Earlier this year, the RAIN Group conducted a survey of B2B businesses—488 buyers and 489 sellers—for their Top Performance in Sales Prospecting report.
The participants’ responses, particularly those of the buyers, contain a wealth of valuable insights for B2B sellers. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, many of those insights have to do with content and content marketing.
Here, I’ll go over the results of the survey, and then explain how you can use content to take your own B2B business to the next level.
Let’s examine the key results of the survey before we get into how exactly your content and communications can help seal the deal.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out to Buyers
According to the story, a massive 82 percent of B2B buyers accept meetings with sellers who reach out to them.
More importantly, the earlier it is in the sales process, the more receptive buyers are. During the sales process, buyers want to hear from sellers when they’re:
- Looking for new ideas to drive stronger business results (71 percent).
- Actively looking for a solution to solve a problem (62 percent).
- Evaluating providers (54 percent).
Reach Out in the Right Way
If you are planning to reach out to a buyer, it’s important to consider how you should reach out to them. In the survey, buyers narrowed their preferred methods of communication down to two major categories:
- Eighty percent of buyers prefer being contacted via email.
- Fifty-eight percent of buyers have recently accepted a meeting with a seller over email.
- Only five percent of sellers say that bulk emails are effective.
- Fifty-seven percent of C-level and VP-level buyers prefer being contacted via the phone. The same goes for 51 percent of director-level buyers and 47 percent of manager-level buyers.
- Fifty-four percent of buyers have recently accepted a meeting with a seller over the phone.
- Communication via the phone is most popular in the tech industry (54 percent), followed by the professional services industry (50 percent) and the financial services industry (40 percent).
So, while email is always a safe choice, you should consider using the phone as well if you’re contacting a C- or VP-level buyer, or if you’re trying to secure the business of a tech company.
Read my previous post to learn how you can craft attention-grabbing email subject lines.
Be Prepared to Hear From Them
Although you should always try to make first contact with prospective buyers, it’s helpful to know why buyers might come to you. In the survey, buyers said they are likely to contact a seller if:
- They need a product or service (75 percent).
- The seller’s offerings fit their budget (64 percent).
- The seller offers to share something of value (63 percent).
- They have a pre-existing relationship with the seller (61 percent).
- They have previously done business together (60 percent).
Know That Content is King
According to the survey, certain types of content are more likely than others to catch a buyer’s eye. C-level buyers in particular are drawn to:
- Return on investment (ROI) cases (75 percent).
- Primary research data that’s relevant to their business (69 percent).
- Content that’s 100 percent customized to them (67 percent).
- Descriptions of the seller’s capabilities (67 percent).
- Insight on how the seller’s solution can help solve their business problems (66 percent).
- Best-practice methodology based on their area of expertise (65 percent).
Seal the Deal
Toward the end of the sales process, these factors have the most influence over a buyer’s final decision:
- The seller focused on the value they can deliver to them (96 percent).
- The seller collaborated with them (93 percent).
- The seller educated them with new ideas and perspectives (92 percent).
- The seller provided valuable insight related to their industry (92 percent).
- The seller deepened their understanding of their own needs (92 percent).
These are the most important takeaways from the survey:
- Reach out to potential buyers earlier rather than later.
- Communicate via email as well as phone.
- Provide buyers with the information they need.
- Focus on value, collaboration, innovation, insight and identifying the buyer’s needs.
Use Content to Attract Buyers
As you may have noticed, content can help your B2B business improve in the areas that matter to buyers. Here’s how you can use high-quality content to generate more sales.
Show ‘Em What You’ve Got
Whether you reach out to the buyer or the buyer gets in touch with you, it’s essential that the buyer be able to glean what you offer, how much it will cost them and how your services or products can deliver better business results.
You can accomplish this by designing a clean and easily navigable website and filling it with succinct content that clearly explains what you have to offer. As Jessica explained in a previous post, you can make the most of your website by focusing on three key audiences:
- Online visitors: In other words, the people who are visiting your site either directly or by clicking on links.
- Search engines: Like Google or Bing – whether their search engine bots view your content as high quality or not matters.
- Your business: Analyze whether your content aligns with your business and marketing goals.
Doing so can help buyers find your website and better understand what it is you do and what makes your business different.
Customize Your Content
What does it mean to customize your content to a prospective buyer? In short, it means that you tailor your content to pertain to their particular industry, needs and objectives. More often than not, this is accomplished through emails. Yes, it will take more time to completely customize your emails, but it will likely be worth the effort in the end.
Deliver Valuable Information
When a buyer is determining whether or not to use your products or services, they’re not going to be satisfied with catchy slogans or appealing logos, although both of those can certainly help.
What they’re really looking for is reliable, well-written information. That information can be delivered in a few ways, some of which we mentioned above:
- ROI cases.
- Primary (and relevant) research data.
- Case studies.
- White papers.
- Press releases.
No matter how you choose to deliver information, it should always reflect your business’ expertise, and be presented in an attractive and easy-to-read manner.
Altogether, the results of the RAIN Group’s survey serve to emphasize the importance of using high-quality content to create high-quality relationships with other businesses. When it comes to content, prioritizing quality over quantity will get you farther than a thousand generic emails ever could.
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Did the results of the survey surprise you? Do you think you gained any valuable insights from them? Let me know in the comments!