Sheryl is VP of Marketing & Comms atMay Mobility. She's won many industry awards and was named 'Global Best Partner' while at Apple.
Three out of four B2B companies take four months or longer to close a sale with new customers, according to data from CSO Insights (via Marketing Charts). A primary reason I see for this is that the B2B sales process is incredibly complex. Because it's an expensive, high-stakes decision with multiple stakeholders, it's critical to find ways to maintain your customers' attention along the way. That's where effective content comes in.
To maintain customer engagement throughout the sales journey, ensure your content is relevant, timely and readily available to the sales team. Here are four steps you can take to develop powerful content that could shorten the sales cycle and blow away the competition.
Develop content that aligns with your company's sales stages.
The goal is to partner with your customer throughout a lengthy sales process while they learn, evaluate, consider and purchase. Given that the buying process may include internal stakeholders who you don't have direct contact with, you will need to tailor your messaging accordingly. For example, top-of-funnel content could include assets like product brochures, videos and general information about the organization. Later in the buying journey, you can introduce industry case studies to demonstrate exactly how your product or service solves the problems of specific customers. In addition, white papers are a great way to provide persuasive and factual evidence that solves an issue or challenge.
It's important to stretch your content and make it work for you. Typically, prospects need to consume a message multiple times before they respond. Many say that response rates rise with each outreach attempt. Thought leadership content is a strategy companies can use to establish themselves as experts or authorities on information their audiences consider valuable. It's a way that you can create differentiation across social media and other channels by delivering value to audiences.
Some components to include as part of your content suite include:
• Editing video segments and cross-promoting content on LinkedIn and YouTube.
Build content that is easy to find and use.
Sales reps often need to follow up quickly after prospect meetings, so making it easy for them to find what they need is critical. Having a library full of valuable content is just the first step. It's just as crucial that your sales team knows what to do with all of it. That's where a sales enablement playbook can be useful. To best arm your sales team with what they need to succeed, create a resource outlining the different types of content and when to use them during the sales cycle.
• Organizing the content with easy-to-find links and tags.
• Making file sizes small so team members can easily share them.
• Using a company knowledge base to make it easy for sales to access the information they need.
• Creating a customizable format where sales can tailor presentation decks from a more extensive slide collection.
It's essential to conduct regular check-ins with the sales team to stay on top of requirements and adapt to changing needs.
Some tips for the marketing team to conduct successful check-ins with sales include:
• Using the annual or quarterly sales kickoff meeting to present the marketing plans.
• Sitting in on the weekly sales pipeline meeting to provide updates and understand the sales team's requirements.
• Meeting with sales reps individually to dive deeper into key accounts and strategies for account-based marketing.
Managing your B2B sales process is one of the most challenging parts of running a business. Yet I've found that you can cut days or even weeks off the sales cycle with a single tool—content.
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