B2B Never Sleeps

It’s Sunday. The day of rest.

However, somewhere, someone is looking for information about your products or services.

In fact, there is probably more than one person doing this.

That’s because the way people obtain and consume information has changed. Sunday is just another day in the quest to satisfy the thirst for information.

The good news is: people no longer have to wait for information. Information is always there, ready to be accessed and consumed.

The bad news is: you may never know that these people have sought you out on a Sunday. Or any day.

Information never rests. Nor does the hunt for it.

So, you can’t rest either.

Reality Check

Today, some people work all the time trying to solve their problems. Anytime. Or so we are told. The stress of jobs drives people outside the nine-to-five mindset. Just as problems do not follow a schedule, problem solving has followed the same pattern. Anytime. Anywhere.

But, how do we really know that this is really true – that people hunt for information all the time?

And if that is the case, what are we supposed to do about it?

A major B2B publisher has allowed our company to study these two questions for the last five years by monitoring visitors to his website using a reverse IP lookup code. While any publisher can do this, most do not. In fact, we don’t know anyone doing it this way except for this publisher. Why?

Monitoring and analyzing is expensive. In business, many are not prepared to make such an investment. If time is money, it’s not always readily apparent what the ROI of a time investment in this activity returns.

Also, people are most interested in quantity, not quality. Programmatic especially lures us into a deep sleep of clicks and hits, and we stop at a superficial understanding of what’s really going on.

However, when you do these deep dive analysis, the return on your investment is unduplicated knowledge of how people consume information, and how they obtain what they consume.

In the world of information, nothing is readily apparent without analysis. Including ROI.

In order to respond the first question, how do we know that people work all the time, we are sharing (with permission) a glimpse of what happened on this publisher’s website on just one Sunday in April. For the other question, what you should do about it, we’ll discuss at the end of this piece.

And by the way, something like this happens every Sunday. The “work week” is simply much more intense in their consumption. Only the names were changed to protect the innocent.

Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon

374 companies visited this B2B website, and consumed 581 pages. “That’s not much,” you might say, especially if you are used to hearing consumer statistics about websites. But remember, it’s Sunday. It’s a B2B website. More important, it’s not visits that are important (HITS are How Idiots Track Success); it’s how long they stay there!

According to Nielsen Normal Group, “The average page visit lasts a little less than a minute.”[1] On this publisher’s website in our study, the average time for a visitor is measured in hours and minutes, not seconds. How much is that extra time worth? What is the result of that time spent in terms of a sale? Worse, how do you determine the ROI on something like that when most people can’t even see it?

According to Nielsen Normal Group, visitors may bounce, but what’s more important is getting them to come back. “To determine whether your site is building a loyal audience, look at the frequency and recency of users’ site visits.[2]

While that’s a chapter for another blog, these companies visiting this website come back – repeatedly – even on Sunday.

One (of course there were more, but we are selecting one) of those companies visiting that day was privately owned. This company provides tooling products and services, and it consumed the most pages that day – which comprised 5% of the total pages consumed. The company was a manufacturer and designer of precision molds and other tooling in a variety of materials. The question is, of course, why are they visiting this website, which is a website with information on building products, facility maintenance, and property management? What has that got to do with precision molding and tooling?

Well, the answer is that all companies have buildings that need things. But that’s too easy.

The real answer can be found in examining the pages consumed.

These pages covered everything from building maintenance costs, life safety and security, money-saving products to an article about the world’s first powerhouse hotel in the Arctic Circle. They also read an article on how HVAC companies are attracting the next generation of workers, industry news and more.

That type of consumption suggests they are doing homework.

Homework is what most people do on B2B websites.

They consume information that will help them solve problems. In this case, the company had (like all buildings) maintenance issues, and the publisher serves up information on the topic that is high in SEO.

In fact, this particular company spent around three hours and 45 minutes in two separate sessions on the site that Sunday. People don’t have that kind of time to waste, suggesting this company is a primary target to sell products related to their searches! The question is, how would you know that since it’s not your website the company is visiting? The answer is in the second question, what do you do about it? For now, let’s examine a few more of these Sunday visitors.

A public company consumed 30 pages that Sunday. This company was a global biopharmaceutical organization with a mission to “discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases.” What are they doing spending such a long time (45 minutes) on this website on a Sunday?

Again, the answer is in the pages they consumed, everything from Solar Fabric Canopies: Energy-Generating Tenant Amenities, 6 Water Conservation Tips for Your Building, a wide range of facility maintenance and energy management topics, and an article entitled “8 Janitorial & Restrooms Money-Saving Products 2019.” In other words, this company has many buildings that need such products and services. These buildings are located in Asia, Europe, and North America. One of these facilities was first purchased in 1905 and is now a Research & Development facility on 105 acres. Another, in California, is a 256,000 square foot research facility housing biologics drug discovery activities. In other words, a prime target for people who sell everything from lighting to roofing to janitorial products.

Yet another company is a global leader in the HVAC industry. This company only spent three minutes on the website that Sunday, yet the consumption of pages is telling: they reviewed the products on the website’s Heating and Air Conditioning product page, looked at their own product’s listings, and then also looked at their competitors.

Homework.

Who would benefit from knowing this? How about the one competitor that they focused on and spent extra time reviewing? Or how about the 51 other companies that viewed that page since January, including universities, major manufacturers, a major property manager, an airline manufacturer, and more?

You see, in the study of the consumption of information, there is a wealth of opportunity that is exposed beyond the click and hit. It simply requires work not only to uncover it, but to pursue it.

Play It Again, Sam

One more example was a university that visited a couple of times that Sunday. In these sessions, they arrived in the morning and went to one page on the website covering ADA Restrooms, one of the most visited pages on the publisher’s site. But, they didn’t stay long; after all, it’s Sunday. However, they came back at 4:51 PM that afternoon and stayed a half hour to finish reading the article they have found that morning.

Now, because it’s a university, we have two conclusions, especially because of the amount of time spent on one article: 1)that it’s a student doing research or 2)it’s the facility manager doing homework. In both cases, there are opportunities for sellers of products and services related to ADA restrooms. If you doubt that, consider the following scenario when I conducted follow up on that visitor.

This university is undergoing major renovations valued at $100M project that involves the renovations of three buildings along with an addition of a new one valued at $50M. The “documents” are not available in one of the leading providers of such documents for security reasons no doubt (it’s a military university).

Nevertheless, in talking directly to the facility people, who we accessed through the office of the president, we found this renovation does include restrooms (what building doesn’t?). The facility manager wasn’t listed online anywhere, nor in the phone directory. So we called the Office of the President and had a ten minute conversation learning everything we needed to know.

It took overall 45 minutes for me to find this information. The time investment produced contacts at that university, including the director of facilities, who is not listed either on the website or LinkedIn. However, there’s a one hour video of a lecture he gave, where if you want to take the time to view it, will make a sales call and pitch guaranteed to get you an audience with him.  For in that video, he outlines his journey to becoming the facilities director — his career, with personal insights you would never uncover without investigation.

Here’s the problem: what sales person will spend this time finding, investigating and then preparing for the pitch to this director?

Unfortunately, not many. However, if this university WAS your target, and if you sold ADA restroom equipment, going through this discipline would virtually not only guarantee you an audience: you would most likely make this university a key account.

But, the central question is: why won’t sales people take the time to do this? And actually, that is really the second question: what are we supposed to do about it?

Sell, that’s what you should do about it

Part of the answer about what to do with knowledge of such consumption on Sunday (or any day) is to just do what sales people do: homework.  And then instead of going to the Sales Prevention Office, go out and sell something.

Many people expect instantaneous results. However, nothing is instantaneous about homework or a sale in B2B. Homework takes time, but doing it produces extraordinary results!

Another part of the answer on what to do about it can be found in a recent blog, “Why Doesn’t a Sales Force Follow Up on Leads.” In that piece we suggested excuses such as “too busy” or “questioning the source of the lead” or other reasons that don’t make sense, including “impossible to penetrate” are just that: excuses.

But, the fact is, Elmer G. Leterman in his great decades-old- book, “The Sale Begins When the Customer Says No,” said, “The confidence in yourself that comes from self-esteem but that must be balanced by a willingness to learn and a realization of how little you know, the science of convincing others of the benefits of your thinking can be learned.

Leterman recognized this important point: “A salesman must carry the discussion into the channels and paths that he desires, but in doing, he must allow the prospective buyer to feel that he is actually leading the talks. In short, the salesman is creating the emotional fabric in which belief can take place for the product to be sold.”

To create that “fabric” takes discipline and time – both of which seem to be a rarity these days.

In addition to these few examples for the Sunday B2B visitors, some of the categories that the 374 companies who visited that Sunday were from the following industries (to name a few):

  • Agriculture
  • Business Services
  • Colleges & Universities
  • Cultural Institutions
  • Electronics Manufacturing
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitals & Clinics, Healthcare
  • Media & Entertainment
  • Network Security Devices
  • Packaging & Container Manufacturing
  • Tobacco
  • Workers Compensation

The publisher’s website we have been discussing is www.buildings.com. It has superior SEO, which is because of its content. We don’t just “say that.” We have the proof in the studies we’ve conducted on how people consume information on it.

If you are interested in learning more, please contact us. Thank you for reading this, and see you some Sunday afternoon on YOUR website or ours! We’d love to hear from you!

[1] How Long Do Users Stay on Web Pages? by Jakob Nielsen on September 12, 2011.

[2] Optimize for Return Visits, not Bounce Rate by Aurora Harley on November 13, 2016.

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