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The New Sales Funnel: How B2B buyers make purchasing decisions

Attention Sales: Today’s B2B buyers spend about 60% of their time identifying their problem, exploring solutions and creating a short list of vendors without even talking with your direct sale rep. In this article, we explain what this means for your sales and marketing organization.

If you have bought something online in the last five years, you know this simple truth:

People Research Before They Buy

Think about the last time you bought something without reading a review, looking at competitors or doing online research. It’s probably been a long time.

The ability to research before you buy is not limited to consumer products. This behavior applies to business buyers as well. According to Forrester,

62% of B2B buyers develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based solely on digital content.

One of the major reasons for this shift in the B2B world is that the Millennials are now the largest segment of today's workforce. And without a doubt, online research is the key component in their decision-making process.

Learn more: How to market to millennials

What does this mean for sales and marketing?

Companies that recognize the shift in how B2B buyers make their purchasing decisions also understand that in order to adapt, there needs to be a fundamental change in the roles and responsibilities between sales and marketing.

Let’s look at the buyer’s journey and see what has changed.

Today's Sales Funnel

No, sales is not dead. But as you can see, they are engaged much later in the buyer's journey. According to a study by Google and CEB, a B2B buyer has completed 57% of their purchase journey before even speaking with a sales rep. 

The brute force method of Always Be Closing that worked so well in the past is no longer effective because buyers are not looking to be closed. Today’s buyers are looking for help and guidance in making the best decision.

Marketing, on the other hand, has a lot more on their plate. In addition to creating awareness, they are now responsible for helping prospects during the consideration stage. They need to create assets, including e-books, case studies, video guides, and in-depth content articles, to help prospects understand potential solutions to their problem. And here is the catch: marketing must create these assets without a lot of face-to-face interaction. This is why creating a buyer’s persona is critical to making sure the right content and messaging is created.

Next Steps

For companies who have relied on traditional marketing and sales, there is no easy button to solve this challenge. It will require changes to some of the roles and responsibilities of your sales and marketing organization, an investment in marketing technology, a structured approach to creating marketing content and a website to serve as the foundation for your sales and marketing activities.

Written by David Lee

As the founder of Do What Works, my goal is to take the best practices and lessons I learned from working with Fortune 500 companies and bring them to the mid-size market and help our clients grow their business.