Research from Google shows that now more than ever, Woody Allen was right – Showing Up is 80% of social selling success. Today’s self educating B to B buyer is increasingly turning to sources other than salespeople for information.
Number Of Sources Buyers Consult
Google’s ZMOT Research, released in 2011 revealed that consumer shoppers consult 10.4 sources before making a purchase. This was up from 5.2 sources the year prior. Even for relatively simple decisions such as picking a restaurant, consumers consulted an average of 5.8 sources. For high involvement purchases like a new car, the number of sources consulted rises to 18.2, the most of any category tracked by Google.
And while B2B Marketers and salespeople love to talk about how the B to B buying decision is different than consumer buying decisions, how it’s more logical and less emotional, etc., there is an abundance of information out there that shows B2B buyers are absolutely consulting many more resources than they used to before they even contact a sales person.
A recent study by the Corporate Executive Board reported that B2B buyers are 57% of the way to a buying decision before they are willing to talk to a sales rep. And a survey last year by DemandGen Report, reported that 77% of B2B buyers said they did not talk with a salesperson until after they had performed independent research, and 36% of buyers said they didn’t engage with a sales rep until after a short list of preferred vendors was established.
Where Are B2B Buyers Looking For Information?
Again, turning to the DemandGen Report, we find that our B2B Buyers look a whole lot like consumers favoring web search and vendor web sites for their research.
And somewhat surprising, for many in the sales world, social media is a key tool for 50% of the respondents.
Creating Buying Signals
While many will lament this new digitally oriented paradigm, they shouldn’t. Seasoned sales professionals are familiar with Buying Signals — by leveraging in-bound or automated marketing software, companies can detect buying signals, such as content shared by people and questions posted online or content downloaded from the company’s website. Understanding buying signals can help sales people target relevant prospects and marketers run micro-targeted campaigns against prospects to help qualify them as Sales Ready Leads.
Andrew Gaffney, Publisher of Demand Gen Report had a great point, “Because buyers are engaging with a sales representative later in the process, the content and messaging a brand delivers really shapes the initial perception of a brand and can have a defining impression on brand preference.” By tracking consumption of their content, smart companies are listening for the Buying Signals and literally reading their prospects minds. In doing so, they are arming their sales teams with insights that otherwise would require a Qualification Call to obtain. Thus, by listening to the Buying Signals, these same companies are shortening the sales cycle and improving their conversion rate.
3 Ways To Market To Self Educating B to B Buyers?
First, mine your current sales database for insights and buyer signals. With a Behavioral Email Marketing effort, you can quickly segment your sales prospecting database into Hot, Warm and Cold leads.
Second, create truly useful information. Don’t create yet another ad cloaking itself as Native Advertising, educate the buyer and point them towards more information that will help them make the right buying decision.
And third, invest in data — it really is the new black. You’re not going to change the B2B buyer, she’s going to continue to self-educate, so use that to your advantage. Let her study at the University of YOU and track everything she does. Then use that insight to shorten your sales cycle and improve your close rate.