When it comes right down to it, B2B marketers are judged and evaluated on how successfully they enable their colleagues in sales to close more deals.
But it’s really hard to demonstrate how a content marketing campaign, let alone any one piece of content, contributes to sales success. You may have a blog post that’s been read X number of times … but so what? Can you confidently attribute that content to revenue growth? Probably not.
And yet, you know that, overall, content marketing does make a difference. It’s just hard to pinpoint exactly how, when, and why it works. Which can be a problem, especially during an economic downturn when organizations may be looking to cut costs, with marketing directly in the crosshairs.
In this article, we’ll examine how podcasting can help B2B marketing teams prove their mettle in one very important way: by helping to shorten the sales cycle.
Specifically, we’ll cover:
- Why shortening the sales cycle matters
- Why podcasting is more valuable for shortening the sales cycle compared to blogs, videos, and other types of content
- Using your podcast to help turn the right kinds of guests into paying customers
Let’s get started!
Why shortening the sales cycle matters
Simply put: Time kills deals. The more time it takes to close a deal, the more likely it is that the deal will fall apart.
“The more time a lead spends in the sales pipeline, the more likely they are to overthink and second-guess themselves,” writes business strategist Brian Cristiano in Forbes. “Specifically, the lead might start to wonder if they really need you, if their pain point is that important to solve or if your competition could solve their pain point better than you.”
Consequently, Crisitiano concludes, the more time a prospect spends considering your solution, the more likely they are to walk away.
It stands to reason, then, that the less time a lead spends in your pipeline, the more likely they are to become a paying customer.
In short, time matters. The shorter the buyer’s journey, the greater the chance it ends in a sale.
And so, whatever content marketers can do to help shorten the sales cycles is of great value. It’s really a matter of creating content that engages potential customers in a way that de-incentivizes the hemming and hawing and risk-aversion that elongates sales cycles and scuttles so many deals.
Here at Connversa, we posit that podcasting is uniquely suited to producing the kind of content that shortens sales cycles.
How to use podcasting to shorten the sales cycle
Content marketing works on the premise that if you create content that speaks directly enough to prospects’ pain points, it will draw them into your funnel, wherein you’ll feed them more content designed to keep them moving further down the funnel to the point that they’re ready to talk to sales and, ideally, pull the trigger on a deal.
But, as stated above, it can be hard, if not impossible, to know which piece of content or pieces of content made the difference.
Podcasting is different because it’s not only about the content you create and publish; it’s about who you create content with: namely, with the very prospects you hope to convert into customers.
It’s pretty simple, actually:
- Start a podcast about something your audience–i.e. your prospects–are interested in learning about (and that your solution helps solve for).
- Invite top prospects to be guests on the show.
- Get to know them and learn all about their pain points … not just the obvious ones but the ones that you can only discover through sustained conversation (and ones that your prospects may not even be fully aware of).
- Record an interview with them (audio and video).
- Produce the episode, publish it, and promote it widely.
The beauty of this approach is that you’re not just creating content for your prospects; you’re creating content with them. And in doing so, you earn their trust, which is crucial for shortening the sales cycle and closing deals.
Building trust through conversation
According to the LinkedIn 2020 State of Sales Report, 88% of B2B buyers make a purchase only when they see a sales rep–and the company they work for–as a trusted advisor. This is no great revelation; it’s common knowledge that people buy from people they like and trust. But knowing that you have to earn the trust of buyers and actually doing it are two different things.
One of the best ways to earn trust is through conversation–genuine, spontaneous conversation wherein you do more listening than talking and, crucially, don’t try to sell anything or even mention your solution.
Podcasting is a way to engineer those types of conversations with prospects, in several ways:
- Prep Call. Doing a 15-20 minute prep call with guests is valuable in two ways. First, it allows you and the guest to find a topic you’re both interested in and that the guest can really lean into. Second, it’s a low-pressure way to simply chat, get to know the guest as a person, and begin to suss out what they care about most and whether or not they’re a good fit for your solution.
- Interview. The interview to learn even more about your prospect’s true pain points and to demonstrate your insight through the questions you ask.
- Publishing. Publishing the content provides another opportunity to connect with your prospect and build on the relationship.
In short, it’s a win-win all the way around. The prospect gets valuable content they can share across their networks, while you get invaluable insights into the prospect’s way of thinking and, most importantly, their trust. Now, they know you not just as another vendor hawking a solution but as someone they share interests with and have had a positive experience working with.
How all of this leads to more closed deals
Think about it this way: If you were choosing between several vendors, all of whom were similar in terms of price and features/services, which would you be more likely to go with: a company with which you have no personal connection and no concrete reason to trust … Or the company that went out of its way to get to know you as a person and collaborated with you on content featuring you as a subject matter expert?
Taking the time and making the effort to foster real relationships with buyers is a competitive advantage, and one that podcasting is uniquely suited to help you gain.
If you’d like to learn more about how podcasting can help shorten sales cycles and close more deals, connect with us for a free consultation.