Any company, whether B2B or B2C, aims to establish a connection with their end-customers. However, technological advancements, like the internet, have significantly disrupted sales and marketing.
Given how social media and other online platforms largely influence most consumers and end-customers, B2B brands often find it hard to form a lasting connection with their audience.
If we look into the buyers’ behavior, a 2018 study by Gartner revealed that over 27% of B2B buyers prefer doing online research while only 17% of them meet sales reps.
Moreover, a recent study by HubSpot indicates that 40% of sales reps are experiencing challenges earning a response from their consumers.
So, what is it that this 40% of businesses are doing wrong? What are the ways to ensure more buyers convert?
Let’s try to dig deep.
The B2B sales process is significantly different from other types of sales processes - B2B is typically more complex and requires dealing with longer sales cycles and higher-order value. With a lot of data and information at their disposal, B2B companies often struggle to simplify buyers' purchase processes and optimize buyer enablement.
Only surveying 250 B2B buyers, Gartner found that 77% of buyers had a difficult experience while making a purchase.
The report further suggested that suppliers can place informative content on their websites to simplify the buying process for their consumers.
So, what are the ways that help you achieve the goal of generating high-quality leads while making the buying process less-complicated?
Turns out, the way to bridge the gap is Content Marketing.
Content marketing has been around since marketing was originated. It is a tried and tested strategy that generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and is 62% more cost-effective. And given how efficient it is at turning a lead into a prospective buyer, most organizations have shifted their focus to content marketing.
In fact, 93% of B2B companies that implemented content marketing strategies experienced an influx of inbound leads.
On the other hand, 60% of buyers said the content helped them form a buying decision.
However, merely putting out random content on websites or landing pages will not give the best results. Having a strategic plan to distribute information is critical to make your content strategy effective and result-oriented.
Today, we’ve listed down ten ways that can make your B2B sales process more rewarding with content marketing.
Tip #1 Predict the Buying Needs of Your Customers
B2B sales vary for most companies and so do the complexities that come along with it.
A sales process that one buyer finds complex or difficult might not be complicated for another. In fact, many B2B suppliers say that often the same consumer shows different buying patterns at different times.
It’s imperative to understand that the buying behavior of consumers keeps changing. Even if you think you’ve tracked the buying pattern of your consumers, don’t be surprised if you find them diverting from the usual trajectory.
Although a sales rep may be efficient at handling such complexities by adjusting their sales approach, adjusting website content can be challenging. Having an average piece of sales copy is less likely to inspire your customers to make a purchase from your brand compared to a well researched and strategic piece of content aimed at answering their questions.
However, by enabling your consumers to have access to relevant and useful information, you can push them further down the sales pipeline. To further optimize your website for lead generation, you can categorize the content based on various consumer groups called buyer personas.
Curate content that best suits the requirements of the individuals in each consumer group and the content on your website. Doing so will allow your consumers to choose from a broad spectrum of information they need. It’s a fantastic way to enable your buyers to move smoothly through the buying process and at the same time, establish yourself as a credible brand.
For instance, you can structure the information in the inverted pyramid style wherein you present the information in the most important to the least important flow. Offer highly valuable information about your products or services first and then cover more in-depth details in your content.
To ensure you cover most, if not all, buying variations in your website, conduct thorough research on your buyers, their buying preferences, and buying-pattern. If you do so, you will be able to craft content that is more relevant and useful to your target audience.
Tip #2 Enable the “Scouts” to Find Essential Information
Before making any major purchase that involves complex decisions, companies usually look for multiple vendors. They resort to the internet to conduct online research to evaluate which vendor would be best suited.
To make the process more efficient, some companies even assign administrative personnel or executives to perform vendor research. They are referred to as “scouts.”
For a brand that deals in high-end technology or product, captivating the attention of prospective buyers at the very first stage of the sales process is essential. If your company fails to make it to the recommendation list of the scouts, there is a high chance your brand will be not be considered for the deal.
Since there are limited consumers for your industry, there are also limited sales opportunities. Failure in the conversion of sales means a major loss for the company. Thus, appealing the scouts should be one of your primary focus points.
Websites, landing pages, and social media are some of the easiest ways to entice relevant consumers for your brand. Since scouts start their seller’s research online, make sure you’re searchable in search engines. Make sure your brand appears on the first page on Google’s SERPs. Having a robust social media presence has become imperative for brands of all kinds.
Make sure you have an optimum presence on the internet and register your brand on major directories and yellow pages.
On your website, ensure there is sufficient detail about your brand, the products or services you offer, and the industry you deal in. Adding reviews of your existing clients will put more validity to your claims.
Also, make sure that the landing pages you create offer value propositions that are most likely to entice the scouts!
Tip #3 Offer Important Details to Your Customers
Most companies in the B2B model do not put enough product/service or business information on their website.
There could be several reasons for a business not to cite company information. Some of the reasons, including the fast-changing nature of the business or fear of leaking technology to the competitors, are valid and viable.
However, lack of information may turn into a factor behind reduced sales enablement or poor buyer enablement.
Gone are the days when companies would contact the sales team to enquire about a particular product or service. In the digital era, companies prefer easy access to information. They expect vendors to provide information online.
There has been a shift in the buyer’s behavior, especially the ones that deal with transactional sales. Research indicates that buyers are taking longer to connect with a sales rep about a product. They are spending more time researching the products and evaluating several brands providing similar products before putting an offer.
If the buying process for your product is complex, you must offer as much information as possible.
Offer buyers insight into your business and service offerings as early as possible to build interest around your products. Having said that, don’t exclude the detailed information that your prospective buyers would want to know when in the later stage of the sales funnel.
If you’re concerned that your information might be seen by your competitors, secure the details with a password. This will ensure that only a verified website visitor would be able to access the information.
Tip #4 Offer Specific Information to People Who Influence Purchase Decision
A report published by the Conference Executive Board shows that behind a B2B purchase decision, around 5.8 individuals influence the business deal.
The board came to this conclusion upon surveying buyers from large organizations. Depending upon the customer’s business, these could be anywhere from 2 to 20 insiders behind the purchase decision.
Since there are several people involved in the process, you must influence their decision to have an edge over your competitors.
It is imperative to say that your website should serve the needs of the maximum decision-makers.
Your website should serve as an alternative salesperson that can cater to all the queries raised by the scouts' group, and other internal influencers.
It is important to note that each individual has a different perspective on a product or concern. They also have different preferences for the kind of information they want to have. Some might be more inclined towards video content over text or need more detailed information, while others would prefer looking for information through social media.
These factors determine what and how much information you should offer on your website. Here, information presentation also plays a crucial role in influencing the decision-makers. When putting out the information, make sure it’s organized according to the needs of the site visitors.
Tip #5 Provide Relevant Information for Buyers at Different Stages of Sales Funnel
Buyers at different stages of the sales funnel require different information. Generally, your buyers will look for detailed information about your services or products when at the initial stage of the buying process. They would be interested in knowing how your product works and whether it can offer them the desired solution they are looking for.
The information you offer should help them decide whether they should invest in your product or not.
The queries of your buyers will change as they progress further down the last stage of the sales pipeline.
You might assume that once your prospective buyer contacts you, the work of your website is over. However, for businesses with long buying processes, your website can serve as a reason for the buyers to return to your site. Each time customers visit your site, give them different information to keep them hooked on your brand and its offerings.
Tip #6 Tap into the Motives Behind the Purchase
B2B buyers make a purchase either because it serves the needs of the business or solves a problem they have.
Often, these factors are in contradiction with each other. Software that may be efficient for a manager may not be beneficial for the rest of the team.
However, your website should cover the benefits offered to the business as well as each component. Inform and educate your buyers by tapping into their minds and see the difference it brings.
Tip #7 Subtly (But Surely) Provoke Emotions of Your Buyers
Studies by psychologists have indicated that emotions drive human actions. Research on the human brain has concluded that without emotions, no human makes a decision.
However, when it comes to business management, professionals claim that they make a rational decision. Well, this is not always the case.
How well you emotionally appease your buyers through your website will determine the success rate of your sales. Make your website or landing page copy subtly provoke the emotions of your buyers. You can understand your buyer psychology and craft a content marketing strategy to leverage maximum benefits.
Tip #8 Address the Hidden Risks to Your Buyers
Buyers are often twice as concerned about loss as they are about profit. Meaning, the fear of loss plays a significant role when making a purchase decision.
Most often, your buyers will not even realize they have a problem unless it has monetary implications. When closing a deal, addressing the risks involved has more effect than merely outlining the benefits of a product.
To make your business proposition more compelling, talk in terms of numbers, values, and cost. These figures play a critical role when influencing buyers, making them move ahead with the promising purchase.
Tip #9 Speaking in Terms of ROI is a Must
Your website or the sales pitch must mention the benefits of your products in terms of Return on Investment (ROI).
The buyers would be concerned about how much profit they will generate if they use your product or service.
When devising your website copy or landing page, make sure to include your model of ROI. Doing so will allow the prospective buyer to make a calculated decision.
Tip #10 Provide Information That Offers Solutions to Buyers Concerns
At the beginning of the purchase process, buyers’ perception of risk is at the highest. However, as they proceed further down the process, their concern for risk declines.
Usually, a buyer is highly concerned about the risks when dealing with a complex sales process. When evaluating your business, your buyer is most likely to assess how well you understand their concerns and can offer them a solution.
It is essential to address these risks in order to position yourself as a reliable solution for the company. Your website or other marketing content should outline how well you can resolve their concerns.
However, you do not want to raise the concerns your buyer is not concerned about yet.
The website serves as a great platform to build brand trust and credibility. On the site, add the names of the customers and stakeholders you have partnered with. Offering guaranteed service or warranty for products is also a tried and tested way to assure the buyers.
Moreover, one of the easiest ways to create a credible brand is by putting product videos, testimonials and reviews by other customers on the site. Also, if you are associated with some renowned group or accredited by an organization, mention it on the site.
We hope that these content marketing tips help you gain an edge over your competitors and make it easier for you to acquire new businesses.