The eCommerce world is filled with marketing jargon such as campaigns, sales pipelines, top of the funnel, performance metrics, sales processes, and KPIs. They’re important methods of monitoring whether or not you’re properly connecting with prospective B2B customers both online and off. First, let’s start with the basics:
What is a prospective B2B customer?
Traditionally, a prospective B2B customer has been someone who is actively shopping for the product or service your company offers. Now? Not so much. Today’s prospective customer has expanded to include people who don’t currently need your product or service, but will in the future.
As a seller, your objective is to engage prospective customers long before they’re ready to buy. This will establish you as an industry leader which, in turn, will build trust in your knowledge and expertise. The challenge is knowing how to connect with not only current buyers, but also with future buyers – even those who may not know about your product or service.
In order to determine whether you’re properly connecting with prospective customers, there are three “gut checks” you can use to benchmark your current success:
Gut Check 1: Do you have content?
In order to engage prospective customers, you need pertinent, publicly accessible content that is industry relevant, non-salesy, and educational. In Demand Gen Report’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, 61% of respondents said they selected vendors who deliver a mix of content that is appropriate for each stage of the buying process. If you don’t have this proper mix of relevant content, you’re probably not connecting with customers.
Are you referencing and linking to other valuable industry content? This demonstrates that you are not strictly concerned about closing sales, but you have a true desire to educate. In today’s digital world, buyers are looking for value beyond just your product or service.
Gut Check 2: Are conversations with prospective B2B customers more informed and productive?
When customers reach out to begin the sales process (email, phone call, etc.), are they asking informed questions and referencing your relevant, non-salesy, educational content? If so, that’s an indication that they’re doing their due diligence by researching and reading your content.
Are you spending less time “selling” and more time educating your prospective customers on how your products or services are being used in your industry? These are all signs that customers have already qualified you as a prospective vendor.
Gut Check 3: Are you finding it easier to close sales with these informed B2B customers?
If you have relevant content and your conversations are more informed and productive, you should start to recognize the uninformed buyers when they show up in the sales process. Your sales team should become educators and account representatives, more than strictly salespeople. Even for new customers, if your salespeople are able to start the conversation with them as if they were already a customer, this is a sign of maturity in connecting properly with prospective customers.
B2B sellers need to focus on relevant education in order to succeed in this digital world. Relevant, non-salesy content is the foundation to build your strategy, and ultimately leads to a more informed and qualified buyer’s journey. Your sales team can spend more time learning about prospect’s needs instead of establishing credibility through selling. Once you have established how you can educate your buyers, you’ll be able to use sales and metrics to evaluate your content approach and marketing campaigns.