Just 10 years ago, only 20% of the buyer’s journey was happening online. Today, that number is 70%.
Last month, I traveled to the Grand Floridian in Orlando, FL to speak to Business Technology Association (BTA) members about how technology has changed buyer behavior. With sales losing control of the beginning stages of the sales process, how do we help guide the buyer through the online journey they’re not taking when making a buying decision? Marketing needs to bridge the knowledge gap between the information in the heads of the reps and the information available online.
Buyers have the answers to almost any question in their pockets. Smartphones have given us the “right now” mentality of finding answers to our questions. We’ve been empowered by technology. Just 10 years ago, only 20% of the buyer’s journey was happening online. Today, that number is 70%. That means that 70% of the sales process is already completed online by the buyer before sales ever gets a chance to speak to the prospect. Can you imagine what they’ve discovered on their own online without any guidance from sales? What will that process look like 10 years from now? More like 90% of the buyer’s journey will be happening online. Without a clear path for your buyers to follow online, they’ll find their information someplace else.
The sales methodology and the marketing methodology are parallel ways of guiding the prospect to you online, where they prefer to spend their time learning how to solve their problem. Marketing automation is a non-intrusive way to nurture and educate sales leads while they’re walking through their discovery process. By using a marketing automation tool, you’re able to serve up different content based on who the prospect is, what behavior they’re taking on your website, and a host of other criteria. In building out this path for your prospects, they’re getting the education they’re looking for and and your sales rep will be waiting for them at the decision stage when they are finally ready to talk to a real live person.
Two keys to marketing automation success:
- Understand that marketing automation does not do marketing and lead generation for you, but can help scale your successful efforts. Sales needs to be a part of the process.
In order to build a legitimate pipeline of good leads, you need relevant, optimized content that speaks to your target prospect.
- Remember the person receiving this is HUMAN.
You need to leverage all your technology tools to relate to them as a person, not a number in your CRM. Those days are gone.
Where does your sales team come in?
While your sales folks may not be able to control what the prospects are doing online, they can influence it. As reps reach out via email to talk about copiers, document management, and managed IT, they should be using the content from the marketing department, which educates the consumer on each subject. Sending a follow up email to a prospect with the link to a blog post, webinar or video can position that rep, as well as the company, as a subject matter expert. People buy emotionally. They buy from people they trust.
To even further the positioning as a subject matter expert, reps need to share socially. Sharing a blog post on LinkedIn puts that in the news feed of those you are connected to. Even if that piece isn’t clicked on and read, they will see you sharing information and start to think of you when that topic comes up in the future.
How Do You Get Sales and Marketing on the Same Page?
Get them in a room together. Get them sharing and working through how marketing might be able to create content that supplements the sales process. If sales has all the knowledge in their heads for how to walk a prospect through the sales process, they will need to brain dump to marketing. Here’s what to do:
- Share the documented sales process
- Brainstorm all the questions asked throughout the sales process today and 10 years ago.
- Come up with a plan for the sales team to share that awareness level content to prospects in emails, on their social media…
Leverage the technology available to you to give the prospect a better experience.
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