You Can’t Rush to the Altar: The 3 Stages of a B2B Relationship
POSTED : March 25, 2015
BY : PK

In B2B marketing, content is the currency for customer data “value exchange.” With an increased focus on privacy in recent years, the stakes have gotten higher with soaring expectations for what content is worthy of trading precious personally identifiable information (PII). Unlike the consumer purchase cycle, there is no rush to the purchase altar with a B2B prospect. The complexity of the sales cycle and decision-making process usually leads to a longer courtship of getting to know each other.

According to Content Marketing Institute, over 60% of buyers indicate that consistent and relevant communication by organizations is a key influence in choosing a solution. This is where content marketing and lead nurture intertwine. With each interaction, the prospect is getting to know and trust your brand and you are getting to know more about the customer’s needs. You need to handle this progressive profiling process slowly or risk a prospect getting “cold feet” and walking away from the engagement.

  • Flirt. Early engagement should be about testing interest.  Use a thought-provoking piece of content or custom research that is designed to inform or educate.  Make it easy for the audience to take the next with minimal commitment to access what you offer (e.g. ask them only for their email to keep communicating).
  • Date. Once they have given you permission to keep the conversation going, start slow.  Based on their interests, surface more content that speaks to their needs and desires. Provide proof of your intentions with third party opinions and customer testimonials. With every interaction, you are learning a little bit more about them building a profile over time that enables you to determine their value to your pipeline.
  • Make a commitment.  Once you’ve nurtured them with compelling content and believe you know what they want, propose an offer to take the next step (and hand-off to sales).

Don’t scare off your prospect by getting too serious too fast.  Using content with progressive profiling to qualify them over time builds a trusted relationship making it less likely that you get left at the altar.

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