Corporate buying behavior is changing fast; it increasingly mirrors the consumer purchasing behavior where buyers extensively leverage online and digital resources to make well-informed decisions even before they engage with a salesperson.
The buyer’s expectations have changed tremendously: buyers want to have access to details anywhere when they need it. They want to find this information by themselves and only engage with a salesperson when they really want and/or have a unique use case they would like to discuss.
The evaluation and elimination process takes place even before your potential buyer contacts you whether you want it or not.
So how do you still stay in the race and invite your potential buyer to engage with you at some point to learn about your products?
This is where the content strategy comes into play as a pivotal element to successful sales effectiveness. Developing a strong content strategy is a fundamental pillar in engaging your audience to purchase from you.
Your content strategy will establish your name, credibility and thought leadership. It will move your buyer along, wherever they are in the evaluation process, until they are ready to engage with you especially in the consideration and purchase stages.
Here are a few insights on considerations that go into a successful content strategy:
It starts with understanding your buyer’s journey. Map every step of the way your buyer is taking to purchase a product like yours. You will need to break the cycle in stages. Typically, you have three main stages: Awareness, Consideration and Intention to Purchase.
At each stage, the nature of information a buyer is consuming is very specific. For instance, on one hand, during the awareness stage, a buyer will look for more general information and best practices. He will be inclined to a content asset that he can consume quickly (videos, infographics, etc.), that provides an overview of the business problem that is solved and how it is solved. On the other hand, a buyer in the intention to purchase stage will need detailed specifications, testimonials, information on SLAs and support. At this stage before awarding the contract, a buyer wants to make sure he minimizes his risk selecting the solution with all the right information.
With the buyer’s journey comes the need to understand who the different players in the purchasing cycle are and their respective roles: stakeholders, decision maker, and/or influencers.
As you map this process, it is critical to describe the persona in order to understand the motivation of your buyers to purchase a solution. You’ll need to answer some key questions from their perspective: What are my key pain points? What can’t I do? What do I want to do? What is the impact if I do not do it?
Mapping each persona is not an easy exercise, but it provides incredible insights into what each role involved in the evaluation will look into when making their decision or recommendation. A simple example is that IT may care more about support and security versus a key user who is more interested in configuring an on the fly solution to his/her process.
The buyer’s journey and the persona form the backbone of your content strategy. Once you accomplish this aspect, you can now work on developing a content plan that maps each stage and each persona.
A strong content plan will typically cover assets that approach topics under three key angles: Why change? Why now? Why your company?
As part of your content plan, you will need to think through how to measure the engagement with your content – Content performance measurement is key to sales effectiveness. To accomplish this, you will need to tie your website to your CRM and leverage marketing automation tools that will help you measure how a lead has been influenced by your content; how it drove conversion into sales qualified leads.
The last piece, but not the least is to plan how your content will be distributed and accessed throughout the sales process including how you support your sales team on the field or a mobile sales force. With over 50% of marketing assets unused by the sales team, sales effectiveness requires you to incorporate a mobile sales enablement solution as part of your content distribution plan.