The concept of a traditional buying funnel has been around since 1898, but reality is that today’s buying process is more circular.
“The typical funnel model is a very linear and volume-driven process, but in reality, the buying journey today is much more complex,” LeadMD’s Justin Gray told the audience of his Lead LifeCycle Series webinar, titled: Benchmarking The Buyer’s Journey. The series runs through July 25 and sessions are available on demand.
Gray added: “Today, buyers are traveling around the buying path and eventually some sort of trigger allows them to move deeper into the buying circle.”
Combining the linear and circular buying process provides the most accurate view of the buyer’s journey, Gray noted, as the modern buying journey is nearly continuous. “Buyers today are in a perpetual state of learning,” he said. “Even If you’ve already purchased a new piece of technology, you are still on the lookout for other things to make your life easier or make the sales team more efficient.”
Benchmarking is key to understanding how buyers are traveling through the sales cycle and what influences them at various stages of the process, Gray said. “Everyone wants to benchmark themselves against the competition, yet benchmarking is one of the biggest challenges we face. Strangely enough marketers overlook a main component in benchmarking: Talking to the buyer, finding out what they need and delivering it.”
Some statistics he shared:
- Only 22% of marketers use analytics to manage campaigns (Beagle Research Group);
- Only 38% of marketers have a single view of interactions with content across digital touch points (Forrester);
- Only 27% of B2B leads are sales-ready when first generated (MarketingSherpa); and
- 82% of marketers report being incented on lead volume (LeadMD).
Focusing on the “net new number” tends to lead marketers astray, Gray noted. “Marketing is focusing too much on generating net new names and creating net new awareness, that that they forget to focus on the rest of the buying experience. But in the new buying model, that is actually where the majority of interactions take place.”
However, marketers continue to be judged on how many new leads they generate, Gray said. “Marketers are incented solely on what they bring to the top of funnel, and the situation isn’t going to change until that changes. Stop focusing on quantity. Instead focus on quality and create the right content to impact buying decisions.”
B2B marketers also have to move beyond email to engage with prospects and clients, Gray noted. “You have to find out where your buyers are congregating. Many marketers are still relying on email to push out messages, but that’s not how prospects will engage with you in the future.”