Cold prospecting is not an activity that any salesperson looks forward to unless they have an appetite for rejection and hearing the word no. In addition, most consumers are turned off by cold emails, interruptive phone calls, and uninvited visits.
The all-to-common struggle for sales is navigating around the gatekeeper and getting in front of the decision maker. It is their job to protect the decision maker’s time, privacy, and sometimes even their identity. This is an age old problem that doesn’t seem to have an effective solution, or does it?
By nature, consumers don’t want to be “sold to”. Most don’t even want to be “pitched” unless they request it.
But here’s what consumers do want:
- solutions to their problems that provide long-term value
- trusted advisors who are considered thought leaders in their space
- and long-term partnerships with those they know, like, and trust
Any company or organization that practices delivering on these client expectations from the initial prospect stage and throughout the lifetime of that customer is doing it right!
But if you’re a salesperson looking to gain access to the decision maker [cold prospect] at a new company, how do you get in?
By using content to attract prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey, you’ll move beyond trying to discover new ways to “woo” or elude the gatekeeper, to being sought out as a trusted resource by your ideal customers.
Here’s how that looks:
UNDERSTAND WHO YOUR IDEAL CUSTOMER IS – AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL
Final purchasing decisions are typically top down; either within an organization or within a department. Every decision maker has their unique pain point they are trying to solve. Develop profiles to create content based on buyer personas. Most organizations will have more than one buyer persona.
Selling at the highest level of an organization reduces the need for sales to repeatedly get buy-in from the bottom up. The key is understanding the goals of top decision makers and using content to help them achieve those goals.
Studies by Marketing Sherpa have shown that executives are looking for big ideas, disruptive technologies, and thought leadership, specifically what to do to get ahead in business.
In order to engage with them effectively, it’s important to know where they go when they are seeking information and what types of content they are most likely to consume.
The following is found in Marketing Sherpa’s latest 2016 report: “Marketing Research Data: Content Preferences of 530 Global Executives”
The researchers asked executives, “In the past 12 months which of the following forms of content have you found most helpful for a business related matter? Select the top three.”
The top three choices of executives were articles (71%), research reports (51%) and briefing papers (27%).
Interestingly, although video was popular, executives still overwhelmingly (85%) preferred text as the medium for content to help them make informed business decisions.
Also, despite the popularity of smartphones and tablets, desktops were the most frequently used device (78%) for consuming content to aid business decisions.
Armed with this information, you should dig a little deeper to uncover what specific questions they have. What problems are they trying to solve? In what areas can thought leadership influence them? You should also leverage any data that marketing has based on similar titles.
By understanding how top decision makers make buying decisions, and delivering content based on that information, you’ll be better-positioned to move beyond gatekeepers and get on to the business of selling.
RECOGNIZE INFLUENCERS WHO CAN IMPACT THE FINAL OUTCOME
With a long and sometimes complex sales cycle, it’s not uncommon for many players to be involved- any one of which can impact the final purchase decision. This is common in technology sales, integration, and organization-wide deployments.
While it’s best to create content for buyers at the top of the decision chart, sometimes that’s not ideal. Marketing may not have enough data to profile a senior executive in a particular vertical; therefore, you may not be aware of their pain points. Your key contact may be a management level employee. On the other hand, it may not be necessary to target senior individuals at all.
There are any number of variables. The idea is to recognize every possible position and their level of influence in making a purchase decision. Ideally, content should be available for each of these buyer personas at every stage of their buying journey.
By using content and addressing the pain point of each decision maker up front (before they’ve even had a chance to raise their individual concerns), not only do you avoid having to deal with gatekeepers, but you exponentially increase the chance for your solution to be considered for final purchase.
Let’s take a look at the content aspect.
CREATE CONTENT THAT EDUCATES AND BUILDS TRUST
Trust is developed through education. In the same way, educating consumers with content builds the trust from which they ultimately make their buying decision. It’s almost a natural progression.
Consumers make purchase decisions based on emotion more than logic.
In fact, Forrester Research states, “Results from Forrester’s CXi show that emotion is often the primary factor influencing customer loyalty. Emotion is often the strongest driver of customer retention, enrichment, and advocacy.”
Based on statistics provided by IDC, aside from peers and colleagues, content is the most trusted source of information for B2B buyers.
In fact, Pardot, a marketing platform, made the following statement:
These are the latest statistics, and numbers don’t lie. The bottom line is this… educational content is effective, it builds trust, and works at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
In summary, no one enjoys cold prospecting. Many salespeople grow tired of it and consumers don’t appreciate unsolicited emails and phone calls.
Develop profiles of your ideal customers. Educate prospects using content and proactively address their concerns before they arise. Start with the top decision makers that have final purchase approval. Include relevant content for other positions that have an influence on the decision.
The evergreen content you produce today will help your prospects find you tomorrow & beyond- and sneaking past the gatekeeper will no longer be an issue.
We’ve included a free template to help you get started.
Download How to Create Buyer Personas for Your Audio Visual Business