The buying cycle is not as predictable as many experts would like us to think. B2B buyers don’t suddenly have a need, Google for options, review websites, reach out to a sales person, evaluate, and buy.
It’d be nice if that’s what our customers did, but that’s not the reality of the situation.
According to Forrester Research, a B2B customer can be 90% of the way through the buying cycle before they even engage a sales person. Ninety percent!
A “call to action” too late
B2B websites usually have one or two calls to action:
- Contact us
- Request a demo
Some firms may have a call to action to download a whitepaper or slidedoc (downloadable presentation).
But these engagement steps are only relevant to customers who are deep into the buying process. “Contact us” only makes sense when the buyer knows what they want, and they’re looking for solutions.
Engage early and often
Think sooner. Only 3% of a B2B marketplace is buying at any given time. The rest are not. They may be satisfied. They may have other priorities. They may be planning for the next fiscal.
The challenge is to engage these buyers when they’re not shopping.
How can you engage your customers when they are just starting their journey? What are they looking for when they become aware of a need? What do they look for? Where do they go for ideas and information?
How can you engage them upwards of three years before they are ready to buy?
Feed the content beast
Your customers will get the information they need, whether you help them or not.
Lori Wizdo at Forrester writes, “A B2B buyer will find three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece that marketing can publish or sales can deliver. They are finding this content in an ever-expanding number and variety of channels.”
This poses a real marketing problem. The companies with the most content are tilting the odds in their favor.
The more you can interact and support your customers through the entire buying cycle, the more likely they will choose you first when they are ready to buy.
Create a first choice advantage
Are you investing enough in content, tools, and programs? Do you engage your customers when they are in the Awareness and Consideration phases of the buying journey?
Engage your customers long before they have a need for your services, and create a first choice advantage for your brand.