Buyer’s Journey from Awareness to Purchase
On the continuum of the buyer’s journey from Awareness to Purchase, the roles of Marketing and Sales have a symbiotic relationship- at least in theory. At the beginning of the buyer journey, Marketing plays the primary role in creating Awareness of the vendor’s products and services and then positioning these products and services in the minds of the buyer for their Consideration in the buyer’s list of possible vendors.
As buyers have shifted their journey on-line, Marketing has played a more prominent role in the Preference stage of the buyer decision process. Depending on the type of product or services, and based on the business model of the vendor, at some point in the Preference stage Sales takes over as the chief protagonist. A hand-off is made from Marketing to Sales (aka “Lead”) at the Preference stage and Sales takes the lead (pun intended) on to the Purchase stage and closes the deal.
In a perfect world, the coordination between Marketing and Sales is beautifully orchestrated. Marketing starts the buyer journey and Sales completes it. But, the relationship between Marketing and Sales is seldom peaceful. Despite careful planning and communication, these two groups rarely see eye to eye. Neither group is to blame. They are from two different planets.
Marketing is from Mars and Sales is from Venus. These two worlds play just fine together when there is clear distinction on who has the lead role in the buyer journey. Marketing is responsible for creating Awareness and getting their products and services on the buyer list for Consideration. Sales is clearly responsible for the Purchase phase. The worlds collide in the Preference phase as responsibility for the prospective buyer passes from Marketing to Sales.
These different views and blind spots result in an implied consent between Marketing and Sales – they simply agree to disagree. But, it doesn’t need to be this way. The two worlds could peacefully co-exist if they each had daily visibility of the “invisible visitors” to their website.
Marketing and Sales need VisitorTrack from netFactor. VisitorTrack provides the visibility of anonymous web visitors that otherwise go undetected. These “invisible visitors” are taking a self-directed journey on your web site and the web sites of your competitors. These visitors remain anonymous until they want you to know they are interested. By then, it’s too late for either Marketing or Sales to guide the buyer’s Preference or for Sales to establish the terms of engagement.
Adding regular visibility of these anonymous visitors and gaining insight on their digital journey makes life on Mars and Venus more enjoyable. VisitorTrack can’t guarantee Marketing and Sales will see eye to eye, but it will make them more agreeable.
* Thanks to Dr. John Gray, author of “Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus”, 1992, HarperCollins
Contact forms? So what’s the problem?
I am dating myself here (and outing my inner nerd), but does anyone remember that Star Trek Episode: The Trouble with Tribbles?
At first, Captain Kirk and his crew loved these fuzzy little creatures. Everyone wanted one. But, as they began to re-produce by the 1000’s the Tribbles became a big problem. Nobody was sure what to do with all of them!
Enter marketing automation. The savior of all things digital marketing. The adoption of marketing automation tools over past years has been vigorous to say the least. The institution created an entire industry around building content to “feed the machine”. The goal being to produce the ever coveted conversion (read: contact form completion). These forms represent rapidly expanding galaxy of leads being created for B2B sales teams.
Contact Form Submitted . . . Guess what? It may be too late!
Do you find that the deal is mostly sealed by the time the prospect completes the most coveted form of all (the form asking for a conversation with a sales person)? Does it feel like the only thing left to negotiate is the price?
If you are reading this post, you probably agree that the B2B landscape has been changing. The transformation is largely due to a prolific amount of content on the web. Content designed to help the prospect maneuver their way along the buyer journey. Infographics, ebooks, whitepapers, videos, webinars, revenue calculators . . . . scores of content that helps the buyer form an opinion, set purchase criteria, make a “short-list” of vendors to consider and be pretty sure of the offering they like best (often with up to 70% certainty). Much of the previously mentioned checklist is well under way before a prospect completes a form requesting a conversation with a sales person.
Sales teams that wait for contact forms to be completed may be putting themselves in danger of being too far behind in the buyer journey.
The result: Lost traction with the prospective buyer. The sales person is forced into reactive mode, responding to RFQ’s with pre-defined requirements that are often more suited to the competition’s offering than their own. The opportunity for influence has gone out the window, and the scramble is on to find a way to preserve what little margin remains in the deal.
Successful sales organizations (and the marketers that support them) know that getting ahead of the buyer journey is key to a sales person’s success. By coupling a deeper understanding of their prospect’s digital body language and the ability to identify who is anonymously visiting their website can be very powerful. This is especially true if you consider that often less than 5% of website visitors fill out a contact form. Gaining intelligence on these engaged prospects (most of whom are invisible to you. . .your CRM. . .and your automation tool), early in the buyer journey, could be just the thing you need to differentiate yourself from the competition.
If you are relying on contact form conversions as the ONLY source for identifying interested buyers, you could end up being late to the party.
Beam me up Scotty, time to go close some deals.