Knowledge Series Part 1:
This is the first part of a knowledge series where we share best practices on B2B selling and how content can be used intelligently to build your brand and generate more sales for your business on an ongoing basis.
The Reality of B2B selling today
It is said that selling to businesses is best done the old-fashioned way, meeting people face-to-face, understanding customer requirements and proposing solutions that solve their problems.
While the B2B sale is typically closed after several meetings and consultations, the biggest challenge for most businesses today is building quality leads. Leads have traditionally come through sales personnel with several years of contacts in their Rolodex. Existing customers call you back if the relationship/experience is good.
However, these tactics are not good enough anymore. There are 10 competitors today for every competitor five years ago. There is constant pressure to reduce prices and there is risk of commoditization in every industry. The most effective way to get out of this spiral is by building your brand.
How can a B2B Business build a brand?
Well, if you are Accenture or Aditya Birla, you can spend millions of dollars in traditional media and convey to consumers and businesses what you stand for and hope to keep your brand top of mind. Unfortunately, most businesses don't have the luxury to spend such money where the returns cannot be justified easily.
Here are some ideas on what businesses can do:
Build thought leadership: If you spend time understanding your customer's problems and understanding industry dynamics, you will begin to gain insights that could immensely benefit your customers. Sharing these insights with your customers is something that your organization should do on a regular basis.
The customer begins to see you as a partner rather than a vendor and will entrust you with more business as the relationship matures.
How can I build my brand without breaking the bank?
You don't have to be IBM or Tata to be considered by your customers as a partner in their journey. You just have to be the expert in your area.
For example, if you make Retail fittings, make sure you understand well the nuances of various retail formats. Also, stay on top of trends in the latest materials, technologies and techniques that could add value / save money for your customers.
Strive to know as much as a visual merchandiser and a store operations manager would know about their areas of expertise and combine that with your knowledge of fittings to propose the best solutions for your clients.
Clients want solutions, not products. Working with them to create solutions will help build your brand as the go-to guys in the space and help you sell more products.
- Well, we have expertise internally but how do we make sure the market knows about this?
Communicating your position of expertise is as important as building it.
Here is where content can be used effectively to build your brand. Sending a weekly or monthly email newsletter for example, can keep your customers updated and help build your position of expertise. The key here is content that's useful to the customer. This is where most content-based efforts go wrong.
Don't just blow your horn. The more informative and enlightening your content is for your audience (again, not for you, but for your audience), the more engaged your prospects will be. Engagement will lead to trust in your expertise, which will lead to more sales.
For businesses, a content-based program that reaches out to current and potential customers at a regular frequency is the best marketing investment you will make.
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About the author: Sreekumar (Sree) Vijaykumar - The Author and Managing Director at TradeBriefs (www.TradeBriefs.com), a content-focused email newsletter company with over 450,000 corporate subscribers