By Matt Heinz, Founder & President of Heinz Marketing
A home is one of the most important purchases most people will make. The process (from first looking at listings to signing closing documents) typically takes many months, and you’re going to have to live with the result (literally) typically for a long time.
Same with vehicles. Most people go at least 5-6 years between new car or truck purchases.
On the B2B side, many decisions are met with similar consideration and longevity. Fundamental platforms as part of your sales and marketing technology stack, for example, are something you’ll likely want to live with (and benefit from) for years to come.
And conversely, if you’re unhappy or dissatisfied with your current platform or tools, it may still be months or quarters (perhaps even years) before you actively begin shopping for an alternative.
So whether we’re talking about your new house or new marketing platform, the buying journey is just a fraction of the overall prospect experience. The math works.
And yet, the majority of selling organizations treat every prospect as if they’re in some stage of the buying journey. Even treating prospect as if they’re at the top of the funnel may, in the prospective buyer’s mind, feel aggressive, too fast and/or too pushy.
For considered purchases, most of your time with prospects is NOT in an active buying cycle. According to research I’ve seen quoted by many organizations (including Gartner and Vorsight), just three to four percent of companies in any given industry are in an active buying cycle for your prospect or service category.
That same research says up to 46 percent of companies are what they call “poised”, meaning they may have a need but haven’t yet prioritized doing something about it yet.
And the other 50 percent of companies? They’re either happy with their current provider, satisfied with the status quo, or blissfully unaware that there’s even a problem worth solving. (Some of this 50 percent don’t even have the problem you address in the first place, but that’s a topic for another blog post.)
A prospect not yet in any formal buying journey (which based on the data above is most of your addressable market) doesn’t want to fill out your forms. They don’t want to talk to your BDRs. They (right or wrong) have other priorities to focus on and solve right now.
This doesn’t mean you can’t earn, achieve and keep their attention. Every selling organization has the potential and ability to share insights, content and other valuable information that keeps prospects coming back for more.
This content should be broadly relevant and applicable to key buying committee members of your target accounts. The discipline of identifying target account profile criteria and identifying key members of the (eventual) buying committee is still a key discipline that every company should pursue and complete.
But rather than start your content strategy with stage one of the buying journey, start at stage zero – attention and engagement.
Create, share, curate, amplify and make broadly available information that is ungated, easy to access, easy to share and easy to return for more.
No matter how good your sales process and buying journey definition is, you aren’t going to speed up the buying cycle for most companies in your addressable market. That may be an unpopular opinion, but I have yet to see a market dynamic or B2B organization prove me otherwise.
By all means, create a well-defined and agreed-up on buying journey that incorporates multiple members of the buying committee and detailed stages of an active buying journey.
In parallel, and perhaps more importantly for your long-term brand, pipeline and revenue growth – invest in a generous, open and measured prospect experience that moves you from interruptive to irresistible.