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B2B When You Don’t Know You Are Taking a Beating

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.


4 Responses to B2B When You Don’t Know You Are Taking a Beating

  1. This is dead on! The buyers are educating themselves before they ever pick up the phone or email anyone. If they do happen to call you based on a recommendation from a CPA or other trusted advisor, they want to know why you aren’t listed on the first page of their search.

    We forget that many buyers don’t understand SEO or page rankings so they equate being in the top listings with delivering a quality solution. As if it is based on the work product you deliver. That really hurts a strong company that may not spend the time or dollars for SEO or web marketing. Instead the telemarketing campaign or postcard is eating up their budget.

    I too believe content is what drives people to your site and ultimately to purchase from you. You can have all the great key words but if you don’t have something they will come back for you may have lost them.

    I was surprised to find recently how little a group of my customers knew about the way web marketing works. Since those were my current customers they were exactly the demographic I was after. They also all(yes everyone) said they want to be educated about everything they buy both pre and post purchase. It was good to hear their opinion but it led me to better understand how much work we have yet to do for our changing base.

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Barbara – thank you so much for not only weighing in but sharing your front line experience! Good to hear from you!

  2. Linda Shillingburg says:

    SPOT ON! The scariest part for me (and our VP of Marketing) is what you said here, “…if they go to your site and don’t see what they need – you’re a click away from oblivion.” We were discussing the info we have there–and what we might be missing–and the reality that, if we give too much info, and don’t speak to the one thing they want, it really doesn’t matter whether or not we have it–they can (and likely will) perceive that we don’t. And we will never know about it!

  3. Apryl Hanson says:


    I love this, it is so on. All the time we are talking about the opportunities we may have not been “invited” to and what content we need to build in order to get ourselves there.

    When working with a group of clients we discovered too that many SMB’s aren’t thinking about their presence online, nor about social media. They are almost afraid to participate, because they don’t want to get caught in having to dedicate time to something they aren’t sure how it may pay off.

    Your statistics mentioned will help fight the fear that many have used to stay uninvolved.

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