Buyers' journey: get everyone to agree!
In many companies, the buying processes usually involve not one but several people. Each of them plays a particular role in the decision.
Recent research conducted by LinkedIn has established that an average of 3 to 6 departments are involved in the buying process, depending on the business sector. And usually, the larger the company, the higher this figure becomes.
Today, understanding group behavior or being able to anticipate the signs that could inhibit the buying process for a prospect can prove to be very useful skills for salespeople and marketers.
Understanding the dynamics that hurt the buying process
Marketing and Sales teams must therefore join forces to fight the malfunctions that can arise within these groups of people when they try to sell their solutions.
Objectives diverge among the different stakeholders; misunderstanding, cultural barriers, different practices, etc.…
For example, your solution can have implications on several of your prospect/client departments and be a source of misunderstanding and barriers. When you sell marketing technology, the marketing department does not always take the concerns of the IT department into account. Meanwhile, IT needs to understand how the solution you want to establish will impact its integration and maintenance resources.
Fear and resistance
When collective issues overshadow those of the individuals in a business, it usually takes very little time before tensions between them are aggravated. Aversion to risk and the fear of the unknown are natural, common traits that can cause inertia in organizations and the inability to compromise. Frequently, the result is indecision – the status quo, resulting from power struggles.
Buyers are human and in fact their judgement and perception are often biased. At times we overestimate certain information and at others we underestimate it. These biases can cause particularly serious malfunctions in group dynamics.
For example, there is always a moment when people overestimate the hope for profits from a project while underestimating the risks. We hate the idea of ‘risk of loss’ and this natural trait has led many complex projects to stages of “therapeutic obstinacy” that are useless and costly for the company.
Being able to detect the malfunctions in this group enables us to adapt the resources and energy we are going to devote to a prospect or identify strategies for anticipating what could make our efforts fail.
Buyer’s Consensus Framework
Marketing and Sales must therefore take the right approaches to promote the construction of a consensus within their prospect companies. The aim is to not cause friction in the buying process by allowing barriers to be built due to the group’s malfunction, while promoting the points that will enable the acceleration of the decision.
At least 3 points are indispensable:
Identifying the right allies
Be attentive to the words your contacts use. Are they projecting themselves individually or collectively in a Buying Vision? A buying consensus within a company can only be obtained with people who are naturally inclined to project themselves into a collective rather than an individual reality! Identify these priceless allies and give them the weapons they need to convince their peers.
Business and competition are hard enough as it is... Avoid putting your buyers or one of the actors in the decision in a position that forces them to make too many concessions. It’s all about establishing a vision around buying issues that are balanced enough for everyone, or enabling a genuine semantic surpassing of oppositions.
When it comes time to involve other departments, you will also have to help your allies overcome the hurdles and build bridges. Some companies have trained their salespeople to understand and support their prospects’ decision paths. For example, processes have been set up to ask each salesperson to identify, with each contact with a prospect, what the next step should be and how the company can help them successfully take it.
Give your ally the necessary resources to anticipate the prerequisites of their IT people and facilitate the sale of your project internally.
Realigning your content
Marketing and Sales should align their content and sales aid tools to not only answer the questions their prospects have during their decision-making path, but especially, but to also enable them to move to the following stages of their buying process. Make sure your content also answers the following questions: Is your content easy to use for your ally? Does it provide answers to the internal questions your ally must deal with? Does it build a federating vision of the project? Does it consider the specific priorities of the departments that are impacted by the project? Their technical imperatives? Their cultural specificities?
Understanding buyers’ hearts
Divergence, fear, resistance, biased judgement, aversion to risk, differences in opinion… Despite the unavoidable march of history that projects us into an increasingly connected world where data and automation technologies reign, where all of our behavior is translated in the form of 0 to 1… In a world in which a prospect is a telephone number or email address facing a tele-prospecting script and where people take the names Lead, MQL, and SRL… Never before have Sales and Marketing needed to help one another as much, to show exceptional empathy to understand their clients’ hearts.
Happy Marketing !