"We can't seem to get past gatekeepers in Purchasing.” "The users love our product, but we can't get visibility with executives to up-sell or cross-sell other solutions." Are these familiar refrains from your sales teams? As a B2B marketer, you can help to solve these problems by positioning your company as a thought leader.
Why Thought Leadership?
I would venture to say that many B2B sales teams have adopted a consultative selling approach. According to Hubspot, consultative selling is an approach that focuses on creating value and trust with a prospect and exploring their needs before offering a solution. The salesperson's first objective is building a relationship; their second is providing the right product. Hubspot also defines thought leadership as a content marketing tactic that can help build credibility for a company by helping it become recognized as a trusted resource in a particular industry or field.
In my opinion, thought leadership campaigns and initiatives are critical to helping B2B sales teams gain trust and add value to their prospects and current customers. Being seen as experts guiding the market without a heavy sales pitch can fuel a more effective consultative selling approach.
A Thought Leadership Campaign Example
Within the insurance claims space, the industry knew my company for lower-level, non-strategic products. The management team wanted to change our perception in the market and gain respectability with executives at our prospective clients. I developed a perception road map with executives across the business, and that process informed my thought leadership strategy over the next five years.
For example, my organization wanted to be known as a trend spotter who understands where the claims industry is going. I collaborated with Vertical, Product, Sales, and Market Research Directors and VPs to develop an original research study that covered the future of our industry. The piece was unique to the industry in that it collected and contrasted industry and consumer insights. Over 1000 people downloaded the whitepaper leading to 125 MQLs and promotional efforts generated four sales opportunities. Additionally, the study was cited in trade publications and referenced at industry events by speakers outside of our organization.
Most importantly, the study was used by the sales team as a conversation starter with executives. With amplification through webinars, videos, by-line articles, and infographics, the thought leadership study helped executives become more familiar with my company. In turn, those same executives were more willing to take appointments with the sales team.
Timely thought-leadership campaigns should be a tool in every B2B marketer's toolbox.
B2B Marketing Strategist Jerome Simmons