A tough assignment for B2B marketers today is getting a handle on how buyers progress through the buying and selling cycles. As Sirius Decision and CSO Insights have reported on often, buyers are progressing through 70-80% of the buying and sales cycle before engaging directly with sales. Understanding what buyers are doing in the lead generation to sales cycle gap is proving to be a competitive difference maker.
When looking at lead-to revenue management models, as recently put forth by Marketo and Forrester, they offer promising perspectives on shifting the focus from the quantity of leads to actual revenue generation. It also redefines marketing’s role in terms of just lead generation to that of working in tandem with sales through the entire end-to-end process of revenue generation and management. If we break down this model into the stages of lead generation, nurturing, qualification, and sales engagement, then the need to understand buyer behavior, needs, and goals in each stage becomes readily apparent.
This lead-to-revenue management (L2RM as coined by Forrester) model in many ways heightens the importance of buyer personas in developing end-to-end revenue management strategies and processes. Going well beyond a static profile, buyer personas can reveal much about how buyers are actually behaving in the various stages as well as indicate what specific goals they are attempting to accomplish in each stage. A cornerstone principle for buyer personas is that they are created from qualitative interviewing of buyers. There seems to be an interesting relationship developing between advances in digital technologies. It goes something like this: as digital technologies increase, it is creating a deeper void of knowledge about buyers in the early stages of the buying cycles. This makes buyer personas, mapping of the buying process, and qualitative research even more important!
Every story has to have a beginning. As the lead-to-revenue management story gets written this year, the importance of gaining this critical insight into how buyer behaviors and goals continue to evolve will become more and more evident. Buyer personas accompanied by buyer persona scenarios (robust depticions of the buying process as well as buyer journey mapping) can play a crucial role in giving organizations deeper knowledge on how to design a L2RM model that truly maps back to buyer goals. I think this is going to be an exciting story indeed for B2B marketers.