Are B2B Salespeople Thought Leaders?


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I was reading Opportunity Nurturing: Sending Stuff Isn’t Always the Best Solution over on the Openview Blog where Devon McDonald interviewed Trish Bertuzzi, from The Bridge Group Inc. Trish really GETS IT, so I stop whenver I see her mentioned anywhere to see what she has to say.

In response to the question: Who should be sending nurturing content, marketing or sales?

Trish said: “It depends on how far along you are in the sales process. If you are intermediate, then marketing should be coming into play. If your opportunity is later in the sales process, the message needs to be personal from the sales rep because, at the end of the day, it’s all about relationships. Also, the salesperson needs to be viewed as the thought leader, not just the company.”

Notice that last sentence? (emphasis mine)

Is this a component of your B2B marketing-to-sales strategy?

Are your salespeople working to be viewed as thought leaders by prospects and customers?

My guess for most of them would be “nope – not interested – need to make quota.”

It just so happens that Sales 2.0 Conference is going on this week in San Francisco (#s20c) and there are a few Tweets that back up the need for salespeople to provide more value to buyers:

@barbaragiamanco: Buyers complete 80% of buying cycle b4 interacting with #sales people.#newhandshake #s20c

@LaurenEHarper: #Social is not a quick fix. Reality is it takes effort both on and offline to connect with prospects and make a sale- @barbaragiamanco #s20c

@heinzmarketing: “Ditch the pitch – this is a conversation economy, not a sales pitch economy” @gerhard20 #s20c

@asmithspi: Sales managers typically hire for selling and people skills but customers want industry expertise and business acumen @SolutionSelling#s20c

@scoremoresales: 70% mktg & sales execs rank “inability to differentiate as primary inhibit to growth via @TMcCormick2011 #s20c

Moving on, I was just in a conversation today about how to get the knowledge out of subject matter experts within a company to create bylined articles for them and set them up as thought leaders.

Not everyone is a writer. Not everyone is a publisher. But there’s a lot of value lurking in your people that should be extracted and showcased. Not just for your company’s benefit, but to help them prove they differentiate your company from others, and that they’re worth speaking with because they have fresh, relevant and valuable ideas. The net is credibility and trust for your company AND your salespeople. That’s what wins complex sales in today’s market.

So, what should B2B marketers be doing?

First of all, it’s a mindset: Helping your salespeople be seen as thought leaders also helps with content marketing strategy. It’s content, right? Nice, meaty late-stage content that’s something other than a solution brief. Think about it.

Secondly, you need to facilitate the process:

  • Interview them.
  • Find out what they’re passionate about – it’s really more than just selling your products.
  • What issues do they see that they can help customers better understand?
  • Why do they believe so strongly in your product? It’s deeper than the feeds and speeds.
  • What do they see coming down the pike?
  • If you put them in a room with a product manager, what kind of conversation develops?
  • If you ride along on a customer call, what do you hear?
  • Are they active in social media? Can you help them be more effective?

After all, you don’t want this to happen:

@sales20conf: #s20c @TomScontras reveals with lols that he got kicked out of #LI group for pushing his message. Ditch the pitch!

@sales20conf: #s20c @TomScontras In person or phone, reps know how to join conversation. But how do you show up in a social convo? @GlanceNetworks

A lot of marketers think helping sales makes them subservient, but you need to get over it. If salespeople are not successful in adjusting to today’s buyer and giving them what they want and need, your marketing efforts are headed for the nearest drain.

Can you afford not to incorporate salesperson thought leadership into your marketing-to-sales strategy?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee is a B2B Marketing Strategist and the CEO of her firm, Marketing Interactions, Inc. She helps B2B companies with complex sales create and use persona-driven content marketing strategies to turn prospects into buyers and convince customers to stay. Ardath is the author of Digital Relevance: Developing Marketing Content and Strategies that Drive Results and eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale. She's also an in-demand industry speaker.


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