b2bvideoBy Maria Geokezas, director of client services for Heinz Marketing

It takes too long to close a deal. 
One of the pain points we hear frequently, from marketers and sales people alike, is that the buyer’s journey takes way too long.  Their sales funnel is too slow.  Of course it is!  The 2013 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey  from Demand Gen Report confirms what we all know.  41% of buyers said they waited longer to initiate contact with B2B vendors than they did a year ago.  And at least 33% of buyers said their purchasing process took longer than it did a year ago.

Buyers are conducting their own research. 
Who can blame them?  There is a plethora of free and valuable content, from editorials, to 3rd party research, to company generated collateral.  The same survey found that a vendors’ content impacts the buying decision, with over one third of respondents agreeing that the company that closes the deal is the one with a better mix of content throughout the buyer’s journey.  This puts more pressure on marketing’s content strategy and its ability to drive quality leads to sales.

Overhaul your content strategy for every part of the sales funnel.
Buyers are overwhelmed with content.  As a marketer, how do you make sure your message gets through, how do you ensure your brand makes that connection?  Maybe a content strategy make-over is needed.  The same Demand Gen Report found that buyers prefer video as a source of information over traditional white papers, case studies and webinars.

For brands, “the power of video lies in its ability to connect with the audience, to inspire them to learn more about your brand”, says Chris Donaldson, Executive Producer at Hand Crank Films, “Video is extremely effective in making that emotional connection and getting people to take the next step.”  The right piece of content, when placed at the right time in the buyer’s decision making process, can be a very effective tool in getting the deal done.  Here are a few ideas to accelerate your sales funnel:

Top of the funnel
Prospects conduct their own product research before we, as marketers, are aware of their needs or interest.  In fact, more than half of product research is done independently, without the help or direct influence of a company or sales person.  At this stage of the funnel, prospects are educating themselves, and are inundated with content.  Stand out by making that emotional connection that Donaldson suggests.

1. Interview key influencers and experts in the field
2. Repurpose webinar content
3. Showcase company culture

Middle of the funnel
At this stage in the sales process, it’s time to introduce your company’s specific solution set and help leads evaluate your solution in more detail.  Working in coordination with inside sales, video will help you reach more people, adding velocity to your pipeline.

4. Demonstrate you product in real-world setting
5. Compile customer testimonials on video
6. Showcase your successes with video case studies
7. Introduce employees and support team to help the prospect get to know the people behind the product

Bottom of the funnel
Once you get to the bottom of the funnel, your audience may need help justifying their purchase decision.  Video, in collaboration with sales, can help close the deal.

8. Show how your product integrates neatly with the leads current environment
9. Create a personalized thank you from the sales rep

Video isn’t some magic pill that leads to instant sales growth.  It’s just one important part of your marketing picture. But a sound content strategy that includes video will certainly help move the needle.  “Video has to work with all the other initiatives in your marketing plan,” says Donaldson. “But if you can capture the heart with good content, the mind will follow.”

What kind of success have you experienced by using videos in your sales process?