For sales-driven organizations, 2017 marked the year that the baton was finally – and permanently – passed to the consumer.
This was the year, it was declared, that all of the growing technology megatrends finally gave the consuming public the upper hand in the relationship with marketers. This means that, despite all of the efforts and resources we’ve invested into outbound sales and marketing efforts, heretofore, we’re simply going to find ourselves several paces behind an educated and savvy buying public.
In fact, according to a survey by CEB, a division of Gartner, the modern buyers journey is now 57 percent complete before they encounter our products or services -- thanks to self-driven online research. Of course, this shouldn’t surprise you. Think about the last thing you bought. Didn’t you Google it first? Did you pay attention to research results on Page 2? Probably not.
Just like you, your customer can and will research the heck out of you and your competitors. This digital transition to online research is having a profound effect on the roles and responsibilities between sales and marketing. For sales reps, this means leads are being introduced at a much later stage in the buying process than in the past – in effect redrawing the traditional sales funnel to look more tornado-like in construct. This is creating intense pressure for today’s CEO to accelerate the digital transformation of their marketing messages to catch the attention of the modern buyer.
That has enhanced the importance of the role of the marketer, who now must join the buyer’s journey sooner, remain in the funnel longer – and harbor a much deeper understanding of buying trends.
Let’s take a look at the new funnel, and gain a greater understanding about how the winds have shifted:
As you can see, today’s marketing team still has primary responsibility for creating awareness and interest among the company’s target customers, as in the past. However, marketers now must also do much of the heavy lifting in helping customers consider the product’s attributes, incite their intent to purchase the product, help them evaluate how the product meets their need(s), and compare all potential alternatives, including from competitors.
If these new roles seem familiar, you’re correct: A generation ago, this was the role of a good sales representative – to present well-qualified and well-informed customers with salient information. But with today’s consumer collecting myriad product data on their own, they will have completed these stages long before the sales person comes calling.
Now that you have an idea of what you need to do to get started modernizing your message and creating a marketing plan that supports the buyer’s journey, you’ll be better equipped for the new sales funnel.