In his recent guest post on LinkedIn, “COVID-19 Made Every Sales Team an Inside Sales Team; Here’s What They Need”, Justin Gray, Principal of Graymatter Ventures, shared some incredible insight on how the sales environment has been impacted and the shift that sales teams now must make to thrive and stay engaged with prospects.

I wholeheartedly agree with him on the subject of digital transformation and how it has affected field sales teams like an oncoming freight train. “For years we’ve lived by the holy grail of face time with prospects and now… poof. Gone…their world has been flipped upside down as many things they relied on to close business are now off the table,” Gray shares. 

We need to face the reality that the face of selling has been forever changed and those who have chosen this career path must now adapt. In this new virtual selling environment, there are two keys to unlocking sales success: strategic content and automated lead nurturing. 

Here are five steps to get you from sales flop to sales success with the power of content marketing.

1. Strategic Content Starts with a COVID-19 Content Marketing Mentality

Content curation helps your brand stay top of mind during this unprecedented time. That’s a given. But even essential services like wastewater management need to prioritize strategic and consistent content marketing. Why? Because now we’re in a virtual sales world! Your brand’s ability to produce valuable content—and share it where your customers will see it—has a direct impact on your bottom line. 

Now more than ever, your sales outcomes are more directly tied to your marketing efforts. So where should you start? In this virtual selling environment, you need to get down to brass tacks with a COVID-19 content marketing mentality. Put on your strategic business hat and determine which topics will deliver value to your customers today (not tomorrow). 

Take a moment and jot down the 10 most common problems that you hear from customers. Which ones are you most equipped to solve? Which problems are connected to services that generate profit for you? Put your best topics into a content generator and see which ideas jump out. 

In today’s COVID-19 market, customers aren’t impressed by a product that’s just a bit better than the competition. They want immediate value from every piece of content that your brand produces. After all, it’s called “lead nurturing” because it focuses on nurturing the customer with helpful information. Businesses should put every content idea through a sieve to make sure it is laser-focused on creating immediate value for customers.

2. Prepare a Delectable Content Cornucopia

Now that you’ve got your mindset sorted, it’s time for content creation. I recommend thinking about content creation like preparing a feast for your grandmother. You should know your customers as well as you know your own grandmother! Plus, you should address your customers with as much love and respect as you would address an elder. Put these two together (content and delivery) and you’ve got a recipe for success.

The first step to creating a content cornucopia is figuring out which ingredients your audience enjoys. Your goal is to nourish them with valuable and appetizing content. Take your list of ideas and think about formats. Present the content so it’s easy for your target customers to understand. Do they listen to podcasts? Are they active on Instagram or Facebook? 

Chat up your customers to learn where they like to hang out online. To become an influencer in your field, only the choicest ingredients should end up in the final content cornucopia.

3. Present Your Content with Style, Directly Targeting Your Customer Segment

You may have discovered that your customers enjoy graphics with statistics. Head to Gallup and collect relevant data points. Do they appreciate written case studies with actionable tips? Look through your archives to find stories of satisfied clients. 

Need some help getting started? Education-based selling is a great lens for exploring content ideas. Try to create content that makes you a trusted resource for your audience to turn to when they need to solve urgent problems related to your industry. Generate pillar content that establishes your expertise as a thought-leader. 

Blogging and social media marketing are the two most reliable and powerful ways to brew up a delicious stew of sales success. Sprinkle on some SEO and a healthy heaping of content consistency, and you’ve got a tempting feast!

4. Automate Your Lead Nurturing

Finally, it’s time to lay the table for your audience. Is this all starting to sound like too much work for a busy business owner? You’re absolutely right. That’s why smart business owners rely on automation for lead nurturing. Ultimately, you should be spending your time doing what you do best: delivering amazing products and services to your customers. 

Don’t bother spending your valuable time writing your own content or trying to stay active on social media! That’s an outside job that a marketing strategist like me can do for you. Automation is the key to successful lead nurturing, especially in a fully virtual selling environment. Attract their attention with the gorgeous spread of content and then seal the deal by continuing to deliver valuable tidbits. 

To create lasting relationships with customers, you need automated tools and well-crafted messages. There are great tools for businesses of every size and every industry. But no matter the industry, your sales team needs automation and analytics tools to successfully nurture leads. 

5. Don’t DIY Your Content

Lead nurturing is essential, but that doesn’t mean it has to be time consuming or expensive. DIY-ing your content can be exhausting and ineffective! Instead, use automation to create more opportunities for engagement, and use analytics creates opportunities for accountability and growth. Do not make the mistake of forging ahead with a content strategy plan without any way to measure or evaluate success! 

At Creative Raven, we use specialized automated tools in combination with deep insight into our industry segment. We set up “Done For You” services for our clients so that consistent content, social media marketing, and lead nurturing becomes consistent, more manageable, and affordable. 

It’s time to help your sales team do their best work in a virtual sales environment. Things have changed, but it’s still possible to provide value to your customers and make a profit. It all starts with consistent content marketing and automated lead nurturing.