When people talk about “being good at sales,” they typically mean they are good at closing deals. After all, closing deals is what generates revenue. But sales is more than closing deals. It’s about building a network, defining and identifying your target audience, priming those targets, and leading them down a path to “the sale.”
For some organizations there are multiple people involved with this process. In others, there could be only one or two. Depending on your product, organization, and budget, you may need help in one or more of these areas of phases.
When I was a youth my mother would tell me I’d be good in sales. I never related to her about this because I had other interests on my mind, but as those dreams faded I began to see what she was seeing.
In middle school I would produce mixed cassette tapes (remember those) of radio hits the girls loved. This got me in good with the girls, but the guys naturally weren’t buying it.
In the mid-nineties when the World Wide Web was on the brink, I attempted to make an interactive print publication with poetry, games, and short stories. Looking back, I realize I was trying to blog, but blogging didn’t exist yet. This effort however was my first crack at producing and publishing content to build an audience.
In the late nineties and early 2000s before the world was entirely digital I always carried a notepad with me so that as I met people I could record their names and phone numbers (and eventually their email addresses). This was the beginning of building my own rolodex of contacts. I still have those notepads full of contacts over the years.
These are but a few examples of how I was always out there “selling.”
Along the way I got into the automotive business. Over the course of 15 years I’ve amassed more than 5,000 automotive contacts that I personally nurture on a weekly basis via phone, text, email, and in social media. I’m not contacting everyone with the same message each time, but rather more relevant and contextual to their relationship with me and their particular interests.
Additionally, I work with other entities, helping do the same with their databases which affords me unique opportunities to assist clients in the automotive space. All-in-all I have the ability to reach tens of thousands of highly engaged automotive contacts across multiple channels.
Automotive B2B Sales vs. Marketing
All these activities I describe are marketing activities, not sales efforts. While sales is what grows revenue, marketing is what feeds the sales pipeline. Without these marketing activities, your sales efforts are effectively cold calls. So essentially, marketing is a form of sales. It’s a phase within the sales process.
There are several phases to sales, one of which is growing your network so that you have a pool of people to market your product. In automotive B2B sales and marketing where I specialize, this phase is achieved in multiple ways – event marketing, content marketing, and network marketing. Each method produces its own types of output, the sum of which must contribute to your bottom line, but it’s through content marketing where automotive companies are beginning to see tangible traction and ROI.
The ROI of Content
Return on investment through content marketing is achieved when action is taken on engagement and converted into revenue through sales. The great thing about the digital age is that so much is trackable, especially with email.
By tracking engagement we can see what how receptive people are to your messaging. We can see patterns and trends in behavior, and we can garner insights on how to act. By taking action on these insights, the sales process is enhanced.
From a numbers standpoint, advertising is about a 1% game, meaning on that about 1% of people you advertise to through push marketing will end up in your pipeline of opportunities, but you still have to close the deals. With cold calling, about 10% of the people you attempt to contact can be expected to reach your pipeline, but again you still have to qualify them and close the dealers.
With content marketing, about 5% of the people you reach can be expected to convert digitally over time given you are effective with personalized communications. You still have to close the deals with this 5%, but your closing rate will be exceptionally high, naturally.
But what about the people engaging with your content that don’t convert digitally? Are they a lost cause? Absolutely not. While the numbers will vary based on your phone skill, I can tell you that a good 20-30% of people engaging with your content that you contact personally via phone and email can be expected to enter into your pipeline with a high closing rate.
Think about this. This is the power of content. You can’t reach 100% of your ideal customers this way, but the ones you can reach will naturally scrub and filter themselves through your marketing channels and into your sales funnel, and with an effective personal nudge you can increase that lead conversion rate by more than 400%.
- How does your company measure the ROI of its Content Marketing?
- Do you attempt to contact people engaging with your contact or only those that convert digitally?
- Do your marketing activities feed your sales pipeline, or is there a disconnect between the two?
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