A number of interesting reports came out this year that examine the B2B buyer journey. In one way or another, each weighs in on the seemingly unavoidable tug-of-war between marketing and sales. Who owns the customer journey? Who is more influential in the customer experience?
Depending on which report you read, the answer varies. For example, a Forrester survey found that 74% of business buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase. The implication being that “marketing now owns a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue cycle.” Yet another report from Gleanster found that 85% of senior marketers believed that sales and sales support were in control of the customer experience.
That B2B buyer information consumption preferences will continue to evolve is inevitable. With the ongoing proliferation of digital channels and increased sophistication of content platforms, B2B buyers are more savvy than ever. They know what content they want at each stage in their decision making process, and how and where they want to consume it. While more and more of this content consumption is happening online, in-person information sharing still plays – and will continue to play – a critical role in the decision making process, especially in B2B.
A Brand-New Perspective
Too often, this silo’d approach creates inconsistencies in messaging across different touchpoints, leading to customer confusion, or worse, disengagement. Instead the entire customer decision-making experience should be shaped by a company’s brand.
B2B companies should be asking brand-driven questions, such as:
How can the company’s value proposition be communicated with clarity and consistency at every touchpoint throughout the customer journey?
What is the company’s unique point of view and how can this translate into a compelling content strategy?
What are credible proof points of the brand and how can the sales force communicate those through case studies, stories and in presentations?
How can the brand be translated into a unique and engaging user experience for customers learning about us online?
Examining these key moments in the B2B customer journey from the perspective of a company’s brand will not only ensure consistency in messaging, it will also lead to more collaborative and effective marketing and sales strategies. Most importantly, it will create better experiences for prospects. And as B2B buyers continue to behave more like consumers in their interactions and expectations of B2B brands, companies that are able to deliver comprehensive, consistent experiences will have more success in connecting with prospects and moving them along in their decision-making journey. Everybody wins.
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