It is true that industrial buyers are more in charge of the buying process today than ever before. Even though the process of buying industrial products and services has not changed much over the years, how industrial buyers prefer to go through their buying cycle has changed dramatically. Content marketing has become indispensable for addressing this changed buyer behavior.
Several studies have found that most engineering and industrial professionals today prefer to use the Internet during the early stages of the buy cycle – Needs Awareness, Research and Consideration & Comparison. It is only at the last stage, Procurement when buyers have already prepared a shortlist of vendors do they contact a manufacturer’s sales rep.
That does not mean that content marketing has reduced the role of industrial salespeople to mere order takers. On the contrary, it makes them more productive by providing valuable insight into the lead. See my earlier post, “Inbound Marketing Must Set the Table for Industrial Sales.”
Sales spend less time on prospecting and chasing down elusive leads. Content marketing or if you prefer, inbound marketing with content brings them qualified sales opportunities to do what they do best – win more deals, build stronger relationships and become a valuable resource.
Marketing is able to provide this lead insight to sales by tracking visitor interactions and by monitoring the kinds of content they read and/or download. When sales does talk to a prospect, this kind of lead intelligence helps them engage with the lead in a more meaningful manner and accelerate the closing process. Sales people are better able to identify “hot” leads and opportunities when they have access to buyer behavior information.
Content marketing cannot do it all. In my opinion, one cannot remove the human element from industrial sales. And only a salesperson can provide that crucial human touch. I call it the critical “last mile service.”
To me, social media is a supplement not a substitute for real relationships. Industrial marketing is not just B2B but B2P (people) marketing.
Let me know your comments if you see content marketing’s role in industrial sales differently.