Two-thirds of the selling process is now out in the search market.

In Mark Cuban's book, How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It He noted that information (and I would add content) does not have to be new or original, it just has to be new and unique to your target market which comes from you. When he started in the computer field, he knew nothing about the industry. So, he went home at night and read all the manuals and then took the information on sales calls. He worried -- even assumed -- that all the information he was spewing was already published, and he would be "found out" to be a fraud. What he learned was people are busy and had no idea how the stuff worked, so he was viewed as an expert. It was eye-opening to Mark Cuban. And the same approach can be applied to content marketing.

  • A CEB (Corporate Executive Board) study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision – researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on – before even having a conversation with a supplier.
  • SiriusDecisions reports that 70% of the buying process in a complex sale is already complete before prospects are willing to engage with a live salesperson
  • The hardest thing about B2B selling today is that customers don’t need you the way they used to – Harvard Business Review “The End of Solution Sales"
  • Two-thirds to 90% of the buying cycle is completed before a B2B buyer ever speaks with a sales rep. – Forrester
  • Business buyers spend just 21% of buying cycle in conversations with salespeople, instead spending 23% of the time in conversations with peers and colleagues and 56% of the buying cycle searching for and engaging with content – IDG Connect
  • 70% of business technology buyers are at the RFP stage (request for proposal) by the time the vendor becomes aware of the opportunity – UBM Techweb.
  • While generating leads remains the number one objective for B2B marketing folks, the method by which they are generating those leads is shifting as more B2B marketers move toward content marketing as a tactic.

Although trade shows, conferences, and trade magazines are still important influencers for most tech businesses, they are no longer enough to get heard. Digital channels and social networking sites are becoming increasingly more important sources of information and messages can be received instantly.

The B2B marketing winners are the companies that create the strongest connection to the market and deliver the most relevant content. B2B companies who fail to adapt their marketing won’t have a future.

Not only has the explosion of communication platforms and interaction channels ratcheted up the expectations of B2B purchasers, there are more influencers and decision makers within each prospect company involved in the purchasing process. “Reaching consensus and closing deals has become an increasingly painful and protracted process for customers and suppliers alike,” Whereas an IT supplier might have once sold directly to a CIO and his or her team, today that same sale may also need buy-in from the chief marketing officer, the chief operating officer, the chief financial officer, legal counsel, procurement executives and others.