The changing face of the B2B buyer – and the changing place of B2B sales
Sorry to break the bad news: the B2B customer has changed
They no longer look to sales for information, advice and hand-holding. In fact, they delay almost indefinitely contact with you.
Don’t worry: you haven’t done anything wrong. But do take note: when your customer has changed you have to change too.
This is how it used to be
Sales and marketing used to sit and work separately.
The marketing department generated leads for sales, sales dev teams would then qualify these before they were passed on to the sales team to convert.
And this is how it is now
Things won’t work like this anymore because buyer behaviour has changed so radically.
In many ways, the buyer is now in control and driving the relationship.
They are researching independently online, reviewing socially and information sharing or information gathering across digital networks. What’s more they are mobile and empowered with easy access to both information, influencers and peers.
They may be in your sales funnel but they are not looking for any sales input, at all. Just yet.
- In fact, according to Marketo, at least 50% of the leads in any sales funnel are nowhere near being ready to buy.
- And research from Aberdeen tells us that modern B2B prospects receive an average of ten marketing ‘touches’ from the time they enter the funnel to the time they become a customer.
- What’s more, other studies have found that 90% of the buying process is over before a salesperson talks to a lead.
The new sales and marketing reality
The new reality must be that sales and marketing are continuously integrated and aligned throughout the lifecycle of a lead and customer. There are no longer those clear-cut handover points.
Here’s how Marketo has visualised the new buying funnel:
- Marketing needs to understand more about sales
- Sales needs to understand more about marketing
- And both need to play catch-up in understanding exactly where their customers are at
No end of studies have found that sales and marketing departments who are aligned are the ones that succeed.
We’ll fill you in a lot more about this in our next post, but for now here’s just one research finding from Sirius Decisions.
B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieve:
24% faster growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three-year period.
What tactics suit the new reality?
Marketing and sales need to work together to equip sales with visibility online – this is largely what the turn to social selling has been about and an area where direct engagement from sales and coordinated content campaigns can help centre organisations where their buyers are.
But it is also worth pointing out that the terms of engagement have also very much changed. It is no longer about hard sales but about facilitating and joining in conversation to help, inform and educate.
After all, this is the age of the customer, no longer the age of the seller.
And those who will win, will be those who help people make a decision and explore their options, rather than those who still use those old-fashioned blunt sales tactics.