They say nothing beats face-to-face communication. In general, that may be true. But when it comes to technical sales – selling to a technical audience – we beg to differ.
When used the right way, quality technical content can have even more of an impact on potential buyers in technical markets (like DevOps and data science) than an in-person sales pitch.
Here are four reasons why.
Techies Hate Sales
Probably the biggest reason why technical content makes for a more effective sales tool than in-person pitches and demos is that technical buyers tend to be allergic to anything they perceive as sales. Not only do they often feel that sales meetings are a distraction from doing their jobs, but the formal sales process can come off as awkward and inefficient.
Techies are happier when they feel like they discover the best tools and services on their own, rather than through a sales pitch.
Offering quality technical content – such as tutorials or whitepapers – to technical buyers is a way to make sales less confrontational.
What’s more, well-crafted technical marketing content – the kind that leaves readers with a positive impression of your product without them even realizing that there was a marketing effort behind the content – also offers the critical benefit of allowing techies to feel like their buyer’s journey was self-directed. In other words, it lets them feel that they are in control of the product selection process. In-person sales operations do the opposite.
Show, Don’t Tell
A second limitation of in-person sales meetings is that they often focus more on telling buyers about products than on showing them. Even if a face-to-face sales pitch includes a product demo, it is usually led by the sales team while the buyer sits by passively, with no opportunity to try the product directly.
For technical buyers, in particular, this is a poor strategy. Techies want to be able to see for themselves how a product works, and draw their own conclusions about it.
Instead of having a salesperson list ten reasons why a release automation platform is the best on the market, for example, techies want to run some code through it themselves and see which features make it stand out. Likewise, if you’re marketing an Asset Performance Management (APM) tool, technical buyers want more than a feature summary. They want to be able to deploy it in their environments; or, at least test it out with some simulated data, and see how it performs.
Technical content allows buyers to do these things. Tutorials let them walk through your product within their own environments. Technical articles demonstrate code that they can deploy and tweak on their own systems. These experiences are much more likely to lead to conversions than a passive sales meeting, even if the meeting has the advantage of taking place, in-person.
Technical Content Reaches Buyers Remotely
A third limitation of in-person sales boils down to simple logistics. Technical buyers are spread far and wide, and dispatching sales teams to meet with each lead in-person is often not practical.
Plus, because the IT industry leads the pack when it comes to remote work, many teams are geographically dispersed. You can’t sit down with them all in a single room even if you were willing to travel far, because the team members themselves are spread across multiple continents in some cases.
This is another reason to let technical content do sales work for you. Technical content can reach your audience wherever they are located. It doesn’t matter how dispersed the teams you are engaging happen to be. As long as the content is of high quality, remote readers or viewers will pay attention. There is no need for a personal visit to draw them in.
Drip, Don’t Drop By
The final major limitation of in-person sales is that they don’t lend themselves well to drip campaigns. You lose the advantage of long-term lead nurturing. When you do an in-person pitch, you exhaust the biggest weapon in your arsenal then and there. You have limited ability thereafter to follow up while still retaining credibility.
With technical content, this challenge doesn’t exist. Once you have a steady stream of technical content, you can use it to drive drip campaigns. Use them for as long as you need – years, if that’s what it takes.
This is an especially important consideration for technical buyers because many of them – especially those at smaller companies or startups – begin evaluating products or services long before they actually purchase them. A startup development team might not need your product today because they haven’t yet reached the milestone where it becomes necessary for their project.
Thus, an in-person sales meeting that happens today is not likely to be persuasive to them. By the time they do need the product, they will have forgotten the meeting. But a long-term drip campaign will keep them constantly aware of your offering. You can ensure that they know its value when they are finally ready to make a purchase.
In-person sales were once the gold standard of lead conversion. They may still be, in many verticals.
With everything considered, though, they are less effective than you may think in the tech industry. The geographically dispersed locations of technical buyers, their desire for a sales experience that feels organic and self-directed, the slow pace of their buyer’s journeys and their desire to see products at work before they buy, all mean that technical content is often a more effective – and certainly more cost-efficient – sales tool than face-to-face pitches or demos.