Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2021-10-20
The B2B buying process is no longer a linear relay race, with different teams handing off the “baton” as the buyer moves through a narrow funnel. A recent Forrester article calls it an “adventure race.” And at times it can certainly feel like one.
“In adventure racing, teams navigate the course together and focus on maximizing the strengths of the individuals within the team,” says Forrester. The article identified three things all revenue organizations should do to get to a sale faster: align to optimize buying signals, create an integrated plan, and prepare and evolve throughout the journey.
Success in today’s B2B environment means the various teams need to be working together to support buyers on the buyers’ terms—and those terms have changed. To start, more buyers are conducting research on their own, which has been both a necessity because of the pandemic and also a convenience for buyers. Additionally, other Forrester reports have also pointed to the rise of group decision-making in the B2B market. A recent study showed 94% of respondents said they sell to groups of three or more individuals and 38% sell to groups of 10 or more.
From my experience, here are three shifts and the applicable tools B2B marketers can use to optimize the “adventure race” for both buyers and sellers.
The Forrester article points out how important it is to make efficient use of resources. Search engine queries, repeat website visits and content downloads are powerful signals that can indicate a prospect is in-market. This intent data can provide powerful insights, and when coupled with high-quality contact data, makes it possible to reach and target potential companies – who are in-market for your solutions -- at scale. Additionally you can use intent data to identify members of a buying group by tracking IP addresses mapped to the same company.
Intent monitoring can be very valuable in identifying new prospects. But it’s not uncommon for data silos to impede the exchange of this information or even the buying signals the company gathers on its own. Being efficient with resources means sharing all relevant information across teams, both the intent monitoring data from external sources, as well as the prospects’ actions and online behaviors on a company’s website or with its sales team.
Upwards of 83% of marketers believe omnichannel is as or more effective than traditional methods, according to McKinsey. As buyers move through the awareness stage, they’re often conducting their own research across multiple sources, including webinars, social media content, review sites, industry experts and peer recommendations. To keep progressing they need timely access to resources that will benefit them in their journey. Responding to a prospect’s engagement with triggered emails and display ads linking to relevant content allows sellers to get in front of them with new information that pertains to how they’ve previously engaged. And it still gives the buyer control over how they engage—if the buyer isn’t ready to talk to sales yet, they can still deepen their knowledge and move through the funnel on their own terms.
Change can be difficult. For sellers it can feel like there’s less control over the process, but in reality B2B selling has always been about adapting to what the buyer wants. And thankfully there are new ways to regain some of that “control” in utilizing tools to reach and target the right audience. An identity graph pulls together online and offline data sets for a full picture of the prospect, making it easy to draw from a vast collection of data in a single place. Building an audience from an identity graph can give a more complete picture so you can better tailor your outreach at massive scale, leveraging multiple sources of data, all while adhering to privacy regulations.
Marketing, sales, digital advertising, web development, etc. may all have different roles and responsibilities, but they’re running the same race and want to “cross the finish line together.” Adapting to today’s market means viewing the various buying stages and information cohesively, instead of segregating them by team function. It’s about building bridges and working together in a way that makes the whole group better. Because together people can address challenges much better than on their own.
It’s true in the B2B buying journey and in life, too.
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