Never Assume B2B Buyers Know How to Buy

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One of the assumptions that marketers and sales reps make when people show interest in your website, content, or booth at a virtual summit or trade show is that they’re buyers. There’s nothing inherently wrong in this with the exception that the identification of “buyer” comes with a lot of baggage.

At a minimum, a B2B buyer is thought to:

  • Understand the problem they’re trying to solve
  • Be interested in your solution as an option to solve the problem
  • Be intent on solving the problem by buying a solution

What’s more likely is that buyers are:

  • Trying to understand if a problem is worth solving
  • Exploring whether they have the resources inhouse to solve the problem
  • Wrestling to understand a lot of conflicting information gathered during research
  • Attempting to reconcile different perspectives in the buying group
  • Unsure about the validity of their business case
  • Worried about the impact of disruption during implementation
  • Uncertain they’ll get the outcome they want

Ultimately, buyers spend only about 20% of their buying process in conversations with sales reps.

They spend the remainder of their time doing research online, meeting with the buying group, and conducting research offline (talking to peers and others). Most of the information they gather and conversations about solving the problem take place without your sales rep in the room.

This said, Gartner finds that buyers struggle with a lack of confidence in making buying decisions. They tend to be unsure about the validity of their business case, revising it at least once during their buying process. Given the amount of information that presents differing ideas and perspectives, they have trouble reconciling it to understand how to make the best choice.

This confusion and friction in buying increases the instance of no decision being made; in other words, buyers choose to stay with the status quo they have now almost as often as they decide to buy.

The Opportunity for Marketers and Sales Teams

Put simply, sales reps have a huge opportunity to engage buyers in better conversations supported by relevant content. Sales enablement, used well, helps sellers orchestrate better conversations, uniting buyers with sellers.

One of the fallacies that companies bought into with sales enablement is that more is better. More content, more case studies, more information, more sales process…more of everything. Sellers became so bogged down searching for information located in various repositories that their selling time has decreased, along with their win rates. And, somewhere along the line, it was assumed that sellers would know what to do with all that content and information to engage buyers.

What’s become evident is that this isn’t true. It’s time to rethink sales enablement to help sales reps understand quickly how to bring insights to buyers to help them evaluate the problem, find the solution right for their situation, and define a path forward that minimizes disruption.

Bernie Borges, CMO of Vengresso, sums up the one-two punch of seller + content well:

“Sales reps must first understand the value of content in creating buyer conversations. Reps must have this mindset along with an attitude of being a resource to the buyer. Sales reps need to understand the buyer’s needs to share relevant content and avoid throwing content against the wall to see what sticks, aka random acts of content.”

Jay Baer, founder of Convince and Convert, agrees:

“Sales reps need to know that buyers will get educated before they spend money, period.
Sales has the opportunity to DO that education via content…”

(He posted about his view on LinkedIn and stirred up quite a conversation.)

Samantha Stone, Founder, Marketing Advisory Network adds:

“Never think of content as a way to generate a lead. Instead, think of it as a way to initiate a conversation.” 

Mathew Sweezey, Director of Marketing Strategy for Salesforce, suggests:

“They need to bring their buyers into those conversations, not just send them content. Rather than simply sending content sales can propose questions, add commentary, or help frame it up in the context of the buyer’s situation.” 

Use Sales Enablement to Put Content in Context

Marketing and sales, working together, can use sales enablement to transform how buyers value sellers and engage them by using content to simplify buying.

The most basic form of sales enablement is sales content management. A centralized library of content tagged by persona, product, buying stage, problem solved, and more, makes it easy for your sales reps to find the content needed for specific conversations based on buyer context.

The addition of just-in-time learning means you can pair content with quick tips on how sellers can use it to best effect, so reps have the insight they need in the moment they need it to create relevant conversations with buyers.

Andrea Fryrear, co-founder of AgileSherpas, suggests user stories:

“Three simple things: who the content is for, what it contains, and the problem it’s meant to solve.
I love a good user story format for this: As a BLANK, I would like BLANK, so I can BLANK. When content creators write — and share! — a user story for everything they create, it’s easy for sales reps to quickly identify what pieces work for who they’re talking to.”

Another option is creating content as guidance for objections. You know what the common objections are from your buyers. Sales has these conversations as a matter of course, so consult with them to understand which objections need the most persuasion to overcome.

Your Sales Hub analytics shows you which buyers engage with what content. With this knowledge, sales reps will know how to use that content as a bridge to conversations. Even better, the buyer reading this content may be a champion you didn’t know you had who is trying to consider how to face those objections down from others on the buying team.

I’ll leave the summary to Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer of HBT Marketing:

“People are distracted. Under normal conditions it can be difficult to attract and hold attention. Now it’s decidedly harder. So, to be effective make your content clear, concise, and compelling.

Remember, it’s not about what a sales rep wants to say. It’s about what a buyer wants to hear. And that’s not usually a sales pitch.”

To see more of what these marketing experts, and 14 more, have to say, read this post.

Originally published on Modus blog

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