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Information Connectors: A Better Way to Sell
You’ve probably had a bad experience getting information from a business. Maybe you wanted to fix a broken product or find details about a specific service. You visit their website. The FAQ was unhelpful. The blog content was sparse. The live chat was manned by a chatbot who couldn’t answer your questions. And don’t even mention that call you made to the customer service hotline – that was an hour of your life lost to awful elevator music and being transferred to the same three people over and over.
So, you turned to the internet. After scouring help forums, doing Google searches, skimming free resources, and watching YouTube videos, maybe you found the information you needed – but maybe you didn’t. Regardless of the outcome, one thing is for sure: that company is now on your black list.
Businesses should make research easier for customers, not harder. With the dawn of the Information Age and data-driven buyer culture, information has become a new kind of currency in digital marketplaces. Many successful businesses are now embracing their roles as information connectors.
Information connectors curate and distribute information resources to customers. They don’t solely rely on individual knowledge. Information resources could be anything from information updates, written and multimedia content, technologies and tools, or even connections to people and experts outside their company. According to a Gartner report on elevating the value of sales interactions, employees who provide customers with the right information at the right times increase the likelihood of closing sales by up to 40%. Sales closed by information connectors are also 90% more likely to be larger than their company average deal size and result in higher reports of buyer satisfaction.
So, how do you become an information connector?
Step 1: Be Curious and Stay Informed
Your team needs to nurture a work culture that encourages curiosity and self-learning. In order to effectively curate the right resources to meet customers’ specific needs, you first need to understand the resources that are available. This means that you have to step into their shoes. Search for the information that your customers will need as if you were them, to better understand the value of resources that are available. Then you can steer customers away from inaccurate, outdated, or misleading information and identify more reliable resources for them. Not only will this strengthen customer relationships, it will strengthen your credibility.
Step 2: Remain Objective
It may sound counter intuitive to be objective in your recommendations of resources to clients. To remain objective, you might have to downplay your company’s products or services, admit to a degree of unfamiliarity with a topic, or even connect them with a competitor. It’s hard not to demonstrate your expertise or persuade people to do something that will directly benefit you – but if you put your customer’s needs before your own, the reward is customer loyalty. If customers feel you have their best interest at heart, especially when that interest doesn’t benefit your company, they’re going to see you as a trusted advisor and continue doing business with you.
Step 3: Gather and Create Quality Content
Customers aren’t interested in shallow emails and self-appraising marketing content. They don’t want to sift through boring and unhelpful product sheets to track down information. A lot of content is designed to generate MQLs for marketers, not to help customers self-direct their buying journey. This is a big mistake with far-reaching negative consequences for your reputation and your financial health. So rethink your content strategy. Take subject matter, format, tone, and sources into account when you invest in content. Subject matter should be relevant and clear to target audiences. Format should be interesting and engaging. Tone should be empathetic and full of personality. Sources should be accurate, updated, and properly credited. If you consistently connect prospects with good content, you’ll build better relationships with ideal customers.
Step 4: Connect Through the Right Channels
To connect customers with the right information at the right time, you need to consider their personal preferences. This means that you need to select the right tools and technologies to deliver resources to them in real-time. This might sound like a real challenge, but a good way to approach the process is by contextualizing any data you have on the customer. Do they never respond to emails, but pick up their phone every time you call? Do they prefer Dropbox over Google Drive for private content sharing? Do they engage more with you on Twitter than on Facebook? You might have the right information for customers, but if you don’t connect them with it at the right time via the preferred vehicle you won’t see the results you’re looking for.
Modern-day customers follow different paths than their predecessors. They require a wealth of information and resources to make buying decisions. Embrace change and step into your role as an information connector and help customers navigate a marketplace starved of invaluable and trusted resources.
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