Here's How the Relationship Between B2B Buying, Content, and Sales Reps Has Changed

Brought to you by WBR Insights

The B2B sales process has transformed in recent years. Not only are there more decision makers involved than ever before, but there are several additional touchpoints—face-to-face, email, social media, etc.—which need to be considered.

Another factor that needs to be taken into account is the way in which the modern B2B buyer likes to establish a relationship with a seller. Traditionally, they would get a solicited or unsolicited visit from a sales rep who would give a pitch and try and convince them that their brand would benefit from whichever product or service they were offering. However, a more tech-savvy buyer is now entering the arena—and they are bringing their consumer-based buying preferences along with them.

These people like to research products for themselves before interacting with a brand directly. They know that you need more evidence than simply the word of a salesperson—one whose salary possibly relies on commission—and are looking to throw a far wider net.

B2B Buying by Numbers

Before we look at the solution, it's important to understand the problem. Thankfully there is plenty of research out there which elegantly demonstrates how the relationship between B2B buyers and sellers has changed in recent years.

  • In a typical firm with 100-500 employees, seven people on average are involved in most buying decisions.
  • B2B buyers are 57% - 70% through their buying research before contacting sales.
  • Nine out of ten B2B buyers say online content has a moderate to major effect on purchasing decisions.
  • Sixty-seven percent of the buyer's journey is now done digitally.
  • Eighty-four percent of CEOs and VPs use social media to make purchasing decisions.
  • Sixty-two percent of B2B buyers say a web search was one of the first three resources they use to learn about a solution.
  • Eighty percent of business decision makers prefer to get company information from a series of articles versus an advertisement.
  • Eighty-four percent of B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral.

These numbers mean one thing and one thing only: B2B buyers are consuming content from a range of sources and using it to inform their decision-making process way before they even consider speaking to a seller directly. Depending on the quality of your product or service, this will make your salespeople's job either significantly harder or simpler.

However, you can give your brand the best chance possible in this new landscape by developing your own high-quality content to assist buyers in this process.


Case Studies

One type of B2B content which has risen in prominence in recent years in response to this new landscape is the case study.

Case studies are an amazing way of demonstrating in detail exactly how your product or service goes to work to solve the problems of specific customers. Taking the form of a report, your case studies should be written in collaboration with the customer—the higher profile the better—and should be written from the customer's point of view.

The report should be broken down into three broad sections. The first should lay out the problem the customer was facing—what the pain points were and the impact it was having on their organization. The second should focus on the solution and detail how your brand's solution was used to address each problem laid out in the first section. Finally, your case study should communicate the results—once the solution was deployed, did it have the desired effect on productivity, sales, revenue, etc.

Today's buyers place a high value in recommendations from their peers and case studies are a great form of content to fulfill this need.

Align Sales and Marketing with Content

This new landscape makes alignment between sales and marketing even more essential than it was previously. Thankfully, content is here to deliver you from the evil of misalignment as well.

When you create a content library that is accessible by both departments, it can be contributed to by marketing and used by salespeople to generate better quality leads and help develop relationships with buyers sooner. Regular meetings between sales and marketing can help create better content by allowing input from both. Salespeople can contribute ideas based on frequently asked questions they hear from prospects and marketers can educate their colleagues on how best to deploy content.

Misaligned sales and marketing can cost companies from 10% in revenue per year, so bringing these departments together will not only improve your content strategy but improve the bottom line as well.

Final Thoughts

Content can help your brand assist B2B buyers with researching products and establish you as a thought leader in your industry. You'll also be able to present yourself as a company that understands the pain points your buyers feel and has the answers they're seeking.

WBR Insights is the custom research division of Worldwide Business Research (WBR), the world leader in B2B-focused conferences. Contact us to learn more about our research-based whitepapers, webinars, digital summits and other thought-leadership opportunities for your brand.

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