The sales world is changing. Buyers are no longer interested in speaking with “always be closing” aggressive “sales” reps, or even consultative approaches with never ending questions.
Buyers are looking for individuals who understand their day-to-day challenges and have solutions that solve them, insight, and unique perspectives. We’re seeing the rise of social salespeople.
Not all sales reps are equipped to engage in this capacity. But those that are, will have knowledge, experience and unique perspectives that can enrich your internal search marketing integration (SMI) efforts by weaving search engine optimization (SEO) techniques into their day-to-day work.
So, how can you effectively and efficiently enable your sale team to improve your SMI?
Content marketing is fundamental to the success of any organization that wants to generate business online. It should be embraced by the entire business and the sales team is the perfect place to start. Content Marketing Institute provides perspective on how sales reps can add value to marketing’s content efforts.
Savvy sales individuals will have a unique perspective on the market, the problems you solve and your products feature/benefits. They’ll be able to identify common customer questions, reservations and the most effective selling points of your product or service. They are ideally placed to help with creation of content that aligns with every stage of the sales funnel. Granted, the content may have to be monitored and vetted before representing a brand, but the sheer volume and quality of the content should make it worth the trouble.
Even if you're a smaller organization with say, 10 sales reps. If you asked each to write one piece of content per month, and half of them responded, that’s more than one new piece of content every week! Best of all, it’s free.
Even if your sales reps can’t produce content for you, they should certainly be utilized to inform and guide your editorial calendar. When was the last time one of your reps had an idea, and wanted to talk your ear off about it?
Take a look at some examples from the gurus of content, the marketing automation industry:
In the Know
Your new sales team should be well informed with industry and competitive updates by attending conferences, tradeshows, subscribing to RSS feeds, and engaging with your community. This knowledge will fuel content, product development, and overall marketing strategy. Some ideas on how to tap their knowledge for SMI purposes:
- What are the latest industry updates you learned at last week’s conference? This can fuel blog posts, whitepapers etc.
- Did you run into any bloggers or thought leaders that we can engage with for guest blog posts or cross-marketing initiatives? These relationships can be used for link building purposes.
- What was the competition showcasing at them most recent tradeshow? This can fuel product development and SEO strategies.
- What industry vernacular is picking up speed on the forums and in conversations? This can fuel keyword research.
‘Social’ is something that should be integrated and embraced at every level of your organization. This especiallyincludes sales. Social presents many unique opportunities to build relationships, gain insight, and make sales.
Your sales team should be monitoring allmajor social streams, setting up alerts, identifying leads, interacting with influencers and reaching out to potential customers who are at the top of the sales funnel. If used properly, social can be an incredibly powerful sales tool.
Why does this matter to the SMI/SEO Pro?
The major advantage of your sales team using social is that it easily integrates with the rest of your marketing initiatives. Savvy reps can support the brand by sharing information via social communities. This includes retweeting company announcements, promoting content and engaging with their community. Why wouldn't they? After all, what's good for the company's image should also help the sales team win more business!
As the sales rep’s social presence grows, so should the brand’s. If the sales rep is promoting, and even contributing to the brands online presence, this should fuel new followers and widen your social reach.
New sales reps will have a competitive advantage if their reputation, online and offline, showcases expertise in a given field. If this is the case within your organization, your sales reps should be engaging with customers, prospects, and industry peers on blogs as well as associations and groups. This engagement creates an opportunity to build relevant back links from blog posts, forum responses and online interactions.
Provide your sales reps with some SEO direction, and then set them free. Show them how to identify a ‘good’ site, which keywords you're focusing on and how they can build worthwhile links.
You could ask them to join individual associations – the local chamber of commerce for example. You might even encourage them to attend local meet-up groups or other networking events which they can use to build relationships both for making sales and worthwhile online relationships. Their most recent presentations can be added to SlideShares.
Many of these sites, associations and groups allow you to post profiles, post links and engage with members online. These sites can provide solid link authority (not to be confused with purchasing links) and makes them a great place to build your link profile.
We all have a network of friends and colleagues, but those friendly salespeople are the typical extroverted social butterflies, and naturally have a much larger network. They usually understand the value of networking and building relationships for purposes beyond just selling. This network can be tapped into and used for SEO, including LinkedIn, Facebook and other outlets.
Chances are, members of your sales team have colleagues in complementary organizations and industries that can be used for guest blog posts, co-marketing sponsorships, interviews etc. Help them understand the value of these relationships and how to leverage them for promotion of your brand, or their social profiles (which should, coincidentally be tied to your brand).
This is clear, practical and actionable information which should fuel your organization's content marketing, social, SEO, and SEM efforts.
Lastly, keeping track of what your competitors are doing is a key element of the marketing mix. When it comes to monitoring your competition, no one is better suited than your sales team. With direct access to your prospects and customers, your sales reps will know who your competitors are and whyyour customers are attracted to them.
Search marketing integration is about so much more than simply allowing for crossovers between the various digital marketing disciplines. Successful SMI requires the full integration of your whole organization. This means that departments that, before, were completely separate and autonomous, should now be contributing to your online marketing mix.
If you are starting this process within your own company, start with the sales team. After all, they are the ones who have the largest stake in the company’s marketing, and are closest to the ever-changing landscape of your industry.