The B2B sales process continues to evolve. Buyers are taking the process into their own hands, and engaging much later in the sales cycle. In fact, according the Corporate Executive Board, 60% of the B2B buying process now happens before a prospect ever talks to a salesperson.
The marketing organizations that are adapting quickly have a distinct competitive advantage—they generate more leads, win more deals, and drive more revenue. You can too. Here's how.
1. Create real-time content that is useful and relevant.
With so many different touch points in today's buying process, it's critical for brands to create and deliver exactly the right piece of content at the right time. Platforms like Google+ Hangouts, Instagram, and YouTube are empowering just about anyone to create content in a matter of minutes, so there's more noise and higher expectations, but also more opportunity—if you have a smart marketing strategy and can break free of bureaucratic barriers and outmoded processes. Carmen Hill of leading B2B marketing firm Babcock & Jenkins explains how to start creating timely content within minutes or hours (instead of days or weeks) in Real-Time Content: Feeding the Content Beast.
2. Boost lead volume by improving your landing pages.
You can't nurture what you don't convert. According to a survey by BtoB Magazine, 59% of B2B marketers say email is the most effective channel for generating revenue. However, more than 60% of B2B marketers report that their greatest marketing challenge for 2012 was generating more leads. Cast a wider net by increasing landing page conversion rates with better layouts, headlines, and calls-to-action. As a rule of thumb, make sure your headlines have a benefit, your forms are short, and your copy is simple. See how brands like Citrix and Iron Mountain boosted performance by up to 500% in B2B Landing Page Optimization.
3. Engage your audience with video and YouTube.
85% of the US audience is now viewing video online on a weekly basis, and 37% of B2B customers access videos via mobile devices to research products and services. It’s more important than ever to refine your video strategy to adjust to changing technology and available marketing techniques. And don't worry if your budget is small but your goals are big—effective video marketing doesn't require heavy production—just a smart message that's relevant to your target audience. Watch B2B Video: Best Practices and Techniques to see how Cisco uses video to reach their target audiences.
4. Adopt social selling and monitor buying signals.
According to a study by IBM, 75% of buyers are likely to use social media in the purchase process, and when IBM adopted a social selling pilot program, they saw a 400% increase in sales. Wow! But what is "social selling", at least in the context of digital? It's pretty simple—leveraging social networks, content, and the entire digital ecosystem to build meaningful connections, nurture relationships, share expertise, and position yourself as credible and trustworthy—all critical parts of the sales process, whether offline or online. (I like Jill Rowley's deep dive into the topic.)
If you're not ready to take charge and work with your sales team on a social selling strategy, start by monitoring buying signals, and go from there. There's a big chance that your hottest prospects are qualifying themselves through social media. Use this information to your advantage with a smart listening and engagement program. Learn more about buying signals and how to find them in Buying Signals: the Key to B2B Social Media Success.