Aligning the sales process with the buyer's journey 3

Written by Ian James, Feb 8, 2017

This video, third in the series of four, is about an often overlooked overlap in the buyer's journey and the sales process.

Video introducing concept of buyers journey part 3 of 4

An Overlooked Opportunity In The Buyer’s Journey

In the last video, we started exploring where the sales process and the buyer’s journey don’t always align. The first place we looked was right at the beginning of the sales process. This is where over keen sales people sometimes approach a buyer who is not ready to buy.

In this video, we will look at a place where the sales process could help, but companies often overlook. Not doing something that can help is also a wasted opportunity.

For B2B The Buyers Journey Starts Online

Let’s go back to the buying process. The first place a buyer goes to research solutions is online. You hear different percentages quoted, but it’s never less than 80%. I often see 94% for B2B buyers. Whatever it is, it’s too big to ignore. But that is what a lot of companies do. Their websites are stuck in what I call brochure mode.   They extol the virtues of the company and its products. But not much else.

Once upon a time, everyone’s website was a brochure. But not now.

A search engine search leading to a website that only extols virtues of company with no other useful information

Of course, successful websites that generate leads for their companies do have information about products and services. But they also have lots of other information available. And it is there at precisely the point in the buyer’s journey that the buyer needs it, the research phase.

A Buyer’s Research Starts With General Background Information

If I am a buyer and I go online to start my research, I am not looking for a vendor. That comes later. As I begin my research, I am looking for much more general, non-vendor specific information. Sometimes people call this “subject matter material”.   Buyers want to know what are the potential solutions that will solve the problem. They want an idea about likely costs, or how long the implementation will take.

So smart companies provide this information on their websites. Now, the higher the quality and the more detailed this subject matter material is, without blaring the particular virtues of a vendor, the happier the buyer will be.

Whitepapers, Guides, Blog Articles and Video

Buyers like this information in the form of guides, whitepapers, detailed blog articles and, don’t forget, videos like this one. But if your website is all about your company and your product, then, at this stage, a buyer will move on quickly. You have nothing to offer them.

What is more, the chances are that buyers will find what they are looking for, but on a competitors website. If someone else provides them with relevant content, they buyer will hang around on their site, perhaps coming back more than once. And that will help your competitor with their brand recognition and their page rankings. And that means they will show up in Google or Bing more and more. It’s a virtuous circle.

The buyer might not ever come back to your “brochure site”, even when they are looking for a vendor. The vendor that provides them with useful and credible information is the vendor a buyer starts to trust.

 Content Marketing

When we give educational information to potential customers, we call it “content marketing”. It goes against the grain for a lot of companies. There is a sense that in some way they are giving away their expertise for free. Well, yes, in a way that is true. But that is not the right way to look at it.

You should think of it as an investment. To make the sale, you need to build trust. And to build trust, you have to establish credibility. By informing and educating your potential customer just when they are looking for it, you build that trust.

A funnel with different forms of content passing through

A lot of company websites have just a few articles or a couple of whitepapers. Usually, they are there because that’s what everyone else has on their site. It is not because there is an explicit strategy of helping the buyer at this point in their research.

Creating this stuff and keeping up with it is a bit of a burden for a lot of companies. The marketing folks often don’t know enough about the subject to write the detailed material the buyers are looking for. And the people in the company who do know are not writers and pretty busy doing what they do, thanks very much.

Content Marketing Is Far More Cost-Effective Than Cold Calling

But here is the opportunity. The fact is that it is, dollar for dollar, provided you do it well, content marketing is far more cost effective than cold calling. And it is getting more so over time. Buyers are less and less willing to take calls from sales people. Especially randomly when they are not at the right point in their buying process.

So, if you want to improve the effectiveness of your lead generation, take a long hard look at your website. Is it a glorified brochure or is it a rich source of information demonstrating your subject matter expertise?

Up Next

In the next video, we will take a look at another point where the buyer’s journey and the sales process are out of alignment. You can find that here

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