Consensus-Building Content: Why You Need It and How to Create It
The B2B buying process is complicated and crowded with decision-makers. All those cooks in the kitchen can seriously slow down a deal.
Content can help push things along. In my recent blog about which marketing assets are valuable for relationship selling, I mentioned consensus-building content. Let’s dig a little deeper into what that is and how to create it.
Why do you need consensus-building content?
According to Gartner, 75% of buyers agree that their stakeholders tend to be diverse in terms of roles, teams, and locations. Those diverse stakeholders each bring their own concerns to the table.
It’s up to you to guide them all (or at least a majority of them) down a clear path to “yes.”
What is a consensus-building marketing asset?
Any asset that has the intended goal of getting to that “yes” is a consensus-building piece. It can be a guide, a one-pager, or even a slide deck.
A consensus-building piece can be overt in its purpose; for instance, you can create a white paper that addresses the decision-makers’ pain points one by one. It can even be broken into sections that address the stakeholders you target by title or department.
You can also create consensus-building content in the form of a tool that makes the decision-making process easier.
Let’s say you sell software that enables companies to track and monitor heavy equipment. Large companies with a big geographic footprint may not have an idea of how many pieces of equipment they have, or which categories their inventory falls into.
Without that information, they can’t make an informed decision about which specifications to look for in a software.
In this scenario, a collaborative spreadsheet that can be used to enable people from throughout the company to do a preliminary assessment of their inventory would be helpful.
For additional value, you could add columns where they can input data they may not think to collect, or build in formulas they can use to better understand their equipment portfolio.
Creating consensus-building content
Include sales from the beginning of the process
Your sales team will be the best resource for pain points and unexpected or surprising questions that come up in the sales process, and at what point they hear those concerns.
Get their input before you begin planning the piece. Without it you may invest your time and energy into a piece that doesn’t quite hit the right marks.
Plan your piece
Ask yourself where the piece will fall in the funnel. Are you trying to convince the group that they have a problem that needs solving, or that they need your specific solution?
A top- or mid-funnel piece may be better served by short-form or highly graphical content. For the bottom of the funnel, long-form pieces, like white papers are more appropriate.
The other element you want to consider is who will be consuming or using your content. Some stakeholders prefer data. Others are concerned with the human impact of your solution. And others are concerned with the ease of doing business with your company.
Typically, this information is captured in your personas. Use it to build an outline of what topics your piece will address.
Provide unbiased information
If you have your own proprietary research, that’s great. Use it. But assume that there will be skeptics in the group who will second-guess your data.
You need third-party validation of your claims. That may translate to:
Publicly available research from journalists, reputable firms, or industry associations
A case study that describes how a client with a similar group of stakeholders chose your solution
Reviews given by customers, industry analysts, or unbiased publications
Don’t expect a silver bullet
A consensus-building piece is an enablement tool. It won’t get the decision-making group over the finish line in one fell swoop.
It should simplify what, for them, can feel like a terribly complex decision-making process. They should walk away with answers to their individual questions or guidance on how to find those answers.
Ultimately, it’s another piece of the puzzle that builds your brand’s authority.