Reinvent the B2B Buyer Experience to Grow Revenues

2
132

Share on LinkedIn

Optimizing revenue growth is by far the toughest assignment for sales and marketing today. While the concepts of the pipeline and the funnel have been around for a very long time, what is different is that finding the right formula for revenue growth predictability is getting tougher and tougher. We have new variables that were hard to fathom a few short years ago, such as social media and networking, that are directly impacting buyer behavior. There is less visibility to buyers and just exactly when they decide to enter a buyer’s journey let alone a conventional view of the so called funnel.

Four adverse affecting conditions are impacting the usefulness of the conventional B2B funnel or pipeline in terms of revenue growth predictability:

Reliance on Past History: Much of the construct of the revenue pipeline and funnel is based on past history and how buyers behaved. Predictability is based on historical trends and outliers are hardly ever factored into the equation. Past buyer behaviors may no longer be solid predictors of future buyer behavior. In our post-recession trajectory, buyer behaviors have changed dramatically and we are still attempting to sort out the characteristics of this change.

Out of Synch: We’ve relied on a logical and sequential progression view of the funnel or pipeline correlated to the many variations of the traditional view of the AIDA sales funnel which was first introduced in 1898 by the American Advertising and Sales pioneer E. St. Elmo Lewis – yes a very long time ago! What we are learning is that with the advent of the new digital age, buyers may no longer take predictable progressive paths. Essentially our construct of the buying experience aligned with the AIDA view may be out of synch with the multi-variant journeys being taken by buyers today.

Buyer Silo View: An underlying theme in the sales and marketing alignment debate has been the problematic issue of silo thinking each area can engage in. If this silo thinking is prevalent then a B2B organization can be prone to unwittingly view their buyers as a separate silo. Creating a situation whereby there are many assumptions being made about buyers without any real quantitative or qualitative perspectives to validate assumptions.

Lack of Integrated Thinking: A tough assignment for a B2B organization is to find the means to integrate buyer interactions, marketing processes, and sales processes with that of the buyer experience journey. Integrating revenue opportunity management into the buyer experience can enhance predictability and change the focus to how to map to the buyer journey in a way that enables buyers to make decisions.

When these conditions are especially present, it will dramatically affect B2B buying experiences today. The significant transformation in buying behaviors underway call for B2B organizations to make the redesign of the buyer experience a critical mandate for achieving revenue growth.

A mandate for B2B Buyer Experience Design is a focus on redesigning the buying experience for buyers with an attentive dedication to improving the sales experience. While customer experience initiatives in the B2C domain have centered on relationship, service, and support, buyer experience centers on redesigning the B2B buying and sales experience for buyers. This is of critical importance since various studies sampling B2B buyers (i.e. McKinsey, Corporate Executive Board, Aberdeen Research, and Harris Interactive to name a few) have shown consistently that more than half base their loyalty on the buying and sales experience whereby B2C consumers generally decide loyalty on the basis of service and support. In a research report published earlier this year by McKinsey, more than 1200 B2B buyers surveyed rated the overall sales experience (buying experience) as the most important factor in rating the vendor’s performance. This does not minimize the value of service and support in B2B domains however it points to the fact that the concentration of experience lies in the selling and buying interactions.

To achieve revenue growth, B2B businesses need to evaluate how to create an integrated Buyer Experience Demand Cycle that maps to both buyer interaction modeling and the buyer experience journey. Integration is the key to avoiding the pitfalls of being out of synch with the buyer journey and treating the “buyer” as a separate silo. The Buyer Experience Demand Cycle creates four areas that map to the front-end of the Buyer Experience Interaction Model and the Buyer Experience Journey:

Be demand cycle
Interest: the interaction of thought and subject matter expertise with that of buyer initiatives and triggers creates interests.

Analysis: content mapped to the researching patterns of buyers during the buyer experience journey creates an environment that enables buyers to perform analysis.

Qualified: relational engagement is undertaken on the part of the buyer and factors into a formal assessment which creates a qualified buyer.

Negotiate: buyers perceive value which support decisions and creates an environment for negotiations to take place.

The integration of these four areas with that of interaction modeling and the buyer’s journey enables a Purchase from a Committed Buyer:

Be integrated demandc cycle
Alignment on interactions, demand cycle, and journey enhances the predictability of understanding where buyers are in terms of the decision-making as well as buying process. Measuring pipeline predictability is significantly improved by adding a level of “interactions” factors that indicate how a buyer is progressing through the demand cycle. More importantly, it allows for a view of how to redesign buying experiences that enables buyers to progress through the demand cycle.

Be demand cycle opportunities
Ultimately revenue growth itself must translate into buyer retention, buyer loyalty, and buyer repurchase. By redesigning the buying experience to meet the transformative changes in buyer behaviors, B2B businesses can reinvent not only the buying experience but themselves as well.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tony Zambito
Tony is the founder and leading authority in buyer insights for B2B Marketing and Sales. In 2001, Tony founded the concept of "buyer persona" and established the first buyer persona development methodology. This innovation has helped leading companies gain a deeper understanding of their buyers resulting in revenue performance. Tony has empowered Fortune 100 organizations with operationalizing buyer personas to communicate deep buyer insights that tell the story of their buyer. He holds a B.S. in Business and an M.B.A. in Marketing Management.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Great summary write up Tony. I’m involved on the pre-sales/lead gen activities and so far, I’ve noticed that hitting potential clients by highlighting their top 1-2 pain areas have turned into immediate interests. Rather than listing everything possible with solutions, naming the most relevant to the prospects seems to put cycles into the right direction. Thanks again

  2. Thanks for the comment. Getting to know your buyers in an in-depth way is the right direction indeed. By being relevant, buyers will most certainly have an interest in what you have to say. Thanks again!
    Tony

ADD YOUR COMMENT

Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here