13th Oct, 2020
Marcom, , Designation
In the last part of this B2B Buyer-Seller evolution series, we talked about the makeover which the B2B buyer has undergone and the changing dynamics which now rule the world of sales. Here, let’s dissect the other important character of the story – the evolved B2B seller.
While the world of sales has changed significantly in the last few years, courtesy technology and alterations in human needs and behaviour, the seller has skilfully managed to transform itself to be able to adjust to the shifted scenario.
A Closer Look
We saw how the selling stages are now aligned with the various stages of the buyer’s journey. Now, let’s dig deeper into all those stages of the sellers’ journey.
Awareness Stage of the buyer’s journey – Engagement cum Education Stage for a marketer
- At the buyer’s end, the gap or the need for a product/service is identified and the buyer is seeking for resolution and therefore,
- It makes the moment perfect to jump into the scene and claim attention as being the expert problem solver for the specific kinds of pain points.
A hint of buyer-education also begins towards the end of this stage after the initial communication has been set up, i.e. after the successful engagement of buyer’s attention.
Multi-Party Consideration Stage of the buyer’s journey – Education + Evaluation for a marketer
- Buyer is actively sieving information spots – internet, peer-referrals, past vendor experiences etc. to list down a few potential partners he wants to connect with, for his requirement.
- A seller makes the cut with its relevant and differentiating content which conveys to the buyer his expertise and value-addition.
- Educating the buyer with the right outreach confirms to him about seller’s domain knowledge and gives the seller the gate pass to continue alongside the buyer in his journey.
With hundreds of service providers out there, this becomes a critical place for any seller to provide the most contending content and grab the attention.
Preference Stage of the buyer’s journey – Justification Stage for a marketer
- It’s like an elimination round where the one who gets the right eyeballs, gets to the next round otherwise it’s the end of the road.
- The outreach – through various forms of communication, now aims at justifying why one is better than the other and what makes them the best fit for the job.
Purchase Stage of the buyer’s journey- Purchase + Adoption for the marketer
- It’s the action time, or the time for the delivery of the value propositions promised in the beginning.
- A successful implementation gives the seller a gate pass to the next level of this association.
Post-Purchase Stage of the buyer’s journey – Retention + Expansion + Advocacy for the marketer
- A good post-sales service translates into the possibility of upselling or cross selling – thus, extended and expanded association.
- If the expansion phase meets with a success, the opportunity is ripe to convert the customer into a brandvocate by asking them for referrals.
The quality of post-sales service or support defines whether the association will continue to thrive, or will it be an approaching ‘goodbye’ from the buyer’s end.
Regarding customer testimonials also, the real hiccup for many sellers lie in the fact that they never ask for one. Studies show that 91% of customers are happy to give referrals but only 11% ask for them.
New Ammos for the Redefined Journey
A redefined path translates into a revamped sales strategy – a one which comprises of innovative approaches. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the old tactics have become redundant in entirety, rather, they could still be leveraged effectively after some alteration in terms of their suitability for each stage.
Diving in deeper, let’s re-look at the seller journey in terms of segments and then map the relevant tools and techniques against each segment or phase.
Engagement and Education Phase
In this segment, it is about meeting the buyer’s need for information in a manner which is superior and faster than the competitor.
- Starting from the website – relevant yet concise plus SEO optimised content.
- Then after, the multi-format content repository comprising balanced set of pieces for features and benefits both.
- Edu(cative)-(enter)taining content such as visually appealing infographics, social media messaging, blogs, videos, etc. to tap into the mindshare of the buyer while he’s on the lookout.
- Leveraging the new-found attention with elements like email marketing (educative email series, newsletters etc.) etc.
- Intelligent use of PPC by carefully crafting search campaigns, leveraging google display network, using remarketing tools targeting the visitors who didn’t go beyond a certain limit.
Evaluation and Justification Phase
By this time, a number of vendors would have got into the interest-span of the buyer. But the mass-level scrutiny happens at this stage where the buyer maps his precise requirements with the exact offerings.
Any type of spamming or desperate behaviour can translate into ousting from the race at this time.
- Webinars, whitepapers, eBooks, analyst reports etc. convey your niche in the space.
- Case studies, testimonials, online reviews, press coverage etc. corroborates your claims in an influencing manner.
- Demos, free trials, vendor comparison etc. allows the buyer to feel confident in preferring one over the other.
- Provision of tools like ROI calculator, data sheets, etc. backs up the features-benefit promises with data/ numbers.
Purchase, Adoption, Retention, Expansion and Advocacy Phase
Post the purchase, the stakes suddenly become higher because while there’s pressure to sustain the performance, it is expected that one also ‘wows’ the buyer turned customer, by offering things beyond the regular.
- Stocked with apt content, activities like live trainings, kick-off events, user guides etc. validates their decision of choosing you over the others.
- Content aiding the continuous learning, checking for feedback, and most essentially – personal reach-out – through a call or mail, makes all the difference between a seller who holds their account or a seller who cares for their growth.
- Newsletters and releases about all the new developments to remain active in the customer’s mind.
In a nutshell, the complete journey can be graphically denoted in the following manner:
New Sales Funnel
With the revamp of the buyer and seller journey, the sales funnel had to undergo its due makeover.
Earlier in the sales funnel, the seller’s job was straight-forward – to provide the initial fuel in terms of content and focus their energies on top of the funnel, with rest of the process following up organically up till closure.
The new era demands seller to put significant effort in each segment of this funnel right from the database strategy to content to each stage of the funnel and all the way up to closure and beyond, because each step has now become like an elimination round in the sales game.
Apart from the maturing of content marketing, which is a critical cog for the entire journey, technology has indeed transformed the way buyers, marketers and salespeople interact.
Be it AI leverage for understanding the audience and tailoring personalised content or marketing automation for freeing up more time for intelligent and personal connect with the buyer, B2B landscape stands revamped with the tech backdrop.
An idea into what’s unfolding in the sales space:
- 39% marketers use AI for audience targeting
- 74% of CRM software users get improved access to customer data
- 80% of marketing automation users see an increase in the number of leads
- Real-time emails get 10X the engagement
- Companies with omni-channel customer engagement strategies retain on average 89% of their customers
- 88% of B2B professionals acknowledged that predictive lead scoring is driving significant value creation
- 60% of B2B professionals have adopted a content personalization strategy
Sellers Can Still Rule the Game
While the whole sales game has become buyer-driven today, seller holds the power to influence this smart race.
Maintaining responsiveness and transparency without letting go of the attraction quotient – fairing through competitive analysis – consistently enhancing deliverables to turn customers into your advocates. It may sound like a lot but with apt technology integration and right support along with sound strategy, it’s a code which can be cracked.
What has been your experience with the new-age buyer, what all outreach route modifications you did to reach the modern buyer – do share with us in the comments section below.