As a fog of economic downturn hovers on the horizon, selling organizations must face a reality of steep selling challenges that will take all-hands-on-deck to overcome.
The new B2B buying journey that cuts salespeople out of all but 5% of the process has already made things hard enough. The growing number of members in the buying committee has added pressures and roadblocks as well. And with economic pressures, many B2B companies are tightening budgets, increasing efficiencies and not taking a second look at products and solutions not deemed vital. This is no time for gimmicks and flash. The situation demands your selling organization lead with value above all else.
The late 2022 Thought Leadership Impact Report from Edelman and LinkedIn has found that a key tool to showcasing your value is not through traditional product marketing but rather with thought leadership. While most organizations share some regular form of thought leadership today, many B2B buyers are not finding in it the value that grips their attention, educates them and, ultimately, inspires them to change their uncertainties and indecision. Keep reading to learn what B2B buyers really want from your thought leadership.
THE GROWING VALUE IN THOUGHT LEADERSHIP
If you are worried your thought leadership content is all for naught, hear this. The Edelman and LinkedIn report discovered B2B decision makers actually read your thought leadership — and are influenced by it (if done well).
- 61% of decision makers believe thought leadership moderately or better demonstrates the potential value of your solutions when compared to traditional product marketing.
- 50% of C-suite executives admit that valuable thought leadership has a greater impact on decision making during economic downturns than during economic booms.
- Especially for sellers offering solutions that are not essential to operations, 55% of decision makers say that they must prove their worth with high-quality thought leadership during an economic downturn.
Effective thought leadership does not push solutions, though. It does not focus on your selling organization and why it is so great. This is not a time to show off. This is a moment to Seek to Serve, Not to Sell®.
THE KEY TO THOUGHT LEADERSHIP: THINK OF THEM, NOT YOU
Thought leadership works only when you focus on your buyers, with a deep understanding of their needs and goals — and what they find valuable enough to act on.
While your targeted buyer will have specific pains and needs, a recent Sales Mastery study found that many B2B decision makers today expect their seller to prove:
- An understanding of their business, situation and needs
- The ROI or value of the relevant solution
- That you are actively listening to them
- A unique expertise and perspective
- A creative and compelling solution
- How your solution can be implemented and incorporated into their business
These criteria can improve your thought leadership as well. How can the topics you touch on and the tidbits of value you impart in your thought leadership show that you understand your buyer’s business on an intimate level? What success stories can you share that bolster the potential ROI of your offering? What unique perspective does your organization bring to serve your buyers?
Answer these buyer expectations in your mix of thought leadership, and you can better not only help your target audience with small pieces of value in the short-term — but increase your credibility and stance as a trusted advisor for a long-term relationship of value-exchange.
BUILD CONSISTENT VALUE
While your thought leadership will vary based on subject matter expert, domain / theme and target audience, it should remain grounded in your overall differentiated value proposition.
Download the Mereo Value Proposition Worksheet to improve or to start developing your own differentiated value proposition and enablement plan.