Renbor Sales Solutions Principal Tibor Shanto doesn’t mince words when it comes to content. “A fool with a tool is still a fool. Bad content is bad content.”
Shanto was joined by ITWC President and CMO Fawn Annan recently in the second in the “Closing the Gap” series of webinars, which seeks to tackle on many levels the challenge of advancing prospects to a suitable purchase decision.
In the webinar Closing the Gap: Building Value with Content, Shanto and Annan discussed the buyers’ journey, from the initial “Suspect” phase (“Awareness” from a sales and marketing perspective) to the “Prospect” phase (“Consideration”) to the third and final “Buyer” phase (“Decision”).
Shanto said too often vendors provide material that buyers find neither useful nor trustworthy, that the selection criteria offered up by vendors doesn’t sync with what customers find to be important. Annan agreed, citing a recent IDG study in which almost half of respondents complained about a lack of independent, unbiased content.
Much of the content vendors are providing fails to resonate with prospective buyers at their current stage in the buyers’ journey, said Annan. What prospective buyers truly want is hands-on experience with products and — just as importantly — insights from current customers of the product being put in front of them.
“Often we’re trying to introduce product way too early or we’re sitting back and waiting for the customer to make the choice or to give us the signal,” said Shanto. “If we can align the content to where the decision point is, there’s a lot better opportunity to shape the thinking of the buyer or the buying group.”
Shanto said while salespeople may “breathe and eat” their products every day, customers do not. This, he said, provides an opportunity to help customers shape their thinking. One way to do that is to alert them to the risks they’re facing in their journey.
“They’re going to [eventually identify] these risks anyway, so the fact that you alert them to it and show them how they can deal with it or mitigate it will give you a lot more value than if you just highlight the positives of your product..”
Annan offered the reminder that not everyone has a huge budget, so “you really have to pick where you want to play in that omni-channel universe of information because your customers are living everywhere.”
Annan and Shanto also dealt with the critical question of how much is too much when it comes to sales and marketing.
“Weave a story,” said Shanto. “If you know the journey from awareness to consideration to decision, weave a story for them so they can follow a narrative. People like stories. Weave a good story for them and they’ll follow you.”
But Shanto stresses the supreme importance of instinct and reading the signs.
“You’ll know how much is too much with different people and different personas. One guy might take five emails a day, but if another pushes back if you spoke to them last millennia, you might need to space it out a bit. The data is there. You just need to go and get it.”