Think about the last time you made a major purchase decision in your personal life. Where did you start? Did you jump on Google, maybe you asked your Facebook network or checked out those Amazon reviews?
Nobody engages a salesperson as the first thing they do.
It is up to sales, marketing and sales enablement leaders today to think about how can they enable their teams to share the right content at the right time to elevate the customer experience while providing the digital glue to knock down age-old silos.
How do you prioritize sales enablement in the coming year? Sign up for How to Make 2018 The Year of Sales Enablement during Modern Sales Series, happening October 3, to find out.
THE LANDSCAPE OF B2B SALES TODAY—WHY CONTENT IS KEY
It’s well understood today that on average, customers complete nearly 60% of their purchasing decision before they talk to anybody in sales at all.
They’re looking at multiple pieces of content on their own. This is why it’s absolutely crucial to add value to that conversation or the interaction the first time that you have it.
Take a look at the stats below—74% of buyers choose the sales rep that was first to bring value & insight. Why? Because A, it’s becoming more and rarer than sales professionals do that in the first engagement and B, because, that’s what buyers want. They’ve done their research. They’ve done their education. Now they want to engage with the salesperson to bring value.
What a lot of sales professionals who still hammer cold outreach don’t always realize is that leaders see those messages, but they don’t necessarily act on them. With templated messages, there’s no real insight or effort into actually educating you. It’s a risk. If salespeople don’t start to shift how they serve people, they’re going to have a tough time winning and also maintaining customer relationships.
This is why more than half of B2B buyers think less of brands that still use cold calling.
THE BUYING JOURNEY IS ANYTHING BUT LINEAR
Our VP of Sales, Brian Lipp was recently in a situation where someone he was working with had identified an incredible potential customer. They were the perfect ideal customer profile (ICP). They were nurturing. But they weren’t really getting anywhere.
They started to get disappointed. But they maintained their persistence, and finally, they got through.
When they had that initial conversation, they were surprised to hear that the ICP had seen value in the content they were sharing—they had even acted on it. They had actually taken that piece of content into a boardroom and discussed it.
The lesson here is that unless you’re selling a commoditized product that everybody knows about, the buying journey is not a linear path. Be patient, persistent, and continue providing relevant value.
NEVER SEND A NAKED MESSAGE
A good rule of thumb for salespeople in today’s busy market is to never send a naked message—64% of B2B decision makers said they wouldn’t engage with a salesperson if the communication was not personalized, according to LinkedIn.
Emails are great sharing an attachment, but not necessarily for communicating or cutting through the noise. Emerging mediums like video help salespeople stay creative, while also humanizing the experience.
Keep in mind that one day, video will be the over-dominated medium. People will get videos every day and there will be no creativity to them. To break through the noise again, you’ll need harness creativity once again.
But you can’t just send one video and walk away. Salespeople must be professionally persistent. In the 2016 Sales Development Metrics report from the Bridge Group, they reported the average number of attempts per prospect has gone up 46%, now just over 8, since 2012 to maintain the same number of quality conversations.
"Differentiate from the competition by giving your customers a memorable buying experience."
What does the customer engage with? How can you reciprocate how they want to communicate back? Keep an open mind as far as the different mediums that they’re using. And always ensure you’re agile in terms of delivering digital insights that relate directly to your buyers' pain points.
THE REALITIES OF SALES AND MARKETING WORKING TOGETHER
To break down the age-old silos of sales and marketing working together, you need to measure, qualitatively and quantitatively, the ROI of marketing content.
You definitely want to have your ear to the ground, so to speak, with respect to how your sales team is using the content. But then you’ve also got to be able to measure it—there are so many people who have no content measurability. They’re spending 20 percent of their marketing budget creating content and they have no idea what the ROI is on that and oftentimes, 70 to 80, sometimes even as high as 90 percent of it goes completely unused for the purpose that it was built for.
So to be able to measure that and to know which pieces of content are resonating helps to align your sales and marketing team much better because now sales are getting what they want.
"Better align your sales and marketing teams behind creating and using content your buyers will love."
At the same time, digital is fostering some great solutions. One of the things we see to be pretty effective is to formalize the process into a concept called insights committee. Here, you’re really fostering a continuous loop of reviewing content, optimizing it and then creating new content ideas moving forward.
Using content throughout your customer’s buying journey requires an effort on both sales and marketing.
Sales must understand the buying journey is not linear. Look into the digital fingerprints of your buyer and share content that is relevant to their pain to stand out from the crowd. Don’t give up. Follow their company and their personal accounts on social media and continue to hammer away with relevant insights.
Marketing must understand their role—to create content sales can actually use. To do this, engage in a continuous feedback loop to ensure your efforts are not wasteful.
- The buying experience has fundamentally changed. To stand out as a salesperson, add contextual, relevant value the moment a buyer reaches out.
- Prioritize learning consistently. Both sales and marketing has to understand the market they serve, industry trends, personas, et cetera.
- Be persistent. Even though sales has more intelligence and is going to be smarter on they’ve still got to put forward the effort to learn, apply, fail but fail fast and then get back up and be smarter about what you do.
This blog has been adapted from the webinar: How To Use Content Throughout Your Customer’s Buying Journey.