Cold calling isn’t dead but it’s challenging. Most salespeople don’t like it. Personal networking is effective but can be very time consuming. This all leads to a question, “in today’s environment, how do you generate high quality B2B sales leads?” This article presents a way more firms these days are answering this question.
Before diving into the answer, let’s explore the B2B sales environment and buying cycle. An article I read recently quoted two top business research firms agreeing that
“About 70% of the B2B buyer’s journey is made anonymously in self-discovery mode with online content – not via direct marketing and sales interactions. This is just the opposite of a few years ago when 30% of the journey was marketing and 70% sales.”
“Online content” in this context generally comes in the form of your website content and other original content (articles, blog posts, whitepapers, etc.) that you publish online. (Learn more about effective website content).
B2B buyer’s journey is 70% self-discovery
As stated earlier, 70% of the B2B buyer’s journey is anonymous self-discovery. Here’s what that means…..
In the beginning buyers are exploring and searching for answers to a variety of problems (pain points) and opportunities (gain points). Their exploration typically comes in the form of interacting with their personal network of advisors and searching online. As buyers search online, do they find you and if they are finding you, does the information you present respond to their problems?
As buyers find relevant content online, they begin to understand how they can solve their problems and/or seize their opportunities, and they begin to evaluate their choices. If the buyer was referred to you by an advisor or if they found you online, do they find evidence that makes you worthy of further consideration?
So, as we look to connect with B2B buyers, we must ask ourselves the following two questions…
- As buyers search online, do they find you and if they are finding you, does the information you present respond to their problems?
- If the buyer was referred to you by an advisor or if they found you online, do they find evidence that makes you worthy of consideration?
Content marketing is a term at the forefront of the marketing world these days and it is powerful in the B2B space. Essentially content marketing is the production and distribution of original, high quality content – be it in the form of written text, videos, etc. Done well, it responds to the buyer’s self-discovery.
Here’s how….. high quality, original content added to your website is the single most powerful thing you can do online to make sure people can find you when your buyers are searching for answers to their problems and opportunities. Furthermore, when people do find your original content online, you appear credible and as a thought leader, which will drive engagement.
5 steps to lead generation through content marketing
Here’s a 5-step process for effective content marketing…
- Identify what your buyers’ problems and opportunities are and how you solve them.
- Develop an editorial calendar of original content you will create that responds to the themes you’ve identified in #1. Align the themes with the key-phrases you believe your buyers are using when they are searching for answers online.
- Begin creating your original content - be it blog posts, articles, whitepapers and videos.
- Add the content from #3 to your website and make it easily found when someone comes to your website.
- Distribute your content online through social channels. LinkedIn.com is a very effective B2B sales and marketing channel. Post a link to the original content that resides on your website to LinkedIn and to appropriate LinkedIn Groups.
Developing a consistent stream of high quality, original content is challenging – but in the world of B2B sales and marketing, it works. Your visibility in the search engines improves and you appear to your buyers as a credible leader in your industry. As your buyers navigate through their online self-discovery process seeking solutions to their problems, you’ll be there with the answers.