The End of B2B Sales As We Know It
B2B Selling has changed—forever.
In times past, Business to Business (B2B) Sellers relied almost entirely on their sales teams to generate revenue. Marketing was primarily for branding, as few Sellers understood how Marketing could be used in other ways to grow their businesses.
The bigger the sales organization, the faster the company grew—or so everyone thought. Cost of sales were expected to fall within the range of 20% to 40%; no one really seemed to know how much it should be.
Sales reps were taught how to present their products, how to “get in the door,”, get past the gatekeepers, handle objections, and always be trying to close. That was all they were taught or expected to know.
There were always one or two great sales reps that made the effort to study their customers’ businesses, competitors, and changing demographics and regulations, making it their business to be experts on their market space. Their customers valued them and regularly gave them business because they trusted their judgement. And although these sales reps brought in the lion’s share of sales each year, they didn’t seem to know much about the features of the products they sold. Still, B2B sales continued to revolve around aggressively getting in the door, taking charge of the sale situation, and focusing on features.
Buyers hated this process and thought it was a colossal waste of their time, but their options for getting information they needed were limited. They would entertain a parade of sales reps in hopes of finding the one who truly understood their needs and could help them. At the same time, Buyers learned to screen and keep out the time suckers.
Then the Internet—and Google—happened. That changed everything. Buyers no longer had to see sales reps to find information—they just googled it. And while Sellers struggled to adjust, The Great Recession occurred and changed the future of B2B Selling.
Companies enacted stringent procedures to control purchasing, which put the Head of Purchasing in a strategic role.
The Future of B2B Sales: Content Driven Account Based Marketing
As we have seen above, Buyers today manage their own buying journey and want to engage Sellers by invitation only. To get invited, Sellers must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the Buyer’s situation. The best way for Sellers to demonstrate this is through comprehensive digital content that the Buyer can easily find and review.
The right sales process today is one that fully aligns with how Buyers want to buy by facilitating their journey, rather than attempting to control the process.
The Account Based Marketing strategy considers this a top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel content strategy that naturally invites the Buyer deeper and deeper into your content world.
Different types of content address different needs and appeal to different types of stakeholders. Remember that today’s Buying team can consist of as many as a dozen or more stakeholders, each with a unique set of concerns, needs, and issues that must be addressed.
White papers provide a holistic understanding of the changes occurring in the industry, what they mean, and how to mitigate the risks of these changes while taking advantage of the opportunities. Videos provide a different but related narrative.
Even with white papers, you want to distinguish between a C-level and a Stakeholder paper. The C-suite white paper must be a business paper that shows how your product can cut costs by automating an otherwise labor intensive business process, or how it can increase revenues by helping operations managers identify assets that are not fully utilized.
Your technical white paper informs technical stakeholders such as CIO, CTOs, or Directors of DevOps on how your product integrates with existing systems, is highly secure, and provides software to facilitate installation and integration—things that these folks care most about.
The key is to cover your intended audiences’ concerns and needs in a variety of formats so that they all come to the conclusion you want—contacting one of your sales reps for a meeting.
Click here to read about the four critical steps of content driven ABM.