Whether you’re interested in buying a new car, new phone, new anything, chances are the first thing you’ll do is go online and do some research. Read some user reviews. Use product comparison tools. Weigh up the pros and cons of what’s on the market.
What you’re unlikely to do is walk straight up to a sales rep and make a purchase based on their recommendation alone. The same applies to the B2B buying landscape. With so much information at their disposal, today’s buyers engage with the sales rep on a far more even footing.
Buyers will have done their research, meaning they will ask the right questions. The kind of questions that reveal how much your rep really knows – and not just about your product, but your industry. (A word of caution: they’ll also have the knowledge to spot dubious-sounding claims when they hear them). None of which makes for particularly comfortable reading for sales reps. However, that doesn’t mean sales no longer has a vital role to play along the buying journey – it’s just that their role has evolved. What buyers are looking for today is industry insight: sales reps who can offer genuine advice, based on what’s right for their business, not the vendor’s.
And this is where inbound marketing comes in. With inbound, you can make your brand’s presence felt at every stage of the buying journey – engaging your prospects with highly targeted content before passing them to sales to convert.
Videos, podcasts or social media will ensure that your brand is seen in all the right places when buyers begin their purchasing journey online (and practically all journeys begin online).
Creating problem-solving content for reps to share on social is also a great way to help them build a reputation for helping rather than selling – and when it comes to fostering long-term relationships, a LinkedIn post that addresses a burning industry issue is way more effective than 100 cold-calls.
When a prospect lands on your website, you can deepen their connection with your brand with whitepapers and ‘explainer content’ that demonstrate your ability to solve their specific challenges.
And remember: buyers aren’t interested in your products per se (or your competitors’, for that matter). What they’re interested in is fixing the thing that’s stopping their business from growing. Be the brand that shows them how.
As the buyer moves along the purchasing-cycle – thanks to well-positioned, carefully crafted calls to action (CTAs) on your website – your sales reps are now in a favourable position to talk to a buyer who is already convinced you’re a brand worth considering.
And to really help sales seal the deal, arm your reps with more content, like user-guides and how-to tools – it shows buyers you’re in it for the long-haul and want to help them get the most out of their investment.
In today’s buyer-savvy age, inbound marketing is a vital tool for building long-term relationships – which is what the modern B2B sales-cycle is all about.