With the web now driving the majority leads and prospect engagement, BtoB organizations are presented with a unique opportunity to rethink selling processes to match the new patterns of buyer research, behavior and decision-making. With that said, marketers must implement more creative ways to guide buyers through a structured process, built on the careful selection of topics and timing to nurture the need for self-directed discovery, rather than ineffective push techniques.
Presented by ClickZ and Online Marketing Connect, The Online Marketing Summit (OMS) Regional & International Conference Tour, July 12 in Jersey City, NJ, explored buyer 2.0 and the increasingly larger role of the web in the buying journey.
Eloqua CTO Steve Woods delivered a luncheon keynote presentation on the next generation of selling, and how to implement guided selling processes across the organization. Woods pointed out that the information that sales reps once relied on during a sales call is no longer viable, because sales is not getting that one-on-one time with prospects to understand the prominent pain points.
“Buyers discover information that’s relevant to them in three ways: active; passive and influenced,” he said. “We need to start looking at the paths that we undertake during this line of discovery.”
He also referenced industry data, which found that 80% of business decision makers said the amount of time they spend with sales reps has decreased, which Woods said is a direct result of an empowered buyer that can access information easily.
As Woods notes in his newly released “Revenue Engine,” book: “We know must recognize that buyers are in near-total control of their own buying process and the information those buying processes require. We can look to guide, influence and facilitate those buying processes, but we can no longer force them to happen or create them.”
Because sales progression has become all about the buyer, Woods pointed out that BtoB organizations are challenged to develop processes that increase behavioral visibility, including where prospects go to discover information, or whether they were influenced by other messaging.
“When you have disciplines that are complex, and the ability to instrument the process, and measure it as an overall system, you are able to beat the competition at their own game,” Woods noted.
To implement an effective prospect-centric process, Woods advised marketers to ask themselves:
- How do buyers learn?
- Are we present there?
- When do they need our help?
- Where can we improve?
Woods noted that by segmenting prospects based on key, BtoB organizations can better prioritize for follow up. For organizations struggling with lead flow, Woods pointed out this can be either a follow up issue or a quality issue. Sales teams can be doing their jobs effectively, but if they are messaging to unqualified or cold leads, it may be time to assess the quality of those leads to ensure they are prospective buyers of your business services or products.
“It’s complicated, complex process” Woods said. “It’s our job as marketers and salespeople to have some sort of management around these overall processes. If you measure and treat it as a system, you can measure all aspects of quality.”