The B2B sales process is getting longer and more complex. Attracting buyers for B2B sales does not have the advantage of holiday sales or eye-catching displays and 62% of buyers say they can make a business decision based on content alone. When prices are stable, and products are similar, the ability to position your company as an authority becomes an important factor for gaining the attention and trust of potential buyers.
What buyers desire most from a thought leader are ideas that create impact. Inspirational CEO's like the late Tony Hsieh of Zappos.com are known for sharing the personal stories and core guiding principles that contributed to their success. Company leaders can build trust with potential buyers through their willingness to sit down with a public audience to discuss their success, failures, and what keeps them motivated. Thought leaders within their particular industry can act as catalysts for behavioral changes within their business or industry. This is done by sharing knowledge and wisdom that not only get results, but also brings more success to everyone.
Promote topics in your industry
In the digital era, it is important to be relevant and searchable because the traditional sales pitch may not apply. Potential clients can look up everything about a company in a few clicks online, turning the internet into an essential tool for making purchasing decisions. There is a lot of information out there, but this is not the issue. The challenge is finding a way for your ideas and perspectives to stand out and resonate with the right audience.
Companies can establish awareness by consistently sharing valuable insights with customers across all channels of communication. Like the average consumer, B2B buyers are increasingly using mobile devices to research and make purchases. Furthermore, it is also important to have a website optimized for mobile in addition to desktop. This compatibility is essential to allow customers the ability to follow and interact with your company using their preferred method.
Interpret the market to gain followers
Customers have access to more knowledge than ever, but it's easy to get lost in a sea of non-relevant information. Part of the customer journey is awareness, and customers cannot use your business if they don't know that you exist. The people looking for your technology may not be knowledgeable enough to search for the specific system they need.
Good thought leaders act as a buffer between search engines and potential clients by interpreting the market for their customers. As an interpreter, they have the ability to qualify the importance of a subject, and set the perspective based on their experience. To gain the attention and trust of their audience, thought leaders must be generous with good content that points people in the right direction.
Tell your customers something they don't already know
Thought leaders don't have to be confined to their education, career segment, or industry. A thought leader is defined by their failures, success, and ability to look at problems from the perspective of multiple life experiences and come up with solutions.
Video content is a great way to connect with and build credibility with potential buyers. Presentations and fireside chat-style interviews allow potential buyers to gain insight into the company culture and social values. A critical decision factor for the growing number of millennials involved in B2B purchasing decisions. Webinars and interviews are an opportunity for leaders to express why they feel their company is on trend, how they are serving their customers' needs, and provide a clear understanding of where the industry is (or isn't) going. Buyers want assurance that they can grow with your company and won't have to change solutions down the line.
Stand out with consistent and valuable content
Most buyers are limited in research time and are actively looking for a nudge in the right direction. There is a lot of information available, and it's hard to identify what is important, why it's important, and what it might mean for their future.
Make the most of your platform by sharing insights that support future needs and initiatives unique to your industry. Creating content for thought leadership is a very forward-thinking way to do business. Instead of waiting for the customer to reach out, you are creating content that addresses their pain points. While many companies tend to get lost in their solutions' technical aspects, they miss what is actually important. Customers just want their pain points addressed, and while the technology may be very innovative and impressive, understanding the hardware specifications may not be their first priority.
Use content to drive conversion
Because of the digital revolution and access to information, most customers are more than halfway through the buying process before their first meeting with a company representative. This is why a marketing strategy that disseminates content across multiple channels is one of your most important assets. Companies with a healthy web presence stand out with tutorials, demos, and one-on-one chats with experienced CEOs providing thoughts on the latest industry outlook.
If you want to know if you're a thought leader, a significant sign is the shift from customer acquisition to gaining customer advocates. By developing a reputation based on providing value, you will gain the trust of potential buyers, which makes them easier to convert. After conversion, if you manage to deliver excellent service or a superior product, then they will not only continue to work with you, but they will also be happy to share their new knowledge and subsequent successes with industry peers. In a time when developing business relationships is constrained by a lack of events and the ability to travel, thought leadership is the next best way to gain attention, educate the market and promote your product or service.
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