The Marketing Strategist:

Thought Leadership, Like Sales, Should Start Early and End Late

October 10, 2013

The link between resources poured into thought leadership and its impact on sales has always been tenuous. Most marketers say that their thought leadership is aimed at boosting reputation and eminence. But some companies are increasingly using thought leadership as a sales tool for client and prospect conversations. In ITSMA’s recent Thought Leadership Selling survey, we divided respondents into two groups. The “sales enablers” were the 21% who gave themselves the high grades in using thought leadership to sell (a four or five on a scale of one to five). The 26% who gave themselves low grades (a one or two) are the “publishers.” A big difference between the two groups is that enablers use thought leadership later in the purchase process, not just in the epiphany and awareness stages:
  • Enablers are preparing sales kits.
  • They’re creating conversation-starting checklists.
  • They’re finding salespeople who are good at using thought leadership to sell and modeling their behavior for others to emulate.
  • They’re giving sales guidance on which assets to use based on clients’ stated areas of interest.
The more salespeople are seen as thought leaders late in the purchase process, the more likely the company is to get on the shortlist (and to be considered for future engagements). Bottom line: in the war for mindshare, it is important for marketers to leverage their thought leadership at all stages of the purchase process, not just at the top of the funnel. To learn more about what the enablers are doing in terms of making thought leadership materials accessible and sales-friendly, training sales in how to use thought leadership, and developing tools that sales can use to help guide the conversation, read the full report to be posted during the week of October 14. Thought Leadership in the Early and Later Stages of the Sales Process  

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