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If You Aren’t Using Content to Nurture Leads, You’re Leaving Money on the Table

content nurturingAs a salesperson, you need resources: a bigger expense account to impress clients or more funding to generate leads through marketing.

There are countless excuses for not hitting sales goals, but it’s possible you’re just giving up too soon. Studies have shown that 80 percent of sales are closed between follow-ups four and 12. Think about all the missed opportunities you forfeit when you stop after the fifth follow-up.

But this presents another troubling issue: What the heck do you say to prospects during follow-ups 10, 11, or 12 without driving them insane? How can you continue to stay on their radar without sending the dreaded “just following up” email? The answer is content.

Our sales team incorporates content throughout the sales process. Here are our secrets to success:

1. Address and overcome objections with content.

Every salesperson has experienced some of the same questions and objections over and over again on sales calls. Instead of typing out long emails that delve into the nitty-gritty reasons prospects’ objections aren’t valid, why not write an article that succinctly and effectively walks them through common objections?

We’ve done this through writing articles about excuses people give us for not writing, or why focusing on thought leadership doesn’t make you an egomaniac. Prospects are surprisingly thankful for the resources and often share them with colleagues. This is much more effective in educating and building positive rapport than sending a half-assed email that tries to whiz through their concerns.

We keep a spreadsheet of common objections we hear on sales calls, then develop content around them. This way, we know our content is tailored to potential clients’ needs rather than what we deem important.

2. Use content to prime a prospect before a sales call.

It’s incredibly frustrating to get on the phone with leads who have no idea who you are, what your company does, or why their company could benefit from your service. Save your sales team time on these non-qualified calls by utilizing content earlier in the process to inform leads. When you ask to set up a call, include an insightful industry article that explains why you exist and what you can do for clients.

This content shouldn’t read like sales copy or a pitch deck. It should be an engaging article — preferably published on a credible third-party publication — that gives validity to your company and outlines unique industry perspectives that position you as a thought leader.

Here’s a template for how we include content in our pre-call emails:

Hi Jon,

I’m looking forward to our call tomorrow. I want to make sure I don’t waste any of your time on the phone, so please take four minutes to read this article on Why Thought Leadership Creates Long-Term ROI prior to our call to best understand what we’ll be chatting about.

Talk to you soon,

Kelsey

3. Help non-decision makers sell you internally through content.

Your main goal when making a call is obviously to get on the phone with a decision maker. But this is often difficult to do, so you have to arm the person you’re speaking to with the best resources to advocate for you.

Yes, you could send him or her your pitch deck or a creatively crafted email, but that’s not as shareable as a unique article. We’ve written on everything from selling content to the C-suite to why different departments should pay for thought leadership to help our internal champions make the case for content marketing.

4. Stay on their radar through unique content.

You’ve followed up four times, and attempting a fifth follow-up makes you feel like a nuisance. But if you use this opportunity to add value, you won’t annoy them. Instead of saying, “I’m just following up,” try saying, “I read this article and thought you might find it valuable.”

Here’s an example of an actual email I sent a prospect last month.

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I still requested feedback on the proposal I sent over at the end, but I provided value and gave my personal input on the article first.

Sending similar emails through a service like Yesware’s Automated Follow-Ups is a great way to stay top of mind when a prospect is ready to buy.

Instead of complaining about limited resources, reuse the relevant content your company has produced to educate leads about your product and its benefits.

If content creation isn’t on your list of priorities yet, take another look at how it can complement your sales process — and save your expense accounts.

Kelsey Meyer is the President of Influence & Co., a content marketing firm specializing in helping companies showcase their expertise through thought leadership. Influence & Co.’s clients range from venture-backed startups to Fortune 500 brands. Connect with Kelsey on Google+.