Hero's Quest: The B2B Buyer's Journey

Hero’s Quest: The B2B Buyer’s Journey

Brian Surguine
Authored byBrian Surguine

In the B2B buyer’s journey, buyers have to wade through a lot of nonsense to find relevant information.

The search for a trusted ally becomes a heavy burden. No wonder B2B buyers often give up, get distracted, or just go with the seemingly easiest or most visible choice. Even when a solution has been identified, teammates must be won over and brought into close alignment.

The B2B buyer’s journey is daunting, indeed.

To become a trusted guide in your buyer’s quest, heed our sage wisdom. Passed down through years of buyer’s journey mapping research, we’ve identified tried-and-tested techniques to cut through the noise and gain your buyer’s trust.

The Age of Narrow

According to Sangram Vajre, ABM expert and creator of the “Flip My Funnel” concept, less than 1 percent of B2B sales and marketing leads actually turn into customers.

Instead of casting a wide net for leads, Vajre suggests figuring out exactly who your customers are before going after them. This is flipping the funnel. Here’s how:

  1. Identify: Figure out which companies to target.
  2. Expand: Get your message in front of decision-makers (without annoying them).
  3. Engage: Determine whether you’re talking to the right people. If not, who are the right B2B buyers and how do you talk with them?
  4. Advocate: Focus on the right people in the right companies from the beginning, on their terms. That way, you can turn into their advocates before they even become your customers.

All this adds up to a radically different approach to B2B tech marketing. Instead of sending out mass emails, you’ll use hyper-specific targeted ads. Instead of a barrage of prospecting phone calls, you might be crafting a video for a single person. Indeed, Vajre believes the right engagement is often one-to-one.

To aid the B2B buyer in their journey, become their ally.

As Cascade Insights CEO Sean Campbell likes to say, “we live in the Age of Narrow.” A personalized approach to buying and consuming is now the expectation, not a privilege. Conversely, as a marketer, you should be thinking about a personalized approach to selling.

If you find that a traditional funnel with a wide top isn’t working well for you, you may just need to flip it. Listen to the complete interview with Vajre in “Flip My Funnel,” linked below.

Up Your LinkedIn Ad Game

If you’re keen on flipping your funnel, stepping up your LinkedIn efforts could be a great way to start.

According to AJ Wilcox, B2B marketing expert and founder of B2Linked, LinkedIn is one of the most effective tools you can use to target the right buyers. But you’ll need a good game plan.

Advertising on LinkedIn is expensive: according to Wilcox, each click can cost $6-9. Consequently, Wilcox only advises using LinkedIn if you stand to make at least $15,000 on a deal. For propositions with lower value, other tools such as Google or Facebook may offer a better return.

If you’re going to pay for LinkedIn clicks, make sure you’re being smart about targeting. LinkedIn has an effective monopoly on business data: job title, years of experience, seniority, skills, groups, education level, degree, and more. With good B2B buyer persona development, you can confidently serve content very specifically via LinkedIn.

With these prerequisites out of the way, Wilcox has additional tips for reaching your customers at various points in the B2B buyer’s journey. For example, he thinks sponsored content is often a good place to start. The second item users see on a LinkedIn feed is often a sponsored post, and sponsored posts see the highest interaction rates of any ad on LinkedIn (0.35 percent). With the right design and structure, you can create content that really grabs your buyers’ attention.

For more tips on how to get the most out of advertising on LinkedIn, listen to “Spend Wisely on LinkedIn.”

Content: It’s Super Effective!

Content creation should be part of a broader strategy for capturing the interest of B2B buyers.

Adele Sweetwood, author of “The Analytical Marketer,” proposes a new approach to content marketing. Instead of “random acts of content,” Sweetwood considers content from the perspectives of governance, curation, and performance – not just creation.

Analytical B2B marketers know how to find their buyers and guide them from the beginning of their journey to the end. With good testing and effective tools, content performance can be measured and adjustments made to maximize your content’s reach and effectiveness.

Sweetwood believes B2B marketing and sales departments can also benefit from closer alignment. Are your sales and marketing teams targeting the same buyers? That’s a great opportunity for collaboration. Are you stumped by a particular marketing problem? Perhaps a colleague’s expertise can be leveraged to achieve a common goal.

Just as B2B buyers must find alignment in their teams to make a purchase, you can find new ways to bring your teams closer to hone your messaging.

Listen to Adele Sweetwood’s interview in “Left & Right Brain.”

Level Up by Listening

A lot of B2B customer relationships live or die by customer support. This is what Kirsty Traill, Vice President of Customer at Hootsuite and a customer engagement expert, told us in “The Gift of Feedback.”

According to Traill, companies don’t always understand what makes a great customer experience. As a result, a large gap forms between what B2B buyers expect and what companies actually do.

However, customers can positively influence B2B product development, sales, and marketing efforts through their feedback.

Traill has a roadmap to achieve better customer support throughout your company. First: make friends with the leader of customer support. A good customer support lead will know, off the top of his or her head, customers’ pain points and most frequent comments. Then, have your product team sit with customer support and watch what they’re doing. Hootsuite does this on a regular basis, and it has helped the product team direct their efforts.

As your B2B buyers look for clarity, listen carefully to what they’re saying. Their feedback is a gift.

The complete interview with Kirsty Traill can be heard in “The Gift of Feedback,” linked below.

It’s Dangerous To Go Alone

Bad news for B2B marketers: as inboxes get increasingly inundated with marketing messages, the overall level of trust in those messages goes down.

To further complicate things, the long purchasing cycles typical in the B2B world mean your sales team can knock on a lot of doors but not enter into a prospect’s journey at the right time, or in the right way.

Getting your message in front of the right people, at the right point in the B2B buyer’s journey, is just difficult.

Joel Backaler, author of “Digital Influence” and a global marketing strategist, understands how effective B2B influencers can be. However, influencers must be leveraged strategically. It’s common for influencer program managers to be in the dark about the success (or lack thereof) of their program.

As an independent source of information, B2B influencers offer a more objective perspective to your buyers. Good influencers can help inform buyers over a long period of time, gaining a level of trust with them that you might find difficult to achieve on your own.

However, finding the right B2B influencer for you can be difficult. Views and followers don’t necessarily tell you how effective an influencer can be. This is where a B2B tech-focused market research firm like Cascade Insights can help identify the right influencer for you.

Listen to more of Backaler’s interview in “B2B Influencer Marketing,” linked below.

The B2B Revealed Podcast is brought to you by Cascade Insights, a hybrid market research and marketing firm specializing in the B2B tech sector. Need better ways of connecting with B2B buyers? Check out our B2B Buyer’s Journey Mapping research services.

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