1-888-972-8937

Buyerology Now

Home » Posts tagged "Consumer behaviour"

Can You Predict Your Ideal Scenarios For Lead Nurturing?

"Sales Checking For Leads" © All Rights Reserved Kenny Madden

Depending on which reports you may read when it comes to lead nurturing, approximately 60% or more of B2B businesses do not have a formalized lead nurturing program.  Yet, depending on these same reports from the several research organizations benchmarking such effort, companies who perform effective lead nurturing enjoy a better than 25% higher return on their efforts than those who do not.  Which begs the question: why are companies slow to adopt to lead nurturing?

Reasons

I suspect one reason may be that the pressure for instant results from lead generation efforts is a primary driver.  Especially from firms heavily rooted in measuring results monthly and quarterly to a fanatical nature.  Which makes you think:  how much potential revenue is being left on the roadside in the speedy monthly pursuit to instantly convert leads generated into month-end results?  If organizations who find themselves in this predicament were to evaluate their efforts against what has been bypass in their pursuit, I believe they would find a sizeable amount of opportunities.

Another important reason why adoption may be either slow or unproductive is that there is a “once size fits all” mentality to lead generation and lead nurturing.  While efforts are made to develop the usual litany of content such as white papers and other mediums, they are focused on a generic understanding of challenges and issues.  While mapping content to the buying stages or journey has come into vogue, a review of forty qualitative research programs I have been involved in indicates that today’s buyers do not think or behave in such linear fashion.  Their information needs do not necessarily align or map one-to-one to a linear view of buying stages.

Buyer Scenario Modeling

While modeling the ideal buyer is of extreme importance, in the form of buyer personas, it is only one model of multiple to understanding buyers today.  In terms of lead nurturing; perhaps one of the most significant efforts an organization can make today is in the area of buyer scenario modeling.  Here is buyer scenario modeling defined:

Buyer Scenario Modeling is the process of analyzing research-based modeling of possible events, buying scenarios, buyer behaviors, buying decisions, and alternative future outcomes.”

Lead generation, lead nurturing, and content marketing can each be enhanced dramatically as well as integrate together on a more effective level with buyer scenario modeling.  This is more so than any mapping to buying stages or journey.  Buyers today do not think today nor are they forced to think in a linear fashion as they may have in the past.  Buyers are thinking in terms of the situation they find themselves in and the world swirling around them; pulling from their ecosystems and networks to meet objectives.

Changing B2B with Predictive Buyer Modeling

I recently introduced the idea of how predictive buyer modeling will change B2B as we know it.  One of the underpinnings of this idea is the use of buyer scenario modeling.  What companies can do more effectively through this process is begin to segment their lead generation and lead nurturing programs according to predictive scenarios, buyer behaviors, and buying outcomes.  Gaining knowledge and insight into how buyer scenarios develop, what challenges occur to trigger buying considerations, how buyers interact with others, and why decisions are being made.

One such Fortune 100 company who helped to co-create this concept with me recently segmented their lead nurturing efforts by modeled scenarios of the time buyers were investing in researching, evaluating, and decision-making once a challenge, problem, or issue arose.  Not happy with their lead generation results, they reorganized programs around four identifiable and predictable buying scenarios to achieve a much higher return on their efforts.  Content was developed to support the buying scenarios buyers found themselves in and not according to previously mapped generic buying stages.

This type of effort turns out to be good for all parties involved.  Marketing no longer is wasting effort and content on non-applicable situations.  Selling teams are nurturing leads at the right level and more importantly – timing.  Buyers are getting their information needs met at the right time, the right place, and the right situation of challenges they are dealing with.  To a greater degree, companies will be better able to identify and predict the ideal scenarios that give them the best shot at winning and being a long-term alternative to buyers.

Why

Buyer scenario modeling is needed in today’s connected buyer world due to the multiple types of scenarios buyers find themselves in today.  If companies are not in synch with understanding possible scenarios and outcomes, then they will be left out of the picture so to speak.  It is time for companies today to make giant leaps in their lead nurturing efforts.  Buyer scenario modeling may be just the springboard they need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Are Your Lead Generation Tactics Targeting The Wrong Buyer? 4 Steps You Can Take.

Target
Target (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am a big baseball fan and a one-time want to be pitcher.  Hitting the target within the strike zone with a variety of different pitches is what separates Cy Young award winners from ordinary pitchers.  Their ability to target different parts of home plate with predictable ball movement is an amazing skill and if you have it – you can earn millions playing the game.

Lead generation today is becoming the art and science of targeting.  A problem facing organizations today is getting a handle on who to target and where to target.  Making the issue even more problematic is the changing behaviors of the buyer.  Quantitatively, we are seeing through various studies and reports that buyers are engaged in the buying process differently.  Depending on which study, buyers are performing different kinds of activities for nearly 70% of the buying process before sales intervention.  And, they are making numerous choices along the way.

A recent report by the Aberdeen Group on sales performance shows there is a fair degree of dissatisfaction among sales leaders with 56% saying they were not seeing sufficient growth in top line revenue.  Nearly 30% expressed dissatisfaction with lead conversion to sales.  A recent CSO Insights report indicated that only 20% of organizations understood their buyer’s buying process.  These two perspectives combined point to one of the key issues – targeting the wrong buyer.

Looking back on over 10 years of specific instances of qualitative buyer research and buyer persona development work, I found that in 6 out of every 10 instances of helping an organization– a different buyer was identified than the organization had been targeting!  If you are off-target with the buyer – you will be off-target on your lead generation tactics.

Getting On Target

Marketing and sales leaders today are looking to increase their percentage of being on target when it comes to lead generation.  If they are not of the mindset to get the current rate of being off-target down, they will continue to see the same dissatisfying results.  There are four steps to resolve to targeting issue:

Buyer Research:  It all starts here.  You can no longer assume that the buyers you’ve been targeting are the correct ones.  I have been party to many conversations where a sales leader laments about this lack of understanding who to target yet in the next sentence tells me that their lead generation teams are busy targeting a certain role or profile.  To get to the heart of the issue takes committed buyer research.  Qualitative efforts to understand markets and buyers are what improve the target success rate.

Buyer Modeling:  For both marketing and sales, this is an important step.  You not only want to model who your buyers are but model their buying behaviors.  I am not talking about profiling here – which unfortunately many buyer persona efforts are nothing more than profiling exercises and yet still on the wrong buyer.  I am talking about going beyond buyer personas and using a set of modeled buyergraphics that point to how your buyers behave during the early phases of the buying process.

Buyer Designed LeadGen: Designing your lead generation strategies, systems, and processes should revolve around your buyer research and buyer modeling.  If your lead generation strategies and tactics are designed around the buyer, then conversion rates will rise and productivity amongst marketing and sales personnel involved will rise.  The area of lead generation is where marketing and sales are usually out of alignment.  With the age old battle of sales feeling that they are getting bad leads.  Designing lead generation around buyer research and buyer modeling gets marketing and sales aligned around the same target – the right buyer.

Buyer Training:  Like built-in appliances, organizations have routinely conducted product and sales training.  I do not have statistics to back me up but I am willing to guess that a random survey would prove that the majority of training is product training.  What is needed is to have Buyer Training become a staple of training in both marketing and sales today.  The long ramp-up time it takes for marketing and sales to understand the buyer today is out of synch with the pace of change in buyer behavior.  As the CSO Insights pointed out, barely 20% of organizations understand their buyer’s behaviors and buying processes!  Folks – we are training marketing and sales people to understand and do the wrong things.

Targeting the right buyer is becoming part art and part science today.  For many companies, the first important step in tackling this issue is discovering who their right buyers are and where they are with qualitative buyer research.   Just like a Cy Young pitcher who knows who is up to bat and what the batter’s tendencies are and where to target the baseball over the plate in the strike zone – lead generation today has to get in its own strike zone.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Predictive Buyer Modeling Is Changing the Future of B2B

English: Vladimir Kush looking through a cryst...

Image via Wikipedia

I would not be surprised today if a group of B2B executives said they were using fortune tellers to peer into a crystal ball to make predictions about the future.  The fast pace of change makes the crystal ball of how buyers will behave in the future enveloped in a hazy fog.  C-Suites are under enormous pressures to get it right the first time with regards to marketing and sales planning.

The ability to make decisions based on predictions is becoming an essential attribute for B2B executives.  Predictions come with a host of implications and the ability to assess their impact is perhaps the toughest part of strategy planning.  One approach that has been used by executives to inform strategy planning is that of scenario modeling.  It has been used both in business and in military exercises for several decades.  What matters in today’s B2B climate is having the ability to predict multiple scenarios and more importantly – multiple buying scenarios that will shape the organization’s marketing, sales, product, content, and social strategies.

Predictive analytics and modeling has mostly been about exactly what the name implies – an exercise in using analytics to predict and model different scenarios.  There are three profound changes occurring in predictive analytics and modeling that is being driven by the impact of the buyer increasingly self-directing purchase decisions:

  • Putting buyers at the center of predictive modeling
  • Emphasis on modeling buyer behavior
  • Bringing a qualitative interface to the quantitative analytics

Some leading B2B executives are proceeding with a level of qualitative buyer research that allows them to understand current buying scenarios as well as behaviors to create predictive buyer scenario models.   Using the nuances of each buyer scenario modeled to create specific as well as variations of marketing, sales, social, product, and content strategies that help them to attain key objectives related to growth.  One reason B2B executives are turning to integrating qualitative buyer scenario models into predictive analytics is that it allows them to view real world business challenges at an insightful level.  This approach gives them an all important interface to existing analytics as well as guiding what analytics to get predictive about in the future.

A case in point could be that quantitative predictive analytics can help predict the types of IT servers needed, what is the average quantity purchased, quantify search behaviors, and how IT servers are being purchased.  Buyer scenario models bring the real world insight that will help to predict under what scenarios IT servers are needed, what problems usually surface that causes the need, buyer behaviors during search and decision-making, and why it is important.  Integrating the quantitative and the qualitative allows B2B executives to then predict multiple buyer scenarios that reflect real world problems and also represent real-time growth opportunities.

How Can B2B Leaders Make Predictive Buyer Modeling An Important Part Of Strategy?

For some B2B organizations, jumping into full blown predictive analytics can be an expensive proposition. One key benefit of qualitative predictive buyer modeling is that it can be done less expensively and it also helps to identify where predictive analytics is needed.  Here are a few ways B2B leaders can consider predictive buyer modeling and the use of buyer scenario models:

Input – I was in the business information and intelligence industry for a good portion of my career and one tenet that is still true today is that good output is driven by good input.  In this case, good input is represented by qualitative research and interviewing efforts that help to identify important behavioral data and insight elements.

Multiple Scenarios – In today’s business climate, the number of possible buying scenarios continues to increase.  And they are touching more parts of the organization than ever before.  Building buyer scenario models for strategies related to marketing, sales, content, social, and service can be extremely valuable for a C-Suite team in planning.

End-to End – The emphasis should be on understanding the full spectrum of the End-to-End Buyer Experience.  Even in quantitative predictive analytics, this point is often overlooked.  Buyer behavior is often shaped not only by pre-sale experiences but by post-sale experiences – with bad post-sales experiences having a detrimental impact on future sales.

Implications Analysis – Predictive buyer modeling should be designed to enable B2B leaders with the ability to understand the implications that different buyer scenario models will have on their business.  This should include some “what if” modeling around how buyers may respond to different approaches and strategies.

People Involvement – Predictive buyer modeling should not be for the chosen few.  It should involve as many people from affected areas as possible.  Buyer scenario models enable teams to look at real world challenges and literally play a game of understanding how strategies and tactics can change the game in the real world itself.

Integrate Analytics – Predictive analytics can indicate areas that can benefit from further illumination.  In those cases where further illumination is needed, predictive buyer modeling and buyer scenario models can get to the story behind the numbers.  In the reverse, buyer scenario models can introduce a new story and predictive analytics can get to the numbers behind the story.

Recently, I witnessed a group of executives use predictive buyer modeling.  What became evident to me was how the process opened up the mind to alternative possibilities.  Additionally, by putting the buyer at the center of predictive modeling, assumptions as well as implications were easier to assess because the focus was on how buyers would respond.  This type of process sparks the creativity needed to look at real world business challenges and think in new ways to reinvigorate as well as sustain a business.

Predictive buyer modeling and buyer scenario models can show B2B executives a new path towards making customer-centric and buyer-centric planning a reality.  Enabling a promising future for how B2B organizations can reinvent strategizing and planning – and when doing so, they do so with the buyer at the center.

Enhanced by Zemanta

One Thing That Can Get You From Here to There in 2012 and Beyond

image from www.flickr.comIn the world of B2B management, there are numerous head scratching efforts going on as we peer ahead into 2012 and beyond.  Primarily, it has to do with how to get from here to there.  One of the issues faced by B2B companies with the high degree of uncertainty, global economic turbulence, and a rapidly changing buyer driven and social world is figuring out where the from here to there actually leads to.

Recent buyer and management interviews tell me a lot of head scratching continues to go on.  Plenty of internal angst and debate is taking place on how to get from here to there, what is needed, what should be done, and what a lot of people think.  The what to do aspects of internal planning usually center on strategy and tactical questions such as:

How do we grow revenues?
What can we do to generate more leads?
How do we expand business with existing customers?
What type of content will drive more traffic to our web site?
Should we get more active with social media?
Do we need to improve our product quality and offering?
Should we boost marketing and sales budgets?
Do we need to hire more people?
What should our pricing strategy be going forward?
What new technologies do we need to adopt?

As you can see, the list of questions for B2B organizations can be endless.  And plenty of them have to do with what should we do – probably more so than how to get from here to there.  What is striking however is that there is a tendency to dive into the angst over and debated questions without truly having clarity on where from here to there actually should end up.  As they say in the venture capital world: sometimes there is no there – there.  So in this riddle of thinking, to figure out how to get from here to there, you first have to figure out where the there actually is.

What is the one thing you can do to figure out where the there is and how to get from here to there?

You have guessed it by now, I am sure, if you have read my articles before:

Attaining deep qualitative B2B buyer insights.

Investing in deep qualitative B2B buyer insights means talking to your customers – and yes that sometimes means with the help of a third party.  Let’s face it – in certain situations buyers are more revealing to a third party when the perceived wall of sales agenda comes down and the expertise level to conduct qualitative research is not in-house.  However the point is this: to be informed on where the there is actually means your company needs to be talking with existing customers and prospective buyers deeply outside of a marketing and selling context.

Revealing buyer insights can tell you plenty about where your existing customers and buyers are headed.  Deep buyer insights give you a clue on where the planning of how to get from here to there is suppose to end up.  Giving you answers to the above mentioned type questions as well as what you should be doing to align with your buyers.

Collecting deep qualitative B2B buyer insights – before you get in over your head in angst and debate – can alleviate much of the headache that comes with strategy and tactical planning.  Imagine a meeting with less I think we should debating going on and more discussion on how we need to help existing customers and prospective buyers get from here to there.    Helping your customers and buyers to get from here to there helps you figure out how you and your company will get from here to there.  The definition of where that is, if you are aligned with your buyers, should be a two sided coin.  Helping buyers achieve their emblem of success on their side of the coin ensures that you will have an emblem of success on your side of the coin.

The one thing you can do is acquire deep qualitative buyer insights.  The type of insights that inform you on the map you need to put in place that shows you, your teams, and your company how to get from here to there.  Now – can you imagine getting anywhere in the world without a map?

(Image by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Ways New Buyer Behaviors Are Impacting B2B Sales

image from www.flickr.comFor many in B2B sales, from senior leaders to sales representatives, it may be a discouraging time.  If you follow conventional and social media closely, the storied demise of sales has been told many times.  You probably could buy a few lunches if you collected a dollar for every time you heard that buyers are in control and don’t need sales.   To you, this sentiment seems like it is taking on mythical proportions.  I am not so sure.  If I ask myself three simple questions, I think my answers are clear:

Have buyers changed?  Answer: Yes
Does B2B Sales need to change?  Answer: Yes
Will buyers still require the assistance of B2B Sales?  Answer: Yes

I suspect many of you will answer the same way.  B2B Sales will continue to matter very much and it will go through periods of redefinitions and transformations over the next few years.   Although, in the Social Age, it may seem that people want to be devoid of actual interactions with others in such buying settings, I for one believe buyers are actually seeking more.  However, more of what has not defined interactions and relationships in the past.

5 Ways B2B Sales Are Affected

New buyer behaviors are emerging and evolving.  The rate of change will, without a doubt, continue to take place at a significant rate.  B2B Sales will have to charter a new course that gets them rethinking about how interactions, engagements, and relationships are changing.  Let’s take a look at new buyer behaviors and how they are affecting B2B Sales in particular:

Buyers Have New Knowledge Expectations

The instantaneous availability of information and knowledge at buyer’s fingertips puts pressure on B2B Sales to match their expectations when it comes to what we can call knowledge readiness.  If buyers are truly able to access information and knowledge for researching as well as assessing potential opportunities and resolutions, then B2B Sales needs to bring more to the table when an actual engagement takes place.  B2B Sales needs to pick up where the buyer left off.  Let an actual buyer voice be heard:

“Okay, so what gets my goat more than anything is that after I do all the research and such, I finally get to talking to a sales rep.  And what happens?  They just regurgitate all the stuff I found online.  They are not telling me anything new.  Just telling me what I already know.”

For B2B organizations today, not only is sales readiness important but so is knowledge readiness.

Buyers Seeking Advisement, Not Ready-Made Solutions

A generalized assumptive statement can be made, based on numerous surveys conducted over the past two years, that buyers are generally 50% to 60% into the buying process before having direct engagement with sales.  They’ve done the spade work in looking at potential solutions, scoping out what might be a good resolution, and approximating budgets.  This changes the game significantly for B2B Sales.  Buyers already know about your ready-made solutions found in their researching.  What they seek is skills and knowledge in advising them on how solutions – modified, customized, and most definitely altered – will help them to achieve the specific goals and outcomes they seek.  The implication for B2B organizations is B2B Selling organizations must have talent that reflects excellent advisory skills.

Buyers Including More People in Their Ecosystems and Networks

Driven by social and Enterprise 2.0 technologies, buyers are able to expand their ecosystems and networks in complex situations.  The degree of interdependencies between not only users and influencers but partners, suppliers, and their customers as well makes for more complexity.  And once again – more knowledge needed.   Decision-making is getting more participative within ecosystems and networks.  B2B Sales will need to adapt and address complexity as well as possess knowledge that makes them an important participant within a buyer’s complex ecosystem and networks.  I believe this will be B2B Sales toughest challenge over the next few years.  Why?  I believe wired into the DNA of selling organizations are systems, training, processes, and the likes all oriented towards the tunnel vision of a single buyer making a non-sophisticated decision.  Today’s realities tell us otherwise.

Buying Cycles Are Getting Longer

Counterintuitive to today’s hyper-connected and hyper-speed world is the acknowledgement that buying cycles in complex B2B Sales situations are actually getting longer.  Increasing need for more knowledge, more advisement on problem-solving, more modifications and customizations, more participants in buyer networks, and more complex global environments all point towards why buying cycles are getting longer.  This means B2B Sales will need to exercise patience in serving in the advisory role and slow down the train on ready-made solutions selling.  What we will see here is boiling tension points begin to emerge.  Many organizations are still wedded to pipeline thinking and management.  Mandated for decades has been to push sales opportunities fast and furiously through the pipeline to meet quarterly projections.  Readjusting thinking around this tension point is very much akin to turning a freight ship around in a harbor – it’s going to take a while and some tug boats are definitely going to be needed.

Buyers Are Relating Differently

Emerging generational differences are beginning to sprout into the workforces.  A generation is rising that has little knowledge of a world without an Internet, email, social networks, ubiquitous smart phones, and always on connectivity to their social and professional networks.  How interactions takes place and how relationships are formed are undergoing major transformations.  The implications for B2B Sales is that it will need to look at their buyer groups and determine how advanced they are along these lines and are they impacted significantly with generational differences.  Causing a reexamination of what the coveted ratio between field and inside sales should be in the future.  Which is better suited to interact with and relate to the social buyer will be the new determining factor on this ratio – as opposed to some arbitrary cut off line between large accounts and small accounts.

Where Is B2B Sales Headed?

These emerging new buyer behaviors will contribute towards the changing face of B2B Sales.  They will impact traditional vanguards such as sales planning, sales strategies, pipeline management, sales training, and sales hiring.  Solving the decades old marketing and sales alignment issue will need to be reexamined as well.  Much of the debate has been around functional definitions as opposed to how an organization best coalesces around changing buyer behaviors and dynamics.

There are three things we can be sure of in the future.  One, new buyer behaviors will continue to impact B2B Sales.  Two, how we define B2B Sales will undergo drastic change.  And lastly, B2B Sales will continue to play a vital role in how organizations engage with buyers in the future.

How is your organization being impacted today?  What changes are taking place that you see?

(Image by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)


Enhanced by Zemanta

7 Burning Questions for B2B Marketers in 2012

image from www.flickr.comAsking good questions was seared into my mental consciousness by several mentors early in my career.  This notion was further influenced by prodigious reading of Peter Drucker.  The premise being that good questions help you to focus and to get to the heart of what matters most.  Here’s what I’ve learned over the years: it is hard to do and it takes practice!  As I think about the future for B2B Marketers, these questions ring the loudest:

Who Are Our Customers?

We are undergoing the most significant changes in buyer behaviors in several decades as well as seeing the rise of connected social buyers, albeit younger, who behave much differently than traditional buyers.  As simple as the question sounds, it is still the hardest question for businesses to answer.  With existing buyers, new buyers, and expanding markets constantly in transition – getting insight into answering this question will need to be on top of the list.

Where Did Our Customers Go?

If we randomly picked a ten page year-end report, it would be a good bet that somewhere on page eight or nine in the third paragraph there is mention of it.  You know what I am talking about.  The one about, in management speak of course, losing existing customers or prospective buyers dropping out of the pipeline.  If you don’t have solid answers on where they’ve gone – and why – then it is a safe bet you might see increases in next year’s ten page report.

How Do We Create A Better Buying Experience?

With distinctive differences between products and services narrowing substantially, experience-centered marketing and relationships will be the coveted playing field to win on.   When was the last time your organization reviewed processes, systems, departments, and the likes to determine whether they added value to the buying experience?  Were processes or systems put in place, now in hindsight, to address an anomaly that occurs in less than 3% of all situations?  Meaning, the remaining 97% of existing customers and prospective buyers have to go through hurdles that in the end may cause them to say: forget it!

What Is The Best Way To Interact Directly With Customers?

If we totaled all of the articles written in 2011 in the B2B world, it would make you think that there is nothing happening after this so called 70% window where buyers don’t want sales interaction.  Well, ignore at your own peril.  What has happened is that it has raised the stakes on the remaining 30-40% where direct interaction from sales is still needed.  In service what is the best means for direct interaction?  In sales, what resources should be dedicated to field sales versus inside sales?   What in the world is social selling and what do we do about it?

How Do We Best Equip Our Employees For The New Way Of Business?

If you haven’t noticed, buyers are a changing.  Meaning your organization cannot stand pat without changing also.  Buyers are expecting their suppliers and vendors to change with them.  If there is a growing perceived gap between how much they’ve changed and how much you haven’t – could mean they will go elsewhere.  It is time to look at the talent needed and the equipping technologies needed to have employees ready to do business in a new way.

How Do we Best Assimilate Social Media Into Our Business – The Right Way?

Enriching experiences with social media is here to stay.  The cabling has been laid out and becoming hardwired into the mainstream conscious of every business.  If you resisted, it is time to take a fresh look and ease up on the tight grip you’ve had on social media expenditures.  Granted, the hype was spectacular and some companies bet their whole marketing budget on social media.  Those who did will probably rethink that idea and be much the wiser going forward.

What Exactly Is Doing Content Marketing The Right Way?

Many B2B companies are grappling with the ideas behind content marketing and content strategy.  It all sounds good – give existing customers and prospective buyers’ great content and that should result in gains in customer loyalty and buyer conversions.  How to make that happen is where the grappling is taking place.  When does too much content do more harm than good?  When does too little content hurt conversions?  What exactly is good content versus bad content?

As you see, the questions could never end.  The important take away is to be sure to ask them.  Ignoring them and sweeping them under the rug will only make the rug a little bumpy.  And one day, buyers will simply pull the rug out from underneath you.

(Image by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)

 

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 Ways New Buyer Behaviors Will Affect B2B Marketers in 2012

image from www.flickr.comChanges in buyer behaviors continue to march on as new social technologies take root into the mainstream of B2B businesses.  Uncertainty on how best to understand buyers today as well as engage buyers is on top of the list for many B2B organizations as they look ahead to 2012 and beyond.  During the past two years, we’ve seen new tactical attempts come and go while some are sticking.  With clear determination of changes in buyer behavior remaining elusive, B2B organizations are struggling to find the right mix of buyer strategies and tactics that result in a winning formula.  Looking ahead, more and more B2B organizations will seek to find a formula that works specifically for them.   (Image “Breathe the sames air as your prospects/customers” by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)

5 Ways B2B Marketers Are Affected

New buyer behaviors means B2B organizations have to rethink many of their existing ways of engaging B2b buyers today.  This is certainly problematic when rethinking often entails looking at such building blocks as strategy, tactics, systems, and infrastructure.  Let’s take a look at new buyer behaviors and how they are affecting B2B Marketers (note – when using the term B2B Marketers, I am referencing both marketing and sales):

Buyers Expanding Their Decision-Making Networks

The advent of social technologies is allowing B2B buyers today to expand not only their social network but their collaborating network.  While we have been conditioned over decades to focus on a single target buyer, or as I have written about often, a target buyer persona, we are beginning to see that this will no longer be adequate for B2B Marketers.  The expansion of these buyer ecosystems and networks is changing who is included in new buyer decision models.  Buyers are less and less representing themselves or behaving as individual buyers but more and more as a buyer network.  B2B Marketers will need to get grounded in figuring out what buyer ecosystems and buyer networks exist for their respective industries.

Buyers Are Seeking Intelligence, Not Content

I’ve covered this recently in several articles.  In qualitative efforts I’ve been involved with recently that included conducting buyer interviews, I can tell you that the overwhelming amount of content that buyers are dealing with is an issue.  Buyers are essentially being forced to be more selective and to “junk” perceived non-relevant content.  I use the word perceive here because it is very much like Malcom Gladwell’s theory of Blink.  They are making the perception of non-relevance in a blink of an eye.  B2B Marketers then must focus on standing out and offering intelligence that buyers seek and not mere push messaging content.

Buyers Want Humanized Buyer Experiences

Let’s face it, many B2B buying experiences still feel, look, and are acted out in very transactional ways.  Buyers today are basically saying: why should I settle for less!  I still stand solidly behind Paul Greenburg’s mantra that “buyers want to be a subject of an experience, and not an object of a sale.”  B2B Marketers will need to focus on how to make humanized buyer experiences happen.  The margin of difference between products and services is narrow so the playing field of experience is gaining in prominence.

Risks Continues to Play Big Role in Buyer Decisions

Risk aversion and risk avoidance continue to affect B2B buying decisions.  The uncertainty created by a tumultuous global economy and uncertainty about the future means B2B buyers give extra attention to driving down costs and putting more pressure on reducing price whenever they can.  The affects of buyer perceived risks is enormous.  It is resulting in more problem solving research, longer sales cycles, and the expansion of buyer networks in decision-making as mentioned above.  B2B Marketers then must not only determine what these perceived risks are, but address them early on in buying cycles and buyer decision models.

Buyers Adopting New Self-Enabling Technologies

If we think back ten to fifteen years ago, it was very common to think that mid-level managers to senior executives probably would privately break down and cry if the administrative assistant called in sick.  Fast forward today, new technologies have caused a major mind shift.  B2B buyers from mid-level managers to senior executives are efficient at using newer technologies to be self-enabling.  Meaning they want more self-enabling technologies and services from B2B Marketers.  With 60% to 70% of purchase decisions being made before there is direct sales involvement, this is the new frontier in B2B Marketing and Sales.  B2B Marketers then will need a mind shift themselves.  In the past three years, we’ve seen a considerable increase in marketing technology investing with some producing measurable success while some are questionable at best.  The shift needs to be towards investing in buyer enabling technologies.  Meaning B2B Marketers will have to think more about how they can create self-enabling buying experiences that buyers customize on their own.  Experiences that don’t necessarily follow what we think are normal buying processes or stages.

Investing In The Two Sides of Buyer Insight 2.0

Enriching insights on existing customers and prospective buyers is rising to the top of the agenda for C-Suites in B2B organizations.  The above mentioned buyer behaviors and their impact on B2B Marketers mean that making assumptions about existing customers and potential buyers is risky business.  While investments in BIG data surged in the past two years, investing in BIG insights will gain more attention as B2B Marketers continue to struggle making sense out of data and analytics.  In 2012, B2B Marketers will begin to incorporate the two sides of buyer research and analysis into Buyer Insight 2.0 – data and context.  There is a symbiotic relationship between the two and B2B Marketers will discover in 2012 that to understand buyer decision-making behaviors – data or analytics cannot exist without context and that context cannot exist without data or analytics.

Without question, there is a lot to think about in 2012.  One thing B2B Marketers can think about consistently is that new buyer behaviors will affect them and it will not be the other way around.  Those days are long gone indeed.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Buyerology Trend: Humanize the Buyer Experience

image from www.flickr.comThis is the final article looking at buyer trends that will influence marketing and sales in the near and foreseeable future. Let’s recap the significant buyer trends noted so far in this series:

This final article looks at how buyers desire above all else – a rewarding buyer experience and how businesses today and in the future will need to focus on enhancing as well as humanizing the buyer experience.  (Image “people not numbers” by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)

Buyer Trend: Buyers desire rewarding human experiences

The concept of Experience in business has undergone a roller coaster ride during the past ten to fifteen years since it was first introduced.  Both the terms customer experience and buyer experience taking on different meanings in this time period.  For buyers in general, there has been a slow but progressing convergence of desiring B2C like experiences in B2B market worlds.  Without question, the rise of the Internet and Social Technologies has shaped and reshaped our concept of Experience in general.  I believe we are at a pivotal moment in business history with respect to buyer behavior and experience.

This pivotal moment is centered on the idea that buyers desire human experiences in the business world and see experience as a two-sided coin.  The two key principles of experience in the modern Social Age are:

  • Contextual: the overriding foundation of customer and buyer experience is engaging existing customers and prospective buyers in relevant contextual experiences – whether they are in social mediums, conversations, or interactions.
  • Learning: rising as an essential component of experience in business is the growing expectations on the part of buyers that undergoing an experience also mean they will learn from the experience.  Knowledge and practical intelligence will be gained by entering into the experience.

Buyers today are redefining the meaning of business experience.  Consequently, integrating their business experience into how buyers are reshaping their human experience in general as a result of the Social Age.  Buyers not only want to “feel good” about the business experiences they undergo, but now also have a higher expectations they will take away knowledge they did not have before.

The seven buyer trends in this article series point to what I call The Buyer Circle of Experience.  As they reshape their definition of what a business experience means and integrate it into their human experience, buyers are expanding their circle of experience in a business context.  The totality of their humanized buyer experience including what has been covered in this Buyerology Trend series:

  • To undergo rewarding and fulfilling experiences
  • To be understood qualitatively – in human terms and not data terms
  • To enable their quest to fulfill knowledge needed; not be seen as object for demand generation
  • To enhance collaborative experiences with expanding buyer networks
  • To be enabled to make informed decisions that align with organizational decision models versus generic buying process views
  • To grow their intelligence and in essence grow their knowledge and practical wisdom in their respective areas and beyond
  • To foster the ability to meet shared corporate values, in addition to needs, as part of the business experience

What Must CEO’s, CMO’s, and CSO’s Do?

A place for C-Suite leaders to start is to rethink their own concept of what experience – customer and buyer experience – means in today’s Social Age.  Guiding the organization to adopt a two dimensional view of experience – contextual and learning – as opposed to one dimensional views.  It will take hard work and deep customer and buyer understanding to turn B2B business engagement into humanized social experiences.  This becomes a new imperative for the C-Suite.  Undergoing think shift – viewing every interaction as one that must become an engaging and fulfilling experience and represent a learning experience for existing customers and prospective buyers.

The implications affect every area of businesses – talent, training, functions, technologies, operations, marketing, and sales.  It will test the resolve and capabilities of business leadership as we know it today.

The Future

In the future, buyer expectations for experiences that engage them contextually and provide learning opportunities will grow.  The open systems of new social technologies fueling the rise in humanizing the buyer experience.  Buyers will be looking to integrate their business experience into their personal human experience.

As the millennial grows into leadership, we will see metamorphoses take place around the concept of business, organization, leadership, and shared values.  This will drastically affect our notions of what is thought of as a business experience.  We may very well begin to see a narrowing gap between the business experience and the human experience happen sooner than we think.

Key questions to ponder for the future are: What is your organization doing today to rethink experience and what it means?  How capable is your organization of providing both engaging as well as learning experiences?  How will your organization be impacted by this evolving trend?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Buyerology: The New Science of Understanding Buyer Behavior

Behaviour 1Image by Taz etc.via Flickr

Over the course of the past two years, we’ve seen a marked shift in buyer behavior and buying choices.  So much so that the degree of uncertainty of why and how both individual buyers and organizational buyers make buying decisions has also markedly increased.  There is a direct correlation occurring whereby as buyers continue to increase their share of self-directing the buying decision without any direct interactions from sellers, the degree of uncertainty grows.  While quantitatively as well as statistically we have a sense of what buyers are doing, as survey reports by Baseone and DemandGen indicate, we still lack in-depth qualitative awareness on why and how certain buying choices are made.

This is awakening a renewed reality among business today that understanding shifts in buying behavior is becoming paramount to planning marketing and selling strategies that will succeed.  Buyer behavior understanding began to surface more prominently in the mid-1970’s but remained on the fringes of planning and strategies as product-centricity was entrenched in much of business as we knew it through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s.  During the past three decades we have seen a growth in customer and buyer-centric thinking however buyer behavior analysis remained somewhat a small component of marketing and sales thinking as well as planning.  Fast forward to the last five years and the explosive convergence of the Internet and the Social Age; we are seeing recognition that buyer behavior understanding is moving towards being the centerpiece linchpin of planning and strategy.  Companies today are attempting to make themselves relevant to buyers who are radically evolving their buying behaviors and have more buying choices than they ever dreamed of in just a few short years.  The relevancy mystery can only be solved by understanding buyer behaviors and the shifts in buying choices that are occurring.

We are witnessing another awakening as a result of new and rapidly evolving buyer behaviors; organizations today needing to approach marketing and selling interactions as more science and less art.  These monumental awakenings call for a new approach and concept I call BuyerologyBuyerology is a means to introduce more science into understanding, both quantitatively and qualitatively, buyer behaviors and buying choices.  The convergence of the Internet and the Social Age requires new approaches to tools that are used to reach in-depth understanding as well as to monitor rapid shifts in buyer behaviors.  Buyerology must offer approaches and tools that help to translate buyer behavior understanding and insights into meaningful strategies that accomplish the relevancy that remains elusive for many companies today.

My own shift in thinking about buyer behavior began with a series of articles on Social Buyerology.  The articles tapped into the recognition and movement towards more science and less art in the spheres of marketing and sales as well as in overall social strategy.  Reflecting back on ten years since originating buyer persona development, much of the analysis performed via buyer persona development was in essence about buyer behavior.  Recently, I have written about how buyer persona development must indeed undergo its own transformation at this juncture in modern business history.

This article marks a turning point for me personally and professionally.  I have been thinking about something – in fact a lot – Tom Peters use to bellow loudly in many of his presentations years ago – that if you’ve been doing the same thing or staying with the same company for ten years or more you’ve become institutionalized.  In similar ways, buyer personas as an idea has become institutionalized in various circles; defined rightly and wrongly, and indeed no longer can suffice on its own.  Adapting to the new social world and taking a leap of faith, I will be devoting the next twelve weeks to elaborating on the new science of understanding buyer behaviors I call Buyerology.  I will be sharing new approaches and tools that address the many challenges faced by organizations in marketing, sales, social business, and content strategy planning.

My hope is to accomplish two things.  First, to avoid becoming institutionalized as Tom Peters ingrained in me many years ago.  Whether he meant mentally or physically, I am not sure but it has felt like a few times, like many of us, I was losing my mind while I attempted to understand the many changes occurring!  The second is to make a contribution towards advancing buyer behavior understanding through the social science of Buyerology.

 

Enter Your Email:
Sign Up for news and updates from Buyerology©