In recent years, B2B sales has witnessed a dramatic transformation. Traditionally, it was assumed that sales teams held the reins throughout the buying process. However, reports have revealed a different reality. Today, the typical B2B buyer is well into their purchasing journey before even considering reaching out to a salesperson. Estimates now suggest that this shift can be as high as 75% or more of the buying process completed independently.
Simultaneously, the number of decision-makers within buying groups has surged, now averaging between 6 to 10 individuals. This evolving landscape poses challenges for sales professionals striving to meet revenue targets.
Yet, instead of viewing this shift as a hurdle, forward-thinking sales leaders recognize it as an opportunity. The key lies in aligning closely with marketing teams to engage buyers where they spend most of their time – in the early stages of their journey.
Traditionally, sales organizations have focused their efforts on the late stages of the buyer’s journey, often inundating prospects with unwanted and low-value promotional information. However, the real opportunity lies in engaging customers before they enter the “buying window.” This period is pivotal as it’s when buyers define their needs and desires, irrespective of specific products or solutions.
To make a lasting impression, sales and marketing leaders should collaborate during this phase. Their aim should be to foster high-value conversations with prospects. Rather than touting product features, the focus should be on helping decision-makers identify their business problems and envision solutions.
Research from RAIN Group dispels the myth that buyers shun early contact with sellers. In fact, 71% of buyers welcome discussions when exploring novel ideas for enhancing business results. The challenge buyers face early in the process is information overload, known as “The Paradox of Choice.” To address this, B2B companies can guide buyers through this wealth of information, providing clarity on problem assessment and solution evaluation. This alignment with marketing is the key to success.
Alignment’s Direct Impact on Revenue
Sales leaders must grasp how marketing can support revenue goals. The sales team should collaborate closely with marketing, seeking clear and measurable contributions to revenue. This includes understanding the entire revenue funnel, not just lead volume. The focus should be on delivering value and closing deals, which is most effective when sales and marketing work together.
Aligned teams consistently achieve higher revenue results. A study by Aberdeen Group illustrates a three-fold increase in average deal size for aligned teams. This underscores the direct impact of alignment on revenue.
Where Marketing Provides Value to Sales
For many sales leaders, comprehending marketing’s role in their team’s success may be unfamiliar. Empowering sales leaders with the right information is crucial. Laura Ramos, a principal analyst at Forrester, emphasizes the need for a more interdependent relationship between marketing and sales, centered on the customer.
Successful B2B marketing leaders shift from merely passing leads to sharing buyer context, making sales the face of the company, developing high-value content, and supporting customer success management.
The changing B2B landscape presents an opportunity for sales and marketing alignment to dominate the early stages of the buyer’s journey. This collaboration leads to higher-value conversations, increased deal sizes, and ultimately, greater revenue. To thrive in this evolving landscape, businesses must embrace this paradigm shift and harness the potential within the first 75% of the buyer’s journey.
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