Let’s face it…
In the digital age, modern buyers have all of the information and resources they need to make buying decisions. It’s all online—and only a few clicks away.
With competition at all-time highs and universal access to knowledge—power in the buyer-seller relationship has shifted squarely to the purchaser.
Organizations that have failed to adapt to these changes in decision-maker behavior have found modern buyers hesitant to engage and increasingly frustrated by sales interactions. It doesn’t take long for the bottom line to be affected by a misaligned B2B sales strategy.
COVID Didn’t Break Your Sales Process, Decision-Makers Behaviors Changed
Yes, the impacts of COVID19 exaggerated these eventualities. But make no mistake—these trends were already in motion long before social distancing mandates began disrupting our lives. And the effects will remain long after we put away the masks.
“Sales as usual” is not coming back. If businesses want to grow—even compete—they will need to hyperfocus on serving their prospects’ needs and behaviors and adopt digitally native buyer’s journeys.
This blog explores how B2B organizations can adopt a modern buyer’s journey and align their B2B sales strategy and process to key decision-maker behaviors.
Because changes in consumer behavior will affect every business—regardless of size or industry—many of these principles will also apply to other business models and industries (particularly for our clients in MedTech and SaaS).
What Is The Buyer’s Journey? (i.e., Your Sales Process)
Let’s start briefly with the basics.
The Buyer’s Journey refers to the experience a consumer has with your organization as they take steps toward—and ultimately make—a purchase (becoming a customer).
There are effectively three (3) distinct stages in a buyer’s journey:
Awareness: The consumer becomes aware of and begins to identify their challenge.
Consideration: The consumer learns about solutions, identifies options, and begins plotting the path forward.
Decision: The consumer is ready to decide and weighs the pros and cons of various solutions.
If you’d like to dig deeper—check out our blog What Is The Buyer’s Journey?—but essentially, it encompasses all of the strategies, resources, sales collateral, and tactics leveraged by your sales and marketing teams to guide a prospect to purchase.
What’s important here is that every organization can “craft” and influence their customer’s buying journey. Many organizations fail to recognize or act on this—instead, they operate in “Legacy Sales” mode.
What Is The Difference Between “Legacy Sales” And A Modern Buyer’s Journey?
The problem is… “Legacy” sales strategies are focused on transactions and standardization—among other things. Legacy processes are designed in a vacuum, are seller-centric, and are built around the business’s convenience and needs.
But times have changed. Consumers have changed. Now they demand personalized experiences and customizable solutions to meet their unique needs and challenges. Those operating under “Legacy Sales Mode” find their sales efforts increasingly ineffective—even alienating to potential consumers—and buying decisions often devolve to competing on price.
Alternatively, modern buyer’s journeys are purposefully designed to embrace and accommodate today’s consumers’ and decision-makers’ behaviors, motivations, and demands. They strive to provide carefully tailored interactions for prospects—when and where (on the device or channel)—they need it.
An effective B2B sales strategy embraces a modern buyer’s journey and focuses on the prospect and their experience. It demonstrates an acknowledgment of the buyer’s authority as well as consideration for their valuable time and attention. This recognition—and the friction it removes from the process—fosters greater engagement and conversions.
A B2B Sales Strategy built on a modern buyer’s journey generates sales
To create a compelling and effective modern buyer’s journey—you’ll need to develop a custom sales approach based on your business/offering, industry, and the customers you serve. Your sales team members will need to tailor interactions and value offerings to meet individual prospects’ specific needs and situations.
This level of personalization in outreach requires you to think differently about your sales efforts. Rather than a step-by-step process—a modern buyer’s journey requires a “framework.”
A framework will empower your sales team with best practices, collateral, tools, and a degree of latitude for improvisation. Ultimately, this enables them to focus on prospects as individuals, manage various touchpoints in different sales situations, and proactively anticipate their buyers’ needs.
Your Current B2B Sales Strategy, Turned Prospect-Centric
We aren’t suggesting you should throw your existing sales process out the window. Instead, you will need it to inform and develop a customer-centric buyer’s journey. It’s also important to note that a modern buying journey isn’t radically different from a sale management perspective. You still have deal stages, funnels, forecasts, and reports that provide deep insights into revenue and sales progress. But the framework is less concerned with charting and monitoring step-by-step actions and pushing the sale and is more focused on empowering sales to develop relationships and generate results.
Modern sales are about establishing value, building rapport, and assisting buyers in their journey. To develop your modern buyer’s journey and effective B2B sales strategies around it, you’ll need to start by defining your buyers’ ideal experience. Once defined, create a process and provide your sales team with the tools to manage complex sales cycles with multiple touchpoints and stakeholders.
Fostering trust and nurturing clients through the buyer’s journey requires an integrated CRM, seamless sales processes, effective digital outreach tools, collateral for every buyer stage, and automation to remove hurdles and keep prospects engaged.
When your internal processes and teams are aligned around the buyer’s experience, sales become streamlined, prospects engage willingly, and deals close organically.
When you’re ready—our next blog will dive into the specifics of a modern buyer’s journey and outline the steps you can take to develop an effective sales framework for consumers.
When you’re ready for the next step, you may find these blogs helpful:
Optimize Your Sales & Revenue Ops By Mapping Your Ideal Buyer’s Journey
We’ve designed this resource to help you build the foundations of a streamlined and enjoyable buying process. Shorten sales cycles, empower your sales reps, and wow buyers with a buying experience that makes your competitors jealous!