As the co-owner of a B2B marketing firm, I'm about to say something that many in our industry might consider blasphemy: marketers are not in control of the buyer's journey.
Sales people aren't in charge, either.
The buyer is in control of the buyer's journey.
Let me repeat this...
The BUYER is in control of the buyer's journey. Not sales. Not marketing.
That wasn't the case thirty years ago—or even ten. But thanks to the vastness of the Internet and people's increasingly impressive search-savvy skill sets, today's buyers know how to buy better and smarter, even if the journey isn't always smooth due to things like...
- Multifaceted problems that the buyer is trying to find a solution for.
- Multiple decision makers needing info and the ability to provide input.
- Companies not making it easy for buyers to find the information they need, when they need it.
- Old-school approaches from marketing and sales people who want to "help" push buyers down a sales "funnel," but inevitably make the process more frustrating for buyers.
The "new" role of Marketing and Sales in the age of buyer enablement
In this new era we find ourselves in, our job as sales folks and marketers is simple: don't get in the buyer's damned way.
We shouldn't put up roadblocks or force buyers to come to a screeching halt because we want to wave demo request forms and lead nurturing emails and free guides in their virtual faces.
Instead, our focus should be on this: what can Marketing and Sales do together to enable buyers to move faster and with more confidence to buy from my company?
How today's buyers interact with Sales
I read an interesting statistic that the salesperson is typically the ninth point of contact in that particular prospect's journey. (Source: CSO Insight)
In other words, the buyer has interacted with eight other sources before even talking to a salesperson. It might be a referral source, it might be the company website, it might be a competitor's website, it might be an industry association, it might be a thread on Reddit. You get the idea. The point is this: the buyer has interacted, on average, with seven or eight other sources before even getting to the sales rep.
And what is the buyer doing during these "interactions" with other sources? Gathering intel—intel that often influences and pushes them in one direction. Again, ALL before ever talking to someone from Sales.
This is why Marketing and Sales—together—need to change their approach. Sales enablement and inbound marketing still have their place (when done right), but you're going to see that more and more marketing and sales initiatives need to be driven from a buyer-enablement mindset.
So, some questions to ask yourself:
- What are you doing to enable buyers to get answers to their questions?
- What are you doing to position your company as the go-to resource where buyers can get all of their questions answered?
- What are you doing so that when the buyer is interacting with these eight other sources, your company's name keeps bubbling up to the top?
Because here's the thing, and this isn't rocket science: If your company is the one that's consistently, generously, and reliably answering prospects' questions, then prospects (i.e., buyers) are going to naturally, organically keep coming to YOU.
You simply need to enable them to get there.
What does buyer enablement entail?
Effective buyer enablement involves...
- Reducing any and all friction the buyer typically encounters when they're searching for answers.
- Giving the buyer the right information when they want it—not at a time pre-determined by you.
- Offering the buyer multiple ways to engage with Sales when they are ready to do so. And I don't mean old-school phone calls, forms, and email. I DO mean texts, well-thought-out live chats, and effective social media.
- Giving Marketing and Sales teams the permission and resources to do things differently.
- Retraining Marketing and Sales to embrace this new approach and teaching them how to pivot depending on the buyer they're talking to.
Intrigued? Overwhelmed? Feel I'm onto something, but you need to digest it a little more?
I'll be back next week with a blog post that tackles some of the specific things you'll need to do when shifting your organization, particularly the Marketing and Sales teams, to a true buyer-enablement mindset.
Got questions? Don't hesitate to get in touch or leave a comment below.