Why Content Is Important for the Modern Seller
There has been a huge change in the dynamic of how customers make purchase decisions for SaaS products.
Traditionally it was very much a synchronous process that was driven, and owned, by sales.
Sales held all the information about the pricing, the features, their case studies, and how people could be successful with the tool. So when customers wanted to find out more about a product, they’d have to trade off some information to the seller. The seller was then able to use that information to move them through the sales process in a very systematic manner.
But with the availability of information on the internet, it’s changing the way people are wanting to make B2B purchase decisions. Customers are in a new state where they’re looking for a memorable experience. They want to be able to do it anywhere, and in real-time. They want it to be super-personalised to them, and the challenges that they’re facing. And they want to be able to see the value they will get from the technology, or your solution, without talking to anyone.
Customers are in a new state where they’re looking for a memorable experience.
This means they are looking for you as the seller to be able to give them that memorable experience. They want you to take them on that journey by sharing insights about how others have been successful with your solution in the past.
What does this have to do with content?
Content is a vehicle to deliver insights to your customers and progress them along their buying process.
When I say “content”, I’m referring to any type of information that you can provide your customer, that gives you credibility as an industry expert, salesperson or company. This content also builds trust with your prospects and helps them understand that you’re going to be the person that can solve their problems.
This content can be in the form of several different things… case studies, white papers, blog articles, videos, product demos – anything that will contribute to the progression of a prospect along the sales process. This content is the stuff you own, that you or your team have created.
There’s another element of content that you can use as well, and that is the things that you’ve learned. So this is from other experts in your industry, who have understood and recognised a similar problem that you solve. And you can add a huge amount of credibility by distributing other people’s expert articles, research or white papers.
The purpose of content is really all about moving people along their buying journey.
People become aware that they have a problem, they start to educate themselves about that problem, and then they make a selection on which vendor can best solve that problem for them.
Then you have a fit. You’ve solved their problem, and from there you begin to think about onboarding. Content becomes another valuable tool in the onboarding process too.
The whole “content journey” if you like, is really about making sure people understand that they’re not alone, and that there are other people feeling the same challenges.
Identifying content gaps in your sales process
When you are looking at your entire sales process, from the top of the funnel all the way through to onboarding, you need to identify where the content gaps are.
Where are your ideal customers seeking information, but you aren’t effectively providing it?
You are looking to map out your content to align with the customer’s buying journey at every step along the way; awareness, education, closing, onboarding and continued learning, similar to how it is mapped above.
Here are two quick steps you can follow;
- First identify the white space, where are the obvious gaps that you need to remedy immediately?
- Then, use the data from your sales process to identify opportunities to increase deal velocity. For example, if your proposals are closing at a low rate, test out the use of videos in the proposals. Or leverage your inbound support request to inform your on-boarding content.
Using technology to get more out of your content
In the past content used to be front-and-center, and then disappear into a black-hole. You had absolutely zero idea as to how your customer was engaging with the content, whether they were engaging with it at all, or who they were forwarding it to within the organisation.
This lack of knowledge put you in a position where you’d call back a week later, and say, “Ah, hey. How’d you go with that piece of content that I sent you?” And you’d be none the wiser as to how it actually went, or which part they were interested in.
Technology has really, really helped us track content consumption more accurately and subsequently have better conversations because of it. Tools like ClearSlide and HubSpot enable you to upload content to the web, send smart-links to your customers, and track how and when they engage with it.
This technology helps you understand what part of the content they read, who they send it to in their organisation, and which parts they find most interesting. Then you can have intelligent, highly personalised conversations with your customers when you call them back.
If you use this technology well, you will get an alert when a customer opens your document, and you can call them at that exact point in time, to guide and walk through the content with them.
So they’re not just dumb tools where you hit send and hope. The technology today continues to deliver insight about how you’re progressing in your customer account at every step of the journey.
Your customers have higher expectations than ever, the amazing buying journeys being delivered in the B2C world are only raising expectations for buyers when they are in their 9-5 job. They have access to the information they need and want to use it to help them through their buying journey and select the product to solve their problems.
To make sure you stand out and cut through the noise, you need to be the one that provides them with the information they need, at the exact point in time that they need it.
You will see better sales outcomes by identifying the content gaps in your sales process, and leveraging technology to create real-time and highly personal experiences for your customers.
There is a huge opportunity to shorten your sales cycle by being more aligned with your customer, when and where they engage with content.