Hey, VP of Sales: Teach your People how to Influence, not Convince

As information becomes easier to access, a more educated and empowered class of consumer has arisen. As a sales person, if you aren’t helping educate your prospects throughout the buying process, they will go somewhere else for the information needed to make a decision. This might lead them to a competitor who has the confidence to guide them to the right resources, and leaving you scratching your head, wondering why your prospect “went dark.”

Marketing and sales sometimes disagree on how to bring prospects through the funnel. As VP of Sales, I believe sales people are more of the problem than we think and it’s time for sales to really wake up and smell the content.

Sales people believe that the more they communicate with a prospect, the more likely they are to close a deal, and it’s up to marketing to feed leads into the funnel for sales people to convert. But with so much emphasis placed on relationships, most sales rep don’t leverage the content their organization puts out to educate their prospects. This often means missed opportunities to influence the purchase by acting as an informer, and someone who can offer a truly customized solution to the buyer’s problem.

Sales, wake up! It’s time to provide real value to your prospects, and content can be the secret ingredient. Here are five advantages of content creation that will get even the most impatient, cold call lovin’, blocked-phone-number sales guy excited.

1. A Natural Way to Build Relationships

In sales we know that not all leads are the same. In fact, there are some that don’t even belong in the lead queue because they’re so far away of thinking of buying it’s not even funny. Yet, if you spend the time getting to know your leads you have the opportunity to truly nurture them until they’re ready to buy what you’re selling. Sales reps can use what’s available or even write appropriate content themselves and seek to educate rather than sell. By providing actionable insight and information designed to move them closer to purchase, you’ll take a lot of the “old school” sales tactics out of the book and move into a more modern approach to where the prospect is so informed they don’t need convincing.

2. Move from Convincer to Influencer

Pull aside one of your sales people, look at their outbox, and tell me how many “Checking in…” subject lines are there? If there’s more than one, then you’re not training your people well. The good news is that you can only get better with some new approaches! Content gives you sales team an excuse to touch base and their prospect in a way that puts the prospect’s needs first. A quick, “thought of you” email with a relevant blog post or white paper will dramatically set you apart from your competitors.

3. Be a Trusted Resource

Wouldn’t you love for your email and voicemail inboxes to be filled up in the morning with questions from your prospects? Seek to inform rather than sell. Who wants to engage with someone who just sells to them? The ability to answer complex questions with a “we actually wrote about this exact problem, you’re not alone” is a true indicator that you know what you’re talking about and paves the way to trust.

4. Be the Change You Wish to See on the Web

Do you ever wonder what your prospects are doing when they “go dark” on you? They’re Googling you, your company, your family tree, where you live… well maybe I got carried away, but they are Googling you and your company. The modern consumer no longer trusts generic messages from marketing or sales. They trust people and if you separate yourself from the “typical” messages they see and actually inform, you don’t have to try so hard to sell. Having a library of content gives sales an incredible amount of control and power over the sales process to influence the direction of it.

5. These Are the Leads You’re Looking For

The greatest payoff from a sound content strategy is getting more qualified leads for your sales pipeline! As prospects swarm your site to devour the latest blog, webinar, or infographic, they’re also getting to know your offer. It’s just like a storefront, only this time when prospects enter your store, they know exactly what they’re looking for—and how you can help them—instead of passing through and “just looking.”

There’s a lot of noise out there, and prospects are looking for the right content that is appropriate to them. Someone to guide them through the sea of bad content can be the modern sales person, who influences with content, and leave behind the old school sales guy who is looking to convince based on his well-honed selling style.

Ultimately, it’s about winning customers the right way, by adding value throughout the process. It’s time for you as a sales leader to teach these principles to your sales people and empower them to reach past the outdated selling techniques.

Author: Tim Yandel

I'm Tim. I live in Cole Valley, San Francisco with my wife, Julie, and two daughters Addie and Audra. I tend to write a bunch about leading Sales teams, since that's what I've been doing since 2006. I'm particularly drawn to the psychology of selling, whether that be how people buy things or sell things, it's fascinating how decision-making is centered into the core of who you are as a person. I enjoy cultivating a culture centered around mastery of your craft and a genuine passion for winning together. Outside of professional learnings, I enjoy listening to epic sci-fi and fantasy books while I run long distances to decompress and obsessed with watching my two girls grow. For a good ice breaker, ask me about my Golden Retriever and my Bernese Mountain Dog.

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