There is a new axiom being touted by B2B..gulp..”thought leaders” over the last 12-18 months. That axiom being that buyers are 80% through the buying journey prior to speaking to a sales person. The thinking behind this is that on-line content has allowed for buyers to compile and digest all the information they need prior to making a purchase. In other words, they do not need sales people to educate them on the needed products or services. For the most part, I agree with this new paradigm in buying.
Where I have a bit of a problem with this is that this axiom only applies to buyer initiated purchases. For example, I am a facility manager at a large manufacturing plant. I have a challenge (pain point) with a specific piece of equipment. What do I do? I speak to my network, I do some on-line reading (i.e. content), maybe speak to some current vendors. Once I educate myself to the point where I am ready to enter a purchasing dialogue with a sales person I have completed the first 80% of the cycle.
The other issue that comes to mind with this thinking is that it assumes that seller initiated sales are quickly becoming a thing of the past. If anything, buyers want more and better relationships with their vendors than ever before. The buyer does need to be educated and engaged as early as possible. It is much more efficient to qualify or disqualify the buyer earlier in the cycle than wait for them to come calling.
With the small exceptions of companies that have brand new products and services or those rare organizations that truly have NO competition, most buyers have a vendor for what you are selling. So having a well polished and nuanced sales team that can create excitement, demonstrate perceived value, and cement a better relationship with your buyers will always be more valuable than content.
I have made literally thousands of sales to buyers that were not looking to make a change or had no real pain, they just saw the value I presented and understood it. It is my belief that this happens, if not more, than at least as often as buyer initiated purchases.
So the next time you review your content and digital marketing budgets and don’t see the ROI you hoped for, maybe it might be time to initiate some outbound strategies. Identify and engage your best prospective customers and take them on YOUR journey with the destination being a customer for life.
Good Luck and Good Selling!