I spend my days helping executives improve their marketing and sales results so they can hit their growth targets. The bulk of this time is spent diagnosing and optimizing the demand generation pipeline to align to each companies unique buyer journey. By now if you have read any of my posts or if you read about sales and marketing you have heard that the buyer is in control, you have heard that things are “different” now and you most likely agree with at least some of the perspectives you have heard. I am writing this piece because I don’t think most executives and sales and marketing leaders understand the true impact of these changes and the sense of urgency in which they should be responding.
This is not a drill
In the personal accounts from the horrifying tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 and accounts from the tsunamis that had come before there is a common theme; we didn’t realize the critical importance of the warning signs. A precursor to a tsunami is a very low tide followed by even more water receding before the wave crashes ashore. To an untrained person these might not seem like critical warning signs and could be shrugged off as just an exaggerated state of the normal tides. These conclusions when dealing with a tsunami have terrible and catastrophic consequences which are no different than demand gen leaders underplaying the critical nature of the change in buyer behavior today.
What has happened?
The market today is now driven by the buyer which is not new as this has been taking place for some time on the consumer side as the majority of America’s have joined the Do No Call list, fast forward through commercials or throw away your mailers. The big shift is this same mentality has now come to the B2B market as buyers refuse to take phone calls, don’t respond to emails and engage only on their terms. Sales processes now involve as many as 10 stakeholders, are driven by procurement, run through RFP’s and have little to no direct involvement with decision makers. Fundamentally the methodology that the majority of businesses operate on has been turned on its head, instead of companies reaching out to buyers and gaining their business, buyers are saying “don’t call me – I’ll call you”.
Why is it different this time?
This has been building for years and has now reached the majority. It is easy to disregard this as an anomaly or the minority, but when the data is showing statistics in the 70-90% range the exception has now become the rule. Not only is the data showing the majority, it is being supporting by the majority of experts. If it was one report from one firm or a one survey then again it could be considered a fluke, but when you have every major firm saying the same thing it has now become a reality. Don’t take my word for it ask Forrester, Gartner, Harvard Business Review, Accenture, McKinsey, DemandGen Report, Dimensional Research and the list goes on and on.
“71% of B2B Buyers prefer to conduct research and purchase on their own” – Accenture
“95% of buyers chose a solution that provided them with ample content to navigate through each stage of the buying process” – Demandgen Report
“90% Of Customers Say Buying Decisions Are Influenced By Online Reviews” – Dimensional Research
“By 2020 the customer will handle 85% of their relationship without interacting with a human” – Gartner
Follow the money
As the old idiom states “put your money where your mouth is” highlights, a good indication of what people truly believe or desire is where they spend their money. Hubspot has been an evangelist of this movement which they coined as “Inbound Marketing”, which has lead them to become a $1B publicly traded company with over 15,000 customers. Digital marketing spend with top $540 billion dollars this year, a clear confirmation companies have an increased need to drive interest in their solutions. Job boards are filled with open digital marketing positions and billions of venture capital money is being invested in next generation demand generation technology. The money shows a clear direction to more marketing, less sales, more virtual less in-person, more inbound less outbound – all to support a new model.
How should your company respond?
The appropriate response to this should be a serious and immediate look at your demand generation pipeline, process and structure. Most companies will need to do a major restructuring of their go-to-market strategy, may need to upgrade their marketing and sales technology and also may need to reorganize the composition of their team. We help companies through his process with our Buyer Journey Assessment which provides a complete review of your demand generation process, systems, metrics and competitive benchmarks. The output is a thorough report of what is working, what is not and the action plan to solve these issues.
Time is not your friend
One of the key dangers of the tsunami is that by the time most identify their is a problem it is too late and it leads to catastrophic results. The situation facing companies who have not adapted to the modern buyer is not much different. As many people know this stuff takes time. For example, changes to a website’s SEO can take as long as 90 days or more to start taking effect. The transition to a content marketing or inbound marketing approach or larger organization shifts can take even longer to start to show results, which is an even bigger reason to get moving today. The companies that adopt these methodologies sooner will have a huge competitive advantage, not only because they will be ahead but that these strategies can reduce cost by as much as 90% according to Forrester. So not only will they be winning more deals that you they will be doing so with better margins which will provide them a compound accelerator.
How does this resonate with your experience? Where do you see this in your day to day? Comment below or reach out for a free consultation.