Articulating expertise and knowledge in a way that addresses the business challenge of clients in a consumable manner is a challenge for all b2b organisations. As Altify and Salesforce point out below, the way people buy has completely changed. This is due to the availability of content online and b2b customers spend two-thirds of their buying journey researching and reviewing information. Much of this learning happens without direct sales rep involvement so it is critical to be part of it in some capacity.
As one sales leader of a $10bn business recently explained to me, it is not that his sales people are bad at listening, they just need to convert the customer insights into published insights. These can then be delivered through the right channels, to make the purchase process easier, as a buyer travels through their journey to a decision.
Many organisations have a buyer's journey sketched out (similar to the image below by Inflexion-Point Blog). This typically looks at a prospect moving from a stage of being unaware, to challenging the status quo, recognising the need to fix a pain, evaluation, buying and then advocacy.
Having a content strategy that is decentralised and involves all of those within your organisation who can either suggest, create or share consumable insights that map to the client challenges at each stage of the buying journey is crucial.
In most b2b organisations this will involve your sales reps to be suggesting/request content based on the conversation with the prospect. Once you have this, your experts can create the insights that provide 'teaching' to the challenge of the customer. If you are a technology or consultancy business this will be your pre-sales, solution/technical engineers, product teams. In a law or accountancy firm it will be your lawyers and accountants.
Access to information has completely changed the conversation successful salespeople have with their customers. Customers are savvier about what they want and where they can get it, and they’re usually 57% of the way through the buyer’s journey before you even get to call them a prospect. A lot of people will begin selling by talking about their product. They’ll describe the features and functionality, go through some screenshots, maybe even walk the prospect through a demo. ‘You need this product!’ they say, ignoring the customer who has the look of someone who has heard it all before.