When you hear the term “content”, we immediately relate it to marketing. But the reality is that content is the currency of the modern buyer. It affects they way buyers learn and convert at every stage of the buyer's funnel. In fact, according to Forrester 74% of today’s B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase.
But how is your sales team responding to these new buying trends? How are they fully leveraging content? Using employee advocacy can help establish your sales team's authority, credibility and, more importantly, increase the number of relevant conversations that they have with buyers. For marketers, it is an effective way to increase content reach and engagement with their target audience.
The problem with current social channels
Part of the problem lies within a company's current social channels and the way they're being used (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, etc). Most companies are only relying on that existing audience to distribute their content. Every blog post, ebook, or infographic goes out to the same people over and over again. The problem with this is that it doesn’t allow for net new growth at a fast enough pace.
The sales force: your employee advocates
Your sales employees can become great advocates and get your content into the hands of more potential buyers. Here’s how it works. Hypothetically speaking, if each person on your sales team was connected to 500 unique potential buyers with whom they shared your content, suddenly you have a distribution army that can get your content into the hands of their trusted network—a network that the marketing department has no connection to.
Why is employee advocacy critical?
A. It allows you to tap into buyer networks that weren’t possible before.
B. It allows you to mechanize your sales force as a distribution army. However, there’s a caveat to this. The reality is that the average sales person will take the path of least resistance, and is not keen to find and share content with their network. You need a very easy system to get content into the sales person’s hands with one click through employee advocacy tools.
C. It allows your sales force to build credibility and authority with buyers. By sharing relevant content and having a consistent library of digital assets, they can share content with less resistance.
However, these tools are only one part of the equation. In order for employee advocacy to be successful, five things need to happen:
1. There needs to be a mindset shift.
Marketing needs to coach and train the sales team on why sharing content is valuable. This means that the marketing team must sit down with the sales force and show them the correlation between content shared and inbound leads. They need to show sales that content sharing has a direct correlation to building pipeline and growing revenue.
2. Set clear guidelines for sharing.
You’ll need clear and understandable guidelines that enable your sales team to share content, not restrict it. These guidelines will provide instructions, examples and best practices on what content to share, how to share it and when to share it. Along with these guidelines, you’ll need to convey the benefits your sales team will have correlated to employee advocacy.
3. Supply a diversity of content that sales teams want to share.
The sales team must know in advance what content will be published into the employee advocacy tool. Also answer why they’re sharing it and why this particular campaign would work well at this time. You’ll need to diversity your content to cater to both your sales team and their network’s various interests and opinions. Without a library of diverse content, your sales team is less inclined to share and engage.
4. Measurement that ties content sharing back to funnel and quota attainment.
After a few months of sharing content, marketing needs to take those successes and continue to demonstrate the positive outcomes to the sales team. This means showing sales which reps are doing well, and who is lagging behind. And marketing needs to have empirical evidence to show that a, b, or c sales person is sharing content, and through doing that it created an original lead source, got a net new lead, and/or it influenced the pipeline to winning new customers.
5. Consistent support and reinforcement.
Once you’ve provided the evidence to the sales professional, you need to keep repeating it, to reinforce to sales professionals why content sharing should be part of their routine, and the correlation between click to share and revenue.
With employee advocacy, your sales team can expand your content’s reach and their own authority, credibility and trust amongst buyers. By clearly outlining the benefits, you’ll help enable your sales team to create the right mindset and stick to guidelines on content sharing best practices. Employee advocacy can help get your content seen by the right buyers which can start the relevant conversations that build pipeline. However a tool alone can’t get the job done. You’ll need the right education, coaching and support to excel in Social Selling first before employee advocacy is an addition to your organization.