Give your Partners the Content to be Successful B2B Influencers
The readily accessible amount of information online has made it far easier for buyers to gather information independently, meaning partner sales teams have less access and fewer opportunities to influence buyer decisions. According to the 2020 B2B Buyers Survey Report by DemandGen, 77% of buyers indicated that they spend more time researching purchases than the year before. In addition to the wealth of accessible content online, more people are involved in the buying process. If you look at Gartner’s buyer journey, you can see just how complicated it gets before a buyer is ready to engage your partner’s sales team.
Although most B2B buyer’s overall timelines for completing purchases have lengthened, many critical engagement activities still occur within the first month of the buyer journey. Buyers start their buying journey with a few vendors in mind on their shortlist. As they enter the ‘Solution exploration’ phase, they may uncover more options and expand the list. From peer recommendations to online community discussions to new requirements being added, the list expands and contracts until the buyer has the confidence to move forward. Enabling your partners to have the best chance at being on the list and staying there is essential to the success of your partnership. To do this, partners must have personalized content relevant to their buyers, make a positive first impression, and be present where the buyers are.
Importance of Personalization
In the early stages of the buying process, distributing relevant content to the right audience is key to influencing the buyer’s decision. According to DemandGen, 76% of respondents report that the winning vendor’s content significantly impacted their buying decision. In this era of high-quality but often confusing information, our gravitation towards personalized content isn’t a new concept. Personalization in the consumer space has existed for a while, and B2B buyers now expect the same attention, transparency, and ease of use when making B2C purchases. So why do buyers prefer personalized experiences? The answer lies in a psychological principle known as the Cocktail Party Effect.
In 1950, British cognitive scientist Colin Cherry wanted to understand what people focus on and why. After studying the dynamics of a crowded, noisy room, he discovered that humans are naturally inclined to engage with information that we find relevant and interesting. Our brains can separate overlapping conversations into different auditory streams and ignore information that isn’t relevant. For example, think back to when you were in a crowded room having a conversation with someone. During the conversation, you were able to tune out the conversations around you easily. But, as soon as someone nearby says something that is of interest to you or mentions your name, you automatically tune in to that specific conversation.
In the context of the B2B buyer, the noise of the crowded room resembles the amount of marketing content that demands a customer’s attention. Out of all the noise, the buyer only chooses the content that is important to them. The sales enablement you provide your partner sales team needs to grab and hold their buyer’s attention.
The content you provide to your partners must be:
- Easy for the buyer to quickly and effectively use or share with others
- Relevant to the specific challenges the buyer is facing
- Useful for the buyer in accomplishing their intended buying job
- Credible and backed up by data and facts
- Addressable to the buyer’s industry, company size, and business goals
First impressions matter
In 1920, psychologist Edward Thorndike discovered the cognitive bias in which a person’s opinion of something in one domain can influence their opinion of it in other domains. Named after a halo for its ability to present a positive light that we place upon people or things according to certain characteristics, the halo effect is important to recognize because any small detail can make a big difference in a buyer’s perception of a product or company.
To a buyer, the halo effect influences how they will form an impression about a company. Give the buyer information that is inaccurate, outdated, complicated to understand, or too difficult to obtain will likely result in your partner being ignored and never having a chance to make it to the shortlist of vendors that their buyers are considering. Positive first impressions affect how the B2B buyer views your partner and can be valuable when the buyer relies on the recommendation of a peer or customer.
Go to where the buyers are
While buyers today will still read case studies, white papers, and industry blogs, word of mouth and customer referrals have surpassed them as primary buying influencers. According to HubSpot, social proof is the top influencer for B2B buyers over traditional marketing content.
For social selling, existing social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter have been the traditional platforms for sales teams to engage with buyers for many years now. Since then, platforms like Discord and Slack have opened the doors to new opportunities for buyer engagement.
More recently, the popularity of audio-only platforms such as Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces has created new digital communities where B2B buyers now have access to engage with partners and their customers directly. Because these sessions rarely follow a strict agenda or are recorded, first impressions matter even more.
In a social setting, does your content provide partner sales teams the confidence to engage with buyers using one of the approaches below?
- Give — The ability to share comprehensive information promptly. More is better.
- Tell — The ability to share perspectives, anecdotes, or stories with buyers based on information from professional experience and knowledge.
- Clarify — The ability to carefully share information to help the buyer make sense of all the information and take action.
As hard as it has become to sell in today’s world, it has become much more difficult to buy. There’s no shortage of quality information for B2B buyers to use, and because of that, many experience information overload. Enabling your partners to rise above the noise will improve their chances of customer success and validate your value to the partnership.