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.

“Unlike traditional solution sellers, these star performers lead with insights meant to upend a customer’s approach to business, and they aren’t afraid to push customers out of their comfort zones… Stars, in other words, place more emphasis on a customer’s potential to change than on its potential to buy. They’re able to get in early and advance a disruptive solution because they target accounts where demand is emerging, not established – accounts that are primed for change but haven’t yet generated the necessary consensus, let alone settled on a course of action.” – Brent Adamson, Mathew Dixon and Nicholas Toman, The End of Solution Sales, Harvard Business Review

This proven sales technique, known as Insight Selling, provides marketers with new opportunities to support the sales organization. Marketers can play a significant role by priming buyers with content that educates them on why the status quo is preventing them from achieving their business objectives or hampering their ability to handle internal or external pressures – in addition to creating content that guides buyers through the traditional marketing and sales funnel.

Moreover, because the Internet and social media provide potential buyers with unprecedented opportunities to speak with your existing customers – both those who are happy with your solutions and those who aren’t,  it’s critical that marketers also get involved in the post-buying stage of the customer journey in order to monitor and promote customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy.
An effective content marketing strategy supports the entire customer journey from beginning to end to address key questions and concerns as they move through the pre-buying, buying and post-buying stages.

Click on the diagram to zoom in.

Customer-Journey_Diagram