May 02 2010
In a complex sale, the path from awareness to purchase is long and fraught with distraction. Many different stakeholders are consulted at different times, and with different information needs. The business analyst who is looking to streamline a process might initially find your service. The system engineer then needs to vet whether it will fit into the existing structures. The C-suite needs to understand how this piece fits in with the larger business roadmap. And the end user needs to understand how the new solution will be better than the current one.
Even five years ago, many of these steps would be shepherded by your sales team. They understand the pain points of the different stakeholders, and can speak to each of their concerns.
But, the web is not a tween anymore – it’s a full-fledged teenager. And, much like hormonal teenagers create chaos in the home, so has the web started wreaking havoc on your old sales process. The full complexity of the decision making process has moved online. Each role can research, compare, and interact with others about their process all from their browser.
The good news is that the sales team does not need to do so much heavy lifting; prospects have a lot of information about the landscape, and your solution, by the time they get in touch with you.
The bad news is that the marketing team has to pick up some of that slack. Marketers have to understand all of these roles, and have relevant information available to each of them online.
In order to sell more, you need more leads. In order for leads to find you, you need to be discoverable. In order to be discovered, you need to be at the top of the search engine results. In order to be at the top of the search engine results, you need to have valuable content.
So, content becomes the spring from which your sales flow. Content becomes crucial for helping prospects understand who you are, and what you do.
You need content. Some of it needs to be your own content – you need to be able to talk about yourselves better than anyone else.
But, you can’t possibly create enough content to make the internet happy. The internet is an insatiable maw, hungrily devouring every word you write, chewing it up for a brief spike in traffic, then moving on. The herd grazes on your content for a few minutes, or a few days, then moves on, leaving only a small trickle of visitors to return.
You need to start building those links, references, and interesting sources now.