I’ve always hated shopping. But when I wanted to buy a couple of shirts for an upcoming trip recently, I decided to walk into a retail store. Within seconds, an employee pounced on me and asked if I needed any help.

While I had already filtered myself to the point that I was there to buy shirts, I still wanted to do the research on my own. I wanted to see if they had my style and size. And when I was satisfied with my efforts, and only then, would I possibly ask for help.

Once I found a couple of shirts, my questions were pretty straightforward: “Where is the changing room?” and “Do you have a specific size in the store?” The reality is that I had all the information I needed. All I really needed from the clerk was answers to some pretty simple questions.

My B2C journey to the clothing store was motivated by my own lifestyle. There was little risk. If the shirt didn’t fit or look right, I only had myself to blame. Therefore, the purchase carried less pressure, and I felt free to make the mistake if it came to that.

Within the B2B world, it’s not quite as simple. Livelihood is at the core of our concerns and any mistakes could be catastrophic for us personally. So it makes sense that B2B buyers want to go through self-discovery. They are not eager to make the entire trip alone. They not only want people internally to help with the purchase decision, but they want a live seller who can be culpable for anything that goes wrong.

The cocoon we all occupy within our personal lives is very different than the one that encapsulates our business lives. When we buy as individuals, the purchase is considered a lifestyle choice. But when we buy in the business world, livelihood is the center of our motivation. In turn, within the B2B sale, three-quarters of the buying process is complete before any human interaction takes place.

The cocoon we all occupy within our personal lives is very different than the one that encapsulates our business lives.

In other words, the world doesn’t want you knocking on its door. Buyers don’t want meaningless emails. They don’t care about content, in any form, that’s simply trumpeted at them without conversation. So the challenge is not easy. We need to have real conversations and listen attentively, yet people don’t want intrusion. They want to find their way to you at their own pace.

Custom publishing, done the right way and with sincerity, gives them that opportunity.

B2B buyers don’t want us knocking on the door, but they certainly don’t want to be the only one on the hook. Safety and security are at the heart of the business purchase, and the process explicitly demonstrates those concerns. They will research on their own in the secure and private confines of their space before pulling others into support or validate the interest. And once the B2B committee signs on, the salesperson can enter the building and become an ally in sharing the burden.

So why we continue to use the Industrial Age engagement tool when the world doesn’t want it and doesn’t respond to it is beyond me. Technology has changed every aspect of business. It has even altered the specific manufacturing process. Why have we yet to alter the way we engage to correspond in the new age?

I had a salesperson tell me he still cold calls like crazy. Years ago, salespeople would say that with great pride, as if it was a badge of honor. But this salesperson told me he still does it because it provides immediate feedback and at least minor results. Sounds like a manufacturing plant that only wants to focus on buying new equipment because it’s tangible and it can see it run.

Livelihood is at the core of our concerns and any mistakes could be catastrophic for us personally. So it makes sense that B2B buyers want to go through self-discovery.

Everyone is involved in sales. We’re all trying to convince somebody about something. (Heck, I’m trying to convince you of the merits of custom publishing). But the most sophisticated people in our businesses are the ones who are ultimately going to be face to face with clients. They have to be an extension – an elevation – to the brand that was already uncovered by the buyer.

More importantly, salespeople are going to have a greater empathy for the client than ever before and develop that understanding without human interaction.

Enter the publishing process. It is a way to listen and allow your clients to find you. And when they do, they will be eager to find someone who makes them feel safe and secure.

Mark Potter

Mark Potter

CEO, Conduit, Inc.

Mark Potter is the CEO of Conduit Inc, a content marketing organization, which produces a variety of publications and community building programs including CANVAS Magazine. In addition, Mark is the author of the book, Egrets, Hockey Sticks, & Roller Skates and sits on the Electronic Document Scholarship Board.