Sales is about Buying – this much we have discussed. A big part of making it easy for people to buy from you is the right educational content.
“Educational” means it imparts knowledge that is helpful to the recipient. It is, in other words, solution-focused information, rather than brand-focused.
Many client needs and want will be similar. You want to be ready for all the eventualities in each client’s process of buying. This is often called objection-handling; once again I think of it as sales enablement (first and foremost enabling clients to buy, which will then help sellers to sell).
Have materials ready to make it easy for your clients. No matter what their questions or needs, make sure you have the materials you can share with them to prove your answers, and also for them to share internally. Especially in a business environment, very few decisions are made by a single individual. This adds more steps to that buying process, and more opportunities for questions and problems. You know your product, and once you understand the client’s needs, you know how your product is going to solve that need.
Do the work for the client. Even more importantly: anticipate that work. There are various materials you can have ready to share with your clients at the right moment in time.
Other people are writing this research: trade journal,s newspapers, op-ed pieces, blogs. There is a plethora of information available for you to provide educational material about your industry, and how people’s lives are made better by using services or products such as yours. Or, on the other hand, how their lives are made worst by not implementing a new solution.
Use the research that already exists. Especially reports that have numbers: quantitative analysis, statistics, etc. This is convincing material, and remember that in an organization, this information is shared internally. That does make it easier for your contact person to tell their team: this is the research, these are the numbers, and this is why we need to implement a solution.
If you are in B2B or even a service provider to a consumer market, you should have white papers that explain the value of doing what you do. Educate your audience in terms of how their lives will be made better by resolving an issue.
I have talked about client needs versus wants (we will get into this more in the future) – address them both – and make sure your material shows how you provide value in three main areas: Business, Personal, Technical (more detail about each of these in the future). Have all three in mind when you are building these materials. Structure your White Papers to be educational and to help people understand how using your product or service will make their lives better.
Write it, however, as vendor-neutral, not about your product specifically.
In Case Studies you do get specific to your own brand. A good case study is going to describe
- the client problem
- their evaluation of you as a solution provider
- their implementation of that solution
- and the positive outcomes.
It really is a story: you are telling potential clients a success story from previous clients. Case studies are part of your proof of concept: they prove that your product is successful.
A well structured case study will also take into account and address the research piece and the information on white papers.
A simpler form of a case study is a testimonial, although a testimonial does not necessarily give a lot of information but they can create feel-good moments.
Have testimonials sprinkled through your website and marketing materials. Case studies are a good area from which to extract testimonials, as they will tend to be more focused on the solution provided, and thus more valuable to the reader.
Business Case Templates
Don’t make your client write their own business case.
Of course, they will have to build their own business cases, but you can help minimize the amount of work they have to do. Have the information that goes into a business case ready, in fact have a sample business case written out. Your clients can then add the salient points to their own document. The client will know how to structure the report for internal approval, you give them the information to help do that.
General research, white papers, case studies, testimonials and business cases. These are all materials that will help move sales forward and avoid bottlenecks or loss of momentum.
Make sure that you are not over-selling in these materials. Remember you use these to educate, facilitate and enable. Have your brand mentioned at the right times only, making sure the content is solution-focused.
A last important point is: do not send all these materials to a prospect at once. Rather drip-feed these in at the right moments, when you identify that a client needs that information. Don’t always wait to be asked, be prepared to offer the information.
If, for example, you are getting frustrated with objection handling, you feel like you are repeating yourself often, or you are losing sales and are not sure why, if you feel like you are having circular conversations with your clients, are you receiving questions you do not quite understand? These are all symptoms telling you that the materials described above will help.