Generating leads, growing an audience and creating brand awareness are all great reasons to consider using content marketing. But, did you know it can also be a great tool for helping you close more deals?
Show your audience HOW your solution solves their problems.
In B2B sales cycles, it’s rare that you will sell something straightaway. Usually, it will be a long process that involves creating leads, providing information, getting to know each other, building trust and forming a relationship, before finally agreeing to do business together.
A big part of this process is the research a B2B buyer will do before they make a purchase. They do this to ensure they are making the right decision, especially when budgets are often tight and there’s no room for mistakes.
That’s where content marketing comes in. It can help you meet their need for information and move potential leads along the sales funnel.
B2B buyers want specific information
When buyers conduct their research, they are looking for specific information. They want to know how to solve the problem they are having.
They will only respond to materials that clearly demonstrate an understanding of their issue and how to solve it. This type of content is something they won’t find in glossy company brochures. It needs to be actual, proven information.
Your content needs to include:
- Descriptions of real solutions for their increasingly complex problems
- Detailed ROI analysis information
- All other information they need as part of their research
Nobody wants to be sold to, but everyone wants to find the best deal, so always avoid being salesy. Your content needs to be educational and informative.
B2B companies often rely heavily on sales material, rather than their educational content. However, this type of content is one of the best tools there is for bringing leads closer to a sale.
B2B buyers want the best
Buyers haven’t got time, money or energy to waste on working with shoddy businesses or inferior products. They want to work with the best in their field for the budget they have available. So, your job is to show them that you are the best.
Respond in time
It’s astonishing that businesses today, despite being faced with tight margins and lots of competition, often fail in one key area – their response time. There is nothing more important than to immediately interact with your leads and customers.
Set up processes and systems that will enable you to do just that. Add more technology and/or personnel if you need it. You need to make sure that no enquiry, request or question is ever allowed to fall through the cracks.
Demonstrate you have great knowledge of the solution
Do you fully understand a lead’s problem and the solution? Then prove it to them.
Show them how the solution will work in practice. Produce material, content and information that shows them that you have a firm understanding of the solution, as well as the issue it can solve. Explain how it all works, what it will do (or not do) and fill in all the details.
Know who you’re dealing with
The motto of the Scouts is “be prepared” and this advice is equally important for sales teams. Be prepared, do your research and show you’ve done it. This is vital, especially when you’re taking an ABM (account based marketing) approach.
You must provide tailored content that relates to each particular client. Show them you know who you’re dealing with, so they feel appreciated and secure in dealing with you.
Help them make the business case for your solution
Every buyer must be confident they can answer the question ‘is it worth it?’, before they’ll sign on the dotted line.
If you’re dealing with a large corporate then you’ll need to convince multiple stakeholders. Every one of them will need to be able to make the business case for your produce and prove the investment will be worth it. The higher the price tag, the more important this gets.
To help them, you need to produce content that will prove the potential return on investment they might expect. For example, provide numbers, case studies, testimonials and anything else they you can use to convince their manager it’s a good deal.
Operate as a team
Do your sales and marketing teams work together to win accounts, deals and projects? No – well this could be the secret to you winning big in the future.
When the two departments are fully aligned and work together to produce content aimed at achieving business goals, magic can happen. And your clients will feel it too.
Pay attention to the type of content you produce
Not just any content will do. It needs to be well thought through, with a specific purpose in mind. Any content you produce – whether it’s about your company and the solution being offered, or for any other reason – needs to be of the utmost quality. It needs to be appropriate, relevant, accurate and of value to a buyer.
Buyers at different stages of the sales funnel will be looking for different things:
In the awareness phase of the buyer journey, the person researching will be interested in finding out more about possible solutions for their problem. They will search for it by naming their problem and seeing what information comes up. Their goal is to find out how bad the problem is and what tried-and-tested solutions are out there.
This is when you should be providing content that focuses solely on the problems and issues that you are solving, not on the solution itself. Typical formats might include blog posts or eBooks. Aim to show you understand the problem and offer potential solutions to it.
This kind of content is great for finding new audiences, especially if you promote it using social ads.
Once someone has researched enough to know that their problem isn’t unique and that there are solutions out there, they will start to educate themselves more on those solutions.
They will want to have more details about what works and what doesn’t, what others have done and what the price range is.
This is the phase where your content should be solution oriented. Here, you’re focusing on nurturing contacts to start building a relationship. Show them you care, understand and want to do business with them because you have the solution they need.
All the research will ultimately lead on to the final purchasing decision. This is when you need to be providing content that shows your true value. It should educate a buyer on the specifics of the product or service you are offering.
For example, you may offer some sort of trial or demo, or run an industry workshop, all designed to give your potential customer a taste of what it’s like to work with you and use your product.
Different content for different scenarios
So, what type of content should you produce?
It’s a difficult question to answer and will depend on many things, including who it is intended for, what stage of the buyer journey they are at, what type of information they are looking for and the nature of your offering.
Keep it interesting by mixing it up. Test out different formats and see what works best. The market and people change frequently and what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow Experiment and always keep a close eye on the numbers.
Generally, the type of content that works well to help drive sales is:
- Text-based content that is well presented – such as blogs, eBooks, whitepapers
- Video – including the use of tools like Facebook’s video distribution
- Audio – podcasts
- Infographics – explaining visually how something works or what something is
- Case studies – a must for any B2B marketing and sales
- Webinars – both live and archived in a library
- In-person events – including networking events, workshops and demonstrations
How to use content to close more sales
The key thing to remember is that you’re never going to sell immediately with your content. It just doesn’t work that way. Instead, aim to work on these two objectives:
1. Build your audience
2. Drive sales with specific content created for specific segments of your audience
Retargeting can go a long way to helping you here. This method is about creating good content that you can easily promote online, across the various channels. Using retargeting, you can then aim your content at all the people who have visited your website.
Should you produce different content for different stakeholders?
The short answer is yes, but in some cases, all you may need to do is to change the intro.
If there are several people involved in making the purchasing decision, then you need to cater for them all. Show them how your solution works and why they should work with you.
Top tip: Lead Forensics software can show you who has been visiting your website and help you identify potential stakeholders by name, and provide you with their contact details. Find out how in the guide below.
Once you have identified someone as a potential lead – i.e. they’ve visited your website and been researching you – it will often be fairly easy to find out who else you need to talk to. If you can pinpoint who you need to build your case around and what their needs are, everyone wins.
A word on content management
There is nothing worse than having your sales force work with out of date content. Make sure everyone has all the documents they need and that they’re easily accessible.
Sales should be left to concentrate on selling, while other departments (and your technology) worries about giving them precisely what they need, when they need it.
And there you have it. B2B content marketing isn’t just about generating leads, it can help you close more deals too, if you have the right content available at the right time.
Get your sales and marketing teams to sit down together to figure out the details and success will soon be yours.