Alistair Vermaak

What is Foresight Selling? (We use Educational Content to reduce friction and close deals faster)

When it comes to creating SEO optimized content for web traffic (Organic Traffic), it can take a long time to see results and that’s why many businesses are put off by the idea of Organic traffic.

If you’re doing the work and creating content for your business in the form of blog posts, when you publish, you often have to wait weeks or months for any type of ranking.

It Takes Too Long!

This is frustrating to many businesses that don’t have the time to wait for these rankings to take place.

It might seem like it’s hardly worth the time and effort to create content that will get traffic organically. 

But, the thing we all need to understand in the marketing world is that results come at a cost.  These costs come from two avenues – money or time.

For the best results, a combination of paid and organic traffic works best. 

Immediate vs Sustained Traffic

You pay for ads to get immediate traffic, while in the background you build up your library of content that’s consistently published.

Some articles/Blog posts will rank quicker than others.  Some will take much longer to rank in search engines, but may result in much higher revenue for your business when they do rank.

Distributing content and running ads on Social Media Platforms can help you get immediate traffic, because the right type of post can go viral.

Social Media should be part of your content marketing mix, but you shouldn’t rely on it for sustained traffic over the long term.

Blogging is a Waste of Time

Some people are confused about content marketing.  They think that Blogging and writing Pages of content on websites and Blogs don’t add much value and that posts and Social Media posting are the same.

Nothing could be further from the truth!

Blogging and content filled pages, once written and published may take time to be indexed and find their place in search engines, but they will continue to provide sales and leads for your Business for years.

Social Media traffic can flare up within minutes and die off just as quickly, so it’s great for very short burst of traffic, but that’s about it.

Paying For Traffic (Ads)

Paid ads can also work wonders for generating leads and sales for your business.  It’s a starting point and it’s where most Businesses find themselves.

The problem with paid ads is that the moment you stop pumping money into ads, the traffic and sales stop.  That means you’re forever stuck in the financing loop.

The problem with ads is that the traffic is normally ice cold and the conversion rates are low.  There’s also a steep learning curve to creating revenue generating ads.

What’s the Best Solution?

You need to create Blog content. I say this because Blog content, once written, can be updated, modified and re-published like a new piece, without much effort once the groundwork has been done.

Blog content can generate leads and sales for your business into the foreseeable future and you don’t have to pay for it to rank.  All you need is persistence and patience.

Use the Blog/Page Content as Educational Material

The best option for you, to get the most out of all your efforts, is to create Blog/Page content that helps educate potential buyers.

Your Pages/Posts can consist of content about your business, the solutions you provide and questions visitors/customers may have, before they need to ask.

If your business is in the fortunate position to have sales staff, they can send your educational content to prospective customers to help them make educated decisions and answer any questions they may have.

I call this Foresight Selling! (We’re anticipating customer needs, and addressing them before they have to ask.)

What is Foresight selling? 

You’re not going to convince a sales prospect to buy from you right away (most of the time).

They may have lots of questions and want answers before they’re ready to commit.

What if there was a way to ensure you’ve got a ready to buy sales prospect that you can close in 10 minutes or less?

Foresight selling takes these things into account.  You anticipate their needs and provide the answers and further education up front. 

Look at what choices prospects make on your site and intentionally send them relevant educational content based on interest signals.  

That means that the prospect is armed with all the information they need about your business and the solutions you provide.

They can enter any sales appointment fully prepared and be ready to close within a few minutes.

Where did we get the idea of Foresight Selling?

The idea of foresight selling came from assignment selling that Marcus Sheridan implemented for his business, River Pools and Spas

Marcus had written lots of content for his website and his sales numbers were beginning to increase.  Requests for sales appointments were also growing, but, conversion rates remained constant.

One day, Marcus was going through his analytics report and saw a pattern that fascinated him. 

He had two distinct groups of prospects with a huge variance in conversion rates.

The first group only read a few pages of the website and converted at 25% or less.

The second group read well over 30 pages of content and averaged a closing rate above 80%.

Can you see difference between the two groups?

The first group of people asked for sales calls even though they were ill informed about the process and cost of buying a pool.

The second group set appointments after doing lots of their own research. 

One group was oblivious about pool buying and even after the sales call, realized they weren’t ready to buy.  The other group was ready to buy immediately as they had already done the research.

When Marcus realized what had happened, he decided that all prospective customers should be as educated as possible before going on any sales call. 

Marcus made a point of ensuring that every prospect that was asking for a sales call review the most important educational content relevant to them.

What happened was that the total number of sales call requests fell (which is a good thing), but the call to conversion rate increased dramatically.

This means that there was no more wasted time, telling people about pools and not getting the sale. 

This time around, people entered the sales process, well aware of everything they wanted to know and converted quickly.

How to implement Foresight Selling

In order to get this right, you need the right kind of content.  What might that be?

Blog content that answers and educates, that’s what. 

You need to have content that leaves no room for questions and educates customers about every option available to them.

To start the process of fixing your site, audit your website with these questions in mind:

  • How much content is promotional versus educational?
  • How much content helps customers make buying decisions?
  • How much content is biased?

If you really want to hit your goals, the content you provide needs to be relevant, helpful, thorough and factual.

That means that all of your content should be geared towards educating your potential customers and answering any potential questions and concerns they may have in decision making.

Involving Your Entire Company

Every single person in your Company is a salesperson.  All you have to do is empower them to create content.

But, if you really want to know where to start getting the information you need to create the type of content that will resonate with potential customers – start with your sales staff.

Ask your sales staff what the most common questions they get asked over and over again.

The questions we’ve seen asked and what we ourselves ask when we search online are the following:

  • What does it cost? 
  • Which are the best options? 
  • How does one option compare to another in the same class?
  • What are the problems with the solution/product?
  • Are there any reviews for this product/company?

We call these The 5 Main Blog Topics.

Start Creating the Content

When you’ve written the content you shouldn’t wait for organic traffic to come to you.

Rather make the content available to all the people in your Company and tell them to share it far and wide.

The most important time to use your content is when someone shows an interest and wants to talk to you about a purchase.

When your sales team gets a request for a sales call, they can now forward your content and help the prospect learn everything they need to know before meeting to talk about a purchase.

Save Time & Close Faster

You will either get a positive or negative response from the prospect. 

Maybe more negative feedback, but the most important thing here is streamlining your processes and saving time.

Your prospects that do indicate that they want a sales appointment are more likely to convert than not.

In order to streamline the sales processes in your business, you need to educate your entire Company. 

But start with the Sales Team.

Your Sales Team will probably love to have their lives made easier, but they need to know where to find all of this content and how to send it. 

They also need to know which content will be the best option to send a prospect based on their query.

How can you do this?  Let’s have a look at some options.

Give Open Access to the Right People

First place to start: your website.

Does your website have a resource center for educational content?  Can the content be filtered by medium, category or keyword?

Is there a search bar where your Sales Team or anyone for that matter can search for anything?

Do you have a knowledgebase?

Are there links everywhere to these resources?  Are the options to get there obvious?

If you don’t make it easy and obvious that there is educational content, you’re making it harder for everyone to be educated about your business and the solutions you provide.

Give people access to the education and answers they seek. 

Make links and buttons leading to resources obvious, mention educational resources everywhere.

Make clear statements that prospects can learn more on their own, or reach out for assistance if they can’t find what they’re looking for.

Give Your Company Staff Tools

Sometimes company staff becomes a little hesitant in dealing with potential customers because they aren’t confident enough to respond to queries.

It’s often because they aren’t trained or don’t have the necessary tools at their disposal to make rapid decisions.

These days, people want instant responses, so the more equipped your Company and Sales Team are to deal with queries, the better.

What Tools Can You Provide?

The right tool can be as simple as a spreadsheet with links to content based on a customer query.

For Example:

If your business is in the home décor space, create content that addresses everything customers might need to know:

  • Measuring
  • Thickness
  • Materials
  • Pattern Styles
  • Costs, etc, etc

Have this content readily available on your site.  Create your spreadsheet and have it organized in such a way that your staff can easily respond to customer queries.

Let them know which content would be best suitable to educating prospects about the query they made.

Make it a pre-requisite that prospects are sent enough information about the product/service they need, before anyone has to spend time on a sales phone/video call.

Tips for Getting Foresight Selling Right

Everyone has their own way of responding to queries.  So don’t get hung up on trying to perfect a way of dealing with queries.

You are going to miss information here and there and customers are always wildcards.

They will always ask something you might not have thought of, just make a note to create content addressing that question and add it to your site so that anyone else in the future can be educated. 

There are however, a few important things to bear in mind.

Foresight Selling is Proactive

Being proactive means anticipating questions/concerns people may have before a sales call.

You send them relevant content that educates them beforehand. 

You’re answering questions before they need to ask and they’re prepared for a call.

Following the old sales call methods, after the sales call, you would probably feel obligated to send prospects emails asking if they had any other questions.

But, if you’re using the Foresight Selling approach, you can do something better.

Instead of probing for questions from the prospect, you continue to educate after the call.

Stop Worrying About Sales Appointment Volumes

A big mistake some businesses make is focusing on the volume of sales calls their sales teams make.

A bigger volume of calls doesn’t lead to more Sales!

Instead, businesses should focus on the number of conversions compared to the number of sales calls made and the duration of each call.

It makes logical sense; the longer a prospect is on the line, the more hesitant they are and the more likely they are to be asking questions.

The ultimate goal that each business should strive for is having Sales calls that are purely for the sake of closing deals, every-time.

That’s the Dream!

It probably won’t happen, ever!  But we’ve given you enough ammunition to improve your current situation.

If you want to close more leads on every sales call, make sure that your prospect is well prepared before the sales call.

They must have:

  • All questions & concerns addressed
  • Know the pros and cons
  • Read customer reviews
  • Have seen product comparisons
  • Know the costs involved
  • Know what warranties and guarantees exist
  • Been further educated with content that they should know

What is the worst thing that can happen?  Yes, you guessed it!  Some people will learn that your business isn’t the right one for them because of cost or some other factor.

Don’t let that stop you from creating the content!

The more information you provide, the better you are at weeding out prospects that will only waste your time.

Yes, your Sales Team may have less sales calls to handle, but that gives them more time to do what they do best – go find more customers!

Stopping time wasters is a good thing. 

You’ll not only reduce stress in your Sales Team, but you’ll be better positioned to improve customer service and satisfaction.

What to do now?

You now know how Foresight Selling can help your business.  You know what to do and how to do it.

Hold a meeting with your company and get everyone to provide a list of questions that they get asked.

Get your content creation team together and let them work with each department in your business to get in depth answers to each of the questions you’ve collected.

Have the content created and added to the adequate location on your website.

Make sure it’s easy to access

Educate everyone in your business about the content and streamline your sales process.

Let everyone in your business know which people are responsible for sales query responses and let your staff know that sales queries must be sent to them.

Everyone should know where to find the relevant content for each type of sales query, create email templates for them to simplify responses to queries and after sales education.

Automation can lighten your workload

For this you can consider chatbots. 

Talk to us about the automation process and how you can add Chatbots to reduce friction.

Chatbots can answer questions, link visitors to your knowledgebase, segment leads, and send automated email sequences, making your life much easier.

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