Do whitepapers increase your sales?

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ITtoolbox found that 70% of IT professionals rely on whitepapers to make purchasing decisions and there is a great deal of evidence that whitepapers are relied on by most companies when beginning the purchasing process.
 
Whitepapers are informative and as such, they are sought after by prospects early in the sales cycle and can generate quality leads. This is supported by a recent KnowledgeStorm and SiriusDecisions study that concluded whitepapers were more valued by those at an early stage in the sales cycle—more so than free trials, analyst reports and webinars.
 
Peter Spande, director, TechRepublic.com recently said “Successful whitepaper marketing hinges almost exclusively on the quality of the whitepaper itself. Still many vendors expect great things from their whitepaper marketing efforts but give very little thought to the actual development and creation of the whitepapers used for these efforts”.
 
However, it is important to note that the quality of the whitepaper is vitally important. If the reader perceives the whitepaper is a thinly veiled sales brochure, they quickly become switched off and stop reading. Nonetheless, if the whitepaper contains quality research and information and avoids any reference to your company or sales for at least the first half of the paper, then trust is built and lead generation from the whitepaper increases greatly.
 
The type of content that works best is definitely educational and well researched. For example, talking about how overnight air transit can speed business transactions is much better than discussing the benefits of FedEx next-day services. Other educational content could include key market drivers, how the market has evolved over the last few years and what to look for in an ideal solution.
 
It is also important to stress that the whitepaper cannot be an isolated sales strategy but needs to be coupled with e-mail collection and follow-up, initially by automated e-mail but then by a phone call. If it is isolated and not part of an overall sales strategy, then it will not reach its full potential as a lead generator. Whitepapers can definitely help your sales, if properly constructed and used as part of a sales strategy.