A few years ago Forrester surveyed B2B buyers and most conduct 50% of their research online before making a purchase decision. And most will have formed a strong opinion before talking to B2B sales. These buyers are much more in control of their decision than a B2B marketing team or sales professional. Additionally, the decision-making process is fairly complex and non-linear – see this visualization by Forrester:
Figure: “Forrester – Myth Busting 101: Insights Into the B2B Buyer Journey” (link)
The key is that a successful and effective CRO or VP of Sales must intimately understand the buyer and their challenges. Then you must design an effective Sales Process which has the steps and stages that are mapped to the Buying Journey (for example, see Forrester – B2B Buyer Journey Mapping). In other words, you must sell the way that your buyers want to buy. Finally, you must train the sales team (and work work closely with your counterpart leader / VP of Marketing) to communicate all these details including the “MAP”: Market information and segments, Account types (aka ICP – Ideal Company Profile), and the Persona of target buyers (aka Target Buyer Persona or IBP – Ideal Buyer Profile). If you know your buyer, you will better understand their typical buying journey and how to effectively sell to them (i.e. help them achieve ROI and create value for the buyer by helping them solve their problems).
SiriusDecisions on the “Chaotic Buying Process” of the B2B Buyer
The complexity of the “B2B Buying Journey” today makes it too difficult to just rely on content alone to drive the Sales Pipeline for your sales team. Below is a chart from Gartner/CEB called illustrating the very complex and non-linear “chaotic buying process” of the B2B buyer. If it was all about content marketing, it would be very easy to generate qualified lead flow for the sales team. But again, the strategy is more complex and there are a lot more moving pieces involved than just writing some content.
Figure: Today’s B2B “Buying Journey” is Very Complex and Demand Gen Strategy is Therefore Complex
(Source: Gartner / CEB – 2017)
What else? What are some other thoughts on the complexity of the B2B Buying Journey and how it affects sales and marketing today?