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Step Three in the Digital Sales Force℠ Is Getting Chosen

By Burkey Belser
April 10, 2015
Step Three in the Digital Sales Force℠ Is Getting Chosen

By way of reminder, on day one, we introduced a concept to replace the classic Sales Funnel called the Digital Sales ForceSM. Day two, we reviewed brand position (why buyers should care). Yesterday, we addressed how buyers take notice (brand expression). We also described how thought leadership is the mind of the firm made public, leading to today’s final argument on how to get chosen and at last, the role of disciplined digital activity in your success.

Information overload is a fact of life today in America. The accompanying mixture of fatigue and confusion has been given the sobriquet, “Americanitis.” The further result was neatly summed up by Herbert Simon in 1971, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”

We are asking firms to look hard at what they are putting into the slipstream that is the Internet. Is it meaningful content or simply chatter? Some content such as alerts may have real value but we suspect, without broader support, those alerts are getting lost in the noise. Blog posts like this one can stimulate meaningful conversation but we are worried even these will expire like mayflies unless part of a larger program. Tweets? Well, is it possible to argue that tweets are anything but the ultimate chatter?

Without compelling content, your website will remain, for all intents, a static brochure, your emails will sit unopened or otherwise be ignored, and your social media will be the equivalent of white noise. If a Digital Sales ForceSM is a new business engine, effective content marketing is the jet fuel. Smart marketers understand this and have plans to increase investment in content—creating a bit of an arm’s race for content that sells.

“75% of B2B buyers rely more on content to research and make B2B purchasing decisions than they did a year ago.” (DemandGen Report)

“Type of content used in the past 12 months to research B2B purchasing decisions:

  • White Papers (78%);
    • Case Studies (73%);
    • Webinars (67%);
    • eBooks (58%);
    • Videos (58%);
    • Blog Posts (56%);
    • Infographics (52%)
    (DemandGen Report)

The challenge is creating content that earns and keeps attention. How do you break through the clutter? Understand the difference between chatter content and anchor content.

Generally, chatter content are the legal, accounting or other related professional alerts, podcasts or webinars that address topical changes in the law, the standards or the regulations. Again, nothing wrong with these, but inboxes are cluttered with these topics.  Anchor content is more programmatic. An example is our client Steptoe & Johnson's Below the Surface branded content initiative in the shale gas production vertical. The program includes an annual poll of executives in the field, a well-designed and written annual research report, a companion microsite that houses the findings and related content, a symposium to cover the issues of the day, and then, of course, emails, SEO efforts, social outreach, webinars, in person meetings and article placements in business journals and more.

Anchor content is thoughtful, often a 10,000 foot view of the market or an issue with conclusions frequently supported by independent quantitative research. Or anchor content can be a deep dive into an important issue for your buyers. Anchor content is absolutely not about you, but about your shared interests with clients or members. Anchor content is designed to begin big conversations, not small ones. It also provides the fodder for material to be distributed semi-automatically as blog posts and social media. Anchor content tells buyers yours is an important voice in the business conversation. It is with anchor content that “digital” enters the Digital Sales ForceSM.

Contemporary content management tools and analytics allow your team to measure the impact of your efforts driven by compelling content. They alert you to who is paying attention, who is engaged and who seems receptive to your ideas. You can measure this and quantify your success.

Ultimately, success is measured by the sale. Being second has no value. To the victor go the spoils. If you have neglected improving your proposal process or sales pitch, then all your prior effort will go for naught. As we explore the concept of the Digital Sales ForceSM further, we will help you identify strategies and tactics that improve your odds of winning. But we can tell you this now: the same courage, the same willingness to be different, the same demonstrated interest in your clients’ problems are keys to success.