Selling in an Online World- The New Art of Listening
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Anyone remember their first sale? Isn’t kind of remarkable how much has changed in the past decade and some. Back in my early to mid twenties, I had a laptop for sales presentations and I used to have to dial in with a phone cord to access the snail like internet back then for on the go use in my first sales job. I used to have to input all of my sales interactions into a cumbersome CRM system that none of us ever really liked or benefited from (I hope this has changed;). The name of the game back then was simply cold calling, event marketing, direct mail and having a coveted lead list (Glengarry Glen Ross ring a bell?). This was how it used to be.
Today, the game is different. With the adoption of inbound marketing tactics, marketing with content has become the more championed method of bringing in leads due to user behavior and cost. Sign up forms, call to action buttons, blogs, social media, pop-up forms, webinars, video tutorials, ebooks to name a few have become the new marketing weapons. So with all of these new avenues to lure customers, sales and marketing teams now have a lot of info at their disposal. Today selling is a bit warmer in the sense that it typically does not start with a cold call. Gosh, those days were something else. Anyone recall having conversations with your prospect on their answering machine??!! A lot of my prospects warmly told me that I was definitely a persistent one.
Let’s face it, in today’s world the customer typically finds most service providers via the tangled web of content that resides via Google or perhaps social media. 9 out of 10 times this initial search process happens on Google. So today, a searcher will typically be attracted to relevant content that fits the criteria of their needs and then the process of evaluation begins. Users will start to look at how your service is unique or what benefits they will receive and if the user is interested enough they will most likely fill out a contact form. (So marketers out there make sure your SEO content marekting strategy is effective!) Maybe they will fill out a form to receive a report they are interested in or perhaps just a general form where they might add a little info about what they are looking for in particular. As marketers we can do our part here by setting this online screening process up right by testing what works and simply having a solid understanding of your customer’s interests.
This is where a lot of the listening resides in today’s marketing world. Of course, once we get our customer say on the phone we will hone in and listen to their needs and be armed with some of this data that we have attained in the screening process, but we can gather a lot of insight about our users even before this. Some of this research is similar to what we did a decade ago, but with the advent of social media the exercise now can be much deeper. Let’s just use LinkedIn as an example. For example, say you are selling to a CMO and you discover that they are in a specific group on LinkedIn. Well you can join this group and start to view the conversations your prospect has commented on. This type of “listening” or fact finding is incredibly helpful and powerful. As we all know, the more data we are armed with when selling, the easier the process will be and it turns what say would have been a cold lead a decade ago into a warm toasty one. Monitoring these new channels and utilizing content strategy effectively is a great new way of listening to attain quality leads. Hope this helps.