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December 15, 2014
By Amber Kemmis
Personal selling is the building of a one-on-one relationship where one party exchanges something of value with another party. Although personal selling has traditionally relied on phone meetings, face-to-face communication, text messages or email, content offers provide a new and invaluable method of personal selling.
As companies scale products and services to reach a higher volume of customers, personal selling has began to diminish. Inc.com states that this has actually forced companies to use the opposite of personal selling and go as far as stating,” . . ."impersonal selling" is by advertising, sales promotion and public relations.”
So, the question then becomes what can marketers do to reach higher volumes but still have an influence on personal selling? After all, personal selling can be much more effective at building more loyal customers than “impersonal selling”. The solution is content marketing. Marketers, especially those who have a longer and more complicated sales process, have an opportunity to utilize content marketing to make the sale a bit more personal, even in a digital world.
For marketers to influence personal selling with content offers, they can follow a few inbound marketing best practices:
An important aspect of personal selling is to ask questions and identify the problems and pains points of the buyer. Traditionally, personal selling does this through a one-on-one conversion. With content marketing, however, you create content based on the common characteristics of your buyer. Thus, your salespeople will already know what your buyer’s pain points are based the content they download. For example, Joe Schmoe downloads your e-book “The Marketer’s Guide to Increasing Website Leads.”
To create content that addresses pain points, problems and important characteristics of your buyer, you must spend time creating buyer personas. A buyer personas is a profile that describes your ideal customer. When your content is based on buyer personas, you influence personal selling by already being more personal before a conversation is even had.
To learn more about creating buyer personas, download this guide.
For content marketing to effectively influence personal selling, you need to gate content offers behind a landing page and form, which allows you to capture a lead’s email, as well as a few other important bits of qualifying information. Once a lead converts on the landing page, not only will you learn more information about the lead that can be utilized in the selling process, the lead will also grow to trust you through the valuable advice you provide in content.
A landing page and form can tell us a lot about a lead, but we can learn even more by evaluating the type of content offer a lead downloads. By mapping your content offers to each stage of the buying cycle and creating content offers to fill the gaps, you can influence personal selling by sharing this information with sales. For example, a lead that downloads an introductory e-book on inbound marketing is not nearly as far along in the buying process as a lead that downloads your case studies.
To effectively influence personal selling with content marketing, your company will need to work on integrating sales and marketing processes. The above information is a great start. To learn more about integrating your sales and marketing team, request a marketing assessment from SmartBug Media today.
About the author
Amber Kemmis was formerly the VP of Client Services at SmartBug Media. Having a psychology background in the marketing world has its perks, especially with inbound marketing. My past studies in human behavior and psychology have led me to strongly believe that traditional ad marketing only turns prospects away, and advertising spend never puts the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Thus, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and investment. I'm determined to help each and every one of our clients attract and retain new customers in a delightful and helpful way that leads to sustainable revenue growth. Read more articles by Amber Kemmis.