Hang around with me for any amount of time and you’ll hear about Buyer 2.0 and how buyers are on average 71% of the way through their buying process before contacting a vendor or sales rep. Why? Because when we have questions the fastest and most unbiased way to get answers is online. So, we’ve become a culture dependent on search and social proof.
You could ask if content marketing (companies and sales professionals that answer questions online) will be around in 20 years. But maybe the real question you should ask is, “Will buyers have questions 20 years from now?” And, closely related: “How will they get these questions answered?”
For thousands of years buyers have had questions. Until recently, the only way to get these questions answered was to talk to somebody. The internet with websites and social media now empowered by mobile has totally turned this on its head. We can all get questions answered instantly online. We just have to go to Google or to any of our social networks. Not only do our questions get answered, we get multiple perspectives in what feels like an unbiased environment.
Buyers will always have questions. The reality we must all face is that the way they get answers to these questions has forever changed. We can adjust or we can suffer the consequences. Period.
What does this mean for companies?
You need to anticipate the questions your clients have an answer them in the places they are searching for answers. Right now, these places happen to be search engines and social media. This means your company needs an active web presence that answers questions. You need to get found on search engines. You need to be present in the social channels your clients frequent. In all of these places, you need to provide answers to the questions your clients are asking. Even if you don’t answer their specific question, they need to see your company as a resource that can help them.
What does this mean for sales reps?
Simple. Get active online--now! Buyers are vetting sales reps online before they agree to an appointment. Simply put, buyers don’t want to waste time with sales people they perceive are less informed than they are. They want to work with sales reps that can bring fresh ideas and solve problems. As a sales professional your prove this by being active online. Write articles and share content that your prospects will find valuable. Build your relationship funnel by connecting and adding value. Be seen as a helpful thought leader.
As long as buyers have questions and expect to get answers online, content marketing will continue to thrive. The key is to work diligently and consistently to turn your online presence into a resource for your prospects. As you do this, you will build sustainable competitive advantage against your competitors whose heads are stuck in the sand and who are wishing for the good old days that slipped away sometime in the late 90’s.