New Survey Reveals Significant Disconnect Between B2B Messaging Beliefs and Actions

December 19, 2016

Most companies believe marketing has more influence over the buying journey, but most aren’t changing their content strategy because of it

PLEASANTON, Calif., Dec. 15, 2016 –Nearly 80 percent of marketing and salespeople believe the oft-quoted statistic that customers are 57 percent or more of the way through the buying cycle before engaging a salesperson. However, only 24 percent have made significant strategic shifts in their B2B content marketing strategy because of it, according to a new survey conducted by Corporate Visions, the leading marketing and sales messaging, content and skills training company.

Corporate Visions surveyed more than 400 marketing and sales leaders for its latest State of the Conversation Report, which also found that companies are struggling with lead conversion from marketing-generated leads. Only 11 percent of companies believe their conversion from content-driven leads to pipeline is excellent. And, nearly half of companies (47 percent) described their lead conversion efforts as sketchy or failing to drive trackable impact.

The report also examined the kinds of messaging approaches used in demand generation and sales enablement programs:

  • Company-centric content designed to promote the company vision and brand promise
  • Product-centric content emphasizing competitive differentiation and features and benefits
  • Problem-centric content addressing needs identified in voice of the customer research
  • Insight-centric content introducing unconsidered needs and a disruptive perspective

The results reveal the primary content focus to be a virtual tie between product-centric and problem-centric content. Meanwhile, the creation of insights-centric content finished last, coming in behind all three categories, including company-centric content.

“There appears to be a disconnect if 80 percent of companies believe that content drives the majority of the purchase journey, but such a small percentage of them are adjusting their content strategy or delivering disruptive, insights-centric perspectives,” said Tim Riesterer, chief strategy and research officer at Corporate Visions. “The fact that so few companies are delivering content that disrupts the status quo and convinces people to change could explain why such a small percentage are happy with their conversion rates from content-generated leads to pipeline.”

Conversion challenges may also call into question the whole notion that buyers are 57 percent of the way through the buying journey by the time they engage with a salesperson.

“There’s a big difference between what people feel they are doing and what they actually do. It’s called ‘declared preference versus revealed preference’ in behavioral economics,” Riesterer says. “I’m convinced buyers feel they are further along than they actually are based on low conversion rates and ‘no decision’ data which tells a different story.

For more research results and analysis, check out the State of the Conversation Report: “The B2B Content Disconnect: What Companies Believe vs. How They Behave.”

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