How Sales Reps Become Trusted Advisors
Seventy percent of B2B buyers wait until after they have defined their needs before engaging a salesperson.
By that time, most buyers have established a preferred vendor relationships as well, which is why getting in front of the right crowd to build relationships with prospects early and often is so important.
B2B buyers avoid sellers before they know what they want. To solve this problem, growth marketers should work to position sellers as subject matter experts by keeping them current on the latest trends, building up their profiles and positioning them as thought leaders.
“When buyers meet sales professionals who can discuss the macro issues facing their industry, instead of the features and benefits of their own product, they are instantly elevated to trusted advisor status,” says JD Bowles, president and CEO at iPRSoftware — a company I founded that builds online news centers, newsrooms, marketing digital assets management solutions, social media hubs and custom mobile apps.
“Envision a world where you know that when your rep contacts a prospect, they're representing your company as the expert in ‘West Coast-based tech companies under 200 people that specialize in education management' rather than ‘the rep who was assigned to the account,'” writes Outreach.io CEO Manny Medina in his new book Sales Engagement.
In addition to positioning and promoting sales reps as experts in their marketing materials, growth marketers should help sales reps increase their relevance by creating persona-based buckets comprised of customizable research report templates, organized sales enablement materials and a thoughtful personalization strategy to automate as much of the sales process as possible and maximize selling time.
B2B sales is difficult enough already.
Sellers must gain access to over six decision makers and understand their needs when selling time is being cannibalized by administrative duties, buyer’s time is increasingly hard to come by and expectations for those interactions are sky high.
In this environment, B2B sales organizations need as much support as they can get.
They need ideal customer profiles and enriched personas-based on target accounts, roles, industries and market conditions. And sales needs a library of crisp, concise, compelling email templates and follow-up snippets that resonate with buyers to shortcut communications and accelerate sales cycles.
Marketing grows revenue by:
- Equipping reps with relevant market, account and customer research.
- Developing bucketed, templated outreach materials targeted to your ICP.
- Featuring reps in content marketing materials as industry and subject matter experts.
Public relations also has an important role to fill. “Not only should marketing have content focused on educating buyers on the company website, this information must also be present in channels like third-party sites, industry publications, blogs and more,” writes Jeff Davis in his revelatory book Create Togetherness.
It's time we reassessed who gets the quote in the press release and who we attribute the byline articles and blog posts to. Shouldn't we be building up our sale reps so customers seek them out, instead of just stroking the C-Suite for ego's sake?
Aligning sales, marketing and service for cross-functional collaboration means continuously improving each stage of the customer journey by sharing feedback with each other on what is and isn’t working.
But be careful not to let dominant personalities drown out the introverts, who may have important innovative, creative insights to share but hold back for fear of appearing self-promotional.
There's a delicate balance between collaboration, isolation and domain expertise. It's about solos, not silos.