On average, buyers are 80% through their journey before they reach out to sales reps — and more than one-third prefer “seller-free” experiences.
With the foundation set, Marcus Sheridan kicked off the 2022 B2B Marketing Exchange (#B2BMX) by shining a light on the importance of building trust with buyers to generate more conversions with his keynote, “Good To GREAT B2B Digital Marketing In 2022 & Beyond: From World-Class Website Content To Self-Service Tools, How To Reach A New Level Of Trust, Traffic, Leads & Sales Online.”
But first, he cleared up a common misconception about “seller-free” buying experiences:
“When buyers say they want a ‘seller-free’ sales experience, it means they want to do it online, dictate the terms and control their destiny,” Sheridan explained. “It’s not that buyers don’t want to talk a salesperson ever again; they just want to talk on their own terms.”
Embracing Transparency To Breed Trust
After aligning the audience on his definition of “seller-free,” Sheridan emphasized the need to be completely transparent and honest with website information — specifically with the areas companies are traditionally uncomfortable discussing (pricing, potential pitfalls and competitors). He put a consumer lens on the topic: When we make buying decisions in our personal lives, we rely on reviews and word-of-mouth accounts with specific budgets in mind.
Instead of hiding the seemingly taboo information behind a contact form and only revealing it once they’re physically speaking to a prospect, Sheridan suggested that marketers should be completely transparent about ALL relevant company information, good or bad. Research — and his first-hand experiences — have found that discussing those awkward topics actually breeds trust and increases conversion likelihood.
“Generally speaking, whoever gives buyers what they’re looking for is going to get their money,” said Sheridan. “The reason we get so upset as buyers is because we know, as customers, companies know the answer or at least the semblance of the answer. And because we know they know the answer, and they’re not giving it to us, it feels like they’re hiding it from us. And the moment you feel like somebody’s hiding something from you, the trust is gone.”
Creating Content By Embracing Honesty
For content, specifically, Sheridan referenced three articles from his pool company’s website — Riverside Pools & Spa — as out-of-the-box revenue differentiators:
- An in-depth comparison of his specific pool offering (fiberglass) against other options (concrete and vinyl) to ensure buyers were aware of their options;
- An overview of competitors in the area and a quick blurb about their specialties; and
- An honest analysis of the natural weaknesses of his fiberglass pool offerings, accompanied by their best advice to prevent the problems.
While it might seem counterproductive to be completely transparent about potential shortcomings and upfront about competition, the concept is actually simple: All this information is consumed on your website — not your competitors. From those assets, Sheridan explained that Riverside Pools & Spa has generated more than $10 million in revenue.
“While you can’t always own the conversations, you at least need to be a part of them,” said Sheridan. “You don’t have to answer every question, but you need to be willing to address every single one. Marketers should embrace the ‘they ask, you answer’ philosophy.”
With all of that in mind, attendees walked away with an understanding of the content subject matter that generates the most qualified leads, sales and revenue, as well as a better grasp on what “seller-free” buyers are actually looking for.