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Is the B2B marketing content conundrum slowing down sales?

Content is the second biggest source of disagreement for B2B buyers during a purchase. Jim Preston explains how to provide the right content at the right time

When it comes to making B2B purchase decisions, it’s content that has the greatest potential to make or break a deal. If the information provided by a seller is relevant and clear and addresses their biggest pain points it will accelerate the sales process. If the vendor misses the mark, however, it’s the factor that is most likely to stall it.

In a recent study of UK B2B buyers carried out by Showpad respondents said, after disagreements about price, the biggest issues they’d had with their last purchase were related to content: either there wasn’t enough of it, it couldn’t be easily found, it was irrelevant or confusing, or it failed to demonstrate ROI.

Difficulty sharing information internally, and not being able to understand the content that was provided, were particular problems for top executives who – in addition to being pressed for time – tend not to be involved in researching products and solutions early on in the buying process.

A lack of high quality information was also cited as the top reason behind most decisions not to select a particular vendor. The survey indicated that high-quality content, on the other hand, kept buyers coming back: three-quarters of UK B2B buyers say that informational content plays a very or extremely important part in motivating them to become a repeat customer.

The complex buyer journey

Providing the right content at the right time in the buyer journey is increasingly important as the sales process becomes longer and more complex. 

There are more stakeholders involved in the average B2B sale than ever: 21% of buyers who responded to the Showpad survey said more than five people had a role in making purchase decisions at their organisation. More than half said their path to purchase has got longer over the past 12 months, while three quarters undertook on average up to 20 hours of solo research into a product or service before even contacting a salesperson.

B2B buyers are not currently getting the information they need from vendors to make purchase decisions easily and confidently. If vendors work to understand how their prospects engage with content during the buyer journey, and optimise the information they deliver accordingly, they’ll go a long way to building a seamless, high-quality buyer experience that differentiates them from the competition.

Aim for quality not quantity

Insufficient information may put deals in jeopardy, but this is also a risk when there’s too much of it: 45% of UK B2B buyers feel overwhelmed when they have more than five pieces of content to look at. Sales reps should make their content choices wisely, tailoring them to the customer’s business or project, and basing their selection on what has worked best for the company in similar sales situations in the past. 

With an increasing amount of information and less time to consume it, every piece of content needs to be concise, transparent and direct, particularly if it’s going to be reviewed by senior stakeholders with little time on their hands. To maximise impact and engagement with the buyers, content should clearly communicate how – and how much – the business will benefit from the purchase. 

Be focused

With fewer than five pieces of content being optimal, it’s vital to create and pick the types of information that are considered to be most essential by the customer. When asked what they found most useful, UK B2B buyers put case studies, technical specs and white papers at the top of their list, followed by infographics and streaming video demonstrations.

How the content is delivered is also important. Buyers appreciate interactive tools and technologies, with the forms of content delivery most likely to close a sale more quickly being an ROI calculator or analysis, a personalised content portal, and augmented reality (AR) technology that brings the product or service to life in context. A personalised content portal that helps with finding the right information, quickly, is the tool most desired by c-suite executives. 

Equip reps to be heroes

Even when information on a product or service is made readily available online and elsewhere, buyers still like to have someone guide them through it, and present it in a way that’s understandable, helpful and inspiring. Vendors need to equip their sales teams with the content that will provide value to the buyer during each stage of the sales process, as well as tools that will enable reps to quickly and easily find, personalise and share it.  

The best buyer experience will always win through. Modern B2B buyers want a high quality, personalised and interactive purchase experience. With the right combination of useful content, targeted information and innovative technology, B2B sellers have a huge opportunity to not only engage buyers and close deals faster, but act as valued partners – through the sales process and beyond.

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