For B2B Companies, Selling Better is Not the Answer
When challenged, we humans have a tendency to resort to the known and familiar path (not taking “the road less traveled”). And in the B2B arena, this can often mean figuring out a way to sell faster, harder, more aggressively, etc. This can mean upgrading sales skills, hiring more sales people, changing comp plans or finding a new system to move prospects through the sales funnel.
I understand this — my first job in the computer software industry was with a company that was then a startup, but became an industry leader that was later sold for about half a billion dollars. Our software ran on mainframe systems and there was no email, social media or smartphones to conduct promotions. In fact, the PC was just appearing, and this little company called AOL was introducing us (at a snail’s pace of 300 baud) to the joys of being online – with virtually no commerce involved. Many, if not most, readers will have no idea of what I am talking about in the last two sentences, but that’s okay. The point is, if you spend a lot of your career in a sales model that depends heavily on direct sales reps to find, educate, engage and close prospects, that’s how you will tend to approach the future quest for revenue.
But here is the problem: Today, B2B buyers tend to do a few things that confound the selling traditionalist. First, instead of being found, they tend to do the finding themselves. So your first goal needs to be: Make your company easy to discover. (You may find my recent post on this subject helpful: How Do Potential B2B Buyers Find You?) The second thing required is to make sure every prospect that visits your website (and they all do) has the information needed to educate and qualify themselves. The more information you can supply, the better, not only to educate your prospects, but also to satisfy the various search engine algorithms that will either put you in a good position to be found or consign you to a place hidden from all but the most persistent searchers.
Creating a content-rich environment is critical because, depending on which industry pundit you ask, prospects can do as much as 60-80 percent of their research before they ever engage with you. If your website is poorly designed and/or lacking in information, you will never get a chance to sell many prospects, regardless of how good your sales people are. Yes, by all means upgrade your sales team. Hire the best and the brightest. Tweak the comp plan to incentivize strong performance. Find the best system for converting prospects into buyers. But unless you get your website and content strategy right, an exclusive focus on sales improvement will not allow you to reach your potential.
What will allow you to reach your potential as a B2B company is a strategy that optimizes every aspect of the process, from initial outreach through awareness, leads and revenue. We call this the Lead-to-Revenue (L2R) machine. You can download a free copy of our eBook on this subject here.