m not saying there aren’t instances where that is really, really important. But do you know what? Most of the time, punchy, hard content goes over … People learn to basically filter stuff out.

They know when they’re being sold to, that’s the whole, to use the term Schilling, I mean, it’s an American term, I wasn’t really familiar with it until a few years back. But Schilling is just when people are trying too hard to sell.

And sales guys know this. They know when they’re sat in front of a prospect who frankly isn’t listening to their messaging, or is turning off or they realise they haven’t got them on the hook yet. Salespeople talk about, we didn’t get them on the hook.

Well, you didn’t get them on the hook because you immediately leapt to a close. And that’s what they’re all taught. They’re all taught to always be closing, and all that kind of stuff. Well, don’t always be closing. Make sure you close at the time where they’re giving off the right signals.

Answer the right questions

Geraint: The right signals are, they’re asking the right kind of questions.

You will know when content is working, is if the questions they ask of you lead them to the next piece of content in the buying journey.

So I always say to people like you, Caroline, who have kind of exposed that or posed that question is, do you understand how people buy in this marketplace? What are the stages that they go through? Explain to me the stages that people go through, when they come into the market, what are the questions that they ask? Because content answers the unanswered questions.

If your content is going to be really successful, you really need to try and answer questions that are not getting answered anywhere else. And that is what’s going to make things, “Ah, you know, that Caroline content, that really helped because she was the only person that really spoke about this.” Which is usually a real challenge or an obstacle that they got to buying in the marketplace.

So if you say, “Well, we understand the stages that people go through.” Broadly speaking, not every buyer goes through the same process, but broadly speaking, buyers in this market go through these stages. And at these stages, they ask these kinds of questions. If they’re asking these kinds of questions, then our content should answer those kind of questions.

Now, the answer to the question, do I even need a thing like this? Is the problem I’ve got really going to be answered by this thing that Caroline is selling? Well, the answer isn’t, it’s £5.50, here’s the price.

I mean, look, it’s funny because a couple of years back I bought Mrs. Holliman a new car for the first time ever. And we went into this showroom, and a young whippersnapper of a sales guy, bless his little heart, came in, saw us looking at this particular car, it was a Kia. And he said, “We do it in a really nice range of colours.” And Claire went, “I haven’t actually decided…”

Caroline: How rude.

Geraint: I mean, he wasn’t being sexist or anything. He was kind of leaping to the close really. Which is, well, if you’ve sat in the car, you’ve wiggled the steering wheel and fiddled with the buttons. And you’ve got in one and made all sorts of wiring noises, you must be ready to buy. Well, that’s not actually the way that people buy cars. You might be lucky. Claire might have said, “Oh, I’ll have it in green.” And he would have been happy. But that’s not the buying process.

So my advice to you as marketers is always be more in control of the understanding of how people buy.

Because that’s your ammunition for going back to sales and saying, “Do you know what? Yeah, of course you need your sales deck, you need your text sheets, you need your closing content”. Of course, you do.

But all the stuff that goes on before, that warms up the customer, gets them to prefer us, decide that we are the people that should be supplying this service, that is where you as content marketers can add really significant value to the whole sales process.

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