The modern customer journey is complex. It’s essential to reach and inspire the right prospects at the key moments that can most influence their decision to buy your solution.
According to McKinsey, the old sales funnel was a linear purchasing path—customers took in information, narrowed down their choices, kicked the tires, and submitted a purchase order. But today’s customer decision journey is anything but linear.
Walk the journey in your prospect’s shoes
Say you’re the buyer of IT services for a mid-sized company. One day, the CEO – your boss’s boss – comes to you, disgusted. He’s tired of his computer freezing all the time, and Sales has been complaining for months about problems running live demonstrations. He wants it fixed, but there’s a catch: The overall IT budget for the year can only increase by 10%.
With dozens of IT vendors and thousands of available specifications, how do you take the next step?
- First, you figure out what you need.
- Then, if you’re like most business buyers, you go to the internet. You start with some well-known corporate IT suppliers, companies whose names you’ve heard before.
- For some additional leads, you check out some well-respected voices in the corporate IT world: Bloggers, people you’ve seen at conferences. You might even visit a web forum or two where you’ve found valuable information in the past.
- You come up with three or four vendors that can fulfill your needs, invite them to present, and go with the lowest bid. Success! You’ve solved the problem and the CEO loves you.
If you’re a B2B marketer that process should give you pause, because nearly all of it happened without input from a single salesperson. The fact is, customer learning is happening all the time, and it doesn’t always coincide with your marketing campaign calendar.
Scary numbers reveal big opportunities
We know that 89% of B2B customers use the internet during their buying process. While that percentage has remained stable over the past few years, what's happening behind the scenes has changed dramatically.
Google research shows that, on average, today’s business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57% of the purchase process is complete. That means for nearly two-thirds of the buying process, your customers are out in the ether: Forming opinions, learning technical specifications, building requirements lists, and narrowing down their options, all on their own, with minimal influence from you. This self-directed internet learning is a function of increased budget pressure amid a stagnant economy.
More and more, key decision moments along the customer journey happen on mobile devices. Whether it's performing a search, opening an app, visiting a website or watching a video, people turn to their mobile device to get answers or take action.
Google calls these Micro-Moments—chances for your brand to meet prospects when decisions are being made, or preferences are being shaped. Moments when someone who could be your next customer is saying:
Who’s really deciding your new technology product fate?
The ecosystem of influencers around the B2B research process has changed—dramatically. While 64% of the C-suite have final sign off, so do 24% of those in the non-C-suite. In fact, non-C-suiters have the most (81%) influence over purchase decisions. So if you're marketing only to the highest level, you're overlooking the people who have the most say of all.
Why not just wait for customers to come to you?
By the time they do, they have hardened expectations about what they want—and at that point, your job is to take their order and fill it for the lowest price. Beacon Tech Marketing can show you how to beat prospects to that moment.
Five secret weapons we bring to your technology sales performance
- We’ve analyzed millions of consumer interactions through Google Analytics to reveal how different marketing channels affect online purchase decisions. We can pinpoint the most important moments along the journey for your customers and help you influence that huge portion of the sale that occurs largely on the web, before any Sales contact. During this vital timeframe, three challenges—incomplete digital integration, ineffective content, and a poorly-optimized channel mix—can keep you from growing mindshare and making the most of prospects you’ve already hooked.
- We’ll develop a customer decision map to help learn how your customers’ decisions are made, what matters most to those decision makers, and how to best reach them—giving your marketing and sales leaders the insight they need to gauge where efforts will have the greatest impact.
- We’ll identify your prospects’ goals at each stage of the journey to understand their feelings, motivations, and questions. When do they become aware of your brand? What piques their interest? As they consider a purchase, what information do they need? In fact, multiple touchpoints exist within each stage of the decision process, and customers have repeated interactions with certain ones.
- We’ll create a comprehensive list of your company’s touchpoints. When, where and how does each happen? What are the crucial functions of each? By comparing this to your prospects’ goals at each stage, we bring insight to which goals each touchpoint supports. Even more importantly, are any goals not supported by your existing touchpoints? If so, that’s a serious gap to address.
- We’ll help you achieve true integration by constantly adjusting marketing to connect with your true prospects at each stage of learning—and buying.
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