Buyer Enablement: A framework for B2B online lead generation and sales

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Gartner coined the term “buyer enablement” last year with much Linkedin fanfare and a pretty decent ebook. I remember reading it and thinking “it’s sales enablement and buyer journey mapping in a new frock” and left it there.



Well, times have changed. And so has our sales process.



Buyer enablement is starting to look like a very relevant framework for marketing and sales types like me. I’ve come to see it as a useful process for finding gaps in our content. It's been very helpful as I start to think through how online-only sales processes impact both our clients and Future Contents own business development.



In this article I’d like to give you a brief overview of the concept, outline how I’m using it and leave you with a few examples of good “buyer enablement” content.

 

What is buyer enablement?

 

The key insight from Gartners research is this: B2B sales is increasingly complicated, but it ain't half as complicated as B2B buying is.



The factors behind this increased complexity are...

  • Buyers have an unlimited amount of information available to them. I’ve written a lot about this issue.
  • Many more people are involved in the buying process
  • Buyers spend two thirds of the buying cycle engaging with content before they speak to any sales person

 

Buyers need a filter for all of the information (content) that potential suppliers are firing at them. They need to make sure that the committee that they’re working with reads the same things and agrees on what's important. And they want to do a good deal of this before speaking to a sales rep.

 

"Information, not individuals makes the buying process easier"

 

So far this all sounds like a bit of buyer journey mapping is what’s needed but, as Gartner point out, those “maps” tend to lack the technical detail needed to establish what’s missing from our content mix. Customer or buyer maps also tend to be linear and, as the following graphic perfectly illustrates, the buying process is anything but linear.

 

Long Hard Slog_press release

Buyer enablement helps content teams focus on what’s needed by using the Jobs to be done framework. Gartner has identified 6 distinct jobs that buyers are constantly looping back to. They are...

 

  • Problem Identification
  • Solution exploration
  • Requirement building
  • Supplier selection
  • Validation
  • Consensus creation

set of buying jobs

How I've used buyer enablement

 

While the report goes on to talk about different content categories and formats, I’ve found that the 6 Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) is where the real value is here.

My process has been quite simple - reflect back over the last 3 months of sales activity and review those deals (those that closed and those that didn’t) through the 6 JTBD.

The results have been very interesting.

In short, we’re missing a tonne of content that would be helpful. And a good deal of the stuff that we currently have is probably in the wrong format.

To give a few specific examples….

 

  1. Supplier selection: How many prospects of ours have a criteria for assessing thought leadership content? Not many. We should provide that.
  2. Consensus creation: A marketing director needs the CEO and sales directors to get behind her need for a really decent thought leadership report. But they are busy people and won’t read a 10 page proposal. A video summary would be useful.
  3. Requirement building: Most SaaS businesses have some content creation capacity in house. If there is some in-house capacity, shouldn’t we try to make use of it? Perhaps a content team diagnostic tool would be helpful? We can create that. 

 

Look, It’s not rocket science. And it’s not like I don’t know a thing or two about content marketing and sales already, but I found that this exercise unlocked a whole slew of ‘a-ha’ moments and I urge you to give it a go. I just went for a walk with my notepad. Lush.

 

Examples of buyer enablement content

 

I promised I’d finish with a few examples of good ‘buyer enablement” content. The following examples aren’t likely to have been created by a team thinking of buyer enablement (in a days research I could find zero case studies) but I think they represent the types of content we’ll be creating more of as buyer enablement becomes better known.

 

Problem Identification: The Marketing 360 from The Marketing Centre (a client) 

macbook

A diagnostic tool for business leaders frustrated with their marketing. The 360 has been refined over recent years to help prospects identify their issues, filter through educational content and build up their requirements list.

 

Requirement Building: Workload from Asana

Asana_Workload_-_Manage_Team_Capacity_and_Rebalance_Work_·_Asana

This is a product positioning page. I include it here because of the neat use of gifs to demonstrate product functionality. I can certainly picture how my team could use this. 

 

Multiple JTBD: Using video in the sales process from Loom

How_Asynchronous_Video_Communication_Helps_Us_Close_Deals_-_Loom_Blog

As an article in itself this is top of the funnel stuff, but the videos included cover the whole sales process and are worth a watch.

 

Conclusion

 

To summarise, Buyer Engagement isn’t the emperor's new clothes. It is a useful tool to have in your arsenal of content frameworks. I’ve found it to be especially useful right now because the sales process and buyer expectations are in a state of flux.

 

I hope you’ve found this useful. If you have started to use this process I would be very keen to learn of your experience because I found examples and case studies very hard to find.

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