As 67% of business-to-business (B2B) buyers progress through their decision-making process before engaging with a sales rep, you need to grab their attention before you know they even exist. Ideally, your goal is to lead buyers to choose your solution with valuable content that guides them through their buying process—not your sales cadence.

This type of pre-engagement thinking is especially important for social selling, as you’re already using social tools like LinkedIn and Twitter to both draw attention to yourself and your company (among many other activities). Your social activity is the magnet that attracts prospects to your content.

At Social Sales Link, we’ve identified seven categories where you should ideally have content that fits your buyer’s journey. It’s vitally important that sales and marketing work together in developing and distributing this content. While marketing will use a lot of these in a general sense, it’s up to them to support salespeople with the content they need in their social selling activities. Sales pros, in turn, need to communicate with marketing about the content pieces that are (or aren’t) working, and for any future content needs.

We’ve split the categories into two areas: before the funnel and into the funnel. This article focuses on the former: how to use content to attract buyers so that they’ll contact your sales reps (or yourself) or otherwise engage with them via social during their research in determining a vendor to contact.

Before the Need

Remember that 67% figure? It really comes into play here. Your sales reps need to be “out there” on LinkedIn—and potentially Twitter—building their networks and proving that they’re the “go-to” authority in your industry sector. Think about what your prospects are Googling before they know they need you. What challenges are they seeking out solutions for? If your content helps them early in their search—when they are exploring for the solutions you provide—you are top-of-mind and will likely see you as a credible vendor. By anticipating these questions and designing content to answer them, you’re leading the way to your products or services.

There are lots of different ways to accomplish this. When it comes to content, they need to have a LinkedIn profile that’s ready-made to inform and educate anyone who lands on it about your company’s expertise and offerings. They also need to share content that builds their authority in the eyes of their connections. When their connections like, comment and/or share your reps’ content, their expertise travels way beyond their network of 1st-degree connections.

Marketing steps up here by providing company-produced content that’s ready to share. Curated third-party articles that reps can use to build their case that they are the go-to person in your industry also should be provided. And marketing should provide full resources for reps’ LinkedIn profiles including professional photos; branded banners; optimized language for headlines, summaries, and other sections; and rich media for inclusion in profiles.

Brand Awareness

While you’re making sure your sales pros are “in front of” the buyer and building themselves up as experts in the first category, you also need to build the company itself as an industry leader. This is where your marketing department takes content to the next level by providing both pieces they already use in general marketing, as well as sales-specific collateral that can be plugged into the buyer’s journey. Some specific types of content here include:

  • Industry insight articles: These should provide an unbiased look at issues in your industry or sector, and provide advice that your company can help a prospect implement.
  • Podcasts and interviews: Showcasing your company’s opinions on topics delivered via video or audio in podcast format, or interviewing clients or leaders in your industry, can go a long way in branding your company as a leader in your field.
  • Webinars: These are especially powerful because you can present truly valuable information and engage with attendees in a true two-way conversation.
  • Strategies, tactics, and checklists: Demonstrate how you work by sharing what you do (in a general sense) by writing about them. You can present a strategy you use, some tactics to get a job done, or a checklist that takes prospects through a prospect that you sell into.

Create FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

Your content should also paint a picture of what your prospect is looking at if they don’t engage with your company. This is where you’ll want to create white papers, case studies and success stories from your current clients. Besides portraying how well they’re doing with your product/service now that they’re your clients, you’ll want to paint a picture of what they were like prior to hiring you. The bigger the contrast between “before” and “after,” the better.

Ideally, your prospect will use these materials when they’re conducting deeper research of you and your company. It’s important to note, though, that the materials used in this stage can also be used at any time in your buyer’s decision-making process.

After using these content pieces, along with the efforts of your sales reps to build relationships with prospects, you’ll need more specific content that will take buyers through their buying process to the close. We’ll show you those in Part 2 of this series (coming soon). We’ll even show you how to cross-sell them to your other products or services.

Want to learn more about creating content for your buyer’s journey? Whether we work with your marketing department to guide content for social selling or our team writes it for you, our program builds thought leadership that converts to opportunities and sales. Contact us for details and to set up an introductory call.