Today’s B2B buyers have a myriad of touchpoints to jump between and can engage and purchase at any given juncture. This means that the traditional 4-step sales funnel is no longer viable, and the sales cycle is unpredictable and getting shorter. We’re also entering a new landscape where prospective buyers expect more from sales representatives when they eventually interact with them. It is therefore increasingly important for sales and marketing teams to work together to develop strategies that cater to a non-linear journey and optimise the entire buyer experience.
Traditionally, B2B prospects entered at the top of the sales funnel, and interacted with just one product or person throughout the entire journey. In an omnichannel, multi-touchpoint world, the funnel has transformed – now including non-linear interactions across mediums like social media, email and live chat. And today’s B2B buyers are more powerful than ever when it comes to controlling their own buying journey. Doing about 80% of the groundwork themselves and spending up to 20 hours conducting research across multiple channels before contacting a sales representative, they decide when and how they engage with content and which brands to embrace or ignore.
In addition to the pressure of needing to be ready for an interaction at any given moment, sales teams are faced with buyers that expect to learn something new, that they couldn’t find themselves. The stakes are even higher when you consider that 74% of buyers choose to work with the salesperson who first added value to their search.
Adapt or die
Today’s sales journey is all about delivering the right content, to the right person, at the right time, and on their platform of choice. To cater to B2B buyers’ evolving expectations, marketing and sales teams must help one another to understand which channels and content formats are preferred, and even consider what time of day that prospective buyers are more likely to take action. Whether it be signing up to a newsletter, downloading content or answering a call, businesses must constantly evolve to cater to the interests of their target audiences and have their sales and marketing teams work together to adapt to their expectations.
Cracking the non-linear sales funnel
Marketing and sales teams should be pooling their knowledge to develop personas for each of their key customer types. This, in turn, will help businesses to truly understand what their target audiences need from content. Once armed with compelling key messages, it is also important for businesses to ask themselves where the bulk of collateral that’s currently produced sits. The majority of companies position their content at the comparison and purchase stages – but forget about post purchase care, retention, advocacy and re-engagement. Mapping content against the buying journey of the ideal customer will ensure that relevant information is readily available and that sales representatives have the tools they need during face-to-face meetings.
Marketing and sales teams need to share a common vision, and this can happen by emphasising shared goals rather than inherent differences. By working together effectively, these teams can crack the non-linear sales funnel and achieve their objectives.
Want to learn more about how to tackle the non-linear sales funnel? Download our ungated guide to sales and marketing alignment today.