An important marketing lesson I’ve learned is that when you have a B2B product that is highly complex or technical your customers may not actually realise or simply ignore the fact that they need what you’re offering.
The new Digital B2B Buyers Journey
Instead of focusing on your own needs to close a sale, focus on what is the buyer’s pain and what they are searching for to address.
Talk about the problem
Start conversations around your buyer’s plans, goals and challenges. What options do they have, what are the consequences if they fail?
With the Internet and the social media revolution, vendors are feeling the pressure to become more aligned with their buyer’s needs.
Today a B2B buyer does not have to rely solely on corporate sources. Product information is readily available online changing the B2B buyer-seller relationship, turning it upside down.
In today’s market, 67% of the buyers journey is now done digitally and B2B buyers will actively educate themselves and self-research before they make any decisions.
Buyers can be as much as 60% of the way along their decision making process before they have any direct contact with your company.
A complex buying journey
With so many touch points now in the B2B buying process the sales cycle has become longer and more complicated:
- Budgets are tighter
- Fear of making a bad decision
- Buyers have more options available
- More stakeholders involved so an increased level of complexity to get agreement
- Reaching a consensus is a challenge
- Customers want to interact differently
Typically if you have a product but it is not in demand it’s probably because it doesn’t solve a problem that enough people are looking to address. Pursuing a poor idea can use up resources and funding, as well as divert focus and energy.
So one of the first steps to building a successful product offering is knowing your customers.- You’ll need to be able to assess what their needs and problems are. And one of the most effective ways to do this is by creating B2B buyer personas.
So How Can You Attract & Convert Customers?
24/7 Digital Enablement
Digital empowerment has changed the way B2B buyers consume content, they are in control. Tuning out traditional outbound marketing activities. Distributing a message using content marketing is an impactful strategy.
Content helps to start conversations, listening to how buyers want to interact, their preferences and concerns. By using Inbound marketing you’ll be able to turn interest into trust.
Define Your B2B Buyer’s Journey.
To avoid building your sales process around your own needs, a business needs to understand and address the buyer’s pain.
Buyers don’t want to be prospected, nurtured or closed. These steps add zero value outside information that they can find themselves online.
So an important step for developing an inbound sales perspective is to define the buyer’s journey to be able to adapt to a more “buyer-centric” approach.
Formulating your buyer’s journey
A few simple questions to ask yourself when you are formulating a buyers journey are:
- Buyer Stage – at what stage is your prospective buyer at; Awareness, Consideration or Decision?
- What information needs do your prospects have and how are they researching the subject?
- For your particular type of buyer persona, do they have a preferred way to consume the content or interact with you?
- Who are the customers who tend to shy away from your products and services?
- Why do they do so? Is it confusion about the product itself and how it works?
- Did they have a negative experience previously? Do the issues your product is meant to solve simply make your customer uncomfortable?
Understanding who your customer is and how they behave can and should form the basis of your marketing and sales strategy.
Educate, Don’t Sell.
“Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t. Seth Godin
Focus on teaching buyers to recognise that they have a problem. And then help them understand the benefits of addressing those needs. Show them that what you are offering may be a possible solution.
The most successful salespeople are the ones who aren’t viewed as salespeople. They are recognised as subject matter experts and add value through educating.
Pursuing a prospect prematurely along the sales process will typically end in a missed opportunity. The buyer may not be ready or just not a good fit for your business.
Using the Buyer persona
Before you can identify those potential buyers, you need to define the ideal buyer profile which defines the buyers who are a good fit or not.
Defining your buyer personas is vital if you are to personalise the sales process for today’s empowered buyer.
By building a fuller, personalised picture of the customer and their journey, you will become more informed of their motivations. Insights on who your buyer is will enable you to predict their digital behaviour.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on multiple data sources. The data and information gathered is used to create a customer segmentation that shapes your content marketing.
How Can You Benefit From Inbound Marketing?
For a smaller business or may be a start-up, inbound marketing can help you create content, optimise it for search engines and distribute it.
The Inbound methodology attracts an audience by distributing content as a part of an ongoing conversation.
If you try to market to everyone, you waste both time and money and the most common reasons for failure is a lack of a market that needs and wants your solution.
Inbound marketing will help you find out what a buyer’s needs are, the challenges they face and how they are searching for advice.
Prospective buyers struggle with other factors that you may also need to take into consideration, for example:
- Limited specialist purchasing experience in your segment
- Focus may be on variables other that just growing profit
- Smaller companies may be put off starting a buying process because of the “unknown”
- Technology development moves fast, to such an extent that there may be a lack of experience or even references on how to implement a new system
- There can be a lack of awareness or understanding of what is needed internally to implement a system
- Compatibility with existing technology systems, software and its integration with new systems may make buyers nervous
To help you understand more about Inbound marketing and how it can help you match your solution to a customers problem, download our list of “101 reasons to use Inbound”.