When was the last time you listened to a sales call? Chances are, you’re still thinking back to it right now because it’s been a while. With cell phones and caller ID, there’s a lot more call screening, call blocking, and flat out hanging up on persistent sales callers. With the increasing move towards technology, everything about sales and marketing has changed, and sales people are finding their tried and true methodologies less and less effective. Even when sales calls were more prominent, they were never incredibly efficient, often requiring hundreds of calls a week to land even a handful of appointments. So what are struggling sales teams to do?

The fact is that sales teams need to be thinking differently about sales and marketing. The internet has become an information superhighway, making buyers less reliant on sales teams and retailers for information. Instead, people can read reviews and do research before making purchasing decisions. This shift in society’s attitudes towards buying indicates a larger change in how the introduction to digital has changed the market, and with it, the content and methods that are valued by consumers. This has allowed methods like content marketing to not only expand, but thrive in this education focused environment.

Education As An All Access Pass

When salespeople are cold calling prospects, they’re taking a risk. More often than not, when they do reach a person willing to talk to them, that person may not be ready to buy, and more so, they may not remember the sales call later on when they are. The reason sales faces this issue is simple — the message they’re promotion only aligns with people ready to make a purchasing decision. But time and time again, we’ve acknowledged that most of the people sales will talk to are not in fact sales ready. This means that the message in question will fall on deaf ears.  For sales and marketing that takes an educational approach, the message is different, and can aligned to a potential customer at any point in the buyer’s journey. What education allows for is a discussion — one that answers the important questions no matter where the buyer is in their journey.

Education also allows a business to be an industry leader. Providing straightforward, educational information on a product or service (or even the industry surrounding that product or service) establishes credit as a trusted source. When a business offers information at each level of the buyer’s journey, from awareness level information to specifications at the purchase stage, a business not only establishes reliability, but is able to stay relevant to those not ready to buy yet. This allows a business to stay in the game longer, so when a prospect is indeed sales ready, they have someone in mind with a positive reputation.

Education As A Sales Tool

The key point of education over sales, is that not everyone may be ready to purchase, and approaching them with a purchase mentality can be a detrimental mistake. But just because education focuses on those who aren’t necessarily sales ready, doesn’t mean it isn’t an important sales tool. The point of the buyer’s journey is that a buyer can be moved along through their journey with targeted content that matches the sales funnel. This means providing the right information at the right point of time to educate a prospect, while gathering their information in order to track how they progress down the funnel. This methodology allows sales to follow leads until they hit a “sales-ready” point (usually determined by the content marketing strategy), at which point, sales begins to directly engage with the prospect.

The Buyer’s Journey via HubSpot

The benefit here is two-fold:

1. A lead won’t be spoken to until they’re sales ready, avoiding a situation in which a lead is unprepared and therefore unhappy about being approached.

2. The leads that sales does speak to are qualified — that is, they meet a specific predetermined criteria of an ideal customer and information on them is pre-gathered, making the lead a strong fit, and therefore, more likely to convert into a customer, keeping sales from spending time on customers that are less likely to buy. Education as a sales tool allows for a more efficiency in this regard, and can even help lessen the sales cycle over time.

As the Internet continues to be a primary source of information for people, the tendency toward the education based methodologies of content and inbound marketing will continue to lead the online buyer’s journey. Whether or not sales teams get aboard with this mindset of education as sales will be a major factor in the levels of success they will see over time.