Inbound marketing is all about creating content relevant to the interests of your audience in ways that will draw them to the product you’re offering. One vital, but often overlooked, component of Inbound is sales content. While content marketing is essential for attracting visitors to your site in order to turn them into valuable leads, it’s sales content that’s ultimately responsible for turning leads into customers by selling them your product.
When people talk about the types of content used to sell a product, they’re usually talking about marketing content, which is often free content that implicitly directs audiences toward your product. While this assumption is not entirely incorrect, it’s missing an important piece of information, as marketing content does not explicitly advertise what you’re selling: that’s what sales content is for.
Sales content, meanwhile, is what you use when a prospective client is in the decision stage of their buyer’s journey. At this point, the buyer knows what their problem is and knows there are options available that will solve it. It’s up to you and your sales content strategies to sell the buyer on your specific solution.
Good sales content is built on confidence. When used well, it acts like a billboard that advertises all of the ways your offer is the most valuable one on the market. It facilitates and grows your brand’s sales enablement, communicates urgency and directs people toward a purchase, and is used to connect emotionally with prospects by showing them the most effective way to overcome their individual problems.
Where marketing content points prospects toward a potential product, sales content points them towards a specific product: your product.
Sales vs. Marketing Content
If sales content is focused on the decision stage of buyer’s journey, then marketing content is focused on the awareness and consideration stages.
Marketing content is a tool designed to help people find the answers they’re looking for, and is structured in a way that encourages, but doesn’t pressure, prospective clients toward their goal.
Marketing content often takes the form of:
- Free ebooks
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Social media posts
- And more
The bottom line is that you don’t want your marketing content to be about you, but rather, about your industry.
Sales enablement content, by contrast, is very much about you and what you’re specifically offering to consumers. It usually takes the form of:
- Sales figures
- Product comparisons
- Case studies
- Sales decks
- Anything that will point your prospective consumer towards confirming a purchase.
To reiterate one last time; marketing content is about exposure, building your brand, and establishing its credibility; while sales content is about giving the prospect what they want by delivering on the promises you made in your marketing content.
These are two distinct tools that cannot operate as intended when they’re used interchangeably. They’re similar in that they’re both tools to solve a similar problem, but they’re different in the ways a hammer is different from a screwdriver. Both tools can be used for renovation, but you need to know when to use one or the other.
Two Forms of Sales Content
When thinking of sales content, it can be helpful to break it down into its two formats, commonly identified as internal and external sales content.
Internal Sales Content
Internal sales content is the broad definition attached to content used in the development and preparation of your professional sales team. This brand of content is used to equip those within your business with the best tools and tricks to help them close sales.
The types of content used internally can look similar to marketing content, but where marketing content is directed at prospective buyers, internal sales content is directed at the education of your own staff.
Internal sales content usually includes:
- Blog posts
- Case studies
- Product sheets
As you can probably tell, internal sales employs a lot of tools you’ve seen elsewhere. The key difference is that instead of being directed toward the consumer, internal sales content provides your team with tools that will guide them toward success.
External Sales Content
Where internal sales content is focused on preparing sellers, external sales content equips buyers with the information they need to commit to a purchase.
This kind of content can be divided up into three sales categories: The Buyer’s Problem, Defining a Solution, and Closing the deal.
The Buyer’s Problem
Since you’re trying to offer your prospect a solution, it’s important that they know exactly what problem they’re trying to solve.
Some prospects will already have a firm grasp on this, in which case you can jump right to defining a solution. But not everyone knows exactly what they’re up against, and that’s where external sales content can help.
When you direct this kind of buyer toward your content, you’re giving them information that will help them define their problem. Once the prospect’s problem is defined, you then have the opportunity to step in and direct them toward the solution you can provide.
Defining a Solution
Once you know exactly what problem your prospect is facing, the real work begins.
Start by introducing the prospect to the specifics of your offer. Explain why it’s valuable, how it will solve their problem, and what they can do with it once they get it. This is the time to “pitch” your product, because the goal has shifted from “educating” to outright “selling.”
As you educate the prospect in the value of your offer, be sure to tell them its cost as well. It can be intimidating to talk about price, but don’t shy away from it. Use competitor comparisons as further evidence that the price of your product is far outweighed by its value.
Closing the Deal
After your prospect understands what you’re offering and why they need it, it’s time to show them why they need to buy from you specifically.
With so many companies to choose from, it’s always possible that a prospect will take the information you’ve provided them with and either take it a different outlet, or just use it to solve their problems on their own.
To avoid this, make an effort to tie your offer directly into your company; the two should be seen as one, singular subject. You don’t want to only sell a product, you want to sell your business.
If you’ve successfully employed internal and external sales content strategies up to this point, closing the deal should be easy. The buyer has been equipped with relevant information regarding their problem and has been educated on your solution and its value. They should now be motivated to take what you have given them and confirm the purchase.