Recent research we conducted with Forrester found that the quality of content provided to enable sales teams varies wildly at different stages of the sales cycle. Top of the funnel (TOFU) content is well taken care of – both marketing and sales agreed on this. However, while the surveyed marketers thought they were doing a pretty good job creating bottom of the funnel (BOFU) content, the surveyed salespeople did not agree. They were generally of the opinion that most BOFU content doesn’t help salespeople handle the objections and questions that come up before a deal is closed.
To get a better understanding of what kind of bottom-funnel content would make our sales teams happy, we caught up with two sales leaders, Gerry Hill from ConnectAndSell and Jonathon Illett from Cognism. With their insight, we’ve put together this list of three important questions to ask yourself before you hit publish:
No matter how nurtured or warm a lead is, outreach from a salesperson is essentially an ambush and invasion to the person they’re trying to speak to. It’s crucial that any product or use case referencing is softened by a human component.
“There’s a fundamental reason for that,” explains Gerry. “We’re saturated by content today, we’re bombarded by it. The percentage of mindshare that the average buyer has for anything is very thin right now. Email outreach is particularly poor in terms of getting through spam filters, especially if it’s content and data-heavy.”
Leads and prospects have absolutely no obligation to care about your product brochure or whatever else your sales team sends their way. They care about the pain points your product helps solve, but realistically there are likely several solutions to that problem. You need to cut through the noise, and a cookie-cutter sales proposal dressed up as valuable content won’t cut it.
Look at what your opponents are doing and do something different. Experiment with different formats, make it as visual as possible, and keep your narrative firmly focused on helping the human being it’s being sent to, not on how great your product is.
According to Hubspot, the analytics firm Kissmetrics was particularly successful at cutting through the noise by using infographics to feature customer stories, adapting a shorter content type to the BOFU setting. Instead of relying on text-heavy content, the firm chose to make its final pitch short, sweet, and visually compelling. This proved to be more helpful to the sales team in closing deals than traditional tactics.
As younger people increasingly dominate senior roles, what works best in BOFU content is also changing.
“Millennials are entering the decision-making process for companies all the time,” says Gerry. “[They] have mortgages now, they’re probably on their third job, they’re probably executives in companies in their own right in most instances. They’re more likely to look at content and trust material and references than some 40-year-old decision-maker that’s reading that whitepaper because that’s all they’ve ever known. So I think we need to be very cognizant of the shift that’s happening in society with people that are entering our decision-making units and how content should help in their decision-making process.”
This new breed of leaders highly values referential content like case studies and testimonials. When it comes to talking to the ultimate decision-maker, it’s typically an ROI decision where you need highly tangible metrics around what they’re likely to get from the expenditure. There’s no better way to do that than by showing them the experience of someone else.
“At Cognism, marketing has a very good relationship with the Customer Success department to identify what personas we’re targeting for this quarter and then they try and preempt that and get a case study from our existing client base in support of it,” says Jon.
The other side of this coin is that these millennial leaders also value references for your competitors. It’s really important that you create battle cards in preparation for this.
Jon tells us: “At Cognism, marketing creates battle cards for every single competitor that we face. They’re used a lot by our closing team. They’re not necessarily sent out to prospects but it’s a resource that we have available and that’s been really useful to help us to increase our close rate.”
Your BOFU content should heavily rely on the experiences others have had with your product or service, and should be capable of drawing up tangible comparisons with your competitors when needed. Without that, it’s your word against theirs.
Marketing is in the fortunate position of having access to lots of great information on personas, the customer, segments, etc. The challenge is if that information isn’t making its way into the content that’s required for BOFU activities, it becomes a redundant academic exercise. You’re collecting all that information rather than being highly strategic in how you use it to enable sales to close deals.
Bottom-funnel content should never be generic. You can’t hand a potential buyer a bible-length overview and leave them to find the 15% that’s actually relevant to them. In the process of that person’s journey through the funnel, you should have more than enough insight into their unique interests and pain points. That, combined with their demographic information, arms you with everything you need to know to tailor your BOFU content to their specific situation. Strip everything else way back.
The issue is, how do you do that at scale?
At Cognism, Jon says: “We have dedicated members of the team that go in and repurpose some of our content so that it’s much more personal. We have these preset templates that they can go into, edit, and send to people to drive them to the next step of the buying process. It’s not necessarily new content that needs to be created, it’s just taking that pre-existing content, adapting it, and making it widely accessible to the sales team.”
This ability to personalize at scale is hugely valuable to a salesperson who needs to deliver meaningful relevant content to many people at the same time.
If you’re able to produce bottom-funnel content that ticks all three of these boxes, you’re on your way to giving your sales team the resources they need to close deals. However, the disconnect found in the Forrester research runs deep. Every prospect is different and until marketing and sales fundamentally work on their communication, these barriers will continue to emerge.
For more on how you can improve your BOFU customer experience, check this out.
Subscribe to one or both of our newsletters