The purchasing journeys in the B2B arena are getting more and more complex. Since customers behavior are changing, it is becoming increasingly unproductive to stick to old traditional linear sales processes that many sales organizations are forced to follow. Why? Because your customer simply does not behave that way anymore. And these behaviors do not fit in the traditional sales funnel thinking.
The changing behavior in the buying process are challenging for often long-standing behavior of many B2B sales organizations. It is clear that many companies fail in supporting this journey, and it is equally clear that the customers don't like this lack of support.
One of the underlying reasons is that information is readily available for everybody today in the digital world. Once your customers decide to contact your sales force, they already have informed themselves via available channels to the point that they only have a few final questions before taking the decision.
Many times, those questions mainly are meant to confirm the perception the buyers have of your company or product. Can they trust you as a supplier? They already perceive, or know, your product to be a good choice from comparative websites, forums, testimonials from colleagues, friends and family, etc.
So, what can you do now?
Well, first of all you need to refocus your efforts in marketing to be in line with your customers behavior, NOT your sales activities. You need to be able to support your customer with the information they need in the key phases of their decision-making process.
You need to abandon the importance of demographics in market segmentation. A research report from McKinsey show that it is much more important and useful to segment customers in structural, situational and behavior dimensions.
Your organization need to be set up to optimize your customers experience in the interaction with your company, your sales force and product(s). Sales and Marketing need to be aligned and collaborate around the key phases of the customers buying journey to ensure that the customer get the right information, at the right time, and in the way and format they want to consume the information.
The line between the traditional physical meeting and the digital information arena are merging and customers are moving between those more and more seamlessly as technology is developing. This require Sales and Marketing to work together. Marketing needs to respond to the customer’s needs, both short and long term. Sales need to understand that the customers sometimes are better informed than they are about your competitors.
All of this introduce different requirements on your communication process.
- Value Driven Communication
You need to express the key values in order to differentiate your offering from your competition. Your story need to be consistent over time and over different channels.
- Multiple Channels
The digital world of today offer a wide selections of communication channels. Customers are often not on the same channels so you need to master and communicate on many channels at the same time.
- Production process
The multiple channels, and the speed in which many of them communicate, require that you have a production process that can support that. Consistency is one key factor in communication today.
You need to follow up on how your communication is received by your customers, and optimize the customer experience. Respond to the buyer’s actions in the different phases of the buying process.
This can be an overwhelming task for many organizations. It might seem easy when you start planning your “new” communication and ambition levels are often high. Then reality hits and you start to fall behind in the content production. The consistency in your communication fails and your customers start losing interest. You risk that they have forgotten you once they are ready to make a purchase decision.
Start small and build as you learn more about your customers behavior.