Virtually all of drive2’s customers are complex sales that can run anywhere from 6 months to 24 months before closing a sale, so perhaps my perspective is somewhat different, however my post here speaks directly to most small companies (which make up 80% of the economy) and the challenges you deal with every day.
Back when I was in a purely sales role, a lead would come in and it was almost instantly transitioned to a sales person for follow-up (most small business even tech marketers still works this way). The sales person was often (and lucky) to be equipped with some boiler plate corporate marketing materials and if really lucky a bunch of self-serving industry stats to show why their “stuff” is better than the other companies’ stuff.
Now the successful sales person was always looking to gain advantage over the competitor. What we did was research and mine third party content (magazine articles, research reports etc) that was relevant to the lead’s industry or purchasing considerations to demonstrate that we could provide additional value and actually cared enough to understand their business and industry.
Simplistic? – YES
Did it work? – Not a 100% of the time but I won way more than I lost.
Why? Because I took the time to provide relevant content that mattered to the prospect and that activity supported building a relationship that closed business. It didn’t have to be something customized, all it needed to do was demonstrate that we were willing to bring more value to get the business.
Yes, you still need to provide case studies, white papers, customer references etc. However, I think we all need to remember that as valuable as these collateral pieces are to managing prospects through the funnel, most of the time, People still buy from People and “person buying” has to like the “person selling” in order for sales to close business. Just because it’s now on marketing to nuture the relationship doesn’t mean the sales game has changed.
I.e. If I’m selling to a couple of current prospects and have a good data mining program that skims data from sources like LinkedIn – I might just be savvy enough to send Owen (family guy who likes to travel and jet ski) an article we’ve found on the “Best Jetskiing Destinations for Family Vacations” or Baxter (a triathlete) an article on “10 Ways You can Improve your Running Performance at your Desk”.
Now would any of these articles be relevant to the sale or my company? Absolutely not – but would they differentiate and build personal relationship? YES. If we can do this level of nurturing at a personal level, it’s easy to do the same at a much higher level based on the prospect’s industry and the product or service you’re selling.
The point is that you don’t need customized content and most companies don’t have the time or resources to develop a customized library of content. You need to maintain focus on content that will facilitate building the relationship and help close more sales.