Selling is not rocket science, right? It’s a simple, time honored process: identify your target, find prospects that meet that definition, take them through a considered purchase selling cycle, and then close the deal. Beginning, middle, end…easy!
However, how we go about selling to our customers is evolving. Especially in the B2B space, where our customers no longer have the time or patience to deal with cold calls and office visits. Instead, when they reach the point where they have recognized a need for change, they are going online and performing their own research. According to the CEB’s 2011 Customer Purchase Research Survey, “On average, customers progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging a sales rep.”
Like it or not, marketing has become the new sales. Marketing automation, web search, thought leadership and the use of buyer personas that drive campaign journeys have replaced a good portion of the traditional sales approach. The sales process still starts with identifying who it is that wants what we have to sell. The big change is in how the dialog that convinces them to buy is initiated. Think of it simply as automating the traditional sales call through the use of digital assets.
It is our job, therefore, as marketers to “lead” prospective customers to the information we want them to evaluate when it comes time for them to perform their research, and, ultimately, make the decision whether or not to purchase our product. We can initiate that digital dialog and begin influencing prospects’ thought processes through the use of well-choreographed campaign journeys. Just as the traditional sales rep did through relationship building and sales collateral, the goal is the same: earn their trust and show them why our product is better.
Taking it one step further, each campaign journey should be personalized to the different buyer types, or personas, identified as the primary decision makers in the purchasing process. So, if three different persona have been targeted for a campaign, three separate journeys will need to be developed. As those different personas interact with your marketing content online, instead of the sales rep taking clues from a prospect’s physical body language, marketing automation allows you to read their “digital body language” and adjust your message or your next question. By tracking their behavior on your website and how they respond to your emails, you can provide them with information correlated to their indicated interest and appropriate to their current stage in the buying cycle.
It’s a simple truth. Our customers are living and working in a digital world. It’s up to us to meet them there. Using a well-integrated marketing automation platform makes the process easier than it may seem. It truly is just recognizing the shift-change in the sales process and adjusting to it. And it’s definitely not rocket science.