Full disclosure- I am strongly in favor that salespeople should blog, or create content. Should being the key word. Not everyone will, but anyone can. This is also not an argument for content creation for the sake of content creation.
When coaching salespeople, managers, and entrepreneurs on how to take control of their own psychology during the sales process, content creation becomes part of that coaching process. This is more than a tactical change in how we sell, it is a cultural shift in how we interact with buyers and view the sales role.
But maybe you, like many, aren’t convinced yet?
First, should they?
Should salespeople create content? Should they blog? Should they create videos, podcasts? Should they add comments to other blogs and online discussion groups and share them on social media?
Or should they stick to pushing products along the familiar linear funnel of lead gen, qualification, proposal, negotiate and close?
This is a topic that comes up a lot with new sales coaching clients, and it still seems to be an ongoing debate in the sales community as a whole. We are taught by sales training to follow the linear path and track those funnel metrics like lead generation, qualification, proposal, negotiation, and close.
Because of that, those who are against salespeople creating content say it is because there are better things that they could be spending their time doing. Like developing a detailed business plan about why their buyer should buy from them, preparing for big calls, etc.
The problem with that, according to McKinsey & Company, is that the things that salespeople “should” be doing are no longer the way that B2B buyers buy. More people are influencers to the buying process because of the multi-channel buyer experience. (Thank you Internet…)
Second, can they?
Alright, well then there is the argument that not everyone can create content. They can't develop messaging well, or even know how to write a decent email. What about a consistent brand and reputation?
Who is hiring these salespeople? If this is true, how can we say there is no need to transform salespeople? And if you are worried about what they might write, how are you not worried about what they might say to a prospect? Does your sales training need to include how to write, articulate and communicate? Maybe…
Whether or not you believe that buyers are 45-65% of the way through their selection process before they talk to a B2B salesperson, you can't deny the fact that they are going online to learn more about the salesperson, the solution, or the company that they are considering doing business with. I mean, you don't seriously still believe you have control over the information a buyer gets, do you?
Lastly, how does creating content benefit salespeople?
So what do salespeople “get” out of creating content? Here are my top 4 reasons:
1-Start and continue conversations. Rick Roberge wrote in his blog back in 2006 that the reason he blogs is to start and continue conversations. Except that instead of keeping the conversation between just two people, anyone can listen in. How many conversations did you have with prospects or customers that you wish someone else had been there for? How many times have you had the same conversation with different prospects with similar problems and challenges? There alone is a steady stream of content ideas that are worth sharing.
2-Accelerate learning. Articulating stories to others helps your brain think. Seth Godin recently appeared on Mike Volpe's Growth podcast and when asked why he blogs everyday, his reply at the 11:40 spot was , “Blogging everyday clarifies my thoughts and helps me notice things. It is one of the most important things I do in my practice.” This applies to salespeople who are trying to rapidly learn new products and the dynamics of their buyers process. As Einstein said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” Buyers wants salespeople who are knowledgeable.
3- Add value early. If buyers are finding your content before the competitors and it adds more value, you now set the standard. As Pete Caputa said as point #2 in this article, salespeople should help first and sell later to build a pipeline of referrals. Is content creation the only way to do that? Of course not. Hence point #3, salespeople should build their expertise publicly to earn respect and trust from prospects faster. This could be blogs, speaking at events, guest appearances on podcasts or in videos.
4- Be a human. Are people finding you and your salespeople and the clear message they get is “salesperson”? And no, not many are fooled by clever titles we give salespeople to hide the fact that they are salespeople. (Client Satisfaction Specialist? Strategic Account Executive?) People want to buy from people. Salespeople who develop a personal brand will differentiate themselves from others.
As Seth Godin said, making decisions takes time and energy. Decide now to create content and the only thing left to decide is what to blog about, not whether you should.
What do you think? Should they or shouldn't they? What questions do you have about the new sales role? How does sales generated content help your buyers buy?
Coach & Consultant Carole Mahoney, LLC is translation consultant for sales and marketing teams in small and medium sized business’ who need to align to their buyer’s process. She helps them establish agreed buyer persona profiles, communication strategies, and common metrics. She is also passionate about sales coaching for entreprenuers who have to sell and are trying to close their first sales or scale for business growth.View my LinkedIn profile | Twitter