We marketers often think of ourselves as all-knowing beings. Mention a product, and we know its unique selling propositions. Name a brand, and we can tell you what it stands for. We bring in the leads, and count on sales to follow up. But as customer behavior in the B2B scene changes, there is an increasing need for marketers to adopt some sales wisdom of their own. Here’s how.
First off: start being a person
Raise hands if you heard this one before: B2B buyers today complete 70% of the buyer journey before they reach out to sales. It’s a new reality that pushed marketers to fill in the former sales role as main information provider, replacing the good old sales rep face-to-face with whitepapers, solution briefs and webinars.
But while this approach has proven effective, there’s one simple truth that kept being overlooked: no matter how digitized the buyer journey has become, people still want to buy from other people. When you succeed at being human and relatable instead of just another source of information, you’ll set yourself up for real marketing return.
Lesson 1: give customers something to relate to
People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it. It’s the one big lesson we drew from Simon Sinek’s bestseller Start with Why, and it’s something that sales knew all along.
When you focus on the things that genuinely drive you, you give your audience something to relate to. They might share your aspirations or connect with your values, making you so much more than just another soulless provider.
That’s why you need to take your values and mission out of that corporate webpage nobody ever visits, and start putting them into everything you say. Start your presentations with it, include it in your content strategy, put it in between the lines of your brochures – and start a real connection.
Lesson 2: be authentic and generate trust
The middle road is incredibly busy in B2B marketing. Too busy. For some reason, most marketers believe it’s better to stick to vague generalizations of what they are about, and to maintain as neutral as possible when it comes to tone and style.
Not sales. Sales reps understand what makes them stand out is what makes them successful. It’s why people like them, remember them, and most of all: why people trust them.
It’s time for you as a marketer to stop following the pack. You have to tap into your unique identity, and build your own distinct style around it. Only one rule applies: be bold, be brave, and be bullish – when you bring authenticity with audacity, you’ll win your audience’s respect.
Lesson 3: start solving your customer’s problems
Good salesmen start a conversation by asking their contact what it is they want to achieve. Great salesmen work their way up the organization, and point out a compelling opportunity the customer was missing out on.
This is called provocation-based sales, and it’s a great way to tackle Account Based Marketing. One key condition however, is that you as a marketer do your homework before showering prospects with opportunities.
Dig deep into your customer’s business so you can come up with credible arguments and – especially – numbers. If you want to generate interest, make sure you tackle the following key questions:
- Why should I care?
- Be upfront with the value – talk real benefits and savings
- Why should I believe you?
- Show you did your homework and that you know the business. Show cases.
- What do you want me to do about it?
- Include a clear call-to-action – generally a sales conversation
Get close, get aligned
This was by no means a call for marketing to take over any more sales responsibilities. On the contrary, it’s a call for marketing and sales to work more closely together. Talk with your sales team to uncover hidden opportunities for your prospects, draw inspiration from their personal approach and support them with effective, deal-closing content.
It’s how you take up your marketing role in the new B2B era, and how you work towards your common goal: turning strangers into happy customers.
This article was written by David Weyns, a Strategic Copywriter at BBC. A strictly B2B marketing agency, BBC has already spent more than 30 years at the cutting edge of communication. They offer a complete set of services, ranging from content marketing to corporate branding and product communication.
Wondering how BBC and Showpad can help your sales content take off? Find out on their dedicated Showpad page.
For this article, David drew inspiration from Louis Fernandes’ excellent presentation “How to hack marketing, by sitting and working in sales” as seen at B2B Marketing InTech 2017, London.