“I just don’t get any facetime with my customers anymore,” a B2B sales director recently told me. “It’s all about the RFP now.”
When I started out in B2B communications many moons ago, it was said that salespeople were the most important communication “tool” in B2B. After all, they had had the number, the ear and the trust of their contacts. If customers needed anything, their sales reps were just a phone call away. That personal contact is often still a deciding factor, from the personal click to earning customers’ trust by using product and market knowledge to find the best solution for them. But that personal contact now comes much, much later in the purchasing process. Fact is, the B2B purchasing process has changed dramatically, from the increasing number of parties involved (hello procurement) to the online research that now precedes any commercial contact.
The key is to reach all parties involved at your customer, even if you don’t get invited into their office (yet). That is where online content comes in. You want to provide the information, arguments and stories that your stakeholders find relevant, in all phases of their decision-making process. This is not a production exercise though. You don’t want to create content just to clutter up LinkedIn or Facebook even more. Or because content I what you are supposed to be doing now. For the love of god, no more “5 tips to…” meaningless articles. In the end, it is about building your brand and forging relationships, just like before. Now you just try to connect with your customers where they are now: online.