How to create content for selling: part two

This is the second part of our series, explaining how to create effective content for selling. 

The future of B2B sales

B2B sales has transformed with the advent of the information age and the everevolving purchase journey. What does that mean for today’s salesperson?

In recent years the life of the sales person has changed immeasurably. Gone are the days where the salesperson was the face of a company, holding all the control. Today, the typical B2B buyer is 57% of the way through the purchase process before they engage directly with a supplier, meaning they do almost all their learning before the salesperson has any influence. A salesperson can no longer discuss a business problem, reframe it, and point the buyer towards a product or service.

Nowadays it’s the buyer who is in the driving seat. Often, it comes down to price, and no B2B salesperson worth their salt wants to simply have price wars day in, day out. Furthermore, the number of stakeholders in the decision making process has grown to an average of 5.4. Sales teams are facing a perfect storm – their prospects are more savvy, more price sensitive and come with more complex approvals processes. So where does content come in?

Guide to turning a lead into an advocate — with content

1. They want…

  • to learn the newest, most up to date information about their industry, and forecast future trends
  • to understand more about brands or services that can solve their business challenges, but not be sold to
  • to weigh up the results of their information gathering and begin to narrow down providers
  • to make a purchase
  • to feel like they are being treated like an partner, not just an account or customer

2. They might…

  • use the news, broadsheets, Google, Linked in and blogs to consume headline information
  • look at customer reviews, get some internal advice, browse the web
  • browse your website and broad product offering, with further client testimonials
  • get in touch, start to care about price (this may become the differentiator)
  • ignore your attempts to upsell/cross-sell as they have made the purchase already and have better things to do

3. They won’t care about…

  • your company, the details of your product, your product-specific webinar, special offers
  • product news, service updates, launch events, price
  • events, newsletters, high level research, your company magazine
  • research, content, extensive marketing emails, anything other than buying-centric conversations
  • customer stories, un-targeted blogs, irrelevant/regular sales calls

4. Marketing should…

  • drive brand awareness. Create primary research about their industry, formatted in searchable terms, e.g. headline figures with editorial content
  • produce educational content about specific business issues backed by case studies and expert opinion, e.g. well-designed white papers that give you an independent feel
  • ensuring client stories are created in line with the high production values of before, and are made available to sales
  • make sure sales immerse the customer. Help them become an advocate by giving them truly valuable research-driven insight

5. Sales should…

  • segment research by sector and use online campaigns, mail hard copies direct to key prospects, follow up on inbound emails
  • contact the leads from the sector specific research, and send further educational content to enlighten those leads further
  • call the leads they have grown thus far, keep it traditional (“I noticed you downloaded our research on…”) and discuss findings and related business issues
  • CLOSE!
  • not ignore them just because the sale is made. Use insight-led content to re-engage them, cross-sell and to introduce yourself to other business departments

How to measure success:

~ positive feedback from sales team — less resistance, visitor metrics (especially site dwell time)

~ content click through rates, views, requests for information

~ quality conversations, sales resistance lowered, volume of product enquiries

~ deals, near-misses

~ specific content engagement levels, cross/up-selling success, referrals, client retention

How do you win the content game? We give our top tips in part three.