With many B2B buying cycles often extending several months, maintaining a consistent and relevant communication flow with pipeline prospects is essential toward meeting sales goals. Having relevant messages ready to address prospects’ questions and problems grows a pipeline and boosts lead nurturing. Whether your prospective buyer discovers your business solution through inbound search, an email campaign or shared during an outbound sales call, the varied messaging should provoke and educate the prospective buyer.
Achieve content balance by ensuring diverse message types throughout the buying cycle. Consider the thoughts of a B2B buyer:
“We need a solution.”
The initial stages of business-to-business buying are usually identified with the awareness of a problem or opportunity. Buyers become mindful of particular pains or obstacles and then agree they have similar problems. A series of incidents, unmet objectives, or growth opportunities prompt research for solutions, usually via the Internet. Additionally, a well-crafted phone call can induce doubt, reveal or highlight an issue and introduce a solution—developing an early relationship. B2B marketers who provoke with need-based content will attract and cultivate prospects at this early buying phase.
“We’ve uncovered potential solutions.”
Upon discovery of various solutions, buyers want to learn which one best fills the need and fits the budget. Messaging that allays a buyer’s fear and educates about competitive differentiation sets you apart. Additionally, at this stage, buyers are influenced by industry thought leaders, reviews, and referrals. Social media exposure reinforces the support of advocates who share and reinforce your story, although not an actual user or client. A targeted multi-touch, multi-media campaign of educational and insightful information influences the buyer’s perception of their needs.
“We’re evaluating solutions.”
When buyers move to the evaluation or consideration phase, they require detailed information about processes and how the solution might perform for the business. Trials and demos, work well here as well as case studies, testimonials, and customer references. Proactive phone calls further highlight your expertise and provide the opportunity to solidify a relationship. Use ROI calculators, testimonials and business cases to instill confidence in the solution.
“We’re buying this solution.”
When the buying decision is nearly finalized the need for relevant content does not end. B2B buyers require reassurance of return on investment. Before and during the implementation phase, encourage recent buyers with thorough implementation documentation, including an expected timeline. Continuing to promote ease of use and other benefits to the end-users, including thorough welcoming and on-boarding content is imperative at this stage.
“Is the solution providing value?”
Post-sale, the buyer will ask if the product, service or contract has accomplished the objectives. Are the problems resolved? Are we achieving a return on this investment? In conjunction with ongoing customer or account service, a content knowledge base for customers or users supports this ongoing review stage. During a positive post-sale review, the buyer becomes an enthusiast and source of referrals, continuing a growth sales cycle. Marketing content that continues to help and support usage encourages renewals, repurchases and up-sells.
Understanding your prospects’ signals and associated buying stages is a subjective and variable effort, based on need and market forces. Marketers, who are prepared with targeted content at all buying stages, ensure that value propositions and business’ benefits are represented in the diverse media used by B2B buyers.
- Use stimulating verbiage to provoke and highlight pain points in order to understand prospects' needs and addressable obstacles.
- Educate prospects with your value proposition in multiple media to help prospects discover your benefits.
- Be prepared to fully explain and defend your value and expertise with proof when your prospect enters the deliberation phase.
- After the purchase, reassure your buyer with consistent communication and follow-up.
- Maintain benefit-rich messaging with key contacts at regular intervals during pro-active reviews of your customer’s purchase.
With online content, voicemail, email, and direct mail in the mix, setting up the right sequence is essential.
Is your content connecting with your pipeline prospects? Are your message types balanced and providing solutions to your prospects problems?
I hope you enjoyed this issue, and I look forward to sending you the next issue on the next First Friday Report, April 5, 2013. For more insights into the B2B sales process read our ebook PointC: From Chaos to Kickass: 3 Steps to Sales and Marketing Optimization.
PointClear is a prospect development company. Founded in 1997, the Atlanta-based company helps B2B companies fill their sales forecasts with qualified opportunities. PointClear closes the gap between marketing and sales—nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they’re ready to close.
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