Taking Ownership of the Customer Journey to Improve B2B Sales

Posted on by Kelly Smith Dotson

Today, marketing departments are more important than ever in the B2B sales process. We’re living in the age of content, and because of that, modern customers scour the Internet for information long before they reach out (or respond) to a sales team.

Whether the customers are reading e-books, case studies, product reviews, blog posts, or thought leadership articles, all these different forms of content deeply integrate marketing into the buyer’s research and discovery process.

However, many companies have tough times fully capitalizing on today’s content-heavy sales process. In fact, just 27% of the leads that marketers send to sales teams are qualified; therefore, up to 79% never convert.

The root of this problem most commonly lies in a company’s inability to get its marketing and sales teams on the same page.

Suppose a B2B shopper named Bob is online, researching 3D printers for industrial use. He does a quick Google search and immediately finds Company A, whose marketers have gone to great lengths to strengthen their pay-per-click and search engine optimization efforts and ensure that the brand tops the list when queries such as Bob’s are made

As Bob dives deeper into his research — reading reviews and watching videos along the way — he provides the company with his email address in exchange for an e-book that offers in-depth information about each 3D printer on offer.

Now, Company A’s marketers have captured Bob’s contact information, they know exactly which products he’s interested in, and they have a decent idea of how far into the buying process he is. In theory, Bob has become a qualified lead who can be passed on to the sales team.

Some estimates predict that half of all customers go through a multistage journey similar to Bob’s, and 60% of that journey is guided by the marketing team..

In order to fully maximize their efforts, marketers should extend their influence into the final 40% of the sales process.

Moving forward, marketers should play three key roles in turning potential customers into clients. First, they should take full ownership of designing the journey buyers take prior to speaking with a sales team. Second, they should be the ones who turn potential buyers into qualified leads. And third, they should work to ensure that buyers experience seamless transitions when they’re passed off to the sales team.

In Company A’s scenario, the marketers know that Bob downloaded a list of products, so they should tell the sales team that he is still in the selecting stage (not the negotiating stage). With that information, sales reps will know to provide Bob with more detailed product information rather than a pitch that aims to validate a specific purchasing decision.

Companies see these three big perks when marketers take full ownership of customers’ journeys:

  1. Consistency of Message. When sales reps fully understand the journey a buyer has taken, they can stick to a consistent brand message that ties into the insights marketers have provided. When the journey is streamlined and consistent, sales will multiply and revenue will grow.
  1. Increased Marketing Accountability. Customer acquisition cost is a metric on the rise, and companies and investors are both interested in the figures. When the marketing team gets more involved in the sales process, it becomes easier to measure the performance of marketing spend and how those efforts have contributed to final deals. By streamlining the customer’s journey, the accountant’s journey gets easier, too.
  1. Reduced Finger-Pointing. When sales dip or deals fall through, a lot of finger-pointing can occur between departments. Giving the marketing team ownership of the B2B customer journey can cut out this tendency because collaboration breeds profitability. By aligning sales and marketing, businesses have seen sales win rates increase by 15% and company revenue rise by 25%. In addition, salespeople become 57% more likely to turn into top performers.

Kelly Smith Dotson is CMO of SAVO Group.

 

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