Hey everybody, it’s Jenni from GrowthMode Marketing. You are listening to The Demand Gen Fix the podcast where our team of Growthmoders and our guests discuss the ins and outs of demand generation and why we believe it’s the key to long-term sustainable growth, especially in the HR tech industry.
Hey everybody, it’s Jenni with GrowthMode Marketing in the Demand Gen Fix, and today I’m here with Erica and Deanna, also from GrowthMode. Today we’re going to talk about why we think your digital footprint and online presence needs to be your best salesperson.
We really believe that if your organization’s digital footprint isn’t large enough, high quality, that you need to change that. It’s really about catering to how people want to buy. I think historically, enterprise software companies and B2B in general come up with these sales processes and we try to pull people through those processes, but it’s bringing them into our process instead of building trust with them so that they bring us into their buying process. It’s really important that we’re catering to what they want to do and how they want to buy. In general, people don’t like talking to sales reps. I don’t mean that as any disrespect to all my friends out there who are sales reps. Your job is really important, but you know how hard it is to pick up the phone and call someone if they’re not ready to talk to you. You’ve got quotas to meet, you’ve got pressures to carry the organization forward with success, and you might be spinning your wheels because you’re trying to pull people into this process when they’re just not there.
Statistics show that 80% of the B2B sales interactions between buyers and sellers will actually be done online through digital channels. 80% of that interaction overall is being done with that buyer, doing research on their own before they actually get to that sales rep. Before that, the sales rep should really be focusing their time and resources and attention on that prospect or that buyer. So, to us, what this means is that the buying process is 80% complete before the B2B prospect is actually willing to talk to your sales rep. I think a lot of us can relate even on the B2C side as a consumer. It might even be more than that. We want to do our own research online before we ever make that decision or want to have a conversation. What does this mean? Your sales team has that 20% chance to actually influence the buyer in this process. Why not have your salespeople and those resources wait until that buyer is ready to bring you into their process and have that conversation and start to talk solutions and resources or products and services, rather than having them chasing around all of these cold leads?
It’s not about the salespeople. They’re doing their jobs, they’re doing a great job. It’s the fact that everything has changed. It used to be that the salesperson was your biggest asset. They were out there making the calls, but people aren’t interested in that anymore. It’s an online digital world. Everybody’s made the move. It’s the way of the world now and is exasperated with Covid, but it was already happening. People want to do their own research. They want to see what options are out there before they even start to narrow down companies that they’re looking at. Because so many other companies have all of that information out there, if you don’t, people are going to just skip right past you and go somewhere where they can find what they’re looking for.
Anytime I talk to a prospect, the first thing that I do is Google to see what their digital footprint looks like. There’s a lot of companies out there that don’t have a wide-reaching footprint. So, if I’m a consumer, I’m a buyer, I’m going to go buy your HR technology or your recruitment management platform. I want to find the information; I want a rich experience on your website. I want to be able to see a video demo, I want to see case studies. I want to go deep and find that information. But I also want to go beyond your website and look at third party sites. So for example, do you have a lot of reviews built up, which are pretty important in the software space?
If someone goes to G2 for example, or Trustpilot, are they finding your company on there? Are they finding a lot of reviews? Are those reviews positive? Little known secret, you can actually control some of that. There’s some pay to play with some of these platforms. There are ways to recruit people to do it, but that’s all part of the bigger strategy of building out your digital footprint. Number one, have a really good website that goes deep and allows a person to do self-research. Number two, what about your own channels beyond your website? Your social media presence, your blogs, podcasts, any kind of content that you can control when and how it gets put out there. I would say that number three is your third-party content. How do you get in bed per se with industry influencers and experts and media outlets that are targeted in the audience that you want to tap into?
Having a good website is important. As consumers, if you come across a horrible website, what’s the first thing you think? You think this is crap. I’m not going to buy this. That’s number one because you Google them, and you see that they don’t know what they’re doing. They’re so out of date. If you can’t find anything else out there it diminishes the credibility of the organization. Nowadays so many companies have their information and content out there that you can just skip right past it and go find somebody who does have the information that you need.
If I’m out there looking for something, it’s not always during the nine to five workday. You need to be online and have good digital presence because you need to be available 24/7. People aren’t just doing this research during the business week or during the weekday. They’re looking all the time. You want to be able to sell to them anytime of the day.
The companies that exceled during the pandemic were able to keep focus on their digital footprint and content strategy. If you already had this strong digital presence going into something like a pandemic, those were the people who were excelling. A lot of other companies were struggling because you’re backpedaling and trying to fill the gaps and start to show up digitally and try to get in front of people where you think they’re at. A lot of these companies didn’t have that background, or they were trying to spitball and run ads and do things and they didn’t have the right content or pieces available for someone to actually go and do all of this research on their own.
You might have some good top of funnel pieces to get somebody to your website, but then what are you offering them? Do they have the ability to go do some of that research and can they get the information they need? Or did they just see an infographic you posted on social and then they get to your website and they have no clue how your solution can help them? You’re going to lose that person. And that’s really where we saw people struggling is when they haven’t taken into account the importance of a strong presence overall.
You have to think about your content at every stage of the funnel. In you see an interesting infographic you’re going to check the company out. I can’t go straight to see a live demo; I am not there. I’m just interested in learning more. So, do you put more top of funnel content in to really help them become familiar with your brand and start to follow you, and have that brand recognition. Hopefully over time some brand loyalty. But then what? I can’t just see top of the funnel either. If everything on your website and out there is top of funnel and I want to learn about your product, again, I don’t want to talk to a sales rep.
I saw a statistic last week from a Gartner article that was just published that said, 72% of millennials in the B2B space said they do not want to talk to a sales rep at all.
That’s the way everything’s going to go. We have to make sure that we’re meeting these people where they’re at, and if that’s how they want to buy things, then companies need to be there for that. They need to be up for the challenge, change their ways.
You need that content at each level of the funnel. When we talk about the funnel, we’re saying, okay, there’s the top of the funnel, which is the awareness type of content? There’s the middle of the funnel, which is consideration. That’s, I’m starting to look at who the vendors are out there that can solve this problem for me. And then you’ve got the bottom of the funnel, which is the decision, and that’s like, do I pick company A or company B? And so, you want to make sure, because everybody’s at different stages of where they’re at. Most people aren’t in market to buy your product right now. So you need that top of funnel content. But what about the 5% or so that actually are actively looking? If I can’t find content, and let’s say I’m looking at HR payroll software, well, there’s over 600 of those options.
If I go to your website and I do a Google search and I’m not seeing your content and I’m not hearing about it from my other payroll friends out there who are making purchases too, I’m going to skip over you and go to the next one because I’m really only going to evaluate two to three vendors most likely. And so, the whole point of making that digital footprint your best salesperson is how do you get out there in front of them, so they know you exist? And then how do you provide content that is meaningful and relevant for them if they’re at the top of the funnel, but then goes deep into the product and all the pieces so that they can really understand who your software is, who your company is, and how to evaluate whether they want to buy it or not.
As you start to build out a digital footprint, it is not a one-time one and done thing. It’s something you continue to add to and continue to enhance and progress and change. I mean, you should be looking at what you consider success with some of these pieces and making adjustments as you go. And I think you know, the beauty is as you continue to build out this digital footprint and build out a, a platform of resources for your buyers or your prospects, we actually have the ability when you get the right technologies in place as marketers to start sort of guiding somebody’s journey as well. So as you start to learn and you can start to look at the success of different types of content and look at how people are moving through the funnel and you know, where you might be losing their interest and where you’re getting them back on track, we can, as we start to build this out and continue to evolve, we have the ability to start to watch those things and start to actually guide the way that we want someone to kind of progress through that funnel and through the buying process so that ultimately we’re handing over your actual sales reps very high quality leads and people who are ready to talk and who are actually wanting to make contact now with your company because they’ve had this experience, they’ve done their research and gotten to that that point.
We should talk about going through the funnel, we should talk about different things that you can do at each stage of the funnel that would make sense to get out there. Where should you be putting your digital content for each stage? So for instance, when you’re starting with the awareness stage, what kinds of things should we be suggesting people put out there and where should they be putting that content?
One could argue webinars are top of funnel, one could argue those are middle of the funnel. It depends what the topics are. Keep that as a frame of reference, some of it could be used as a tactic across different stages of the funnel, but it’s really about the topics and the tactics that you’re focusing on. If you’re talking top of the funnel, you’re trying to plant seeds with people. This is where the majority of prospects are at any given time. They’re not in market to buy today, but they’re interested in topics that are relevant to the services and the technologies that you offer. So they’re looking up information, they’re probably trying to look for things like best practice guides, top 10 tips, stuff like that.
The reason we want to get that kind of thing out there too is you want to build that brand awareness and that trust and that credibility so that when people do make their way through the funnel, your name is top of mind. They know that you’ve already offered them this information, that you sound like you know what you’re talking about, you’re an expert. And so that as they move through that’s who they’re thinking of. The companies that have offered them good advice, good information, good content.
It’s not product focused at this point, the intent of this top of funnel brand awareness type of content, you’re not trying to sell them. You are just focused on solving problems, sharing a unique point of view, view. And the intent is just, I want to build brand awareness and trust with this individual. If they trust you when they actually are in market to buy a solution, they’re going to know who you are already. Because the reality is they’re not going to buy from you if they don’t know you exist or who you are. They’re going to pick one of the other million options that are out there for them. So, then it becomes like, how do we make sure they know we exist? Then you get to the much smaller proportion of prospects out there who are middle of the funnel. And that’s the consideration stage. And that’s what I would say. You’re casting a net, you’re throwing it out there trying to capture the people who are hungry for more information. That’s where you start to talk about company and product information. How do we solve the challenges to the problems you have? What are our solutions and how does it benefit you?
You can start to share some client examples or show proof points as far as how your solution has benefited other people that are in this buyer’s shoes and start to make those connections and sort of let them make the connection too. This might be a solution, or this might be something I should consider. Other people are in the same boat having these same struggles. So starting to make those connections so that you start to fall into their consideration set.
Do you think this is a good time to compare yourself to other companies in your same industry? Is this where you start to differentiate yourself or even compare and contrast yourself to other companies so that if they are looking at a few of the contenders, you’re telling them why you are different than the others. Why you’re better, a better choice.
You’re trying to convince them at this point to evaluate your solution. Consider us for your need and this is why we should make actual consideration set where you’re down to, I’m ready to make a decision. You want to be that two to three vendors that they actually pick for serious consideration so that you can make it to the decision stage. Because if you don’t make their consideration set, you’re never going to make it to the decision phase.
So then what happens when you’re in that two to three, what’s next? What’s the next step? How do you make them pull the lever? How do you convince them?
The next step is really once we have identified somebody has moved into this phase or we’re trying to push people to the next stage of the funnel, you start to share different types of content. This might be when you’re sharing a pricing calculator or more of those case studies or testimonials from your clients. People want to start to understand, have you made a difference for companies like me or for buyers like me? People want to start at this point to see demos, whether that’s a virtual demo, it’s an in-person demo. You’re getting them closer to that point where you could get them to pull the trigger and actually want to see that kind of thing within your product and in your solution. So that’s the point where you’re really trying to show why you’re different than the competition and really differentiate yourself showing why your solution is better in these ways and also why this might be the best choice for someone like them, like that buyer.
And are we still giving this kind of content away for free?
Yes. This is the stage where people start to put forms in front of stuff. A lot of marketers and companies in general have no problem giving top of the funnel content away freely, ungated, read it all you want, there’s no trade secrets in that. Some organizations will start to really protect their content the deeper you go into it. The common reasons that I’ve heard for that is we don’t want our competitors to see this, or this is the really good stuff. If they’re reading it, they’re ready to buy, we need their name. The problem with that is this is the content you want them to read. This is where you are trying to show them that you are superior to the other solutions and the best choice for that buyer and you’re putting an obstacle in front of them. Some people are going to say, no thanks, I’m not going to submit my information. Because remember those millennials and probably everyone that comes after them have said I do not want to talk to a sales rep.
The only way to get this information is to give us your left kidney and we will follow up with you five times a day for the next three weeks until you talk to us. A lot of people are going to say, I’m outta here, remember there’s a list of 600 vendors I get to choose from and someone else is going to give me that information for free. I think it’s a really good question to say, should you gate it? My response? Absolutely not. I think when it comes to gating content, you should give away content at all stages freely and save the forms and the gating for; requesting a live demo, signing up for your newsletter or straight out, I want to be contacted by a sales rep.
If you’re so worried about your competition finding out what your demo looks like of course they’re going through the process and looking at your demo.
It’s not that hard to get competitor info. I have been at organizations where that was the fear of the executive team that prevented us from doing it. It’s kind of a moot point because as your competitor, if I really want to find your information, I’m going to ask my husband to sign up for it or use my personal email address, right? Or even ask a client to go get the information. And if you are in a company that is concerned about that, let me ask you, have you guys ever gotten your hands on competitor information? Because I’m guessing the answer is yes. Guess what? They have your stuff too.
There are other ways to leave open that opportunity for someone to raise their hand. You’re not preventing them from getting in touch with you at all. You’re not deterring somebody from contacting you. If they really want to talk to your sales team, you can always give that option, but don’t gate a piece of content that could potentially get them further down the process and get them to the point where they’re ready to talk. The option is always there for them to reach out directly or raise their hand and look for that contact.
One thing that we run into and all the companies that we talk to from time to time is an organization will say, my priority isn’t building out more content. We’re going to focus over here. What advice would you give to a company who is about to make that decision not to invest in their digital footprint or doesn’t recognize how critical that’s going to be moving forward as people continue to engage less and less with a salesperson as they’re doing their research to make purchases.
Take a look at how much you spend on your salesperson’s salary. Your best salesperson, what do you spend on that salary? And then look at what you could take, what you could invest in for that same amount of money online and how many more people you could reach and how big your reach is. It’s just so much more efficient to use that money and to invest in this huge thing. And then your salesperson who is your best salesperson, they’re going to be making more sales in the long run anyway because the people that come to them are going to be ready to buy. So, I think that you have to look at it from the big picture and not just, oh, I’m throwing money here and there. It’s like, no, this is the same way you would invest in your sales team. You’re investing in your digital sales team.
Some of the things that have helped us have that conversation with clients is really to sit down and look at how can we look at what they have currently have and audit and consider all of the things that they have contributing to that digital footprint now and start to identify where are the gaps? We can use that as a way to help them understand and educate them on where those gaps are and where we feel people are going to fall off that process without making that investment.
It’s a long-term strategy. It takes time to build out a demand gen engine. It takes time to get content out there, and then you’ve got to constantly feed that engine to stay relevant, to continue to build that footprint bigger and bigger and bigger. But I promise you, over time, if done well, it will be a catalyst to growth because people are finding you out there online and they’re loving the content that they’re reading and the right kind of prospects are actually raising their hand and saying, I want to buy from you. Because they were able to find all of this information online and they didn’t have to sit through sales meetings. They probably made their mind up before they ever reached out to you. And who doesn’t want those kinds of leads?
The key takeaway here today is that you need to have a good digital presence. You need to create content for all three levels of the funnel. Let people take the journey themselves, let people have it for free, keep it current, make sure that you’re constantly feeding your content with new stuff. And if you’re not online, you’re missing out.
Thanks for joining us on The Demand Gen Fix, a podcast for HR tech marketers brought to you by GrowthMode Marketing. We sure hope you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to subscribe from more perspectives on demand generation and B2B marketing strategies. Plus give us a like, tell your friends, we’ll see you next time.