Content Marketing

Use Content To Convert The Invisible Sale


Prospecting for new business is a painful duty relished by very few business owners. No one likes to cold call or cold email. Because of this, far too many companies fail because they don’t keep their sales pipeline full of highly qualified prospects.

In my earlier days, a VP of Biz Dev at a regional advertising agency, I once had to call on a prospect 52 times before our agency was invited to pitch for anything. Conversely, the last client I picked up at my current firm, Converse Digital, took exactly one call and a meeting over beers.

Exact same result. Far less effort and expense.

So what am I doing differently today to create that streamlined, one meeting and a beer pitch?

Simple, I’ve invested in the creation of Youtility.

I’ve stopped being trapped inside a prospecting database, focused on working my leads via cold calls and cold emails. Instead, I spend my time creating great content in the form of blog posts, white papers and helpful marketing and sales tips and techniques.

Let’s be clear. I’m not advocating that you destroy your sales prospecting database or cease all traditional outbound business development efforts. Yes they’re inefficient but they do work. So don’t toss out the baby with the bathwater.

I am however insisting that the future of successful sales prospecting will require every company create a painless prospecting platform powered by the Propinquity Effect. Today’s buyers, both in the B2B and B2C world are increasingly hiding behind the anonymity of Google and digital content consumption to remain invisible until they are ready to talk to you.  This is creating a new strategic inflection point I call the invisible sale.

To win that invisible sale, you need to create additional opportunities for prospects to see your content more often and in more places than just your blog. Repeated exposures help them get to know you. This makes sense. Each time they are exposed to your content they are interacting with you, your thoughts and beliefs. This leads to a feeling of knowing you because it mirrors how we get to know people in the real world.

All of these repeated exposures move them from simply knowing you to actually liking you. Again, this mirrors the making friends context we’re all familiar with in the offline world. The more we interact with people we know, the more we tend to find aspects about them that we like – which has been repeatedly proven in numerous studies of romantic relationship formation.

Because they like you, they consume more of your content. (This is usually the point where they do things like subscribe to your blog) As they do, a portion of the audience will find a common ground with your beliefs. This intersection of your beliefs, interests, or personality and your audience’s creates Psychological Propinquity.  And that is what leads to Top-of-Mind-Preference.

To win the invisible sale you have to move beyond traditional Top-of-Mind-Awareness to achieve Top-of-Mind-Preference (TOMP). Awareness isn’t enough today – that just gets you in the Google Search and assuming your competitors are optimizing for your business name as well as their own, might actually create additional competition for you.

You need to leverage the power of helpful content to create a sense of attachment between a prospect and your company before the sales process starts. Youtility content accomplishes this goal. By being helpful, you endear yourself to a prospect and provide value. This value translates into preference or as we used to say in the sales world, top of stack – where a prospect places your proposal on the top of the stack to increase the odds their boss will read it.

But make no mistake, while taking time and hard work to achieve, once your company is the TOMP for a prospective buyer, you stand at least a 50/50 chance of winning their business. When you achieve TOMP, effectively in the prospect’s mind, the choice is simple. They can buy from you or anyone else.

I’m not a gambling man, but I’ll take a 50/50 shot at a new client every day.

If you want to learn more about how to stop living inside the database and start leveraging the power of helpful content to grow sales, download this free chapter, from my new book, The Invisible Sale, where I dive much deeper into this important strategic inflection point and discuss actionable strategies to help your company.

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  1. says

    Interesting perspective, Tom. This kind of reminds me of the new Hummingbird update to Google search. It’s not just about being a possible match, but rather about being the best match – and in the Invisible Sale case, the top of mind *preference* for your potential customer. I think injecting a bit of endearing personality into that content would definitely help spark emotion and thus a better likelihood of a sale.

  2. says

    “Let’s be clear. I’m not advocating that you destroy your sales prospecting database or cease all traditional outbound business development efforts. Yes they’re inefficient but they do work. So don’t toss out the baby with the bathwater.”

    I’m glad to hear you say this. So many content marketing “gurus” claim outbound marketing is dead.

    But your article also assumes that your target audience actually consumes digital information. Our target audience is rural small business owners who are very computer, Internet and social media illiterate. (We’ve even had some ask us to fax a copy of the website we designed so they can approve it because they have neither Internet nor email.) So my unanswered question remains, “What if your target market doesn’t consume online content?”

    • says


      Propinquity Points can be online AND offline. While yes, the post and my Painless Prospecting approach is decidedly digitally centric, I’d advise you and companies like yours to see offline opportunities as well.

      For instance, I have a friend that owns a tire store in our neighborhood. One of his key propinquity points is the Dad’s Club at the Grammar School. They meet once a month and about 150 guys show up. My buddy is always one of them and he’s ALWAYS wearing something logo’d to reinforce to guys who see him — I’m the Dad with the Tire Store. He gets a good bit of biz from this tactic.

      Digital or physical… goal is the same. Find the propinquity points, be there or have your content there and make sure that each time folks run into you or your content they discover a new reason to like you.

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