B2B purchasing decisions increasingly trace complex journeys, challenging the long-standing practices of many sales organizations.
For our B2B participants:
Welcome to the new dynamics of B2B sales. Decision-making authority for purchases is slipping away from individuals in familiar roles—often those with whom B2B sales teams have long-standing relationships. Just as the digital revolution has transformed once-predictable consumer purchasing paths into a more circular pattern of touch points, so too business-to-business selling has become less linear as customers research, evaluate, select, and share experiences about products. More people within (and, thanks to digital engagement, even outside) the organization are playing pivotal roles in sizing up offerings, so the path to closing sales has become more complicated.
The best response is to embrace the new environment. Sellers who are ready to meet customers at different points on their journeys will exploit digital tools more fully, allocate sales and marketing resources more successfully, and stimulate collaboration between these two functions, thereby helping to win over reluctant buyers. Our experience with upward of 100 B2B sales organizations suggests that while the change required is significant, so are the benefits: an up to 20 percent increase in customer leads, 10 percent growth in first-time customers, and a speedup of as much as 20 percent in the time that elapses between qualifying a lead and closing a deal……
…Three priorities for reshaping the sales organization
B2B companies across industries are moving toward journey-based sales strategies. We’ve seen success among organizations as varied as industrial-equipment manufacturers, software firms, professional-services firms, telecom providers, and basic-materials companies. Three actions are decisive:
• charting decision journeys by customer segment and drilling down on customer expectations and needs at each stage of the journey
• tackling the difficult process of reallocating sales and marketing resources to the activities most likely to influence decisions
• changing organizational structures to ramp up collaboration between marketing and sales
As B2B executives in marketing and sales organizations push ahead with these moves, they will also need to reach across the enterprise and sharpen the customer focus in every business unit and function.2