Last week, I wrote about the problem that “No Decision” losses create for financial technology firms. A content marketing strategy designed to help buyers reach consensus at each stage of the buying process can dramatically reduce the no-decision rate and increase your overall sales win rate. Here are some tips for how to address each stage.
At the awareness stage, buyers identify business goals and determine what obstacles need to be overcome to achieve those goals. They need help understanding the business issues, their impact to the organization, and the financial ramifications. They also need to know how other firms are solving the problems and the potential ROI. Marketing content should focus on the needs of specific personas and offer perspective into the broader impact to the organization. Storytelling videos are helpful at this stage to help prospects understand the problems inherent in the status quo and how fixing them can affect the firm.
At the research stage, buyers struggle to unravel the issues and create a list of approaches. Competing interests emerge as they analyze root causes and pare down the options. Content should build advocacy by helping each stakeholder evaluate their needs and options based not only from their point-of-view, but from the viewpoints of other key stakeholders as well. If they understand how the issues impact each other better, they’ll be able to reach consensus more easily. If they reach consensus more frequently, your win rates will improve. Video that lets various constituents tell their side of the story can help here, especially if it’s supported by textual content that goes into more depth.
The evaluation stage is where buyers assess the technical, business and financial feasibility of shortlisted options. Competing interests and fear increase as decisions loom. Internal advocates need help finding common ground and building consensus. Content that educates advocates and arms them with persuasive tools to help convince other stakeholders is essential. Now your content needs to help them really understand how they’re going to use your product internally, how each group will interact with it, what the results will be, and how it will impact their workflow. I’ve seen teams do a great job demonstrating at this level. Consider capturing the demonstrations and finding a way to condense them into brief videos and self-directed slide presentations to support the sales process. You’re not replacing those live demos, you’re preparing constituents to see the demo and helping them remember what they saw. In essence, you’re facilitating the buying process.
At the commitment stage, buyers work to manage risk, define business and workflow changes, prepare for organizational change, and create implementation plans. Fear and uncertainty are key reasons for lost deals at this stage. This is also where it’s most expensive to lose a prospective deal.
Prospects need content that helps them navigate the commitment process by directly addressing their fears and helping them plan for change. Give them real (sanitized) implementation plans, provide checklists of what they’ll need to prepare in advance. Guide them in identifying and preparing the internal resources who will be involved. Help them understand and prepare for any organizational impacts. In essence, help them feel confident that their organization can adapt to the new approach.
Align with Your Sales Team
This kind of buying process-aligned marketing strategy is doomed to fail without tight sales-marketing alignment. Your marketing strategist, content writer and designer should all collaborate closely with the sales team to figure out the strategy that will help improve win rates. And assume that it will evolve over time. In fact, I’d recommend keeping most of the assets you create in electronic format rather than printing them, because you’ll probably need to tweak them often as you learn more over time. But that’s ok. Iterative improvement is always better than shooting for perfection out of the gate.
How to Get Started
I understand if this sounds a bit overwhelming. So don’t try to eat this whole elephant in one bite. Get started by identifying a couple late stage deals that appear to be stuck. Work with your sales team to identify the issues and collaborate on a strategy to help. Start small and move one step forward every day. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
Need a Strategy Coach?
One of the key services I provide is strategy coaching. I can come alongside your marketing team, help you identify some low hanging fruit for how you can quickly impact the win rate, facilitate meetings with Sales to uncover the key content needs, and then guide you in how to address those issues. We’re finding that many of our clients have the internal resources to create the content, they just need a little help with coming up with an effective plan. So if that fits your organization, give me a call. The service is very cost effective. Give me a call at +1 970.300.2280 to discuss.