The New Path of the B2B Buyer’s Journey

Ian Linton Trends

Business buyers follow a familiar journey when they are purchasing a new product or service. They research the type of product they are looking for, find and compare vendors, and negotiate terms when they have found a potential supplier.

And, for sales teams looking for the next big customer, the process is similar. Check that the prospect is interested in the product, has authority to buy with a budget to match and is ready to place the order. All that’s missing is a cooperative buyer who is willing to confirm all those points.

Forget conventional wisdom

That’s conventional wisdom and that’s the way business-to-business transactions have happened – or not happened. But, now, buyers are following new paths. They are conducting much of their search and evaluation before they even talk to a sales person. So, where does that leave the sales team? Do they just wait for the phone to ring or the order to come through?

Fortunately, marketing technology gives the sales team a level of insight into the buying process that has not existed before. They can track buying intent by monitoring prospects’ ‘digital body language’ and put a score on the buying intent of each lead. And, according to research by the Aberdeen Group, companies that get lead scoring right have a 192 percent higher average lead qualification rate than those that do not.

Watch the digital body language

That’s all possible because it’s now easy to track buyer behavior online. Are prospects visiting a web page several times and downloading information? Are they downloading background information, which suggests they are at an early stage and need further nurturing? Or, are they viewing detailed product and price information, which suggests a hot prospect and time to pick up the phone?

Email makes the process even easier. By sending prospects a series of emails that provide content for different stages of awareness, consideration, and preference, sales teams can monitor responses and buying signals at each stage of the journey. Does a prospect click to request the initial research document and accept the workshop invitation in the follow-up email? Those are very clear signals which help the sales team decide the best course of action to turn that prospect into a customer.

Spread the word

Here’s another great clue. The prospect forwards the email to a colleague who wasn’t on the sales team’s radar. That new prospect might become a vital player in the decision-making process. Thanks to today’s marketing tools, it’s easy to create customized emails that incorporate relevant messages for the new prospect. Now the sales team is getting a great view of the purchasing process and they are in control of communications.

Although email gives teams the opportunity to treat every prospect individually, analyze their digital body language, and prepare a personalized nurturing campaign, this can be extremely time consuming. And, it may be impractical for companies with a large database of prospects and customers.

Control the conversation

Fortunately, email marketing automation can simplify the process, save time, and deliver qualified leads. Automation software creates a series of workflows. After the first email, subsequent communications are triggered by the contact’s response or behavior.

To make it quicker and easier to personalize content for different decision makers, teams can combine email automation with a process called dynamic customization. By using email templates with sections assigned to dynamic content, sales teams can quickly and easily personalize greetings, message, and content. These sections select names, messages, and content from a database according to pre-defined criteria.

The result is an email automatically customized to the individual recipient. The level of personalization can increase as the campaign progresses and teams gather more information based on the contact’s response or behavior.

Streamline the process

It’s easy to simplify the process of customization and automation, and ensure consistent branding on all emails by using a template-based tool like BrandBlox. With that level of speed and simplicity, it’s easy to streamline the B2B marketing process and deliver great results.