Does that sound backwards?When you read that you probably wondered whether I didn't really mean the opposite - is the B2B Marketing chitter chatter keeping up with the B2B Sales pitter patter.
And you'd have been wrong....
See, here's the thing. The reality is that you can't really sell anymore. Folks may buy from you, and they will do it on their terms, at their pace, according to their requirements. (Before you scroll down to leave a comment about sales being as important as ever....I get it. Obviously you must have direct sales people. But their role is changing and they must adapt!)
Virtual sales processGreat B2B sales people have always had an extraordinary ability to help buyers recast their understanding of their problems, needs, requirements and desired solution. They help buyers through that process by first establishing credibility and authority, and then drawing on extensive experience to , psychologist style, accompany the buyer on a path of discovery and exploration of their real needs.
And that happened through conversation, back in the day, when someone would call to request information or answer the phone to entertain a cold call.
We all know that neither happens any more. (OK, again you amped up B2B sales types, I know you're cold calling heroes. But all you business owners? When did you last buy something based on a cold call? That's my point.)
That means that the conversation; the creation of credibility and demonstration of authority; and the assisted self-discovery with buyers increasingly occurs virtually.
And that means that your B2B Marketing now really must walk the sales talk.
And how?Accept the fact that people are looking for you online. Note I didn't say they're looking for your product. By the time they are looking for a specific set of specs or services you'll be mired in a competitive squabble. That's neither productive nor profitable in most cases.
But before they started searching for a specific product, they began to search for folks that had the same challenges as them - who could make suggestions and recommendations. They were searching for resources to help them understand how to overcome their challenges.
Specific product or service ideas flowed eventually from that initial search - they didn't drive it.
Bottom line? I can guarantee that people are searching online for help with problems which your product could fix.
Answering questionsThe best place to start? Just like you would in a dialog belly button to belly button. Prospects have questions. (In fact there are lots of people with questions who aren't prospects yet. Want to make it easy for them? Provide answers!) You know what they're asking, or should be, early on in the process. You can probably keep yourself busy for months, collecting great leads, by merely answering those questions.
Want to see what I mean? Check out this great video of the @SalesLion talking about creating content that moves the needle. (Just skip the first 40 seconds, and then buckle up.)
Taking it to the next levelGood stuff, right? Absolutely. Now clearly there's more to it. Inbound marketing to create sales qualified leads for B2B manufacturers requires strategy, precise execution, evolving methodology, tools like marketing automation, and tons of great content that speaks to your specific personas at each stage in their buying journey. (Get all that industry lingo?)
But you don't have to do it yourself. Here's more on how we help.
Download your free Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Marketing here