46% of B2B buyers evaluated which solutions would fit well with existing partners during the first 1-3 months of their buyer journey (according 2018 B2B Buyers Survey Report). This early part of the buyer journey is critical to winning the hearts and minds of prospects. Typically sales and marketing functions operate within their own boundaries making it harder to align around a common objective - the buyer journey.
In a post written by our very own Rachel Ranwell, alignment between sales and marketing around content can improve the effectiveness of individual functional performance. When you look at the chart below, you see how important it is to align both the sales and marketing efforts at this stage.
But how do you make alignment a reality?
A friction free website where buyers can discover relevant content, pricing and trial without obligation. Provide insights to sales about activity on your website - downloads, IP tracking, revisits, lead scoring.
In addition, expert sales reps who provide continuous value and insights so that when the buyer is ready to move their journey forward, sales teams are positioned to take the call. Use data provided by marketing to inform the sales process, trigger Social Selling activity, map activity from sales profiles on LinkedIn back to website data.
My conclusion? Early stage nurturing is now the responsibility of both sales and marketing. This can only be done through smart use of data and communication.
B2B buyer preferences have heavily evolved over the years since Demand Gen Report began conducting its annual B2B Buyers Survey in 2012. From the get-go, buyers have gone through long-term research processes, added more internal team members to the decision-making journey and relied on content and social media to make purchase decisions. While these criteria still hold true today, buyer behavior has also expanded to key characteristics such as: The desire to self-navigate the decision-making journey; A demand for more relevant, contextual content and outreach from sales; and A stronger preference for anonymity in some stages of the journey.