If I could wave a magic wand for a B2B salesperson and grant a wish, many would ask to spend their days closing inbound sales qualified leads. All day, every day.
But the problem is most prospects are not ready to buy.
According to Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, up to 95% of qualified prospects on your website are there to research and are not yet ready to talk with a sales rep, but as many as 70% will eventually buy from you or one of your competitors.
Most leads need to be nurtured along their buying journey with useful information until they have educated themselves and know, like and trust your company.
This “move” is based on a horny, clueless, 19 year-old dude who is looking for some serious romantic action on a first date.
(Message to 19 year-old dudes: If you try this approach, buy lottery tickets too. Your chances of success will be roughly equivalent.)
From a B2B sales perspective, the 19 year-old dude move manifests itself where, upon initial contact with the prospect, the salesperson or website offers only information very specific to their product or service. Examples include demos, product sheets, pricing guides.
Dude, slow down!
While that kind of information should be available on your website and at the salesperson’s fingertips, other information that more closely maps where the prospect is in her buying journey is what’s going to get you to second base.
If you frame the buyer’s journey into three stages, the types of content that are most effective become easier to understand.
This is where a buyer is expressing the symptoms of a problem (or an opportunity). The buyer isn’t sure what her problem is. She probably needs more educational research to understand the problem.
An example would be one of my prospects whose company has declining sales. She has a gnawing feeling that her marketing efforts are not generating the number and quality of leads it once did. She might start to research things like “improving sales lead quality” or “modern lead generation methods.”
The type of information that is most helpful at this stage is vendor-neutral and helps identify problems or symptoms. Examples include analyst reports, research reports, eBooks, editorial content, educational content, etc.
What she doesn’t want at this point is lots of information about my marketing agency (e.g. pricing, testimonials, case studies, etc.). She doesn’t even know what options exist to solve her problem and she probably doesn’t understand how a firm like mine could help.
Once the buyer has given a name to her problem, she then starts to consider all the available approaches/methods to solving it.
An example for this business owner with declining sales might be to hire a marketing person, re-assign roles of existing staff, or outsource to a marketing agency or consultant.
Content that is most relevant to the buyer at this stage would help her weigh her options such as comparison white papers, expert guides, webinars, videos, etc.
The buyer has reached this stage when she has defined her solution strategy, method, or approach. She is starting to compile a list of available vendors and products within her solution strategy.
Here, she will need supporting documentation, data, benchmarks or endorsements in order to make or recommend a final decision.
The right content for this stage includes vendor (or product) comparisons, case studies, trial download, a live demo, product literature, etc.
Offering content to your prospects that reflects their buying journey is becoming more important. That’s because the way your customers buy has changed. While in the past, your prospect might contact you early in their purchase research to get information, they now go online and don’t contact you until they are much closer to making a decision. If you don’t offer them information that helps them through the buying stages, you’ll rarely get to first base with them.