How Sellers Can Navigate the GTM Engine’s New Rules of Engagement

Before the birth of the hybrid buyer, sellers were in control. When businesses wanted to purchase a product, service or software, they simply picked up the phone and chatted with a seller. The seller could then explain how they compared to the competition and determine a reasonable price. Sale made, deal closed, customer acquired. Easy, right? 

This process is a thing of the past. The modern B2B buyer doesn’t need to get on the phone or fill out a contact form to learn the ins and outs of a product — they have all the fact-finding capabilities right at their fingertips thanks to the infinite sprawl of the internet. 

According to McKinsey, approximately three out of every four buyers say they now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions. Today’s average B2B buyer is typically more than halfway through the sales funnel before interacting with a rep, having done their own market research, competitive analysis and price comparisons online. Out with tried-and-true relationship-based buying, in with processes-driven buying. 

The rules of engagement are evolving, and sales teams need to evolve right alongside them. To regain control of the buying process and appeal to today’s hyper-informed buyer, sellers (along with the rest of the GTM engine — more on that later) need to reach prospects in the right digital spaces, with the right content, at the right time. Here are a few strategies to do just that. 

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Meet buyers where they are 

It’s no secret that buyers — like the rest of us — spend a good amount of time on social media, both personally and professionally. In fact, 71% of decision-makers surveyed by GWI say social media is influential when they’re researching or considering a new product for their company. 

But simply uploading sales collateral to LinkedIn and waiting for the customers to roll in won’t cut it. Sellers must provide potential buyers with subsequent pieces of content that are relevant to each stage of their journey. 

Buyers don’t want to be flooded with sponsored posts; they want meaningful conversations with a seller they trust. Don’t be afraid to reach out, determine where in the sales funnel they’re sitting, and share the appropriate information to move them through it. Buyers will find comfort in the fact they’re working with a knowledgeable expert in their respective space, which will help nurture long-term relationships built on trust and expertise. 

Get creative with your content

As I mentioned before, it’s no secret that buyers use social media to research new products, which means the competition for attention on platforms like LinkedIn is stiff. Your content will have to stand out from the crowd if you want to get noticed. 

Interactive content is a surefire way to capture buyers’ attention and boost engagement. Case studies, pitch decks and solution briefs that curate choose-your-own-adventure experiences for readers are dynamic and visually interesting — more so than your typical static one-pager. 

Personalizing content where possible and giving them something to explore, rather than simply read or watch, presents buyers with options on what to consume according to their own needs. 

Don’t sell, educate 

Now that you’ve earned your buyer’s attention, what are you planning to do with it? Instead of just pitching features left and right, take a consultative approach. Today’s B2B buyers want informative and insightful conversations that help them overcome their challenges. In short, they want a personalized experience with someone they can trust. 

Don’t let the digitization of the sales process fool you; buyers still need a human touch when making purchase decisions. Meet them where they are, provide as much information as you can at the right time, and help them realize your solution is the right fit rather than insisting as much. 

This strategy works across industries, too. The most successful financial advisers and wealth managers must educate their clients and build their clientele’s financial literacy in order to build trust. This amount of care and attention will lay the groundwork for a lasting relationship and the possibility to upsell and grow existing accounts in the future. 

A holistic approach 

The lines between go-to-market teams have blurred in recent years: With the rise of knowledgeable buyers, sellers have been forced to act more like marketers. Sales teams have shifted their focus to the higher-funnel tactics marketers once exclusively owned, such as video content and social media, to generate leads. 

The enablement function arose to bridge this gap by providing sellers with marketers’ content, along with the training, tools and information they need to have insightful conversations with buyers and close deals. This is, in part, why enablement technology has extended beyond just the sales team to serve the entire go-to-market engine, which includes sales, marketing, customer success and enablement.

All this is to say, upping your sales strategy won’t mean much unless marketing and enablement teams are empowered in tandem. To keep up with the new rules of engagement, business leaders should empower their marketing and enablement teams in the following ways: 

Marketers need the ability to: Enablement teams need the ability to: 
Manage content planning with full visibility of milestones and deadlines. Make content interactive and immersive to allow buyers to drive the conversation. 
Copy existing campaigns and workflows to go to market faster. Make said content easy for sellers to find using an accurate search engine. 
Craft and manage integrated campaigns — from planning to execution — all in one place with calendarized tasks and assets, along with proofing to ensure regulatory compliance. Onboard and upskill new sellers faster so they are more productive sooner. 
Gain insights into how tasks, content and campaigns impact revenue. Align content and learning with buyer interactions for better conversation guidance. 
Audit underperforming pieces to quickly improve future results. Control permissions so sellers only see the content they need based on what they sell.  

Both marketing and enablement teams also need the ability to stay on-brand with automated workflows and approvals before distribution. Both should dedicate time to learning what resonates with buyers, prioritizing follow-ups and identifying deal risks to glean best practices. 

Regardless of where you sit in the GTM engine, content will be key to meeting the needs and expectations of modern B2B buyers. Business leaders must prioritize a holistic approach to strategy, content and technology to empower their entire GTM organizations — not just sales. These companies will be best prepared to succeed by today’s rules of engagement as well as tomorrow’s. 

This article is part of the Crunchbase Community Contributor Series. The author is an expert in their field and we are honored to feature and promote their contribution on the Crunchbase blog.

Please note that the author is not employed by Crunchbase and the opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect official views or opinions of Crunchbase, Inc.

  • Originally published January 13, 2023