woman sitting on bed with MacBook on lap

Did you know that up to 57 percent of purchase decisions happen long before buyers contact vendors?

That’s a scary stat when you’re the vendor, right?

A decade ago, things were easier. Whenever buyers needed solutions, they reached out to sellers, who would pitch their best options for the buyer’s choosing.

Today’s B2B customers go into investigative mode. They identify the issues affecting their business and then scour the internet for answers.

They scrutinize your content, match your solutions to their needs, compare your offerings against competitors, and check your standing with past customers.

If they like what they see, they get in touch with you. If they don’t… you guessed it.

How do you get them to like what they see? You start by ensuring your product/services are solid, then apply these online strategies to help generate more leads and sales.

1. Invest in Content Marketing

Research shows that 82 percent of prospective customers will consume no less than five content pieces from the winning vendor.

If you want to influence purchase, then you’ll need to create content that addresses concerns and needs at every stage. Content that answers buyers’ questions, and shares business solutions and comparisons.

Here are questions that may help guide in creating useful content:

  • Who are you targeting? Business leaders, owners, C-suite, marketing managers—it’s a no-brainer. Or is it? No matter how well-written or interesting your content is, if it doesn’t target the right consumers it will only receive views, at best, but no engagement. Research your audience and compile content that resonates with them.
  • What problems can you solve? People want to know one thing: “how can your products/services help me?” Your content must demonstrate knowledge of the challenges they face and an ability to handle them effectively.
  • What’s unique about your content? Content overload is real. Consumers are inundated with tons of regurgitated content that doesn’t tackle “difficult questions.” Use your expertise to put together content that’s educative, provides comparisons, and answers those tough questions.
  • What formats work for your audience? Long-form content, resource pages, infographics, guest blogs, white papers, and videos perform well. We recommend researching the content format that generates high engagement and maximizing its use.

2. Video Marketing

Many marketing teams are wary of producing video content. They worry about the cost, quality, and the work they will put in enough to keep them away.

But those who have cast aside such thoughts and ventured into video have enjoyed reasonable ROI.

Statistics reveal that 87 percent of marketers have seen traffic to their websites increase. 81 percent attribute video to increased sales while from the buyer’s perspective, 88 percent of prospects were convinced to make purchases after watching a video.

Consider the following:

  • Create videos that answer your audiences’ questions. Brands that know their audiences’ most pressing questions have the ammo they need to create videos that pull decision-makers.
  • Keep videos concise. With short attention spans, distractions, and work to get through, keeping videos short helps ensure audiences will watch them to the end.
  • Customize videos for audiences. Introductory videos are great for new prospects while demo videos illustrate the benefits your solutions bring to those at the consideration stage. Testimonial videos may help convince those at the decision-making stage to move forward with your brand.
  • Embed a 3D animated video on your landing pages. Swap long and complex sentences with thoughtful 3D animated videos to entertain, educate, and compel viewers to convert.

Examples of videos that drive sales include demo videos, customer testimonials, case studies, explainer videos, and webinars.

3. Leverage Social Proof

As mentioned earlier, people like knowing what others think of your business before signing the dotted line.

Through social proof, you let potential customers know that your brand and offerings are real and trustworthy. Second, that buyers with similar needs have experienced positive results when they used your products/services.

Here are top ways to leverage social proof:

  • Product recommendations. When verified users leave reviews on your website and third-party sites they tout the awesomeness of your solutions. You can quote these reviews in marketing materials, and on your website and testimonial pages.
  • Expert recommendations. Endorsements by industry experts increase your credibility in your audience’s eyes. Add pictures of their endorsements on your website to increase their effectiveness.
  • Trust seals. Accreditations, industry certifications, and security trust seals help improve the audience’s perception of trust. These seals say your business has been verified by others and that customers can trust you.

4. Make Cold Calls

Allow us to bust one cold calling myth.

A survey by RAIN Group revealed that more than half of those in the C-Suite prefer being contacted via telephone.

Smart teams don’t shun cold calling. They package their technique in a way that ensures they reach decision-makers at the right time to improve their effectiveness.

Best practices include:

  • Build a prospect list that revolves around your buyer personas. Anything else and you’ll be calling up the wrong people to their chagrin and your disappointment. Your list should comprise prospects that need or use the solutions you offer.
  • Look for buying triggers. The business world is dynamic—companies merge, expand, relocate, replace their c-suite executives, receive new funding, or get affected by new legislation. Look for situations that create opportunities for you to sell your solutions.
  • Personalize your script. Especially for high-value customers. Bagging one of these is a huge deal so ensure your script reflects their needs and how your solutions can positively impact them.
  • Measure and adapt. Collect data that will help you measure ROI to determine how well your strategy is doing. Analyze the best hours for calling, the number of times it takes to reach prospects, call duration, etc then find ways to improve those numbers.

5. Ask for Referrals

Brands comprise people and people hang out, talk, and share valuable information including recommendations.

Having healthy and happy relationships with your customers means they can easily put your name across to others who have similar needs. While this may come naturally to some customers, others may need a little prompting, even if they are happy with your services.

Here are some ways to ensure existing customers help bring in customers:

  • Start by ensuring your customers are satisfied with you. Have you delivered as expected or exceeded their expectations? Were they satisfied? Do your customers come back?
  • Identify potential advocates. What does their network look like? How connected are they to the customers you’re targeting? Would they be comfortable providing referrals? You can start by asking them for a testimonial or to participate in a case study before moving on to asking for referrals.
  • Be good referees. Treat all referees well, whether they are a good fit or not. The referrer is likely to ask the referee how things went and if they receive a bad report, they might never send you another referral.
  • Reciprocate. Check your network as well. If there are clients that may benefit from a partnership, hook them up. You’ll be paving the way for stronger relationships that see you receive referrals from them too.