October 31, 2019
The “old way of sales” for B2B on its way out—prospect, cold call, email repeatedly, hiding pricing info, and pressure to close. If you don’t believe me, consider this statistic:
The vast majority of B2B buyers do research online before they contact a company and are 57% of the way through the marketing funnel before they talk to a sales rep. – Forbes
Thanks to more information available for buyers, the sales process is rapidly changing. Buyers are taking more of the research into their own hands. The web has unlocked new avenues for research and discovery. So sales reps must align to marketing teams and be present for the widening (and largely digital) B2B customer journey.
Sales teams can be successful by understanding these stages and being helpful first. Studying the three customer journey stages will help teams attract and convert more leads; no cold calls required.
Only 19% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson during the Awareness stage of their buying process, when they're first learning about the product. - HubSpot
This means that the majority of buyers would prefer not to hear from a sales rep during this time. During the Awareness stage, buyers are researching their pain points to determine possible solutions. They are not researching vendors yet.
Content marketing is critical during this stage. Blog posts, eBooks, helpful guides and infographics can help buyers do research at their own pace, consuming things relevant to their pain points. Content is important, because you can offer it in exchange for information via forms on your website. This opens up a new lead generation channel for your sales team.
By nature of collecting more information earlier, Qualification is also critical to the new B2B sales process. Consider this:
At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. – Marc Wayshak
In the past, if a lead wasn’t qualified, the sales rep would politely end the call and move on to other leads. This meant time was wasted. But by capturing lead information in the Awareness stage, you can avoid spending valuable time on unqualified leads.
Before, sales reps would qualify leads on the phone by asking a series of questions. While this curiosity is still important for building rapport, your growth team can learn more about a prospect earlier in the process by asking progressive profiling questions digitally.
With this information, you can also tailor more relevant products and improve your sales angle.
42% of sales leaders say they struggle to establish urgency in the sales process, i.e. get a buyer to purchase now vs. later. – HubSpot
But it might not be that leads aren’t feeling urgency — they’re probably just in the Consideration stage of the B2B customer journey.
In the Consideration stage, leads are considering different solutions to their pain points. They’re not necessarily considering vendors; Some options could include hiring in-house, partnering, buying software, or becoming more efficient. You’ll stand out if you can speak clearly to these pain points and questions. So establish a value proposition that’s targeted to your buyers, and avoid being autobiographical.
“Nurturing” is important to the consideration stage: Your marketing team can establish drip campaigns to “tee up” new resources and information. This keeps you involved as the lead continues considering solutions.
You can also run remarketing campaigns to track your leads across their digital journey. Since most leads will search competitors (which involves them checking out platforms like LinkedIn and Google search), you will do well by advertising there to stay top of mind.
Also, keep in mind the format of your content:
Seven in 10 B2B buyers watch a video sometime during their buying process. – Think With Google
The more content you can create and distribute for the Consideration stage, the more relevant you will be. Try out video content like webinars, a podcast-style series, or even simple product and feature walkthroughs. Videos can be compelling even when they are low budget.
81% of non-C-suiters have a say in purchase decisions. – Think With Google
What does this say for sales teams? They must be able to speak to multiple decision-makers during the B2B sales process.
To do so, plot out target personas. Make sure you’re capturing different lead segments with your digital marketing: Run advertising campaigns to targeted audiences of both the c-suite and other roles. “Slice and dice” your content marketing to have different modular pieces that can be used for different personas.
Questions about your prospect's business pain points and objectives are closely tied to a won deal. – Gong
The more research you can do, the more you can be relevant to pain points and objectives/goals. Invest in messaging research to understand your target buyers before they ever reach your desk.
To be successful with your research, interview target, and existing leads, create a messaging map that can be used for your entire growth department, and run lean A/B tests with your ads and website. This research will help you tremendously from beginning to end of the B2B customer journey.
Forbes, “Build A Compelling B2B Customer Journey.”
HubSpot, “Sales Perception Survey 2016.”
Think With Google (With Millward Brown Digital) “The Changing Face of B2B Marketing”
Marc Wayshak, “Salespeople Perceptions and Top Performance Study 2018.”
Gong, “The 7 Best Discovery Call Tips for Sales You’ll Ever Read.”
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