The way people make purchase decisions and the way people research purchase decisions--regardless of whether they are influencers, decision-makers, or evaluators--is vastly different today compared to just as little as five or ten years ago.
Look at the launch of the first-generation iPhone in 2007 and how much has changed since then. Mobile computing has become hugely important and impactful in our culture--for both B2C and B2B businesses.
Search engines are now totally mainstream, and people do not even have to type their searches anymore, they can voice search through Siri, Google, and Alexa. You have all this machine learning and artificial intelligence going on, prompting big, big changes.
Before the internet, buyers were relatively uninformed. The buyer’s journey was pretty much a straight shot that triggered when a buyer recognized a need. Now, the trigger can be a random type of element or interaction, and the buyer can conduct all his/her personal research. Again, mobile, search, and cloud have been a huge disruptor of the traditional marketing and sales playbook.
Today (And in the Future)
At SP Home Run, we often talk about the number 70%.
70% refers to the amount of the decision-making process that is over before we are looped into a lead/opportunity. In other words, your influencers and decision-makers are doing so much research on search engines and social media that by the time they are ready for a conversation, they have made up at least 70% of their mind.
If you were having this conversation ten years ago, they engaged with you very early on (10%-20% through their journey).
As we see machine learning, artificial intelligence, and so many of these things become so much more mainstream, we think 80%-90% of that buyer’s journey is going to be over before they are ready to talk with you.
Businesses like TiVo, DVR, iTunes, and satellite radio all operate on business models where people can avoid talking to sales--and if there is a way people can avoid talking to sales, believe me, they are finding a way to do that.
Businesses need to figure out how they are going to reinvent themselves to stay relevant to survive and thrive in the future.
Comparing Then to Now
Back then, prospects were relatively uninformed, it was a linear buyer’s journey, and the best thing in the playbook was to interrupt the heck out of people and hope we could beat them into submission. The playbook suggested cold calls, email spam, and all kinds of obnoxious outbound sales advertising--whatever it took to interrupt prospects and make a sale.
Today, we have buyers that are better informed. They control their buyer’s journey, and it is a buyer-centric world, fluid, random, and often stemmed from Google. The whole sales playbook is being a lot better defined and evolving as we go along.
If you think about it, the internet has changed humans. Sales reps can be seen as subject-matter experts, gurus, professors, and advisors but it is not quite intuitive anymore. Nobody gets out of bed at 2 o’clock in the morning and thinks “Gee, I wish I could talk with five more sales reps today,” it does not work like that.
Everyone today is an expert. Everyone is doing tons of product research, and if it is possible for prospects to minimize the amount of time they have to spend dealing with a salesperson, they are going to.
We need to consider what the salesperson does and what the sales profession looks like in the future? How can we shift the perception, so we are seen more as professors, subject-matter experts, advisors, and consultants?
How is your business keeping up with today’s modern B2B buyer? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments below.
To learn more about the modern buyer’s journey and how your business can adapt its marketing and sales strategies to optimize content, download our eBook, "How South Florida Directors Develop Scalable, Predictable Revenue Growth."