This article was written by our friends over at YesOptimist.

Your sales funnel today may look remarkably different from that of the past. Recent data on trends in sales prospecting found that eight in 10 buyers are taking longer to commit to investing in new technologies, with one primary reason being they want to wait until they are certain the product fulfills all their needs before talking to sales professionals about making a purchase.

Today’s sales professionals are working with potential buyers who are more educated about their wants and needs, and having the world at their fingertips is a big reason for that. Imagine if you sold social media marketing software. A potential buyer in the market for such software could simply type those keywords into a search bar and become inundated with multiple options of different social media marketing tools.

Focusing on content can help your company stand out from the pack. It’s one of the best ways to own your brand’s unique voice, and to let potential customers know how you’re different and why they should consider you rather than the competition.

Although we often talk about content in terms of marketing, it can also greatly benefit your sales team. Buyers are taking longer to make purchases because they’re doing their research. They’re looking for answers about how to solve a problem. Maybe they’re specifically looking for a social media marketing tool they can publish from or one great for monitoring online conversations. 

The more you invest in your content marketing strategy, the more likely your content will come up while they’re doing this research. You can nurture your lead through your online content without speaking to your potential buyer directly.

Let’s explore how content can be vital to your sales prospecting plan.

Diversifying Your Content During Sales Prospecting 

If you ask any person in sales what takes up most of their time, many will likely say that sales prospecting takes up the bulk of their working hours, which makes sense. Sales prospecting is when you identify leads and create plans to convert a lead to a buyer. You can’t move on to the actual purchasing stage if you don’t invest enough time in this part of your work. 

However, because sales prospecting does require so much time and effort, it’s essential to be efficient and create a sales prospecting plan that works. Content can play a helpful role in this plan. 

You’ll need to properly identify your potential customers to develop a strong sales prospecting plan. From there, data on your potential buyer will help you build an ideal customer profile (ICP). Your ICP consists of information like the buyer’s demographics and pain points they’re seeking to address. Your ICP can guide you through the content you want to create. One of the biggest reasons buyers take longer to make purchases is because they want to know you will meet all their needs. By crafting content addressing the pain points shared by your ICP, you speak directly to your buyer’s needs. 

If you want your company to stand out online, you’ll need to diversify your online content. In addition to targeting different ICPs, you can also write content for various purposes. 

A social media marketing software company writing online content may want to write guides to their tool to demonstrate how new features work. These guides can be great selling points because they can further tell potential buyers how you fulfill their needs. 

However, you can also write more general guides to social media marketing, which can help establish you as an expert on the subject and make your potential buyer more likely to think of your company as the best in your industry. 

No matter what type of content you write, though, it’s crucial to maintain a consistent message. Content can help nurture your leads, but buyers don’t want to feel like they’re dealing with a bait and switch.

If someone were to read your content and then speak to a sales representative, the content should naturally pave the way for that conversation, rather than the content and the sales representative using different messaging.

Like any sales funnel, you want one step to lead seamlessly into the next. 

Creating Content That Converts

Beyond consistent messaging that targets your diverse customer base, you also want to write content that fits in various stages of the sales prospecting plan.

Content can supplement other forms of sales prospecting outreach, like social selling. Online content can give you a place to offer more information to potential buyers. Say your company just launched a new feature. While you can promote that feature on social media, you have a more limited space to talk about it there.

You can offer the highlights of the feature, but those more seriously interested in the new offering can click a link to read more on your website if you dedicate a spot to talk in more depth. By following this method, you’ll get stronger leads to your website, whom you can convert into new customers. 

Additionally, you can pop into a potential buyer’s research by using search engine optimization (SEO) keywords in your content. Content optimized for search engines is more likely to appear higher in search engine rankings, which is vital as more than 25 percent of people tend to click the first organic result on sites like Google. When you optimize your content with SEO-driven keywords, you can climb up in the rankings and get more eyes on your product and services. 

From there, ensure that all of your content contains internal links.

For instance, if someone ended up on your website because they were looking for information on social media monitoring, you’d want an internal link in that content that sends them to a landing page for your product that does such monitoring. Once someone finds your content through search engines or social media, you want to keep them on your website. Internal links can help.

When crafting any form of content, everything you write must be data-driven. Content writing should be both a creative and analytical process. Performance metrics will help determine what type of content to write, who it is for, and how to write it. 

Analytics tools like Google Analytics can tell you how many eyes are on your content, how people found it, and what type of people are reading it. This information can give you insight into whether your content strategy is working, whether you’re investing enough time and energy in optimizing for search engines, and if you’re targeting the right ICPs. 

Content writing should help your sales prospecting plan, but just like with any type of sales prospecting, it takes an investment of time, effort, and resources to create something that helps you reach the bottom of the sales funnel.

With content writing, you want to test and reinvest in what works, which is why analytics plays such a vital role. Content writing does take time, so you don’t want to repeatedly waste yours by writing things that no one will ever read.

Beyond your website’s analytics, pay attention to other places where your content lives.

If you share your content on your social platforms, keep an eye on click-through rates there as well. Content that does well on search engines may not do as well on social, and vice versa. Writing content that targets social is another excellent way to diversify your writing and target different potential buyers. However, it does mean that social media analytics are another set of metrics you need to pay attention to.

Crafting Engaging Content That Sells

Your content strategy can serve many purposes that benefit your sales prospecting plan.

Content can function as a supplementary tool to your other outreach efforts, like social selling, but it’s a tool all on its own. With SEO-driven content, you can establish yourself as an expert in your industry, a major benefit in today’s world of more educated buyers. 

Your content can also function as a preliminary sales conversation. Suppose you’re writing content specifically targeting your ICP’s pain points. In that case, you’re speaking to your potential buyer without them knowing you are. Keeping messaging consistent means easily transitioning between someone reading your content and talking to your sales representatives. 

For the most effective content, you’ll need to keep testing and reinvesting in what works.

Your sales approach is always data-driven, from developing your ICPs to how you pose your messaging. Your content strategy shouldn’t be any different. Use performance metrics across analytics pages to see what’s working and ensure you’re targeting your audience to the best of your ability.

The sales prospecting phase tends to be one of the longest steps in making a sale, and it’s only gotten longer in recent years as potential buyers have become more educated in looking for what they want. With content writing, you can shorten that sales cycle and boost your conversion rate.

Building a content strategy takes time, but it can make sales prospecting faster in the long run, thanks to your more efficient, content-driven sales prospecting plan.