Let’s face it: in today’s B2B landscape, the buyers call the shots. Buyers today are proactive, research their own options, and often include many decision makers rather than just one who can be wooed on a golf course or over dinner.
So, where does that leave the salesperson? To succeed, sales professionals must understand how the buyer’s journey has changed and unlock the advantages that data analytics and statistical modeling can offer.
The new buyer’s journey
The traditional buyer's journey can be summed up in three parts: awareness, consideration, and decision. Today’s buyer’s journey is no longer linear or product-specific. The new buyer’s journey is shaped by his or her quest for information. Thanks to the internet and smart devices, people have access to more information than ever before, which has changed the way they look for solutions to their problems.
Instead of contacting a sales executive, people are more likely to conduct their own research first. They are also turned off by pitches that repeat information they already know or are irrelevant. As a result, sales teams need to understand the unique needs of B2B customers, which may encompass a team of decision makers. They must identify where exactly individual buyers are on their journey, what the buyer already knows, and where sales and marketing can add value.
Enter advanced analytics. As generic and interruption-based advertising loses effectiveness, marketers and salespeople must find new ways to bring in leads and close deals. The smarter approach is for marketing to create materials the buyer is actively seeking out. This requires a close alignment between the marketing and sales teams to collect and act on data insights throughout and beyond the sales cycle.
Align sales with the buyer journey through insight
Understanding the buyer’s intent and needs is essential for building an ongoing relationship and driving repeat sales. So, how can sales organizations innovate to stay ahead of buyer expectations? It starts with placing the buyer’s unique requirements at the forefront of all that they do.
Here are a few steps to aligning siloed sales activities and processes with the key friction points in the buyer experience.
Populate the buyer journey with personas. Build a buyer-focused journey map that shows the key objectives, activities, and conversions that buyers engage in as they make a purchase.
For example, in B2B buyer acquisitions, the buyer’s journey will likely include various types of buyers who play different roles in the purchase decision. In this case, it is useful to include multiple buyer types or personas in the journey and show how and when each is involved in the overall purchase. Personas are also a helpful tool for organizing the different expectations, needs, and behaviors of your buyers to deliver the appropriate response.
Harness data to understand the buyer’s goals. Your buyers interact with your brand to fulfill specific wants, needs, or expectations, i.e., goals. A goal could be something specific, such as to get information about a certain product, or to explore options.
People leave a trail of behavioral information when they search websites, read an article on a company site, download content, or comment on a blog post. Computational models can capture relevant bits of information like this and piece it together with CRM data and other data systems to gain insight into the intent of a buyer.
These are just a few of the steps we recommend to leverage analytics for B2B sales. To learn more about how to sell in a buyer-empowered world, check out our e-book, “7 Steps to Integrate B2B Sales and Marketing With Data.”