Power to the Buyer! The game has changed.
Think about the last time you wanted to buy some big ticket item – one that you didn’t know very much about, like a dishwasher or car. Did you head right out to an appliance store or dealership and find the closest salesperson to tell you which one to buy? Maybe, but most likely not.
You probably started the info gathering process by Googling for comparisons and reviews and connecting with people on social media to get their recommendations.
When it comes to the purchase process, whether it’s B2C or B2B, the modern buyer is in the driver’s seat. The sales dept is playing a much smaller role through the process. However, a good sales team can ride shotgun by stepping in at the right time to help craft a solution that actually addresses the buyer’s real desire. That said, an average sales team has become a back seat driver, barking directions nobody wants to hear.
Customers are doing more of their pre-purchase research.
A study developed in partnership by CEB/Gartner and Google found “The average customer is more than halfway through the purchase decision-making process before engaging a supplier sales rep. At the upper limit that number runs as high as 70%”.
These numbers become even more relevant if your product or service involves a long sales cycle, where a lot of information is needed to help educate potential buyers about the features and benefits.
These potential buyers are on a journey from knowing very little about your stuff to knowing a lot and ready to making a decision. One size fits all may work with stocking caps, but does not work with marketing.
So the question you need to ask is “Are we sharing the right content at the right time for the right person during each stage of the buyer’s journey?
Attract, convert, close and delight buyers through the marketing funnel.
The buyer’s journey is the process of a potential customer who is unaware of what you have to offer to becoming a customer. In most circumstances, a marketing funnel can be based on three stages of the buyer’s journey.
Top of the Funnel: The “awareness” stage is where people begin looking for answers to solve a problem or fulfill a desire. They generally start the process using a search engine, or through social media, or a recommendation from one of your existing customers who has become a fan. People in this stage are looking for answers, resources, research data, opinions, and insight. Offering them valuable content to help educate and point them to a real solution can bring them further into the funnel toward the Evaluation Stage.
Middle of the Funnel: The evaluation or “consideration” stage is where people now know they have a problem they want to solve and are doing heavy research on whether or not your product or service is a good fit for them. This is the time to offer them all the reasons why your solution is a better fit than anyone else’s. Show them some detailed solutions, like white papers, case studies, and webinars, which give them confidence in your product or service. Once you have their confidence, it’s an easy step into the Decision or Purchase Stage.
Bottom of the Funnel: The “decision” stage is where evaluators are ready to buy a solution. They have narrowed down a few options to compare. They are now trying to figure out exactly what it would take to commit to your product or service. This is a good place to give them that last nudge towards a purchase. Offering hands-on solutions, like demos or trials, can give the customer the trust, assurance and personal connection that your solution will be the best fit for them. The right offer and compelling content during this final stage can make your conversions soar.