Today’s B2B buyers are up to 75% through the buyer’s journey before they reach out to a salesperson.
For most sales people, that’s pretty tough to embrace,. But the truth is, buyers today aren’t reliant on a company employee to learn about your products or services. With a quick Google search, they can self-educate by watching videos, reading case studies, and seeing what your customers are saying about you through ratings and reviews and social media posts.
So how do B2B companies sell to the modern buyer? Let’s start by looking at the buyer.
A Look at the Modern Buyer
Think of the process a person would go through to make a purchase before the internet. Buyers were largely reliant on visiting a physical retail store or calling a customer service or sales rep to learn even the basic information about a product or service – the price, functionality, warranty, support services, etc. And they typically started this process after realizing they had a problem and deciding to prioritize time and effort to seek a solution.
Those days are gone. Today’s buyers have more autonomy than ever to access information online via their computer, mobile device, or tablet at any time of the day (or night) and from anywhere in the world. Who would have known that people would purchase a laptop computer from their iPhone while sitting at the hair salon? Yes, I recently did that and never talked to Best Buy.
The 8:00 am – 5:00 pm store hour restrictions no longer limit the sales process.
Just as the buyer’s journey has changed, the sales process has changed and it continues to evolve in an attempt to keep up with the impact of our digital environment. It’s no longer about disruptive advertising, cold calling or sales pitches in the early stages of the journey. It’s about listening, engaging and offering relevant information and recommendations in ways that naturally fit into this new buyer’s journey using the Inbound methodology.
Related: Understanding the Customer Journey
If your marketing and sales process use a one size fits all mentality, it’s time to re-engineer your communication strategy. Today’s buyers expect personalization which goes beyond using their name in an email. Companies who excel at personalization strategically track what website visitors are viewing online, how they engage with different types of content, and what channels of communication resonate with them. Then they use that information to engage with them accordingly.
Face it, the modern buyer expects you to know who they are, what they are interested in, what they’ve already seen on your website or social channels, and then offer them value in a unique and relevant way.
The Inbound marketing methodology helps marketers design and deliver relevant, engaging content to the right buyer, at the right time, and in the right places. Inbound marketing is composed of 5 main goals:
- Identify your ideal buyers
- Attract buyers to visit your website
- Engage them with content
- Convert them into leads and then customers
- Delight customers so they become brand advocates
Traditional outbound marketing relies on methods like buying ad space, running commercials and radio ads and buying email lists to push your message in front of huge groups of people. Whereas Inbound marketing focuses on creating high quality content that lives online and acts like a magnet to pull specific people toward your brand and product. By creating content that is engaging and aligns to what your ideal buyers are already interested in, your interactions with them feel more natural and valuable than interruptive.
Let’s look at an example of the Inbound methodology in play. Say that you own a ranch and you are looking for ways to increase productivity. You are in the early exploratory phase of the buyer’s journey and you’re certainly a long way from reaching out to a company or a salesperson.
You do a Google search on the keyword phrase “modern technology in agriculture.” In the search results you click on 5 Ways To Increase Production Using Modern Agricultural Technology. You read the blog post where you learn some really good insight that educates you on some possible options. The blog links to a case study titled Kansas Farmer Increases Production 4x in 6 Months. You happily provide your name and email address in exchange for this case study. You’re happy to do this because you assume it is the same level of quality as the blog you just read. And you were right. This company just generated a lead, with insight on your interest, and you received valuable content that is helping you through your journey. Win. Win.
Notice that the company didn’t purchase a cold email list or buy ad space in a national publication to reach you. They simply created highly targeted and engaging content that acted as a magnet and then converted you, a site visitor, into a lead.
Because Inbound marketing creates content that continually increases value in time, like as a blog, HubSpot reports that inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound leads.
Inbound Aligns To The Modern Buyer
The modern buyer is online, self-educates, trusts what others say about your products or services, and expects you to engage with them when they are ready, where they are at, and how they prefer to engage. Oh, and they want the message to be relevant and personalized too – no sweat!
This is a tough challenge, but very possible using the Inbound methodology and the technologies that easily enable personalization and tracking of website visitor’s interests. Your buyers have changed – and it’s time for your business to meet them where and how they want to see you!