If you’re a service professional, it’s helpful to understand how B2B marketing online can support your sales cycle. No, your prospective clients won’t search for “business management consultant,” find your website and purchase a $5000 consulting package (though that would be nice, wouldn’t it?). Instead, they’ll learn more about you, your services, and your area of expertise – all of which will help them to make a decision about hiring you.
Building Awareness & Demonstrating Expertise
Done right, your online marketing should help you both build awareness and demonstrate expertise, each of which is an important part of the B2B sales cycle:
- Awareness: One of the most important marketing goals for any small business owner is to build awareness. Simply put, if your ideal client doesn’t know you exist, then they can’t hire you. If they don’t know about the types of services you offer, they can’t determine if you’ll be able to help them. However, if your website adequately showcases your areas of focus and your services, then your prospective clients can decide if your services will be a good fit for them.
- Expertise: When prospective clients are on your website, they’re trying to gather information. They want to learn more about you and your area of expertise. If you can showcase your expertise and share your knowledge with prospective clients, you’ll be helping them move forward in the sales cycle. Your business blog should be the central vehicle through which you share this information because there you can share specific information that will be helpful to them.
I learned first-hand how my own online marketing supported my offline B2B sales about a couple of years ago. I had met a prospective client at a conference, followed up with an email (including a link to my website, of course!), and we scheduled a phone call. To my pleasant surprise, within the first few minutes that we were on the phone, she said, “I’ve read through your website and I like what you do. I’d like to work with you.” My client was able to become aware of my services and areas of focus on my website, and my blog had helped to demonstrate my expertise in my field. I didn’t have to sell my services – my website and blog had already done that for me.
The Best Source of Blog Content for B2B Marketing
The most powerful way to use your blog to speed up your offline sales process through your online marketing is to show clients that you understand their problem. Specifically, you should be able to answer their most pressing questions about the area that they need help with. This is why client questions are the best source of blog content – when you’re in doubt about what to write about, answer a customer question in a blog post. You’ll never go wrong.
To understand how this works, imagine that you meet a prospective client at a networking event. You’re chatting, and they ask you a common question that you get asked all the time. You provide them with some information and exchange business cards. You then follow up with an email that includes a link to a blog post you wrote that addresses the very question that they asked. The link gets them to your website, and the blog post shows them that you already understand their problem and know how to help them, which helps you move forward in the sales cycle.
Have you ever used your online marketing to support your offline sales process? How did it work for you?