Once upon a time companies looking to buy software would grab the issue of a trade publication featuring a round-up of leading software applications and send an RFP to each company listed. We would then prepare the RFP, sent out a literature kit, maybe a few case studies and prep for the demo.
In those days, you knew when you were beat. It was the emotional equivalent of a bloody nose. And you had a pretty good idea of where you lost it. And because it hurt, and because you knew what went wrong, you could do something to improve your chances of winning the next one. Update the look of the literature. Beef up the quality of the demo data. Do a better job of illustrating Return on Investment.
But today, it doesn’t happen that way. For every opportunity you actively compete for – there might be dozens of opportunities where you’re not invited to participate. The reason for this is that prospective buyers are flocking to search engines to come up with their list of potential service providers. If you are not appearing in the search – or if they go to your site and don’t see what they need – you’re a click away from oblivion. And you don’t even know it.
A while back I tuned into a webinar that gave the following statistics – 70% of B2B buyers initiated first contact with B2B product/solution/services providers after a Google search. Less than 10% initiated with a B2B solution provider following a cold call.
Shortly thereafter, I shared that statistic with a software reseller (not one of my customers). This business owner told me that they could live with that cold call conversion rate. I was speechless.
Upon reflection, I came to the conclusion that perhaps what we’re comfortable with can be the biggest impediment to our progress as business owners. I think we have to be on guard about preferring familiar short term activity we can measure (large lists, number of calls) with long term strategic positioning that will take time to pay dividends (content creation, SEO).
I suspect that the search engine 70% stat will only continue to grow and the less than 10% cold call stat will only continue to diminish.
Buyer behavior has seen an epic change. Given that fact, we have to implement epic change to our marketing. Consider that while you may not be comfortable with content creation, online publishing and SEO, it is a rational response to buyer behavior.
Please share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to know whether you agree or disagree.