Building process around the tech buying journey
Processes that operate in parallel and cause friction rather than efficiency can be solved by alignment of sales and marketing.
03 Minute Read
Although this work looked at EMEA region, these insights can be applied to any organisation across the world.
Why do 49% of B2B buyers in Europe say (as they did in LinkedIn’s latest State of Sales survey) that they experience inconsistent messages from sales and marketing most of the time? The short answer is that these buyers often find themselves caught in two separate processes simultaneously. That’s a problem that can easily be solved when sales and marketing can look past the processes they follow - and focus on the buyer experiences these processes provide.
Sales and marketing need different processes to support their different roles in a complex buyer journey. However, when those processes fail to speak to one another effectively, they end up pulling that buyer journey in different directions.
Research commissioned by LinkedIn from Forrester shows that this is what happens most of the time. It found that 87% of B2B tech sales and marketing teams actually use the same, shared data pool for customer targeting and insights – but 82% admit that that challenges emerge when it comes to how they use this data. Integrating tools and systems and finding a common language for reporting are particular problems with at least 61% describing significant challenges in these areas.
This is a particular problem for B2B tech marketers and their sales teams because of the changing nature of tech buying journeys. They’re increasingly complex, increasingly digital and self-directed, and increasingly tricky to predict. Processes that are too rigid often miss the experiences that buyers are looking for - and the role that both teams can play in providing them.
How tech buyers wrong-footed the linear process
Marketing builds processes to create demand, and generate and nurture leads; sales build processes to manage pipelines and close deals. In the traditional model of B2B tech buying, these processes followed naturally on from one another. However, with different types of tech buyers navigating the buying journey on their own terms, that’s often no longer the case.
Anonymous tech buyers often want to experience a new solution in some form before they talk to sales – and they might well try that solution for a while before they are ready to take the next step. And even if they ask for advice or agree to fill in a contact form, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re ready to jump from a self-directed buyer journey to one where sales take over.
The perils of multiple processes
The upshot is that buyers are often still engaging with marketing that’s designed to nurture and inspire – at the same time as salespeople are trying to assess whether they are an opportunity or not. This can result in valuable potential buyers being offered a free trial of software one day and then asked how much they’re planning to invest this month the next.
The most attractive solution to this problem is often to throw technology at it - and rely on tools and data to magically join up the stages of the buyer journey in a way that makes sense. However, even the most sophisticated tools are no substitute for sales and marketing sharing an understanding of what the buyer is looking for - and how they can come together to provide it.
A step by step guide to process
The solution is to prioritise a data-driven understanding of the buyer journey first – and then design processes that bring sales and marketing together at each of the key stages. Clarifying the role and KPIs for sales and marketing at each of these points helps each team construct specific processes for playing the role that’s required of them. They can then be confident in the value they’re providing. A more granular approach helps keep everyone’s processes relevant.
When you focus on the buyer journey first, you often discover the need for new processes to cover the different routes through it. This might include self-personalised experiences that make it easy for buyers to access relevant information before they speak to sales. It might involve recognising that prospects can travel between different points in the buyer journey via different routes – and that marketing sourced leads require a different process to sales sourced ones. In other areas of process, consistency between sales and marketing becomes important. Lead scoring is certainly one of those.
Ultimately, effective alignment on process requires recognising the limitations of process itself. It can’t control the path that buyers take – and it’s therefore not a substitute for understanding and responding to what happens. However, once sales and marketing teams have mastered the art of delivering the right buyer experiences together, it’s a fantastic way of scaling those experiences and delivering the consistency everyone is looking for.
Our research uncovered four pillars to alignment: Strategy, Process, Content and Messaging, and Culture. Read more insights into the other three pillars and equip your team to be even more effective.
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