Social Media Strategy, B2b Social Media

5 Ways to Deliver B2B Marketing Content that Sells (Without Sabotaging Sales)

Guest post by Carmen Hill, Social Media and Content Strategiest for Babcock & Jenkins, an integrated B2B marketing agency in Portland.

Could giving away too much great content actually sabotage sales? As unlikely as it sounds, this is exactly the concern that recently came up in a discussion about B2B content marketing.

There’s always a risk that prospective customers will take the information you give them and then use it to buy from your competitor instead. But the bigger risk is that they never find you or consider you in the first place, especially when 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before they ever contact sales (SiriusDecisions).

Here’s one more thing to consider: 95% to 99% of people will bail rather than fill out your registration form. And of those who do register, the majority will not provide a correct phone number.

“Sales cannot step in and educate your audience until the audience is willing to hear from sales,” says my colleague Eric Wittlake, senior media director at Babcock & Jenkins. “Based on these figures, somewhere between 98% and 99.8% don’t want to hear from sales even though they’re interested in your information. You need to let the content do the selling.”

Here are 5 ways to do just that while ensuring a smooth handoff to sales when buyers are truly ready to talk to them.

1. Talk to sales early and often

This not only assuages any concern that you’re stealing their thunder, but also gives you the inside skinny on what buyers need to know before buying your products. What questions do they ask? What objections do they raise? What content might get you in the door ahead of your competitors?

2. Get your stories straight

Marketing and sales may not be telling the same chapters of a story, but you are reading from the same book. Be sure to follow a consistent narrative that deepens over time and leads to a happy ending.

3. Identify the “pivot point” when sales needs to step in

At a certain point in a complex B2B purchase, you absolutely need a sales rep or sales engineer to meet with the buyer and scope out the right solution for their specific needs. Tag content that might indicate strong interest or intent to purchase and include a compelling reason for prospects to share their (real) contact information and/or agree to a meeting. For example, the next step for someone who uses your online product selector might be to talk to a sales engineer for a customized configuration or ROI report.

4. Make it easy to take the next step

Don’t ruin a good story with a lame finish. Provide a simple stepping-stone to the next stage of the buyer’s journey—and remove the friction. No one wants to fill out a long registration form with a bunch of questions a telemarketer or sales rep will ask again anyway. As Ardath Albee notes in a recent post, “The way in which online dialogues are transitioned into 1-to-1 sales conversations can either keep your prospects’ buying momentum moving along or stop it cold.”

5. Measure and share success

Once you’ve mapped content to each stage of the buyer’s journey, use a Web analytics tool such as Omniture to track how well it performs:

  • Is your audience responding?
  • How much time do they spend watching or reading your content?
  • Do they click through to the next level of information?
  • Does a prospect that engages with a particular asset eventually buy something?

Ultimately, the best way to answer the question of whether or not your content is giving away too much (or not) is to directly map that content to pipeline revenue or closed sales.

How much information do you think a buyer should get to see without talking to sales? How do you or your clients strike the right balance? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

(Babcock & Jenkins is a Convince & Convert client)