With complex and highly considered purchases, the B2B buyer’s journey is anything but straightforward. Buyers are cautious and understandably so. These purchases typically come with high price tags and if the wrong decision is made, the buyer’s job may be on the line.
So, in that environment, it's up to the sales team to make sure the buying process isn't intimidating or confusing. A great sales team will put the buyer at ease and make it simple for the buyer to say "yes."
How do you become a great sales team? Well, that's a question we all have. In this article, I'll give you five approaches to systematically improving the buyer's journey, both organizationally and in marketing strategy. We'll start with a comprehensive look at how marketing and sales work together and move into steps that sales can take to foster a more straightforward, encouraging journey for B2B buyers.
You Need Marketing & Sales Alignment
Marketing and sales alignment is a must, considering relevant and helpful content is at the core of today’s buyer journey. Demand Gen’s 2014 B2B Buyer Behavior Survey reports that:
- The majority of buyers agree that their winning vendor delivered a better mix of content appropriate for each stage of the purchasing process, and
- An overwhelming majority (82%) of senior executives say that content was a significant driver of their buying decisions.
A well-thought out and deliberate plan from marketing and sales for providing this content should be present at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Awareness stage: In the awareness stage, the buyer starts researching to solve for a particular need. Blog posts and eBooks are great examples of content appropriate when the buyer is in the awareness phase.
Consideration stage: Once in the consideration stage, the buyer has discovered possible solutions and is evaluating which may be best for him. Expert white papers, step-by-step guides, videos, and webcasts would be relevant in this stage.
Decision stage: Lastly, the buyer narrows down the choice of vendors to a short list, ready to engage with a salesperson to make his final decision. Vendor comparisons and case studies are content examples that are most helpful when the buyer is choosing the right vendor.
Let’s consider a packaging equipment manufacturer’s target buyer that is currently researching embossing solutions for a new tissue product. The following slide share walks through how the helpful content in each stage of this journey simplifies the buyer’s process while simultaneously building confidence in your brand and company.
Maintain Relevancy After the Handoff to Sales
With marketing's intense focus on providing relevant information during the buyer's research phase, the sales team faces high expectations from prospects. The same level of relevance will be expected once the buyer engages in live interaction with a salesperson, so it's critical they know their stuff. Effective automation and use of CRM will provide a salesperson with information obtained from the buyer during the research phase, including the buyer's interests, challenges, timeline, role, etc.
Using the information you have can help shorten the sales cycle and maintain consistency with your brand’s approach to relevancy.
Help Your Buyer Prove ROI
If you haven’t mastered the process of articulating ROI for your products and services, you are not prepared to speak your customer’s language. According to Demand Gen’s B2B Buyer Behavior Survey, 51% of buyers conducted a more detailed ROI analysis before making a final decision, compared to 30% in 2012. Master a model for proving ROI for your buyers and include it as a necessary step in your sales process.
Incorporate Helpful Tools Into Your Sales Process
A tool designed to show ROI for your buyer is just one piece of your sales content library. With highly considered purchases, the complexities of the sale often come with challenging questions and needs from your buyers. Anticipate these questions and be prepared with tools that help salespeople and buyers alike work through them with confidence. Presentations, assessments, checklists, calculators, FAQs, etc., are all great additions to your library of sales content that can simplify the seller's and the buyer's experience.
It goes without saying that quick response time to inquiries and proposals is a must. At least 76% of those surveyed in the above mentioned Demand Gen B2B survey believed a timely response from the vendor was important when making buying decisions. Set expectations for sales turn-around times and have the right tools in your CRM in place to enable the sales team to delight your buyers with quick replies.
Simplifying the sales process can mean the difference between winning and losing the sale in the B2B world, especially when it comes to highly considered and complex purchases. Having the right process and tools in place can have signicant impact on your closing ratios, turning leads into delighted customers.