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To Convince Customers To Disrupt Their Status Quo, You Must Change, Too

Most marketers believe that buyers are at least 57% of the way through the buying journey by the time a sales rep takes the lead. A recent study by my company found that nearly 80% of marketing and sales leaders believe the stat is true.

But just because you think it’s true or believe it’s true doesn’t make it true, right?

Two counter findings call the stat into question. And they could have some implications for how you develop and execute against your content strategy—both before and after the marketing-sales lead handoff.

Counter Finding #1
How do you square the 57% stat with the finding that shows more than 60% of qualified pipeline deals end in no decision? If most deals are supposedly so far along in the cycle before a sales rep shows up, then why are so many of them fizzling out at the end in an equal percentage?

Counter Finding #2
What about the constantly growing number of stakeholders involved in the typical B2B deal? By some counts, it’s nearing seven! Even if you assume that one of the roughly seven buyers is more than 57% of the way through the journey when the rep engages the person, where does that leave the rest of the decision-makers? If the rest of them are brought into the process much later and are individually starting at 20%, 10%, or even 0%, simple math says that when the salespeople show up, they still have a very long way to go to gain a consensus decision.

So before you start changing your messaging and content plans, consider this:

The Status Quo Bias: Your Biggest Enemy
The fact that so many deals are ending in no decision suggests content on both sides of the lead handoff is failing to tell the story addressing the following question for buyers: Why should I change and do something different from my status quo situation?

The status quo bias, your prospect’s natural resistance to doing something different, is the biggest threat to your success—bigger, I would argue, than the other competitors in your industry.

But get this: The best type of messaging and content for defeating the status quo bias and creating the urgency to change—i.e. provocative, insight-driven content—also happens to be the least used by companies. In fact, provocative, insight-driven content is used less often than product- and company-centric content, according to our research. Both of these types are more designed to address a later-stage question: why buyers should choose you instead of the competition.

The fact that so much marketing and sales content lacks the “why change” story you need to disrupt your prospect’s status quo is possibly the biggest challenge your messaging faces in the new year. Especially in view of these additional findings from our research:

  • Only 11% of companies in the survey describe their ability to convert content-driven leads as “excellent.”
  • Nearly half of respondents consider their lead conversion efforts to be “sketchy” or “failing to drive trackable impact.”

Here are three tips for turning those numbers around and making a strong pipeline impact with your content-driven leads:

Ramp Up Provocative, Insights-Driven Content
You should base the messaging packaged in this content not on the needs your prospects tell you they have—the traditional “voice-of-the-customer” approach—but on the challenges or missed opportunities your prospects may have overlooked (i.e. their “unconsidered needs”).

By identifying these off-the-radar challenges, you can better differentiate your message and create more urgency to change. You can also tell a better “why you” story later by connecting the needs you’ve identified to your unique strengths.

Develop Specific Lead Handoff Messaging And Content
This should follow a prescribed framework for creating better consistency and follow-up between campaign leads and first sales calls.

Try creating “first call” messaging and content assets for each of your campaigns to give your reps an opportunity to extend the conversation that piqued your prospect’s interest. This will fill a common gap and help increase lead conversion to pipeline.

Establish A Common Messaging Methodology
This methodology should be backed by decision-making science, one that drives consistency across demand generation and sales enablement content, gives you a repeatable approach to creating sales-ready messages, and ensures marketers and sales enablement professionals are fluent at creating content that aligns to your distinct point of view.

You know what kind of impact on pipeline great content and messaging should have. By establishing a messaging methodology grounded in science to shape your content strategy, you’ll start to see content deliver on its enormous promise.

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