World cup fever is truly upon us with some big surprises being served up already – Spain’s 5-1 drubbing, Portugal’s 4-0 mauling at the hands of Germany, and England actually playing decent football (despite loosing to Italy). One thing that is no surprise is the amount of statistics the commentators have at their disposal – no matter what happens, they have a stat for it: longest goal of the world cup, fastest red card, most unpronounceable name. Stats provide interesting anecdotes and allow armchair experts like me to sound very knowledgeable on a given subject.
So I thought what’s the most quoted statistic in B2B marketing today? Amount of content created daily? Number of emails sent? No, it’s the one about the buying journey – almost 60% of a typical B2B buying journey is completed before customers even have a conversation with the supplier.
You’ve probably heard this stat time and time again in blogs and presentations. While this underlines the larger role for marketing to guide the buyer journey, it claims the customer has postponed the conversation with the sales rep by turning to the Internet, researching product features, comparing prices, and seeking independent reviews. But is this 60% stat really TRUE?
While that may or may not be true, a Forrester survey shows that customers still WANT to engage sales early on in the buying cycle. So why are they waiting ‘til the last minute to make contact? My conclusion: sales is unable to deliver what the buyer seeks – helpful information in a timely fashion. I believe there are two causes for this.
- Marketing is doing a poor job of putting intelligence in the hands of the sales rep. With a large share of the customer journey being digital, everything becomes trackable in real time. Is your marketing team providing you with the full story? Here’s an example from our website – if you download the Gartner SPM Magic Quadrant report (and you should), chances are you’ll get a call, we’ll want to see if we can help. But in this example, the report is so broad and covers so many different aspects of our solutions that simply having the knowledge you downloaded this report isn’t going to help much. But looking at what other pages you visited, how long you spent on them, what emails you opened, and what you’ve been doing on social media, will provide much more insight. So when the rep calls, they know with a good degree of certainty, where they should be focusing the conversation.
- Sales needs to be able to move the buyer forward. They have to know what to say and when to say it, presenting relevant case studies that allay customer concerns. Your reps must have sound knowledge not only about your products, but also know and understand the buyer’s industry, specific business challenges, and relate to the buyer’s role and responsibilities in their organization. For instance, say there’s an impending regulatory change in the insurance industry and your product can help organizations comply. Reps have to be able to convince buyers to adopt change, and adopt change with YOU.
To be fully prepared for an A player performance, you have to know what it is the buyer seeks and be able to match that to your offerings. It’s easier said than done however, and takes a team effort involving marketing, sales enablement, and of course sales. As for whether or not the statistic is true, you can find out next week. I’m delighted to be joined by Forrester’s Lori Wizdo where we will be looking at the B2B buyer journey in more detail. Don’t miss out!