According to Forrester, the lion’s share of the B2B buying decision process now happens online. They found that 68% of buyers prefer independent online research, and 60% specifically said they’d rather not have a sales rep as their primary source of information.
This is what we mean about the buyer being in charge. They know they don’t have to endure a dog-and-pony show; all the information they need is available as online content. This means they get to call the shots.
Today’s buyer is in charge. And they don’t want to fill out forms or be treated like an MQL. They want to be treated like people. Conversational marketing helps you focus on having real conversations with the individuals who do the actual buying. It elevates the buying experience and makes it more authentic and more effective.
– Kate Adams, VP of Marketing, Drift
Don’t lead. Empower.
Today’s buyers don’t want a sales pitch. They want information, education, and guidance; and they want all that delivered in a personalized way that directly addresses their specific needs.
Conversational marketing empowers buyers. Because instead of leading them down a generic, predetermined path, it requires you to abandon the “we-know-better” mentality and learn to listen.
There is no greater form of respect than really listening to someone, and buyers are no exception. Only by listening will your sales and marketing teams be able to truly personalize the conversation.
“The art of conversation lies in listening.”
– Malcolm Forbes
Starting the conversation by listening gives you a deep understanding of what your buyers really need. With that insight, you can strategically expand your collection of content assets to ensure that your sales team has pieces to address each buyer’s needs, no matter how the conversation develops.
What’s old is new again.
Content marketing and customer-centricity are not new concepts, but conversational marketing builds on and enhances them in new and very effective ways.
Conversational marketing essentially brings conversations that used to happen exclusively offline into the digital space. More importantly, it ensures that these digital conversations are as effective as their face-to-face counterparts. And, in the best-case scenarios, the transition to digital actually improves the experience and the outcomes. It works because:
- It’s relevant: You have access to more data on each buyer, so you know more about their specific situations, needs, and where they are in the buying journey. By using everything you know about each buyer, you can talk to them as individuals and focus the conversation on what matters most to them.
- It’s personalized: Your expanded content resources gives your sales team access to pieces that align exactly with each buyer’s stage and distinct questions and challenges. By delivering tailored content, you’re able to improve and accelerate the buying journey.
- It’s timely: Armed with insight into the buyer and a wide collection of relevant, targeted content, your sales team can confidently ask the buyer about their specific needs and deliver the right information instantly.
One philosophy – many applications
The ideology and principles of conversational marketing can be applied to every aspect of your sales and marketing. While chatbots are a powerful new technology for facilitating real-time conversations, they are just one way to create a dialogue with your buyers.
At its core, conversational marketing is about listening and engaging in an authentic exchange. These are skills that can be used in your email marketing, on your community forums, and anywhere else that you are “talking” to your buyers.
It’s about being real. About really caring, really listening, and really aligning your whole team about empowering the buyer to find their own way through the buying journey.