This economy holds great opportunities for mid-market companies selling B-to-B. It’s not too hot, it’s not not too cold. It is a perfect environment for opening new revenue channels in a measured and profitable manner. However, many mid-market companies are reluctant to take advantage of new opportunities because they are experiencing challenges in bringing in new business from the products and services they sell right now.
This is a result of a significant change in prospect purchasing habits which are demanding new skill sets on the part of mid-market companies. We saw these buying trends develop among consumer shoppers and now we are seeing them steadily creep into the B-to-B buying process resulting in a serious dampening of revenues.
The B-to-B purchaser is pre-shopping online. On average, today’s purchaser is 57% through the purchase decision process by the time the buyer wishes to speak to a sales rep. In many cases they are 70% through the buying process and this is regardless of price point, purchase complexity and incumbency (according to a joint Google/CEB survey of 1900 companies).
How does the B-to-B prospect pre-shop?
Today as in the past, when prospects are about to make purchases, they consult trusted colleagues. But where once they might have called in referred companies for initial face-to-face meetings and review, prospects are now putting off this meeting until they:
How does this manifest itself in the inside of the selling company? Here is one example:
Simple web site inquires are misinterpreted
While prospects are researching they often download white papers, case studies or ask basic questions. They do not want to engage with your sales person directly. They want to research in peace. However, now your salesperson has their name and email address. This is often misinterpreted by sales as a lead-ready-to-buy. However attempted contact made by the salesperson is either ignored or rejected by the prospect and the lead is tossed out.
Marketing and Sales descend into finger pointing.
Sales complains that marketing is delivering poor leads and marketing using analytics claims that the leads are valid.
There is truth in both sides of the argument:
The leads generated by your web site are good leads they are simply very early in the sales cycle. They require a new kind of nurturing – and one the sales and marketing team may not be prepared to deliver.
Embracing the new buyer and embracing change
Understanding your prospect’s new buying habits sooner rather than later is required for continued sales. Responding successfully will require internal reorganization of talent and a new strategic approach to the entire marketing and sales process: