The B2B sales process has changed a lot over the years, and most definitely for the better.
So, what's it like now? Well, it's a bit more complicated than this but let's start with three key rules:
Trust - building trust has always been important, but with today's educated B2B customer, trust is more important than ever, and more difficult to acquire.
Content - One way to build this trust through content. Here's the key: Our intention with this content mustn't be to sell our customers on our product/service but to educate them on our industry and, as a result, how our product/service plays a vital role within that industry. Our customers want to be educated, NOT sold to.
Frequency - If you think a blog post or two will suffice, you're dead wrong. Build a content calendar and find a way to stay steady. You can break one post into many pieces to be used on multiple platforms, but you'll have to be consistent and frequent. And remember, your goal is to educate, not talk about you/your product.
What does this look like?
Let me give you an example: For years, I sold print and digital advertising space in a very niche industry where it was difficult to sell to large companies that were looking to serve much larger, more general audiences. I knew that our niche readership was essential to them because I had seen the ripple effect caused by this niche audience that influenced much larger groups. I spent years trying to explain this to advertising agencies and large companies. It rarely worked.
What does an Inbound Marketing Strategy give you?
And then I learned about inbound marketing strategy. At Watermark, we help companies create a steady flow of qualified leads for sales teams in many ways. The core strategy is to create meaningful, educational content and deliver this content through numerous channels. The sales team can then view the level of engagement their clients/potential clients have with this content in the CRM and communicate with those who make buying decisions. More importantly, this is one of the key strategies for salespeople to acquire trust.
This is why traditional advertising has been more and more ineffective throughout the years and why the presentation style selling process does not work. People don't care about you or your product! They care about what you can do for them. They've already educated themselves, extensively, on what they should buy, and from whom, by reading and staying up to date on all industry-related content, they can find.
Here's what you can take away from this.
Create your content with an honest desire to educate, not to sell. You have to enjoy what you do. Sales is like running. If you don't enjoy running, standing on top of the podium isn't going to be as sweet as you thought it would be. It's about enjoying the process. If you don't enjoy being a teacher and a coach instead of just a seller, making the sale isn't going to provide you with the fuel you need to do this long term. Our customers are intelligent and educated. They will see right through the BS and know your true intentions. If you want to be in sales, long term, you have to enjoy helping others. Simple as that.
If you don't like writing blogs, ask your marketing department for help. Explain what you need to get across and let the marketing team do their thing. If you're against blogs, then get creative. Ask yourself: "How will I educate the buyers in my industry on why my product/service is relevant in a way that is beneficial to them?" Be honest and talk openly about mistakes you've made and have seen others make. Trial and error are still the primary learning process, be honest and use it to help your potential clients not make the same mistakes you've made.
Lastly, track everything. Everything can and should be tracked and delivered in a nice package to the sales team through the CRM. You don't want to wonder what your clients are thinking. You want to KNOW what they're thinking, so you're always approaching them in a way they appreciate.