Improve Content Marketing To Make Your Sales Team Happy
B2B customers have changed how they buy causing B2B customer-vendor disconnects that hurt sales and extend the purchase process.
This isn’t a news flash.
Research has shown that B2B clients are 57% or more of the way through the purchase process before they contact vendors.
Content marketers and sales teams can learn from LinkedIn Research’s Rethinking the B2B Buyer. It underscores 3 B2B customer-vendor disconnects (both marketers and salespeople).
Despite having jobs focused on increasing qualified leads and sales, your marketers and salespeople can miss what your potential customers want and need to consider your offering.
These 3 B2B customer-vendor disconnects provide an opportunity for astute marketers to fill the gap between what customers want and what sellers provide.
- B2B Customer Journey (contains useful charts and data!)
3 B2B customer-vendor disconnects
1. B2B customers want to purchase from trusted partners
B2B customers want trust, a personal relationship and responsiveness.
B2B clients are looking for a partner. People like to do business with real people, especially for high-ticket purchases. They want to know you as a person. They want to be sure that if they have a problem you’ll help resolve it.
B2B customers aren’t much different from many B2C customers. They’ve transferred their shopping knowledge from their personal lives to their business lives. They know how to look for the product information they need and want.
Price isn’t top of their list. These products are expensive, considered investments. They must work for the client’s specific business. From your client’s perspective, their business success is their chief concern. Without this, their life will be more difficult.
Therefore, price is one of their considerations but it’s not the top one.
I get this. When I was at The Economist, I tried to find lower priced market research vendors. Since their price wasn’t sufficiently cheaper, I chose the Tiffany brand that other Economist marketers used. It made my life easier.
B2B clients want to work with salespeople who:
- Understand their company. They want partners who know products and services as well as their business model.
- Are subject matter experts. They want the reassurance that they’re dealing with a well-respected thought leader.
- Provides valuable consultation, education and/or tools. They want someone who’ll guide them in making the purchase effective in driving their business.
80% of customers expect engagement and 73% of customers consider competitors post-purchase according to Forbes Insights. Although sellers aren’t focused on this content yet. This is another opportunity.
Translation: Your sale doesn’t stop with the purchase and implementation.
You need to be there for your clients or you risk loosing them to your competitors. With the increase in SaaS, customers buy subscriptions that they can change at the end of the contract. This translates to shorter contracts and greater need to focus on the post purchase and pre-renew phases of the purchase cycle.
Actionable B2B Marketing Tactic:
- Use every customer touch point to build your knowledge about your customers. To achieve this, your technology must support and facilitate these activities and your employees must be motivated to participate. This combination isn’t easy to achieve.
- Know the features of your offering that they’re using and how they can be optimized for their business. This is valuable information that will set your business apart from your competitors.
- Post-Purchase Content to Keep Customers Engaged.
2. B2B customers have a collaborative purchase process
If you’re a B2B salesperson, you can no longer fill your sales quota just by winning over the top decision maker.
You have to get buy-in from a group of internal influencers who have different roles in buying and using the product/service. Each of these people may have different personal agendas that need to be considered before you’ll get the sale.
B2B buying involves roughly 3-5 different departments according to LinkedIn. This varies by company type. (Note: In some companies, there may be very little if any difference between Finance and Accounting.)
Actionable B2B Marketing Tactics:
- Develop and update marketing personas across your customer buying team. This will make your content more effective since you’ll be able to tailor it better.
- Determine what information each purchase influencer needs. Don’t assume everyone’s concerns or information requirements are the same.
- Create content targeted at all of these inside influencers. Answering their questions and meeting their needs is table stakes. Otherwise, you’re out of the consideration set since this process can happen before sales ever gets an appointment.
3. B2B customers need 3 types of content marketing
B2B marketers and salespeople miss the boat when it comes to the key information their clients want. This is a major opportunity for astute content marketers.
Marketers and salespeople create great case studies that help at the top of the funnel. While this is a top content marketing tactic, case studies often don’t reveal enough information for buyers to really know if the product will meet their needs.
Buyers want 3 key types of content marketing:
- Detailed product information including features and functions. They want to see what they’re getting and how it applies to their business. Give them what they’re looking for. Marcus Sheridan gets it. He calls it the “They ask, you answer.” Don’t skip the difficult questions like price.
- Product demonstrations. This is the show me how to use your product or service. How does your offering fit into my business?
- Best practices. Don’t just sell me your product. Provide the guidance I need to get the most out of my investment. Remember you’re talking to business people—they’re seeking a partnership. They want to look good to their boss.
Actionable B2B Marketing Tactics:
- Focus on the content that every member of the collaborative buying team wants. Even better make it easy for them to find via search and social media. It’s safer to assume they won’t contact you until they know what they’re doing.
- Determine what do your top performing customers do with your offering that your other customers don’t do. Then package this information to increase product use. When your customers are looking to maximize the results from every dollar they spend, this is key to building an on-going partnership.
Avoid B2B customer-vendor disconnects by filling these 3 gaps with content marketing that your customers actively seek.
Namely, detailed product information, product demonstrations and best practices. Adapt this content to reach the key purchase influencers.
What type of content marketing works best for your B2B customers? How does your customers’ content needs change through the purchase process?
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