Yes, you’ve heard it all. Content is king, and 70 percent of the buyer’s journey is complete before the buyer even talks to a sales rep. In fact, the theme of Marketo’s 2015 Summit promoted a “Marketing First World.”
You’re left wondering, are the days of the Enterprise Sales Professional numbered? Is it just a matter of time until you are replaced by a technology-enabled Content Marketing team focused on delivering pragmatic educational content in the right place at the right time?
Yes, B2B buyers are researching before they talk to you. However, research from ITSMA states, “sales is being invited to the conversation at all stages of the buying process.” In fact, when asked about credible sources of information, respondents ranked their technology/solution provider sales rep high on the list.
Does social proof have you worried too?
Good news, it’s not only just you B2B buyers consider a credible source of information. According to the research, buyers also rely on your company website and company subject matter experts — even more so than their peers and colleagues when making a purchase decision. Peer reviews provide excellent supporting and validating evidence – but it’s often the brand POV they trust more.
The evolution of the Sales Pro as curator
B2B buyers today are looking to their sales reps for education and information. Sales pros armed with high-quality educational content deliver an excellent experience for buyers through their active curation. You act as a tour guide helping them advance through their journey, answering questions along the way, and pointing out interesting and relevant bits of information. This type of collaboration benefits the buyer because you are addressing their needs by curating the most important insights for them instead of having them sift through volumes of online information.
How? Leverage content from you audience-centric marketing partner
According to research from the Content Marketing Institute supporting sales is the top goal of Content Marketing programs. Leading marketing teams have shifted their focus to content production and publishing on a consistent basis. They’re not focused on just filling a library, they truly want to create content that drives sales. How do marketers know what content is working? One method is to always connect open Opportunities to the specific marketing campaign configured in Salesforce (this campaign is configured in your marketing automation tool and synched to Salesforce.) This linking provides the marketing team an accurate closed-loop report on the full revenue cycle — exactly what content series is most effective at driving closed-won deals.
In addition, you will be armed with precise historical data on what resonated with each prospect during their buying process. Great insight to land future deals.
Guarantee your success by supporting a documented Content Marketing strategy
The better the marketing team can directly track success, the stronger your content library will become. Recognizing success is a function of a documented Content Marketing strategy with clear goals, objectives and outcomes. Access to quality content at the moment it is needed is what enables you to become a trusted advisor supporting your customer’s buying decisions.
When sales and marketing work together to establish goals and document a strategy, marketing is no longer blindly creating content and, sales reps no longer have to scramble when a customer asks for information.
A good educator doesn’t necessarily have to know all the answers, but should know where to find those answers. A good content library created by sales and marketing working closely together ensures the sales rep will have quick access to information the customer needs to make that final decision.
The number one goal of Content Marketing in B2B manufacturing organizations is to drive sales, yet there is a gap in measuring effectiveness. By embracing great content and supporting closed-loop reporting your win rates will improve and you’ll never be replaced by a machine. The greater the content production, the higher the demand will be for sales pro curators.
Hit me on Twitter @JeffLHerrmann if you want to dig in further.