Why you need to understand the buyers journey
Each and every customer arrives at the decision to partner with your company in a different way. Technology and digital media play a more significant role in the process, which means you may need to reassess your B2B marketing strategy to emphasize the things buyers care about most. Before you make improvements to your communication efforts, you need to have a stronger understanding of the buyers’ journey. What are the pain points that customers need to alleviate? How do they discover your products or services? What factors do they weigh when selecting a vendor? All of this information is crucial for making lasting personal connections with buyers.
Knowing how buyers move through the sales cycle can define your marketing and Internet lead generation efforts, as well as help your sales team approach contacts in an appropriate way. Maintaining an internal framework of the buyer’s journey enables sales representatives to keep up with leads, even during the initial research phase. Many B2B professionals are aware that 60 percent of the buyer’s journey takes place before he or she ever reaches out to a salesperson, according to an infographic from Salesforce and Pardot. In the past, sales reps were responsible for sending potential clients information and personally nurturing them through the buying cycle. Currently, customers prefer to conduct independent research. Companies need sophisticated tools to track movement through this process and make connections with buyers at an earlier time.
Know the different stages buyers take
Each B2B company has to contend with a different sales cycle, and separate customer segments may take a slightly different path. However, there are some general steps most clients take:
- Awareness: This is the time when buyers realize they have unmet needs within their organization. At this early stage of the journey, they most likely are not aware of your company or its product offerings. Once customers have identified their pain points, they will begin the research process. One of the best ways to connect with leads at this time is to provide content marketing resources. Blogs and other articles shouldn’t be branded; they should speak to the issues buyers are facing within their organizations on a daily basis.
- Consideration: During this phase, buyers have consumed enough content to have narrowed their selections down to a handful of vendors. They will then perform more in-depth research to find more information about the specific features of a provider’s solution. At this point, leads may reach out to your sales team for more information.
- Selection: After comparing all the options, buyers need to seek approval from executives and secure a budget. The speed of implementation and its costs can influence the final decision. Content should speak to executives rather than mid-level employees. This is the time when your sales reps need to play up the particular attributes and advantages of your brand. In addition to your sales team, customer testimonials can be beneficial at this point.
How to connect with buyers in different stages of the journey
According to IDC’s “Take the Buyer’s Journey — On the Shoulders of the Buyer” report, most B2B organizations take the different steps directly from their customer relationship management platforms based on the steps that sales reps take to close deals. However, this may not be the most accurate approach. In order to build lasting relationships with buyers, your sales team needs to dig a little deeper and gain better insights into customers’ motivations. Because of these challenges, your organization may benefit from an online marketing system.
Research has indicated that more than half of the buyers’ journey takes place behind the scenes, meaning customers will have already formed a firm opinion about their options before they ever reach out to a sales rep. Prospects hold more power than ever before, which can challenge even the most seasoned sales professionals. Marketing automation can help organizations adapt to these new developments in the industry. For example, these tools can provide more data on how leads are interacting with content on your website. Returning visitors may be an indication that buyers are seriously considering your product offerings in their decision-making process.
Access to information has permanently changed buyer behavior, and companies need to update their marketing efforts to keep pace with this major shift. Marketing automation can help your sales team score leads as they enter the revenue funnel. In addition, these platforms make it easy to nurture prospects through the sales cycle. Making more personal connections with leads earlier in the process can establish your brand and product offerings firmly at the top of mind for prospects. Marketing automation helps sales reps gather data on leads’ behaviors and activities, which allows them to refine their approaches to individuals. With the right content on your website and tools that enable you to never miss important actions, you can build more meaningful relationships with prospects and close more deals.