With no exaggeration what so ever, the last year can be described as evolutionary in a broad range of areas affecting sales reps. Most importantly, the practice of “shooting in the dark” by means of cold sales calls has finally been fully demolished and replaced by the adaptation of strategic lead nurturing campaigns for achieving greater sales efficiency.
Marketing automation technologies now allow a much more efficient approach towards identification and evaluation of sales-ready leads in the buying cycle. Consequently, deployment of marketing automation, together with the adaptation to the concept of content selling and the enablement of mobile sales technologies, remain crucial assets of sales reps’ Toolbox in the upcoming year. In order for companies to achieve higher conversion rates and boost sales in 2014, however, sales reps will need to acquire a set of additional skills associated with those technologies.
Why Should Sales Reps Acquire New Skills?
The concept of content selling or the so called B2B sales revolution, is a relatively new paradigm in the world of Inbound Marketing. As such, and as with all forms of revolution, it requires adaptation; adaptation demands change and change will always involve a particular learning curve one way or another. In other words, for your sales reps to adapt the discipline of content selling in the most optimal way, it's vital that requiring a particular set of skills is taken into consideration and acted upon.
Ready, Set, Go! 4 Skills Sales Reps Should Acquire
The following is an overview of the four most cherished skills in the world of content selling that cannot be shunned by any sales rep who aims at high performance and optimised conversion rates.
1. Act as your prospects’ psychologist: listen and understand
To be successful in your lead nurturing strategies, you first need to get to know your prospects thoroughly. Marketing automation capabilities, such as Detailed Contact Profiles, suit this well as a starting point. Once you've done your homework, and are aware of the demographic and behavioural nature of your prospect, it's time to start asking questions and more importantly: listen carefully to their answers.
Getting involved in a dialogue with your potential buyer is crucial but always make sure you don't do all the talking. Instead, let the prospect feel able to thoroughly discuss his problems and guide you towards understanding his needs. From there on, be open for collaboration with the lead. Show him what your company has to offer in terms of products/services, but let him take part in deciding which solution will best suit his needs in the end. That personalised approach will not only increase his readiness to buy but also build a sense of trust and loyalty towards you and the company you are representing.
2. You are the expert: educate your prospects
Information is priceless and you need to constantly feed your prospects with it in order to reach such levels of value in their perception about you and your company. Develop your expertise beyond the scope of products/services you are trying to sell. Bring knowledge about e.g. industry trends, best practices or key observations to the table and build a reputation as a trusted source of intelligence.
As mentioned before, alignment between marketing and sales is a crucial aspect of content selling, with regards to sales reps being able to map the right content asset at the right time. Remember, no matter the kind of educational asset/material you share with the prospect, always personalise it: refer to a specific chapter of the white paper, paragraph of an article, statistical quote, etc. and explain how it is relevant for the potential buyer. That way you are killing two birds with one stone: demonstrate your expertise and up-to-date knowledge about trends and market environment, as well as build authority in the eyes of your prospect as a trustworthy source of highly relevant information.
3. Develop clear ROI metrics: prove the value of your solution
A reality check often reveals that you have strong competitors whose products aren't in any way worse or less valuable than yours. Competitive advantage can be achieved in many ways but the fastest and most efficient way to convince a prospect to choose you over your rivals is to outline clear ROI, based on previously discussed needs. Be as specific as possible. Visual content, graphics, videos, case studies, etc. can help you illustrate the value of your products/services in an instant way, enabling your prospect to get a hold of "the big picture". Presenting a set of alternative solutions and respectively - their ROI, will also let you "shine" as a trusted resource of insights, carrying to provide his buyer with the best possible solution to his needs. Once again, full awareness and evaluation of content assets, achieved by a synchronised efforts with the marketing team and usage of marketing automation tools, such as ontent Marketing Analysis, is more than necessary in your Toolbox.
4. Make friends with mobile sales enablement technologies: personalise the way you approach prospects
Having constant access to up-to-date, customised content collateral is a must for sales reps to deliver the highest value to their prospects in the most personalised way, no matter the stage of the buying cycle. Such enablement can only be achieved by tabbing into mobile technologies. As stated by Sales Management Association - 70% of executives, in sales organisations using tablets, are already reporting increased sales. Going back to competitive advantage: mobile sales enablement allows field sales reps to not only illustrate ROI metrics for their own products/companies, but also demonstrate and evaluate alternative solutions in an immediate fashion while still in the sales meeting.
Constant access to a broad range of content collateral also leaves no room for unexpected surprises if, for example, the prospect demands to be presented with an unusual type of material for the given stage of the buying cycle. Mobile sales enablement technologies provide sales reps with access to:
- Tangible assets to immediately justify their own expertise as a valuable source of educational material
- Visual material to a timely illustration of ROI metrics, mapped in correspondence to prospects' needs
- Any type of content asset from the corporate library that can have an impact on the lead's decision and nurture him towards conversion.