“Customers are, on average, 57% of the way through the purchase process before they meaningfully engage with Sales.” – MLC Wide Angle
If this is true, that more than half of our customers are beyond awareness, well into evaluation, or at the start of the decision phase, do we need to cater our sales messaging and content to drive decision, purchase, and support, and stop thinking we need to rely on sales to drive awareness and evaluation?
Messaging and content may differ from one industry to the next, or from one type of customer to the next. An in-depth understanding of your target audience, accurate definition of their personas, and understanding of their specific buying process are key to any successful content marketing plan especially when it comes to enabling sales.
First and foremost, let’s consider “sales” being either an actual person, or even a website. Many companies have adopted models where sales people focus on larger customer segments, while deploying their website, or online reseller websites to act as digital self-service sales vehicles for smaller customers. In either case, content plays a pivotal role in driving customers through the buying process, in this case, beyond evaluation to decision, purchase and even support.
My key takeaways from MLC’s findings:
- More than half of customers don’t rely on sales (people or websites) to learn about new products or services. Focus less on using the sales team or company and/or reseller websites to “tell” customers about new products.
- Awareness and evaluation of new products and services largely occurs via other streams like social media, blogs, news articles, whitepaper syndication, or traditional online or offline advertising. Ensure we have a solid content and communication plan for “telling customers about new products” that lives outside of the company or reseller partner web properties.
- Leverage customer personas and buying process triggers to increase focus and investment in sales enablement content that addresses their unique decision triggers. This may include content like TCO calculators, ROI analysis, Case Studies, or Best Practices that make decisions much easier to stomach. “I’ve heard about your product (Awareness). It sounds compelling (Evaluation). Now [show me] what it mean for my business? (Decision)”
- When it comes to content that focuses on the purchase phase, it’s more about the process. Using content that enables sales to answer questions like: “Show me how easy is it to do business with your company? Do I have to jump through hoops to purchase this product? By answering questions like these, we move beyond the product or service, and into the customer relationship. The same can be said for Support, “Who is my point of contact if I need help? Show me how do I stay informed of product / service obstacles and improvements?”