58% of the buyer journey is complete before your customer even contacts you! An interesting statistic from the good folks at Hubspot and one which seems to be largely ignored by organisations (if the large volume of sales calls I get every day is anything to go by!)
Translating that into English – 20 years ago a salesman would get in touch and ask lots of questions aimed at exposing a need for their product or service, they would aim to discover and poke your pain points and lead you down a path aimed at making you aware of your problem and their fabulous solution to your problem. Before the call you were 0% of the way through your buyers journey.
Today there are more companies selling more products and services than ever before. There are umpteen solutions to every problem and if we all had time to speak to all the salespeople that wanted to help us with our problems, we would not have a lot of time left in the day. Today, the internet provides us with an almost infinite amount of information that we can sift through. We can become aware of our problem, decide whether to do anything about it, and even decide who we want to talk to about it before we even consider picking up the phone to a supplier – and even then we will probably have researched several possible suppliers before deciding who to call.
Say for example – I discover I am unable to deal with the volume of leads coming into my website (a nice problem to have!) – I now have awareness of my problem. Probably the first thing I’ll do is some research based on “Can I solve this problem myself, for free?” or “Can I get my team to work longer hours to deal with it?” – If the answer is no, I will start looking around for possible solutions…. Is there a software solution? Is there a process solution? Etc… If the answer is another resounding “no” then the solution left to me is to hire another person to make sure I can deal with all the leads.
At this point I’ll go through the cycle again – new problem – I need to hire a sales person! “Can I use my network?” “is there an ex-colleague I can poach?” – No. At this point I will start looking around for a recruiter who can help. I want the best so I’ll ask for recommendations and take to Google to see if I can find a company or an individual that I think can help. I’ll probably create a shortlist based on my research and it is only at this point that I will pick up the phone and start talking to the people that can help!
58% or more of my journey is done.
I think this demonstrates why your content strategy is so important, and why it’s vital to have content on your website that can help me get to the point where I pick up the phone! At the start I might Google “too many leads” - if I find a post or article from a supplier that discusses possible solutions in a helpful and non-salesy way, I will read the article and consider some of the free and easy solutions (I don’t want to spend money unless I have no choice!). That website had helped me so I might sign up for their mailing list. If I keep receiving content from that supplier that demonstrates their expertise and shows they are prepared to help before I pay them a penny, they will be top of the list when I decide I actually need to throw some money at the problem. If I don’t, then it’s back to Google…. And on to the next possible supplier.
My point here is that it’s vital to understand that buying habits have changed, and that being perceived as helpful knowledgeable experts throughout every stage of the buyers journey is gold dust for your business. Being aware of the journey that your buyers go through (ask some of them!) is the key to unlocking your content strategy and helping you to ensure you have the right content for each step a potential customer takes. Get it right and those incoming leads will be warmed up and ready to write the cheque, get it wrong and there won’t be any!