This is a guest post by Chad Levitt, sales executive at HubSpot. A previous post features my interview with Chad, “How an Inside Sales Rep Built a Million-Dollar Pipeline Using Social Media,” which is one of the most-read posts on this blog.
What do you think about what Chad has to say? Can sales reps do an effective job at marketing? Should they spend time writing blogs and creating other content? What are your thoughts and experiences?
Here are three realities in the B2B sales profession:
1. It is harder to reach your customers and prospects by phone and e-mail.
2. Your customers and prospects are less willing to meet in person.
3. Your customers and prospects are busier and more distracted than ever.
The hard truth is that customers are getting better at ignoring our sales efforts, they are less willing to meet, and they are more distracted than ever. Despite these three realities, quotas are not going down, and you are paid to meet and exceed your numbers.
How do you do it?
You create a sales strategy that complements your outbound activities with innovative inbound marketing strategies. For those new to inbound marketing, it is a discipline that uses search engines, SEO, blogs, and social media to help customers find you. There has been a shift in power from B2B sales reps to buyers. To take advantage of this shift, inbound marketing was born and is revolutionizing the way companies market in a Web 2.0 world.
Many inbound-marketing strategies can be adapted to the sales rep’s role. The combination of outbound/inbound marketing strategies will help you create higher levels of awareness with customers and prospects. You will get in the door more often, so you can create the relationships that allow you to sell.
Here is a big idea: You need to stop seeing yourself in the business of sales and more in the business of creating content that sells. It is a subtle but huge difference. Take some time to think about it.
How to get found and create more awareness
For many sales reps, you have an assigned territory or set of accounts. You know where your customers are: They are at work. This is a great place to start adapting inbound marketing to complement your outbound activity.
Inbound marketing focuses on being where your customers and prospects are meeting, sharing and having conversations. For the inbound marketer, this means having a blog and a highly visible social-media presence. But, for the B2B sales rep, you need to think about it from a slightly different perspective.
For the sales rep, ALL your customers meet, share and have conversations physically at work and virtually through e-mail. It makes sense to focus here first.
Your customers and prospects also use social-media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook — but that is a different sales strategy. Don’t think about that now; it’s the icing on the cake. Let’s make the cake first.
Get found by your customers and prospects
The building block of getting found through adapting inbound marketing to your business is to create your own personal sales-rep website. You should secure your name as the domain: www.yourname.com. Keep in mind your website can just be a blog; many blogs functions as full websites.
What you should include on your personal sales-rep website
• Post video clips of great customer references. Yes, you should ask to video your customers. Post video clips of yourself detailing, at a high level, your most compelling solutions; use visuals, whiteboards, etc.
• Create a video clip to feature on the home page that explains—in less than one minute—why you and why your company. Make it sizzle.
• Write blog posts about satisfied customers, trends in the industry, common customer challenges, etc.
• Enable your site for both e-mail and RSS (Really Simple Syndication), so your customers and prospects can be alerted automatically when you post new content.
• Post Slideshare presentations your customers and prospects will find valuable.
• Have an “About Me” page and a “Contact Me” page. Share your interests, and get real.
• Use calls to action on your pages and in your content to have your customers opt in to newsletters and future communications from you.
• Try free or paid analytics software so you can see who is visiting your website, from what company and what pages they visited.
• Add a “share this” plugin that makes it easy to e-mail and share your website though the popular social networks.
Start sharing your personal sales-rep website with your customers
Send a personalized e-mail to your customers and prospects letting them know about your website and why you created it (you created it because you know how busy they are). Put your website URL on your business card, and spread the word as you speak to your customers and prospects. If your content is good, your customers will begin to respond and share with their colleagues. Your message will grow legs and get viral in your accounts.
The ultimate differentiator is you. Be a purple cow, a pink dinosaur or a spotted zebra. Just be something different. Something that will get attention. You will be glad you did.
Chad Levitt is the author of the New Sales Economy blog, which explores using social media, Sales 2.0 and inbound marketing as a B2B sales strategy for the Web 2.0 world.