What Does a Modern Prospect Journey Look Like?
September 5, 2019 | Kirsten Lyons
If you’ve been around the B2B blogosphere in recent years, you’re probably aware that B2B marketers and salespeople have been thinking about how to contend with an evolving B2B buying process. Statistics from myriad sources warn that B2B buyers spend only a fraction of the time they used to interacting with sales, which has forced marketing and sales teams to rethink their approach.
We know that the B2B buying process has evolved, and that buyers only spend about 17% of their time meeting with potential suppliers. That means 93% of the time, they’re likely not actively engaging with you…
But instead of getting left hanging on the engagement high five, marketers can work to understand our buyers’ new journeys, and adapt to meet them.
So what are modern B2B buyers actually up to while they’re not meeting you? Explore the major components of a B2B buying process (and see how marketers can adapt).
Meet with their buying committees
The expansion of B2B buying committees has been a major driver of changes in how buying decisions get made. Gartner reports that individual prospects spend 22% of their time meeting with their buying committees. That means prospects are engaged in a collaborative process where consensus has to be reached. And that might not be an easy task, as buying committees commonly include upwards of 6-10 members today.
Marketer’s takeaway: Create content that supports champions within the buying process. When contending with increasingly large buying committees, marketers need to make sure that they create content that speaks to the perspectives and unique pain points felt by the diverse members. Marketers also need to create content that engages brand champions and enables them to easily advocate for your solution.
Get personal recommendations
B2B buyers have been inundated by an explosion of content, increasingly invasive advertising techniques, and as a result have developed finely tuned B.S. meters. Today’s buyers value recommendations from real people within their network most, and that understanding has expanded to those they have digital relationships with on social media. Millennial buyers—who are taking their seats on B2B buying committees—are no different, and even report that a sense of authenticity from a vendor is more important than specific product features.
Marketer’s takeaway: Aside from nurturing customer advocates who can help build grassroots support for your product naturally, marketers can also work to humanize their brands. Create content that shows who you are, and make sure your prospects get the chance to know your company through your content and marketing activities.
Do independent research
The largest portion of B2B buyers’ time (45%) is dedicated to doing independent research. In the past, a skilled salesperson could work with buyers to lead them down the funnel, spoon-feeding product benefits and tailoring next steps for a particular account. However, because today’s buyers prefer not to engage with sales until much later in the process, much more of the buyer’s journey is already complete by the time they do engage, often leaving sales playing catch up.
Marketer’s takeaway: Because so much of the buying journey is conducted independently, your content and marketing activities needs to work overtime—for your prospects, AND for your team. Content needs to make your story and product accessible to prospects to remove barriers to choosing your solution over your competition. But your marketing efforts also have to be able to effectively qualify prospects so that your sales team isn’t scrambling on basic qualifying information when prospects are already familiar with your solution upon an initial conversation.
Today’s buyers have changed, and marketers and salespeople alike have been forced to adapt. But marketers can successfully meet the evolving needs of their prospects by understanding what a modern prospect journey looks like, and shifting their efforts to better fit into that process. To learn more about how marketers can learn to adapt to today’s buyers, check out our recent research report on the state of demand generation.