Salespeople are always looking for new ways to generate more initial appointments. How do you do that? There are many strategies. In this episode, Donald and Carman Pirie talk about utilizing strategies that include co-creating and content building.
Carman Pirie is the co-owner of Kula Partners. It’s a manufacturing marketing agency that helps manufacturers transform their marketing and sales apparatus by making it more digital in nature. He is also a co-host of the podcast called The Kula Ring, a podcast that focuses on manufacturing marketers and telling their stories.
Prospecting is a huge part of the sales process. Carman personally does prospecting every single day and he coaches many salespeople on how to do it right. It can be difficult to pick up the phone and start a conversation with people. Many sales leaders and managers have not explored other options outside of traditional practices. They have limited their sales teams by thinking and training the old methodologies. While picking up the phone as a way to prospect isn’t bad, the answer to prospecting isn’t just activity management.
There are many tools available for sales reps to use in order to prospect. We don’t want to just bombard people with calls and emails or rely heavily on LinkedIn invites. This is where the challenge lies.
In working with B2B manufacturing organizations, Carman’s company almost always interfaces primarily with the marketing function. These marketers have an overwhelming thirst for people in sales to actually care.
Carman suggests three approaches that Kula Partners recommends for co-creating and content building.
The first is through a podcast. The Kula Ring podcast is their primary vehicle to generate prospects. They put out episodes weekly. They expand their reach by simply talking to more
manufacturing marketers and getting them on as guests for the show.
Through the podcast, these guests become more familiar with what Kula is offering and some have eventually become their clients. Sending out emails with a subject line that sounds like a request, or extending a LinkedIn invitation, doesn’t typically yield a positive outcome. Inviting somebody to be a guest on a podcast, asking about their industry and showing an interest in what they offer is a much better opportunity to build rapport. The interview gives you a better insight into their problems and challenges. This information then allows a salesperson to come up with specific solutions to offer.
As a salesperson, you can use an intent data platform and bring in guests that are likely in a buying cycle. However, it’s best to approach them with the pure motive of getting to know them. After a relationship is built, a discussion about business can happen organically. This introductory conversation can even happen by the end of recording a podcast.
Traditional outreach, like a phone call, can typically have a response rate of 10%. In Carman’s experience, they’ve seen that the targeted podcast outreach campaigns have a response rate closer to 50%.
Every business is different so it’s up to the salesperson to experiment with a variety of formats to see what works best for their particular industry. If scaling can work, then go for it. If it’s written content or other similar strategies that work, pick one of those. What works for others may not work for your client’s specific needs so take the time to find the right niche. Look for the right angle or a topic that’s of interest to your client. Create your podcast based on that information.
Another suggestion from Carman for co-creating and content building is to host a peer round table discussion. For example, invite 12 – 20 target prospects in an information-sharing environment and serve as a host to the dialogue. They did this at Kula and they called these meetings marketing leadership exchanges. They brought in marketers who shared common characteristics and fostered an information-sharing conversation.
You can easily make an agenda out of five to six topics or questions and turn them into a 90-minute round table for information-sharing. For marketers who are widely distributed geographically, a virtual round table is more plausible. When you can, however, the preference is to have everyone in person.
Despite the limitations in a virtual setting, the dialogue can still be rich. The exchange of information is still helpful for prospecting and building rapport. The guests are telling you the challenges they are facing in their business and asking their peers for advice. All you do is to play host to the dialogue. How to activate the conversation and transition it into a sales opportunity is up to you. After that dialogue, you now have permission to email them and build a working relationship with them. This is a much better choice as opposed to a cold call.
There’s a difference between the podcast and the peer round table. There is an ongoing continuous recruitment process in the podcast guesting. However, marketing leadership requires more effort as it needs time to get a specific number of people to gather for a particular time. It can be difficult to organize a date where everyone can come together and talk.
When traditional tools aren’t working, these co-creating strategies can be highly effective in moving someone from a prospect to a client.
You can start planning your co-creating and content building by looking at some content pieces related to your niche. If you’re a salesperson in a technical space and you’re selling mostly to engineers, you can look at the challenges common to your prospects and your client base. You can partner with one or two clients or prospects in creating a solution to address challenges specific to that industry.
One of the great results in using the peer round table strategy is that guests naturally follow up with each other and continue to exchange and share information with one another. It’s important to trust the process and let these relationships happen organically.
Marketing organizations are often hungry for sales reps who can offer insight into the sales process and customer needs, as well as someone who is active in the social media channels. Salespeople can be involved in the marketing function and develop relationships with their prospects before the prospect ever even has a need for their services or products.
One of Carman’s guests was on their podcast and this guest had a manufacturing talk radio podcast himself. He used the podcast to give his business exposure and ended up becoming a source to develop his business. As a result, his steel company turned into a broadcasting company. It was unconventional but worked for them. If you want to use a podcast to sell, understand it won’t become daily bread for the next quarter, at least. It takes time for momentum to build.
Podcasts are a natural megaphone for great ideas but it’s really about building relationships, co-creating and content building.
Salespeople can start co-creating and content building with your prospects without other motives but to build a relationship with them and not just because you want to sell to them. Find Carman Pirie on Kula Ring in all major podcast. You can also check their site KulaPartners.com.
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