A well thought out and implemented process in B2B sales is critical to success. B2B sales can be a complex and time-consuming process, involving many stakeholders and high financial stakes.
With three key strategic components, you can build a sales process that matches buyers’ needs and buying preferences throughout the sales cycle:
Your process needs to be efficient and cost-effective and you need to deliver the right information through the right channel to engage the right decision makers to the point where they want to take and engage in a sales call.
Perceptions of what content marketing is can be vague. As a strategic marketing approach, content marketing involves creating and sharing a variety of relevant content like videos, blogs, and social media posts, that don’t explicitly promote a brand or product/service. The intention of the content is to garner interest in a company’s products or services through helpful and thought-provoking information.
In the B2B sales environment it can take weeks, often months, of relationship building to get a prospect to the point of sale, so it’s critical to have lots of relevant content that can assist in taking your prospect on that journey.
Great content includes a broad range of material providing information about the problem your company solves. It could include short videos, podcasts, blog articles, white papers, webinars, reports and case studies that help take your prospects on the critical journey from being a lead to a customer.
While marketing and content automation software (often integrated into your CRM system) can help deliver the right content quickly and efficiently, you still need to start with a thorough understanding of your market and target audience. You need to ensure you take the following steps:
Research your target audience: How do they prefer to communicate? How many decision makers are involved in the buying group and what role do they play in the buying decision?
Build a library of content: Align your content to stages of the buying journey. Develop a variety of content for different channels.
Align content delivery with the sales funnel: From awareness and discovery to consideration and, finally, decision, prospects require different types of information. Think through the process strategically. How complex is the message? What’s the best medium? What does someone need to know to move forward?
A key tool in every salesperson’s toolkit, social selling is the process of developing relationships as part of the sales process through social media channels. Components of social selling include listening to prospects, sharing relevant content, interacting directly with potential customers and positioning yourself as a source of knowledge and assistance,
without making your targets feel overwhelmed and harassed.
Social selling works hand-in-hand with the content delivery and amplification process. A salesperson can use content as a conversation starter. They might post an article, a link to a video, or talk about an upcoming event or industry news. But the key to social selling is connecting with the right people in the way they want to be communicated with, showing your expertise and authenticity.
One of the best things about social selling from the perspective of a prospect is that they can opt out if they feel overwhelmed or spammed by a company’s content. They choose to join your network and therefore have full control over the level of interaction they have with you.
Top B2B sales reps are using social selling to:
Grow their networks: When salespeople actively engage on social media they increase market awareness and interest. When people see you are providing informative and engaging content, they opt into your network by following/connecting, liking, and sharing.
Listen to the market: It’s not enough to tell people what you think, share new content, or send out breaking news. The best salespeople use social media to listen to the market.
Build their brand: You can use social media to build trust with prospective leads.
Initiate meetings: When you start to engage with prospects via social channels, you are opening the avenues to take communication to the next level. Look for warm pathways to connect to take the next step outside of social media.
Whilst content marketing and social selling both offer a great introductory and educational opportunity, picking up the phone and making a well-timed call remains a critical component of the sales process. By the time a salesperson makes that call to a prospect, setting an appointment or inviting them to an event, a relationship already exists.
Combining the three components: content marketing, social selling and the human touch (the phone call) to deliver the right information, at the right time is an invaluable part of the sales process. Done well, it will attract, engage and encourage the decision-making process, moving your prospects from being leads to customers.