B2B Buying Process has Changed - The Shift to "Bought, then Sold"

The Shift to “Bought then, Sold”

October 24, 2013

b2b buying process has changedThis blog discusses the new challenges in sales, how the B2B buying process has changed, and how to adapt.

If your team is accountable for growth, your challenges remain the same: set strategy, generate qualified leads, develop and close—with constant pressure to control your cost of sale. But in today’s digital landscape, your buyers are becoming more self-directed. They want to buy on their own time and expect to be educated digitally. Only once they feel educated are they ready to be engaged by a sales rep.

In addition, over the past four years, call-to-connect ratios have plummeted, so inside reps are half as effective. Cold calling can still work in some scenarios, but it is more expensive. Trade show costs are also increasing, which is reflected in the rising cost per lead. Finally, email marketing is also more competitive with decreasing ROI.

Today, none of these tactics work in isolation unless (according to the top marketers in the US), you support your pipeline development with inside sales and a commitment to content marketing, SEO and social media—with the top 10% of marketers implementing marketing automation. This is because your buyers are now relying on digital education to help them understand their needs and sort through their options.

More and more products today are “bought then, sold,” and this buying process affects your sales process in one of two ways. Either, buyers take longer to educate themselves digitally, so you need to nurture leads longer. Or, the opposite happens, and your buyer does not even want to speak to a sales rep until feel well educated and are near a buying decision.

Statistics show that 80% of leads are passed to a senior sales rep too early, and 70% of mishandled leads end up buying from a competitor. So, the biggest mistake you can make is to try and close before your buyers is ready to buy. This will drive away your buyer and squander your existing lead generation budget.

The new rules of buying and selling mean you need to:

  • Create relevant buyer content for both sales and marketing
  • Score leads to get buyers to closers at the right time
  • Nurture leads longer, at a lower cost
  • Push content across all formats into social media

With a commitment to this type of alignment, you can expect substantial revenue (157% growth) at a decreased cost of sale within 18 months to pull away from the competition.

For a more detailed discussion of this topic or to learn how we can help, watch this quick overview video.

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