Is your B2B Sales Funnel delivering desired results?
The B2B [Business to Business] sales funnel is a great sales and marketing tool for following up the buyer’s journey from initial visit, to converting as lead, and finally, to the point where they become a customer.
However, B2B sales has changed over the years in that what worked a decade ago is no longer viable, thanks to a big change in the persuasion/conversion game. In today’s marketplace, it’s no longer your sales team who’s in control –the buyer is! Today’s buyer prefers to do all the research with little to no interference from the sales person, leaving most B2B sellers clueless and outwitted by those who know.
A B2B sales funnel that aligns well with the buyer’s journey is critical to ensuring a smooth and successful ride in today’s marketplace.
Imagine an actual funnel through which you guide liquid into a container: Let’s say the liquid represents leads, the funnel stands for the marketing medium [e.g. email], and the container is where your customers are served.
At the top of the funnel, a lot of liquid [leads] can go in at once –but as they progress into the funnel [aka your email series,] the funnel narrows to only take in those that are ready to buy and become your customer.
The above analogy describes the buyer’s journey into a sales funnel broken down into 3 main stages:
At the awareness phase, most leads are generally seeking information that can either answer their most pressing questions or adequately address their pain points. So, the kind of content they’re looking for here is one that throws more light on how to find help for their specific situation [surely, this is no place to sell to them].
At the consideration phase, leads have explored different options for getting their problems solved and are now critically evaluating the solutions at their disposal to determine the best fit [of course, from their own standpoint].
Depending on how effective the above two process is, the lead then makes a decision on whether to buy from you or not. If the decision is in your favor, they become your customer. If not, they go away without completing the sales funnel cycle.
Thanks to disruptive technology, the B2B sales funnel is million miles ahead of what it used to be [say 10 years ago]. Particularly, the B2B buyer is a lot more informed [and hence, more sophisticated] completely transforming their decision-making and buying behavior. In the past, you would invite a targeted buyer out to lunch, meet them up at a golf course, or have a sales team storm their office.
Today, according to Steven Norman [founder of Growth Acumen] B2B buyers make 70 – 80% of their buying journey virtually, without ever meeting any salesperson, face to face.
With so much information at their fingertips, a B2B buyer is able to do product research, read reviews and references, and make a decision without being influenced by a single salesperson. What all of these means is that, in today’s marketplace, buyers are a lot more in control.
This major tilt in power and control from the seller to the buyer has been dramatic to say the least. B2B sellers are finding they have to constantly up their game to stay in the B2B buyer’s radar. They have to adapt to the constantly evolving sales environment to have a firm grip on the market.
If they fail to adapt? They die and are quickly forgotten –giving way to those who know how to act quickly and stay on top of things –as far as the changing dynamics of today’s marketplace is concerned.
One of the worst things that can happen to a B2B seller is being clueless about the current customer journey, blaming low sales and poor results on a slow market or its sales force. At first, the loss is slow. But as more quick-to-adapt competitors get right in front of the pecking order –the late or non-adopters lose out faster until they’re completely dispossessed of their market share – especially if they continue in their ignorance.
How to adapt before it’s too late
According to Richard Branson, “Every success story is a tale of constant adaptation, revision and change.” So, here are 3 top ways to adapt like a pro:
#1 Reposition your salesforce:
Granted, your B2B sales force are still critical to your sales success but you must understand the new role they play in the B2B buyer journey and position them accordingly.
Yes, today’s buyers don’t want a product straight out of the shelf, but they don’t want a sales person to simply tell them about the product either. Instead, they expect salespeople to help them distil the complex buying process, and then present a concise, customized solution that addresses their pain point or situation adequately.
#2 Befriend SEO and leverage disruptive digital marketing tools:
Thing is 93% of website traffic comes from search engines and 50% of prospects are more likely to click on a link if they come across it more than once. Investing in SEO gives B2B sellers the upper hand over their competition.
In the past, going ‘traditional’ with your ad campaign was way-to-go for majority of B2B sellers looking to capture the minds of buyers. But amazingly, 54% of present-day buyers say they don’t trust traditionally branded content. To win over this category, B2B sellers must embrace brand awareness, using digital tools.
#3 Harness the power of “Big Data”:
Take it or leave it – B2B sellers who replace instinct with big data are 6% more profitable. With the advent of AI and machine learning, companies who invest in it are now able to leverage big data to predict buyer behavior much more accurately, using previous buying history.
This way, they’re able to qualify leads by analyzing data and using the results to create targeted marketing messages that reduce cost, dramatically improves on efficiency, and supercharges sales –predictably and consistently.
As a B2B seller in today’s world, you cannot afford to sit on your hands and expect prospects to come to, and eventually buy from you. You must take up your ‘proactive thinking cap,’ find out the new channels prospects are on, and share content that connect, convince and convert them. You also need to work hand in hand with your marketing arm, using the data and recommendations generated to create sales tools that draw-in the prospects further down your sales funnel. Doing this activates the B2B buyer-seller ‘courtship’ that engenders trust and ensures you succeed in modern-day B2B sales.