Your sales team always needs collateral, especially for sales emails. The question is: What type of content is effective for various parts of the sales cycle? Salespeople need more than just a proposal and a contract. They need content that will attract, nurture, and help convert qualified leads for your business.
Many companies mistakenly approach content solely as a marketing tool. But this thinking is absolutely wrong. In fact, it can take seven to 13 touchpoints to deliver a qualified sales lead, and content plays a crucial role in nurturing prospects throughout this process.
The Dos and Don’ts of Emailing Content
Before you start blasting out content in sales emails, there are a few types you need to avoid:
Potential clients want to know how your product or service will benefit them, not that you recently hired 20 people or raised $2 million in funding. While those facts can build credibility, they don’t supply your audience with information that will make them more qualified leads.
Service or Product Updates
Unless someone is ready to buy or is a current client, brochures and emails touting product updates won’t engage them. You’ll meet most of your prospects in the discovery phase, where they’re learning about their needs and potential solutions. The latest product details won’t win over this crowd until they’re educated enough to realize you’re the right choice.
Don’t just send an article about an unrelated topic because you’re desperate to get back on someone’s radar. Crowding your prospects’ inboxes with information they don’t find valuable is like dropping trash off on their doorstep. Nobody wants that.
Now that I’ve (hopefully) saved you from sending content that simply doesn’t accomplish your lead conversion goals, here are the types of content that will accelerate the sales cycle:
Articles That Pertain to a Specific Email or Phone Call
Reengage a prospect with an article that addresses something you’ve discussed or that ties back to their particular industry. For example, say a prospect is in the smartwatch industry, and you recently read a great analysis on how the Apple Watch will give others in the market a huge boost. Email your prospect a link to this article, and express your excitement. In addition to opening up a conversation the prospect is passionate about, you’ll also show you’re keeping up with trends in the industry and care about their success.
Self-Authored Articles That Showcase Your Expertise
The sales process in most industries hinges on trust with potential customers. Your future clients want to know they’re choosing an expert. By contributing articles to reputable publications, you’re gaining a third-party stamp of approval and positioning yourself and your company as credible experts.
Case Studies and Whitepapers That Offer Value
You can also show your prospective clients what it would be like to work with you by sending case studies of successful clients in similar industries or with comparable goals. Seeing real clients’ success stories will be a testament to your superior service and allow prospects to envision working with you to achieve their goals.
Whitepapers and online resources provide in-depth information that can help prospects solve specific problems, whether it’s an ebook about posting on social media or a knowledge management template to help them create content faster. If you’re offering something valuable, prospects will appreciate it.
Tailor Your Sales Emails to the Buyer’s Journey
All content isn’t created equal. You shouldn’t send a case study to someone who’s just learning about your field or a general industry piece to a lead in the decision making stage. You need to deliver content that speaks to each lead’s specific stage in the buyer’s journey. Here’s a glimpse at what that process should look like:
No one enjoys being bombarded with unsolicited emails. But when you provide something useful, your email -- and company -- will stand out to prospects. Always focus on equipping prospects with something valuable in cold emails, such as a whitepaper or a basic template. Avoid sales plugs at all costs.
We use a service called HiP, which specializes in sending cold emails that include a whitepaper to drum up interest and generate leads. Emailing a prospect a whitepaper is less alarming and more effective than simply asking for a call.
After a sales call, follow up with an article about your company that’s relevant to the prospect and illuminates points you discussed during the call. For example, if the potential client expressed concerns about price on the phone, send him an article about how much it would cost to bring your service in-house. Always take note of sales objections during a call, and follow up with content that addresses them.
After Multiple Sales Calls
Once you’ve gained some trust and educated a prospect on your industry and solution, it’s time to drive the sale home. After multiple sales calls, you should be sending case studies that showcase how you’ve solved similar problems for other clients. These case studies need to be results-oriented.
Measuring Email Engagement
Now comes the real question: How do you know whether prospects are even reading your content? You can use a few different tools to see how your email efforts are measuring up:
We use the HubSpot CRM, which allows you to host content within the CRM and easily link to it in emails. It then tracks who opened and read the content, which is a helpful tool for analyzing and refining your approach.
Before we started using HubSpot, we did it the old-fashioned way by linking the content in emails using trackable links, such as Bitly. Whichever way you choose to do it, always measure the content people are reading, and figure out how it’s fueling the sales cycle.
Content should ultimately help you prime leads and amplify their longevity as future clients. By strategically writing sales emails and offering something valuable before selling your product, you’ll build long-term relationships and start converting more qualified leads.
Originally published Mar 26, 2015 9:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017