Do you insist on selling how you like to buy rather than how your buyer likes to buy? It’s a key question that needs addressing as to avoid it and bury your head in the sand is risking your sales success and future business positioning.
I want to address three areas here and they are that 1) online matters – yes – especially for your industry! 2) reviews are as important and ‘word of mouth’ and 3) The buying journey has changed forever.
We work with business leaders and directors in market leading businesses that struggle to grasp the modern customer journey and it risks stagnating that business. Remember, if you do what you’ve always done, you will get less than you have always got. Why? Because the buying journey has changed, but so too has the buyer expectation. If you aren’t showing up where your buyer expects you to be, you are missing out on the opportunity to build positioning, trust, and knowledge of your brand.
REASON #1: Online matters. 97% of any decision starts online
‘We can’t say that online’
‘Our competitors will see our pricing’
‘Our competitors will see who we work with’
‘Why would anyone read that?!’
Well, with over 90% of smartphone users beginning their online search with a scenario in mind rather than a specific product, it would make sense to stand out wouldn’t it? It would make sense to answer the users problem and build immediate knowledge and trust in your positioning. Remember, 57% of any final buying decision (as high as 70% according to Marcus Sheridan in his excellent book They Ask You Answer) so you must be relevant and searchable in the eyes of your buyer to go from unaware to aware on the buying journey. This handy article which highlights 9 things to know about influencing your buying decisions will help you start your journey to addressing the change that is needed.
The journey and research is one thing, but according to Microsoft (2016), 55% of actual interactions begin online. How is your business geared up for this shift, and what are you holding back on when the buyer is expecting a) to be able to research their needs and b) engage online and interact with your brand across platforms?
Applying the learning to your business.
What does your online presence currently say about you? How does it support your selling activity? Do you have a website because you feel like you ‘should’ or do you drive it to support the sales activity with a robust content plan?
How can your buyers currently contact you and how do you take them from the unaware stage to simply answering their questions and becoming aware of your business?
Up to 73% of B2B buyers are millennials Over 90% of millennials use social media
How many of your potential customers are you ignoring by not appreciating the value of social media for business? Even in a B2B environment, it is shown that buyers are more responsive and expectant of working with business leaders who share thought-leading opinions on social media (and other online outlets). Then why are so many business leaders and sales teams simply leaving the vast opportunity out, especially when you consider that 73% of B2B buyers are millennials!
If your potential market size is 1000 buyers, you could be missing out on around 700 valuable connections by not appreciating the opportunity or part of the customer journey that social media plays. Oberlo have shared some great insights into the use of social media on their social media marketing statistics blog, from which we found this powerful infographic…
The modern B2B expects and insists upon a modern business. In my mind, modern business is multi-channel, multi-contact and transparent. This requires, in part, a better understanding of the buyer in the first place. Millennials grew up with the internet, with with smartphones and the dawn of social media. So I have to ask why would they abandon this when it comes to their buying activity? Hint: It doesn’t!
Profiling customers is a must if you are to create a more complete buyer persona and curate a journey that works. We speak a lot about effective customer profiling and there’s a very deliberate reason we put this exercise at the front end of any Plan. Grow. Do. training we do.
REASON #2: REVIEWS ARE IMPORTANT!
Let me guess, word of mouth is a big part of your business planning? For me, word of mouth is not a strategy, it’s not something you can control and should be taken as a fantastic validation of the work you do is god. HOWEVER, what is word of mouth loses its voice? What if that person moves their job? Has a falling out (we are human afterall!).
Did you know? 91% of 18-34 year olds trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation
This article from qualtrics helps further embed the importance of reviews for your business. It’s a short read, you should give it some time and consider how, if your buyer has so much trust in the reviews medium, just how and where are you capturing reviews and feedback?
Think about the last time you looked for a new scenario on your phone or computer? No matter the product the chances are that you, a colleague, a staff member or partner took in to account the third party views of people they have never even met, in the form of reviews. Google reviews are the most prominent for most sectors but the boom in reviews platforms is a testament to the rise and rise of reviews as a marketing asset. TrustPilot, CheckATrade, Reevoo and more are just some of the more popular review platforms.
The question for you and your business is – which one is most relevant for my buyer? Where would my buyer most likely expect to see our brand, business and reputation shared online?
REASON #3: THE BUYING JOURNEY HAS CHANGED – AND IT WON’T BE GOING BACK ANY TIME SOON!
It used to be the case didn’t it, where you would attend an appointment or get your foot through the door and you couldn’t wait to crack open the briefcase that would be stuffed full of flyers and brochures for any and all of your product. You were in! You must sell something here and now!
Thankfully, these times have changed. Now is the time to play catch up. We are in a world of added value, relationship led, expert focussed and ultimately a joined-up approach of online and offline activity must lead to a modern sales approach.
What we share on the Plan. Grow. Do. training is how an appreciation of the modern buying journey is vital (to a pre defined ideal client!) to sales success and how this follows four key areas that each require an element of offline action and online activity – each supporting the other – to create a process and flow that works for you and your business.
The four key areas of the customer journey.
Too many businesses go from a potential buyer not knowing who you are in the first place to simply selling to someone who might one day want to be a customer. If you ‘sell’ too soon you are skipping the customer journey and forcing the issue. The modern business journey needs to build know, like and trust to build meaningful relationships that matter and return longer-lasting results.
With the change in buyer behaviour and the growth of millennial B2B buyers, it is now more important than ever to have a more full online presence and transparent shop window. But where do you start? Well, I have a challenge! I would like you to make a note of the previous 10 buyer enquiries you had – regardless of topic – and answer it honestly and fully in the best way you can. This answer should take the form of how your buyer would like to consume the answer (written, infographic, video etc) and should sit proudly as an asset to your communications on your website.
- How much will it cost me to…
- How soon can I have it?
- What are the best product to solve problem XYZ
- How can I…
- What ongoing support do you offer with…
- Why should I use your brand when you aren’t the cheapest?
Some of these questions may elicit some discomfort from the positioning but I encourage you to be honest, open and transparent with your potential buyers. Be proud of your offering and your position. Show your specialist position and be prepared to answer any question honestly and openly. It won’t just be your ideal buyers who will thank you, but Google and the search engines who control the traffic market will also reward you too!