Buyers now have access to better information in the market thanks to by social networks, online communities, technical forums, blogs, video, and other web 2.0 interactive technologies; enabling them to collaborate, share information, and empower themselves to the disadvantage of the vendors. This is causing a shift in market behavior to a more collaborative buying processes represented.
And it’s making things harder for vendors. Buyers are ignoring, filtering, shortening cycles, tuning out, banding together and doing everything they can to make things more efficient for themselves. Buyers are seeking peer-to-peer feedback, contextual application, and direct comparison prior to the purchase versus relying on the vendor to provide traditional linear sales experience; first broad based messaging from marketing, then sales qualification, and then apply context to their specific needs. They now want comparison, fit, value, risks, and recommendations from their peers in the market before vendor selection.
Across all BtoB markets, we are seeing a transformational buying process impact marketing, sales, business development, and customer care from the buyer’s perspective. This is also impacting when buyers want to engage with vendors. They’re tuning out your “solution” messaging. The traditional sales and marketing approaches to reaching buyers are becoming more expensive and less effective as a result. Companies that align themselves to the buyers perspective get better results. We are finding that if you always focus on the buyers’ perspective (it’s about them, not about us), the revenue and market leadership with which they reward you will justify this new means to that end.
Every industry we have researched and almost every senior Sales and Marketing Executives we have spoken with lately all agree that they are seeing anecdotal evidence, the symptoms, and quantifiable impact on their pipelines and of the fact traditional demand generation is getting diminishing returns, but what isn’t readily apparent is the underlying problem.
Trends are not traditional demand generations friendly:
- Lead generation is down
- Sales teams getting less qualified appointments
- People are opting out of traditional “awareness” activities; like conferences, tradeshows, PPC, and email marketing
- Half of leads are coming in later in their process with more defined requirements
- The other half of leads cycle longer without getting to decision
- Less opportunity to influence the sale
- Buyer more demanding with more competitive margin pressure
- Buyers less tolerant of customer service mistakes
- Buyers are doing more research on vendors references and reputations prior to contacting them
Think about your own buyer behavior in your last major purchase:
- Are you selling the way you would want to buy? Would you buy from you?
- How do you develop customer relationships, influence requirements, and drive sales if buyers are doing research and making buying decisions before your organization becomes aware and engaged?
- Are your company’s sales and marketing activities helping them make better buying decisions? Are you Buyer-Enabled?