Many websites are visually pleasing, perhaps even beautiful. They are the beautiful online version of the beautiful old brochure. But great B2B web marketing not only looks great, it also goes to work for you everyday. These websites look -- and act -- more like your company's ideal salesperson. Today's websites, outfitted with several functional accoutrements, can do much of what the salesperson can do, except websites are working for little cost and no commissions. They are the hardest working employee, going 24/7 365 days per year!
The Website vs The Salesperson
Developing a modern B2B website should not be blueprinted from a model of a brochure placed online with pages of pictures, products and services. Way too many companies get the look and feel of a visually pleasing website right and call it a day. The look and feel of the website is just the beginning, the entryway into a sales journey for your prospect.
Think of all the things great salespeople do: they attract interest and leads from completely new places; they locate and identify new prospects; they make connections; they educate customers on the early stages of the buying process; they provide the right information at the right time and place; they identify pain points; they track and follow up; they assist the prospect with the decision process; they build a relationship of trust; they close the deal and they stay in contact.
Leading B2B websites do all of this and more. For some businesses, (e.g. subscriptions and other simple sales) a salesperson may not be needed at all. The more complex the sale, the more likely a salesperson will be needed. Leading B2B businesses use a coordinated model of online marketing and salespeople to optimize and customize the buying experience for individual prospects.
Building Your Online B2B Marketing System
Building a digital system of online B2B marketing can accomplish all this too, plus some. But how does a system like this get built? What resources are required? The first step is to learn all about the the inbound marketing methodology. This concept is critical to understanding what needs to happen in each stage of your prospects' journey: attract, convert, close and delight.
Most B2B buyers are learning all they can about your industry before they ever connect with a salesperson. Receiving sophisticated RFP's "out of the blue" is evidence of this. Content and expertise were king. They still are! But today's smart purchasers know better than to rely on salespeople for their homework. Rather, they are going online and learning all they can to position themselves as semi-experts before negotiating with you!
Businesses that facilitate the online learning get an early jump on competitors. Are your buyers resisting early meetings and phone calls with your salespeople? If your buyers are swimming around online looking for content, your website's functionality should be the technological equivalent of a fishing net. You need to put content out there (online) in the right places and times, in the right shapes and sizes. The Inbound Methodology concept helps you to develop the right content to publish at the right times in the right places. It's not enough to simply develop content (a big job in and of itself). The content needs to be organized, optimized and linked so that your buyer stays engaged through the entire buyer's journey.
Make the Investment
There is an investment of resources required to accomplish this. It does not "go viral" or happen overnight. But like the most valuable business activities, it all represents working "on" your business and not just "in" it. You are building an asset, a digital system of B2B web marketing. You are building a tangible asset that provides ongoing value to you. And effective business assets are also attractive to potential future buyers of your business! So, if your website beauty is only skin deep, consider developing further and further until you have the most attractive automated salesperson you could ever hope for.