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Comments

Chad Levitt

Hi Jill,

Thanks for the opportunity to do the interview -- it was a lot of fun!

What does everyone think out there? Do sales reps need to become better marketers? Please feel free to disagree or agree! Let's get a great discussion going.

Chad Levitt

Anup Mody

Chad is right. There are 2 challenges that sales people could face: "not enough time" and "meaningful content", the latter being the tougher. Content has to be of value to a prospect, therefore needs to be business-centered. e.g. issues around Customer Service metrics and how they can be improved, or, how a company can address inventory control issues, etc.
But do sales people have the business savvy to uncover and then develop content around things like that? Too much emphasis is STILL placed on developing tactical selling skills, and not enough on developing the "business person" side of a sales person. This is hugely important to develop "meaningful content" and then have business issue-centered conversations.

Cody Boardman

Chad/Jill - Thanks for the interview.

I sell services to a sophisticated audience in F1000 companies. I REALLY love the idea of creating a small, intuitive and easy to use site to do exactly what you're suggesting.

My question is simple though the answer may not be: What do you do when the corporate marketing function of your business does NOT want Sr. Sales Executives representing the brand in an uncontrolled fashion (like what your suggesting)?

I would also love to know what tools/services your using to create the site. Perhaps you're building it all yourself? Outsourcing it?

Chad Levitt

@Cody: You asked a great question, one that I'm sure more readers are wondering about. So let's jump into it.

It is unfortunate but there are some marketing organizations that are control freaks; these are the same marketing organizations that are not on Twitter and haven't adopted business blogging even though many organizations are bringing in tremendous value due to social media. They are forever late to the party and are stuck in the OLD WAYS of doing things. They are wrong. If you do something that helps you close a deal are they really going to have a problem with it? If they do it might be time for a new company.

I'm probably going to use the Thesis theme for Wordpress. I am also looking at ways to make this very easy for sales reps and I will be rolling out some content on my blog to help walk sales reps through it. This series is a work in progress so stay tuned.

Thanks Cody!

Chad Levitt

@Anup:You bring up some interesting subjects too. Yes, it can be an initial challenge to begin creating content.

Here are some tips:

1.) Focus on the problems that your company helps solve and create content around those major themes.

2.) Think of the ways your past customers have benefited from your solutions and tell that story. It is even better if you can get your customer to video a testimonial or case study. Be creative, try new things and you will find what works for you.

World class sales skills are the ante to get in the game. The reality is that the sales reps that learn how to give their message more reach, make it sticky, easily shareable, and valuable to their customers and prospects are going to make much more money than the sales reps that don't.

Thanks for your comment.

Jill Konrath

@Chad: Thanks for the great interview as well as the insightful commentary.

Here are my thoughts re the topics brought up by @anup's and @cody's

- As an individual, you can start a blog with a focus on the key issues, objectives and challenges facing your targeted customers. You do not have to blog as a salesperson representing the firm. My daughter has done this very successfully at www.getfreshminds.com. Her interest in innnovation. She works for an innovation company. But she doesn't write about it. However, she is developing a personal brand and it's been very beneficial to her professionally.

- Re content development: I'm not sure that's the best use of a salesperson's time, especially if it is not their natural skill and talent. However, you can create content by writing some very short posts that link to articles, white papers, webinars, etc. that your prospects would be interested in.

Over the last few years, I've discovered that you don't have to create all the content. Think of yourself as someone who continually brings good resources to your reader. That in itself is valuable.

McDonoughTim

Good conversation!

I agree that salespeople need to continually market themselves, their company and their products and it's important for their organizations to support this. Much like when the Internet and email first came to desktops and not every organization embraced these as critical tools. I've heard of social media being shunned at some organizations because of concerns over just what was mentioned, time and brand.

Marketing departments should recognize the need to foster and encourage the personal brands of their salespeople, and therefore their company, by providing content that can easily be relayed, personalized and/or customized when necessary by the salesperson for their audiences.

twitter.com/fearlesscomp

This is a great post because marketing play such as huge role in sales today. Prospects are not looking to buy -- they are looking to solve business problems. You make an excellent point that you do not have to be a great writer like Jill, but you need to be relentless in looking for and aggregating great information from many sources.

If one is creative and disciplined, one can create a blog, videos, podcasts, etc. and really engage prospective buyers.

Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor
Find New Customers
http://www.findnewcustomers.net

Cody Boardman

Thanks for the feedback.

I'm as interested in being a valuable contributor to the communities which I serve in terms of content as I am in helping them embrace new forms of communication/technology.

As for the creation of content, I have no shortage of ideas, I just need to share them!

I'll keep my eyes/ears open for the series on building a blog.

Thanks and happy selling to each of you!

Cody-

Steve Richard

Chad mentions video and You Tube. I love the theory, but am struggling with the execution. Do you think it's important to have professional quality video or can we get away with just using a flip camera? I'd love to see replies from everyone on this.

Chad Levitt

@Steve: The Flip Mino can shoot in HD but,when you post to YouTube it will not be in HD quality. 90% of video views online are through YouTube so it is a good idea to post your own video there and create your own YouTube channel. The quality is good enough and many large, medium and small businesses are using YouTube. You can also try Vimeo, Viddler, and Blip.

Here is a good post with some online video tips from Kipp Bodnar over at Social Media B2B.

http://socialmediab2b.com/2010/02/b2b-online-video-tips/

Hope this helps!

Paul Johnson, Sales Operations Manager

To piggy-back on Anup's comment about the challenges of providing "meaningful content"...

ALL salespeople need content anyway.

Why? To successfully make cold or follow-up calls. The first time you call someone, you better offer something of value or they won't take your second call. Offer access to an article, or tell them something they don't already know. Now you need something new for your next call. It's like Pavlov's dog. When they see your name on Caller ID, you want them to start drooling.

Keep your head up and you can find content to share with your customers and prospects.

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