Your business has a problem. A big one.
Let me paint the scenario for you: the senior management at your company has decided on who your target market is. They already know who needs to buy in to your product or service, and they’ve got your sales and marketing departments laser-focused on those key decision makers.
Trouble is, that’s not really increasing your sales much. Your sales team is stuck cold calling, or worse, buying lists, to try and get in touch with those decision makers. At best, they actually get a meeting or call with a lead a handful of times a month – and rarely are they ready to make a purchase decision at that time.
It’s expensive, and it’s time consuming. Your sales cycle is months, on average, sometimes as long as a year or more.
You might think that’s just a fact of life, you’re in B2B after all – sales cycles just plain take longer. You have to get buy in from more people, convince more of the people in leadership roles, and in general massage the process along with much more effort than a B2C company ever has to invest.
go There’s a better way.
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Let’s take the example of your own business to set the stage.
How often does your CEO really spend time researching and learning about new tools or offerings for the business? Key decision makers, if that’s not the CEO?
Chances are, they rely on the “little guys” to do that research for them. Who actually spends the time to research new tools or options within your company? Is it you? Or is it someone in the office who just reports to you or someone else in management?
How often are you contacted by some upstart at a target company who really has no purchase power? How often is your sales team annoyed that this person, who “can’t do anything for you”, has wasted their time with a request for a demo or a call?
Your sales team is missing a prime opportunity.
That person might not have had purchase power, but they weren’t looking up your business for fun. There was (is) a real need at that company for a specific solution, and that person was trying to find it.
Helping that person succeed with their bosses is your way in to the company.
The higher ups at every company get bombarded by sales teams like yours every day.
It’s nearly impossible for your sales team to differentiate themselves from the dozens of other sales teams out there if all they’re doing is cold calling and sending out email blasts to purchased lists.
The senior management team, those key decision makers, are constantly being targeted by sales teams just like yours. They’re sick of the emails they never signed up for, and the last thing they want is a cold call sneaking in during the busiest part of their day. It’s not welcome, and they aren’t happy about it.
What they do welcome, on the other hand, is “insider knowledge” from their own staff, or from colleagues. This is particularly the case as we start seeing millennials moving into more and more decision making roles.
Google shows that nearly half of all B2B researchers are millennials; if you’re not marketing to them, you’re missing out on nearly half of your potential audience.
Another key point from Google’s research is that while not all researchers are signing off on the final purchase, 81% have a say in the purchasing decision.
If you’re not offering content for those researchers, if you’re not trying to help them come to the decision that your product or service is what they need – then that’s 81% of potential business that you’re losing.
How do you help these researchers impact your sales efforts?
The hardest part for researchers who are trying to influence their department or company in your favor is that chances are, your website and content aren’t helping them.
Maybe you have plenty of blogs, press releases, or other information about your company… but what does that really do to persuade a risk-adverse manager or director in your favor?
Chances are, they want to see the value in it for them. What’s your value proposition?
What does that value proposition really say that they would care about? What do you have on your website that spells it out – and I mean crystal clear – what the value is for them?
Do you have white papers, comparison reports, or other content offers that your initial contact can print out to give to their managers or coworkers to show that you’re the superior option?
Or…is your content all self serving, and provides little support for that small, first contact?
Your home page should be a beautiful monument to how amazing you are, yes. But the actual content within your website should be focused on helping those B2B researchers, those millennials, do what you need – influence the rest of their office.
The researchers do something else – they turn into brand ambassadors.
The idea of a brand ambassador is usually something that only the biggest B2B or average B2C company really dreams about. Who really gets all excited and cheerleader-y about your average B2B product or service?
The little guys, that’s who.
The people who actually use and work with your product or service on a regular basis are the ones who really get passionate about the best solution. They’re the ones using it day in and day out, and they’re the ones most frustrated or excited about a particular option.
That’s why you want to target them with your content. They’re the ones who will be googling the keywords you’re targeting, and who will spend the time to learn about you before suggesting you to their managers.
They’re probably the people preparing the reports to give to management about possible options for the solution you provide. They’re doing the research and determining what they want to work with – management just reviews the information. The managing team might visit your website, and check out the “about” page with information about the leadership at your company, but it’s rare that they’ll be the ones reading your blogs or being the first to download whitepapers.
That means the content you create, the social media posts you share, and the other ways you try to connect and network with people all need to focus on who actually influences the purchase decision.
And it’s not the people you’ve always thought it was.
Don’t get me wrong – you still need to convince the final decision makers.
You might think that I’m trying to say you should give up on marketing and selling to the top of the food chain at your target companies.
No, absolutely not.
You should still be trying to market to them, as well as trying to sell to them – but you should be doing it in a more intelligent way.
Stop being so pushy (purchasing lists is bad, mmkay?), and scale back your cold calling efforts. Maybe instead of targeting the senior executives for your cold calling, see if you can get in touch with someone lower down.
Ask them what they really need. Problem solve with them. Then ask them if they think you’re a potential fit – if they like what they’ve seen.
If the answer is yes, ask them how you can help them get the upper management team on board. Who’s the best person to reach out to next? Do they have suggestions on getting a call in with them, or what pain points that person experiences the most?
It’s not hard to see how that kind of inside knowledge is an incredibly useful tool in sales.