For years, B2B vendors have relied on solution sales and marketing tactics to get ahead of the RFP and influence the criteria buyers use to evaluate and select a solution. Today, that’s not enough. With 60% of the buying decision being made without ever consulting with a sales representative, solution providers must engage with buyers much earlier on in the process – even before there is an identified need. According to a comprehensive Corporate Executive Board study, top performing sales professionals target organizations that have an emerging need or are in a state of flux. They then provide buyers with provocative insights on what they should do and coach them on how to buy.
Understanding how B2B buyers search for solution options, short-list and evaluate vendors, and make their final purchasing decision is critical for developing persuasive messages that capture buyers’ attention and move them through the sales funnel. That’s why organizations are increasingly using buyer personas to take the guesswork and personal opinions out of what will work versus what won’t. However, not all buyer personas are created equally. While some buyer personas contain deep insights that help marketers to make confident decisions about how to get the right message to the right people at the right time in the buying journey, other buyer personas never get put to use.
Delivering the right information, to the right people, at the right time in the B2B buying process is critical for persuading buyers to purchase your solution. But what if your marketing and sales efforts are built on false assumptions about what’s important to buyers and how they make their purchasing decision? What if you discovered that 70% of your marketing budget and 40% of your sales efforts were NOT being spent in places that actually influence the buying decision? What would be the reaction of your CEO and CFO?
60% of the B2B buying decision is made WITHOUT speaking to a sales rep. Buyers are using the web to get the information they need. “It’s turning many of our sales conversations into fulfillment conversations”, says one chief sales officer at a high tech company (Harvard Business Review). To address the changing B2B buying process, modern marketers are turning to content marketing and seeing some impressive results. AT&T, for example, generated $47 million in new business within a period of 18 months using a combined content marketing and social media strategy.
Producing the kind of content that engages buyers remains marketers’ top challenge – both for enterprises and small businesses alike. According to the latest study from the Content Marketing Institute, 54% of small businesses and 58% of enterprises cite this a challenge, demonstrating that “marketers are focusing on the value of quality over quantity”.