It's well documented that the B2B buyer conducts at least 57% of their journey online through research. So, how can a sales professional insert him/herself into that research? One word - influence.
The salesperson's challenge is to be influential to the buyer in order to be someone the buyer needs in his/her journey. A salesperson should strive to influence the buyer's journey to be someone the buyer seeks out for information.
If this sounds unrealistic, lets review two ways for B2B sales professionals to create influence.
Be a Content Creator
We know that 75% of B2B buyers seek out content online in social channels during their research and evaluation phase. It's logical then that if you create content on the topics that matter to the buyer and you amplify that content in social channels, you can increase your chance of inserting yourself into a buyer's research program.
Here are some ways to do this.
- Launch your own blog
- Launch your own podcast
- Create visuals and infographics
- Host webinars and Blab sessions
- Publish articles to LinkedIn
- Speak at events
Each of these requires focus, commitment and a lot of hard work. Even before you commit to one or more of these methods of creating content it's imperative that you also commit to being knowledgeable in your industry. If you're just one or two years out of college, you might consider starting out as a content curator to help build your knowledge and authority. When you have the confidence to become a content creator, do it.
In addition to focus and commitment, you also need to have a disciplined approach. Create content on the topics that your buyers care deeply about. Your content strategy should focus on what I call the 3 E's of content - educate, enlighten, entertain.
Be a Content Curator
If creating original content isn't viable for you, be the best content curator in your industry niche. Conduct research to identify great sources of content for the topics which are important to your buyer. Bookmark these sites and visit them daily. Let Google help you with Google Alerts. You can also curate articles on LinkedIn from influencers and your network.
As you find content that qualifies for the 3 E's, share it with your network on LinkedIn and Twitter as well as anywhere else you engage with your buyers, e.g., Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, etc., I strongly recommend that you read each article that you share and add your commentary. You won't create much influence if all you do is curate without commentary. You can create meaningful influence by being a source of valuable and relevant content to your buyer.
A natural by-product of either of these two methods - creating or curating content - is being a networker. For example, when you create content be sure to mention other sources that support your content and link to them. Also give them a shout-out on social when you publish their content. Engage with those that you include in your content.
Similarly, when you curate someone's content be sure to give them a shootout and engage with them by connecting, following, etc., For example, this topic was inspired by Tim Hughes in the podcast we recently recorded.
In the long run, if you're not developing meaningful relationships you won't build influence. Remember, word of mouth is still a powerful referral source, and it's easier than ever through digital channels.
If it's not obvious by now, building influence happens when you serve your buyer through relevant content that's helpful. Your buyer is trying to find a product or service to address a business issue. If you can insert yourself into his or her journey, you'll build influence, and, influence opens doors to sales conversations. And, isn't that what you want?
Feature Image Courtesy of Unsplash: Samuel Zeller