High-value publications and ebooks are (or, should be) the bread-and-butter of an inbound sales strategy for your B2B business. Not sure why? From a prospect's point of view, you're empowering them - the buyer - to learn more about your solution or product in a low-pressure way, while they research and educate themselves (read more about this inbound method for manufacturing marketing).
From your sales point of view, you're gathering information about the prospect's interests and pain points based on what they download, as well as receiving their contact information and more for additional communication.
Check out the top five reasons to take the time to research, write, design and publish valuable ebooks (and other publications) for your buyer personas:
- Forms to download help you collect information prior to a sales call.
- High-value publications in your name establish industry knowledge leadership.
- Offering free downloads promotes trust.
- Downloads give you permission to continue sharing information.
- Valuable ebooks are a path for educating your prospect about your product - with little involvement from you.
This applies to all publications from your company that you offer on a landing page with a download form, not just ebooks, including:
- White papers
- Presentation slides
Here's how these reasons apply to your own sales process:
1. Collect Information Prior to a Sales Call
Downloadable pieces that are valuable to a prospective buyer, are housed on your website, and live behind a download form meet the trifecta of awesomeness that creates sales. In exchange for the downloadable ebook for your visitor, they're giving you their name, contact medium, and other information about their sales process. When you go to make that first discovery call, you already know about the research they've been doing on your site. It makes you look experienced while saving them time - what's that worth to you?
2. Establish industry knowledge leadership.
Prospects want to know your value proposition - is it price? Quality? Speed? Whatever need of theirs you're meeting, they want to work with the best in the industry when it comes to their priority. As you provide industry knowledge specific to the issue they're researching, you naturally establish yourself as an industry knowledge leader (also known as a thought leader). That's a valuable position for you to be in as you build a relationship with them.
3. Promote trust.
Once you're established as an industry knowledge leader, high-value content continues to promote trust. Whether you're sending it via email directly to the qualified lead or simply nurturing a prospect with automated, relevant content, a well-timed ebook providing solutions builds the trust relationship you'll need to close a sale. Talk about invaluable!
4. Gain permission to share information.
A prospect filling out a form on your site is doing two things:
- Letting you know that they're currently researching a problem
- Giving you their contact information to get additional, related information
Both of these are well-worth the time and money spent to research and publish a high-value piece. Your 24/7 sales research assistant, your website, will be gathering contacts for you while you sleep. You can literally prospect overnight with a well-done, downloadable piece. We recently published this Digital ROI Calculator; I got notifications for the majority of the new leads that downloaded the piece outside normal office hours. Winning.
5. Educate your prospect about your product - with little time investment.
HubSpot recently published a study called Buyers Speak Out, addressing the changing expectations of B2B buyers today. "During the awareness stage, buyers rely on search, vendor websites, and newsletters/emails as their top channels to find information. Once they’re ready to buy, they opt to connect with a sales representative," according to the study. These are the preferred content formats:
Note that many of the top formats are not available on your current site, necessarily. But the formats immediately available for you to host online or publish to send - product information (51% of buyers prefer), customer case studies (36%), expert reports and guides (28% and 27%) - these formats are absolutely something that you should be paying attention to. Your qualified leads want to see them and are basing their opinion of you on this accessible information. With limited time investment from you, you can grow their knowledge exponentially.