Solution selling. It’s all about delivering the right content to the right person at the right time.

contentBy Al Morgan, Director of Solution Marketing and Dale Rensing, Porter Consulting Senior Market Analyst

In our previous blog on solution selling, we discussed the importance of understanding your customer well enough so that you could create a profile for each stakeholder in the decision-making process. In this blog, we will focus on mapping content to different points in the buyer’s journey. Applying best fit marketing tools at each point can help you get your messages to the right stakeholder at the right time.

Although there are variations, the buyer’s journey encompasses three stages: Awareness, Consideration, and Decision. Marketing tasks vary by stage, requiring marketers to influence customer thinking in different ways across the journey.

journeyAwareness Stage

For instance, during the awareness phase, customers are just gaining an understanding that you’re out there – that you have a solution that may suit their needs. This phase has become more and more important as customers increasingly do their own research prior to engaging with a sales rep. Unless they know to look for you, you could be missing out on some great opportunities.

One way to engage at this stage is to bring forward a problem that your customer has not fully considered. Visionary articles, such as blogs and analyst reports, can assist in this regard. Sometimes new ways of looking at things spark ideas on how to do things differently, which can play to your strengths.

Marketing tactics used early in the buyers’ journey, such as social media, tradeshows, online brochures and eBooks, can help customers realize that you’re a player. Remember that the first persona to target is the Influencer. Understanding who your Influencer is, whether from a technical or business background, is going to determine exactly where you place these articles and which tradeshows you attend so that you can attract his or her attention.

Consideration Stage

In the consideration phase, customers are gathering materials from potential vendors to do a comparative analysis. Specs and datasheets are useful, as are whitepapers. Podcasts and videos are also a great way to ensure that your messages are heard. You’ll be interacting with the Problem Owner during this time as well as the Blocker. The data you provide will need to address their specific concerns. Is the Blocker a purchasing agent with a financial background or brand preference? If so, you’ll want to ensure you have a TCO analysis ready that can help you overcome their concerns.

An email campaign to a carefully selected set of customers (based on personas) can direct them to the deep-dive content assets that make your case. Consider crafting an email to the Problem Owner that provides the relevant value proposition with links to more information; maybe also include a link to a complementary TCO analysis that the Problem Owner can then forward on to the Blocker. Using this method, you not only place your message in front of two stakeholders at once, but you also double its impact. The fact that the email has been forwarded by someone the Blocker knows greatly increases the information’s credibility with the recipient.

Decision Stage

When the time comes for the customer to make a decision, you must make sure the customer is aware of your solution, feels that it meets the baseline criteria, and can make an intelligent choice between your solution and other options. Help the decision team through the decision-making process by providing unbiased third-party content (such as product reviews) that shows your solution to be superior. Provide them with material (like case studies) that reflects on you positively from others who have been in their shoes. Build familiarity with your product through trial downloads and demos. Final numbers from benchmark tests and pricing discounts can also help to sway the decision in your favor.

We’re here to help

At Porter, we understand this process in depth. We start by interviewing a broad swath of marketing, sales, presales, and even channel partners that touch deals and the customer. We focus on what matters to each role of the decision team and why. Once we build the model, we can recommend content, tools, and strategies to embed our sponsor’s message as we travel on the buyer’s journey together.

If you’ve found this helpful, you might consider reading our Porter Crunch Time Whitepaper – Navigating Complex Sales in Today’s Mobile Age. In our next and final blog in this series, we will look a little more closely at some specific solution marketing tactics that can be used during these different stages to target stakeholders and bring them to a consensus.

Al brings 30 years of IT solutions marketing to bear on current marketing and sales challenges.  Technologies change constantly, but it still takes content, skills and confidence to win the big decisions. You can find more blogs and content from Al at  Porter Consulting is a marketing services consulting company who can you help you grow revenue.

Dale Rensing has been helping customers envision the benefits of technology, from local area networks to cloud technologies and IoT for over 25 years.  You can find more blogs and content from Dale at  Porter Consulting is a marketing services consulting company who can you help you grow revenue.

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