B2B Buyers' Journey: get everyone to agree!
In many companies, the buying process usually involves not just one but several people. Each of them play a specific role in the decision.
Research conducted by LinkedIn has established that an average of 3 to 5 departments are involved in the buying process, depending on the business sector. And usually, the larger the company, the higher the figure.
Today, understanding a group behavior or being able to anticipate the signs that could inhibit the buying process are very useful skills both for salespeople and marketers.
Understanding the dynamics that can hurt the buying process
When they try to sell their product or service, Marketing and Sales teams must join forces to fight the dysfunctions that can grow within these groups of people.
Objectives can diverge among the different stakeholders; misunderstanding, cultural barriers, different practices, etc.
For example, acquiring your solution or product can have consequences on several of your prospect/client departments and be a source of misunderstanding between them. For instance, when you sell marketing technology, the marketing department buying you does not always take its IT department concerns into consideration. Yet IT needs to understand how your solution will impact its integration and maintenance resources.
Fear and resistance to change
In a business, when collective issues overtake individual ones, it usually takes very little time for tension to raise. Aversion to risk and the fear of the unknown are natural, common traits that can cause inertia in organizations and the inability to compromise. Most frequently, the result is a lack of decision - the famous status quo, that often comes from individual power issues.
Buyers are human and in fact their judgement and perception are often biased. At times we overestimate some information and at others we underestimate it. Bias can cause some serious dysfunctions in the group dynamics.
For example, there is always a moment when people overestimate the profitability of a project whilst underestimating its risks. We hate the idea of the 'risk of loss'. This typical bias has led many complex projects to a stage of "aggressive therapy" that is useless and very costly for the company.
Being able to detect the dysfunctions 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 may cause our efforts to fail.
Buyers Consensus Framework
Marketing and Sales must therefore take the right approach to build a consensus within their prospect companies. The aim is to avoid causing friction in the buying process that could raise barriers and create group dysfunction, but to promote the points that will enable the acceleration of the decision.
At least 3 points are mandatory:
Identify your best allies in the buying group
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 decision rather than an individual one! Identify these priceless allies and give them the tools they need to convince their peers.
Business and competition are hard enough as it is… Avoid putting your buyers or one of the stakeholder in a position that pushes them to make too much compromise. It's about establishing a vision that is sufficiently balanced for all.
When it comes to involve other departments, you also have to help your allies overcome the hurdles and build bridges. Some companies have trained their Sales to understand and support their prospects' decision paths. Processes have been set where each salesperson needs to identify what the next step should be with each prospect and how the company can help them successfully take it.
So give your ally the necessary resources to anticipate the prerequisites of their IT people and facilitate the buy in of your project internally.
Align your content
Marketing and Sales should align their content and sales enablement tools to answer the questions their prospects have during their decision-making path, and most important, to help them move to the following stage of the 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 he/she must deal with? Does it federate around the project? Does it consider the specific priorities of each department that will be impacted by the project? Their technical imperative? Their cultural specificities?
Understand your buyers' heart
Fear, resistance, biased judgement, aversion to risk, differences in opinion… Despite the unavoidable movement that projects us all into a fully connected world where data, IA and automation reign… A world in which a prospect is a telephone number or email address facing a tele-prospecting script and where real people have become leads, MQLs or SRLs, never before have Sales and Marketing need to help one another as much, to show exceptional empathy and understand their clients hearts.
Happy Marketing !