How to Generate Leads with White Papers

What’s the difference between selling $900,000 business software and a $0.99 iPhone App? One requires getting the attention of an executive in a company…

While the other requires a few taps of your fingers. If you’re in the business of selling complex, high price products and services – aircraft, enterprise technology, consulting to name a few – traditional, consumer oriented sales strategies will not work.

Ever wondered why? Let’s take you inside the buying process at a multi-billion dollar company. This example is based on a real bank that spends over $9 billion per year on suppliers and vendors of all kinds including multi-million dollar purchases with professional services firms and technology companies. This is how you generate leads with white papers.

Inside The Corporate Buying Process.
As a sales representation visiting Big Bank Inc, what’s the first thing you try? You might try looking up a prospect on LinkedIn and sending them a cold email (or call).

Unless you’re unusually well informed, you’ll probably get nowhere. Even worse, you might be told something like “Visit the procurement website: that’s where all our major purchases are done.”

You take the feedback in stride and check out the procurement website. Before you know it, you’re knee deep in “RFPs” (requests for proposals) that have endless requirements.

Big Bank Inc has eight people work on each procurement decision – a purchasing specialist, a technical subject matter expert, the end business user and more. With this kind of committee style buying process, you can expect to wait weeks or months to close a deal.

Why do companies –your potential buyers – have these complicated procedures? Why wouldn’t they just let you in to present your product?

It all comes down to one word: risk. In the corporate world, everyone is SCARED of killing their career by buying a million dollar software system only to have it fail. A procurement failure like that could set back your buyer`s career by years. Fortunately, you can soothe their fears by using white papers in your sales process.

The White Paper Solution.
How do white papers open new doors for complex sales? Let’s quickly define our terms. “A white paper is a persuasive document that usually describes problems and how to solve them.

The white paper is a crossbreed of a magazine article and a brochure. It takes the objective and educational approach of an article and weaves in persuasive corporate messages.” (from “Writing White Papers” by Michael A. Stelzner)

According to Stelzner’s research, over 80% of executives report that white papers are extremely helpful or helpful. Even more important – over half of executives state that white papers influence their buying decisions. White papers are highly popular and most heavily used in the technology sector.

However, they can be used in other areas where buyers are making complex or large budget decisions. In contrast to a presentation or visit from a sales representative, most prospects view white papers as non-threatening. If you’re tired of getting told no when you ask for an appointment, consider offering a white paper to your prospects instead.

2 Reasons To Market Your Business with White Papers.
Before you commission a white paper for your business, consider the following.

1) White Papers put Technical Stakeholders At Ease: Without a robust white paper, your sales effort may be defeated by the fear, uncertainty and doubt of a technical stakeholder.

2) White papers go where your sales team can’t: Getting your foot in the door at a large company is difficult. Assistants are told to keep away sales people like you. How do you get through the gate keepers? You need an insider to help you. When your white paper is read by one person inside a company, it may be shared to others. That peer recommendation opens new doors that would be difficult to open any other way. For this process to work, your white paper has to deliver highly valuable industry information and a subtle sales message.