Your Silent Salesman
B2B buyers are smarter than ever
Last week the Executive Board released a staggering statistic. Staggering in that it made a lot of sense but at the same time staggering that business was going on “as usual.”
57 percent — that’s how far the average B2B buyer is through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep.
Does this mean that B2B clients are doing their homework? Are they consuming content from vendor websites? What could they possibly learn that the sales reps didn’t already provide? And how are they doing this before even talking to the sales department?
The truth is that there has been a tectonic shift in the process. A complete and relatively silent revolution from the necessity of the cold-calling, door-knocking, bag-carrying, appointment-setting sales staff we are all too familiar with. In fact with the digitization of collateral, the sales department has now become a reinforcer of digital content. In the past sales collateral had been the reinforcement for the sales person. The “we’ll send you a media kit”, or “I’ll email you the brochure” is a thing of the past.
The content salesman
The glaring reality is that buyers are more educated than ever before. Growth in content marketing has shifted the way decisions are made. White papers, e-books, quality web copy, news, branded articles, company blogs, info graphics and branded videos have answered questions formerly addressed by a supplier sales rep. And this content can all be consumed from the comfort of your office, your airplane seat or your living room. Branded content has quietly become your best salesman.
The humanity of it all
By no means does this mean that the sales force is obsolete. What it does mean is that the sales force must be aware of these shifts and respond accordingly. Creative sales people will use this to their advantage. Process disruption is valuable for both sides. On one side, the buyer feels more in the driver seat, and therefore more comfortable with the process. On the other side, the supplier sales force is dealing with an educated buyer, and the necessity for an adjusted approach. This is a good thing considering the importance of service, and the occasional B2B buyer that is resistant to change. Yes they are out there.
You need both
Content strategy is now a leading educator of clients. Content marketing demonstrates a company’s command and expertise in their space. Content communicates thought leadership. Branded content builds confidence in buyers, and it builds a strong foundation for the human sales force. While it is still important and necessary to have a team it is equally valuable to invest time and resources in your content strategy, your silent salesman.