How COVID-19 Changed Sales and B2B Content Marketing – And Five Ways To Adjust It
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way B2B companies work.
Employees in all job functions will work remotely, at least for the near future, and every new purchase is scrutinized – and often a large purchasing committee.
The pandemic has also significantly changed the way B2B buyers and sellers do business. Personal meetings and events – once hallmarks of B2B sales – are a thing of the past.
At the same time, marketers are under pressure to overcome digital congestion in order to reach the right audience with the right news in the right places.
While some of these challenges are temporary, others will last longer.
In fact, some things – including remote working and digital selling – may never return to business as usual. Forrester’s Mary Shea predicts that going forward, 80% or more of the sales cycle will be in digital or remote settings.
It is true that sellers and marketers are facing challenges they have never encountered before, but it is still possible to effectively engage with B2B buyers. To do this, however, sellers and marketers need to think differently and employ strategies that will allow them to deliver the seamless experiences that B2B buyers have been expecting.
Five of these strategies are described in this article.
1. Deliver relevant content tailored to the modern shopper
Content marketing plays an essential role in the buying journey for B2B buyers. This is nothing new. But today’s distant shoppers are bombarded with content everywhere they look. and as B2B buyers continue to behave more like consumers, both the content that sellers share and the way it’s delivered need to keep pace.
Too often, buyers are faced with content that is generic and irrelevant. This is bad news because the main reason B2B buyers are breaking away from brands is irrelevant content, according to a report by the CMO Council.
Today’s marketers must always be ready to deliver content that is personalized and perfectly tailored to a prospect’s specific vulnerabilities.
That doesn’t mean that sellers should create materials from scratch for every deal. That can be disastrous. Instead, it’s important to ensure that sellers can access and personalize all approved branded content from a central location.
Some B2B companies also use artificial intelligence (AI) tools that point out sales and marketing content that has been shown to be effective in sales scenarios like the company’s.
The adage that the medium is just as important as the message applies here too: Just as your content needs to be relevant, the way you deliver it and the way buyers experience it needs to be engaging.
2. Use video and interactivity to motivate B2B buyers
Video is a great way for sellers to deliver great experiences when they are not in the same room as their prospects. Indeed, video can be an effective sales tool for different parts of the buying journey.
For starters, salespeople can use video conferencing software when face-to-face meetings are not an option. Video calls can be more engaging for shoppers than traditional conference calls. In addition, salespeople video calls provide access to verbal and non-verbal cues (think facial expressions and sound) to inform next steps.
According to an infographic by Vidyard, most people (90%) say that watching product videos helps them make purchasing decisions. In addition, more than half (59%) of business decision makers say video is their preferred method of learning.
At the same time, it is important to realize that the zoom fatigue is real. To enable meaningful interactions and capture vital information from prospects, there are other ways you should explore ways to tag interactive and engaging B2B content.
3. Track buyer interest digitally
Having a seller in the same room as a buyer makes it easier to measure responses to the information and content that is being shared. This is not possible if the sales experience is low. Sometimes it seems like salespeople are throwing content and information into a black hole in the hope that something will stick.
Successful businesses today use analytics tools that help sellers understand what content is resonating with buyers (and which is not). These tools get more granular: for example, you can track emails opened, paged content views, downloads, and shares.
Such powerful insights allow sellers to personalize their follow-up and move the business forward.
4. Consider virtual events
Pre-COVID in-person events were one of the largest line items for B2B marketing teams. According to a Forrester survey, an average of 12% of B2B marketing teams’ budgets went to events. = “_ Blank”>
And it seems the money was well spent: the same research also shows that nearly half (45%) of B2B buyers said event materials (presentations, keynotes, stand materials, etc.) were the second most important source of content.
Since then, marketers have struggled to digitally redefine their events. While this initially seemed an inconvenience, marketers quickly realized that digital-only events – when well executed and engaging – can be even more valuable than personal ones.
Virtual events allow marketers to reach a wider audience. Unlike in-person events, virtual events aren’t limited to those who have the time and budget to travel to a live venue.
Additionally, B2B marketers can more easily track attendees’ engagement in virtual events to understand what types of events are driving sales. For example, they can see that a prospect attended a particular livestream keynote and eventually made a purchase. and when they see trends, they can draw appropriate conclusions.
5. Do social selling
Social media – LinkedIn in particular – is a great tool for networking and sharing the occasional industry food for thought.
LinkedIn can also be a great tool for initiating, promoting, and even closing sales, especially now that face-to-face meetings are not an option. After all, a whopping 40 million B2B decision-makers use the platform.
That doesn’t mean you should send random connection requests to dive right into your sales pitch. Instead, focus on building a network, posting relevant content, and engaging with other users’ content.
You can also use some paid services from LinkedIn, e.g. B. Sponsored Content, InMail, or Paid Ads.
If you are authentic and useful to your LinkedIn audience from the start, they will be much more receptive to your sales messages later on.
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The pandemic has changed the face of B2B business – maybe forever. The most successful sellers and marketers are those who adapt quickly and adopt new strategies to effectively reach buyers regardless of physical location or stage of the buyer’s journey.
More resources on sales and content marketing for B2B
What B2B sales teams need from marketing to win deals
Overcoming B2B Content Marketing Challenges During the Pandemic
B2B Content Marketing Report: Benchmarks, Budgets, Trends and COVID-19 Response