How content should be driving sales

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This post will be more meta than I would like. It addresses an age-old question of sales-marketing alignment that I don’t claim to have an answer to.

However, at Interact, 75% of our leads come from content marketing, and our sales team handles those leads, closing deals up to five figures annually. We have a rudimentary process for creating content for sales, and while formulating that process I’ve learned a few things. Here are the top findings.

1. Targeting with marketing

There’s a myth that I myself have bought into before. The myth is that marketing can’t target the customers you want, and the only way to really reach the right people is by cold outreach. While I still think cold outreach is the way to pinpoint people as accurately as possible, I have come to realize that it’s also possible to target using marketing. This sort of targeting is vital in order to cross the chasm. There are a couple of strategies I’ve found to work in hyper-targeting using marketing.

  • Write for the target person.
    • VP Marketing. Almost always has a quota for sales qualified leads (SQL’s) to meet.
    • VP Social Media. Metrics are more foggy, but usually revolves around follower counts.
    • VP Lead Generation. If exists, definitely has a quota for SQL’s each month.
  • Go where they are. One of the verticals we target at Interact is higher education, and in order to reach more marketers in that space we’ve done guest pieces for marketing blogs targeted specifically towards marketers in higher education. The example below has driven three trial signups and one customer with an LTV of $1,500. That’s a case study, and by no means enough data to guarantee

higher education quizzes

2. Qualifying leads

  • Ask for more information. One of the temptations I’ve had is to ask for too little information, fearing that potential customers won’t opt-in because of my forms asking for too much information. While that is true, those “potential” customers who don’t opt-in because you ask for a company name are almost all junk. It turns out that mid-market and enterprise customers are used to filling out a longer form, and it is a bit striking to not ask for things like a phone number or company name. Now I’m not saying to ask for those things just because, if we weren’t calling our customers I wouldn’t ask for phone numbers, but it’s also not a bad thing to qualify leads. This also saves salespeople time, and allows them to focus on the good customers.

demo request example

  • Incentivize good leads. From the marketing side, bonuses are an excellent tool for incentivizing leads that actually lead to revenue. If you can track your contacts with a CRM all the way to money, send kick-backs to the marketers responsible for those leads, and let them know what kind of leads are converting, this leads to a really nice positive feedback loop for the types of new contacts that actually lead to money.

3. Calling inbound leads

Is not cold calling. We make a lot of calls at Interact, but they are never hard sells. The hard sell approach completely doesn’t work.

  • Ask questions. Ask prying questions to get down to the bottom of the customer need. The easy one to start with is “Why did you sign up for our product?” Everyone has a reason and that’s a great jumping off point for drilling down to the real problem that your customer is trying to solve. The team at Groove sends an email to every single customer that signs up asking “Why did you sign up?” This first email gets a 41% response rate¬†which is pretty insane. The same concept can be applied to calls, an easy ice-breaker question is “Why did you sign up?”

welcome email saas

  • Start on common ground. “What were you thinking of doing with our product?” this is pretty similar to asking why the person signed up, but without the forward tone. This is another simple way to start a conversation without going for the hard sell. Keep asking “why” until you deduce what’s really leading the person to want to use your product (it’s probably to make money or save money).

4. Tracking what you’re doing

  • Identify what’s replicable. In the chart below I have a printout of traffic sources and the trials started from those traffic sources. Some of them are a bit murky (like SEO), but others (like guest articles) are fairly easily repeatable, and can be doubled-down on. Tracking everything incentivizes a focus on what’s working and alleviates questions around what the hell marketing is doing.
  • Be open to new opportunities. I’m guilty of locking in too much on one strategy after it starts to work. There are so many channels for marketing, and new ones like quizzes are constantly coming up.

tracking lead generation

Hopefully that rant helped connect the dots between sales and marketing. Between marketing automation systems, analytics, and common sense, it’s pretty simple to stitch together that pieces that make up marketing and sales funnels, and once you know what the levers are, it’s much easier to move them.

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Josh Haynam

Josh Haynam is the co-founder of Interact, a place for creating beautiful and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. Outside of Interact Josh is an outdoor enthusiast, is very into health/fitness, and enjoys spending time with his community in San Francisco.

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