Hot off the press is news that the average B2B buyer is 57% through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep (Source CEB & Google 2012). Now while that stat alone (like all stats) should be taken with a pinch of salt, it was not one that hugely surprised me. After all, the first 2 stages of the buying process are making oneself aware of what can product or service can help solve a problem or challenge a buyer maybe facing and then considering which solutions may be appropriate. After that, (the second half of the process) buyers will short list suppliers, heavily evaluate and then purchase.

Entice

What this statistic has highlighted is the great opportunity for us as marketers to influence buyer perception in our favour in these initial stages, particularly online, through content and social channels.

Here’s 10 considerations when engaging buyers (whether indirectly or directly) through content and social channels:

  1. Have you found the communities that buyers are looking for recommendations and discussing their challenges?
  2. What content is working well amongst those communities and what can you learn from it. Social Crawlytics is a great place to start.
  3. Are you creating content that is allowing your audience to create their own conversations with their peers, which you can then enter into?
  4. Are you listening for opportunities to engage with your audience?
  5. How are you activating your existing customer base to spread the good word about your business or at very least get them talking about you?
  6. Are your set up to be able to adapt quickly, producing relevant content on the fly to help and entertain your customers? (We can achieve what Oreo did in the B2B space)
  7. While looking at paid and owned channels is important to drive awareness, how mature are your frontline when it comes to engaging in social (sales, technical staff, product mangers, business leaders).
  8. How engrained is your frontline in your identified communities. This is a good place to start.
  9. How well are you feeding content and opportunities to your frontline. Internal social tools such as http://www.status.net will help, but good old email is just as good.
  10. Are you and your sales teams looking when is the right time to take conversations into the real world, real world events is one of the best ways to create and nurture relationships and generate more content of value.

This covers the front end of the decision-making phase but we have the chance to engage throughout the entire process (and even more so once they become customers). What other pointers can you share? Please add them in the comments, I’d love you feedback so please let me know.