A very, very long time ago, a sales training instructor told me, “It’s the job of the sales person to teach the buyer how to buy.”  And that was essentially true for a very, very long time — until the emergence of the digitally empowered buyer. Today’s business buyers are increasingly self-directed: 60% prefer not to interact with a sales rep as the primary source of information; 68% prefer to research on their own, online; and 62% say they can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list — based solely on digital content.

The new normal for sales:
Today’s business buyer controls the buying process more than today’s seller controls the selling process.  

Forrester’s detailed research into buyer behavior (Forrester Business Technographics Global Priorities & Journey Survey) consistently demonstrates the buyer’s shift away from sales as a primary source of influence.  Consider these examples from a recent data set:

  • In the Discover stage of the buyer’s journey for “Mobile Devices, Apps, Platforms, & Management Software” the sales-rep-in-person is the fifth most influential channel –behind Peers, Tech Analysts, IT Forums and Tech Pubs.
  • Even when the sales rep is more influential, digital channels usually prevail in the Discover stage. For “Storage” buying decisions, sales-rep-in-person ranks at #2, right after Vendor Websites.
  • And, when we go further into the process, at the Explore stage, we find that the sales-rep-in-person  is the most influential channel for some categories, such as “Business Intelligence and Analytics”.  But, for buyers of other categories, such as “Security Software” sales-rep-in-person is #6 on the list after Tech Info Websites, Tech Analysts, Vendor Websites, Peers, IT Forums.

The emergence of the digital buyer has totally changed the role and remit of today’s modern business marketer.

The new normal for marketing:
It is the job of marketing to guide the buyer through the buying journey

You Must Become A Journey Marketer

To guide the buyer through the buying journey, you need answers to a lot of questions about that journey: what are the key stages of the buyer journey; which stakeholder yields what influence at each stage; which channels do buyers use to research, compare, and transact, what questions do they have; and what content will provide the answers?  The process of understanding the buyer’s journey in such intricate detail is called buyer journey mapping.

It’s easy to see the power of buyer journey mapping. Armed with this kind of information you can finely calibrate your marketing efforts to buyer’s purchase process.  You can deliver relevant content – through the right vehicle – to entice, engage, and inform buyer at each stage of their journey.  You can step up to that new marketing mandate and guide the buyer through the journey.  So why are journey maps used by fewer than a third of all B2B marketers? (Please, see the data chart.)

Jumpstart Your Buyer Journey Maps At Forrester’s B2B Marketing Forum

B2B marketers aren’t changing as fast as they need to.  And that’s why I am very excited about a ‘deep dive’ session that I’ll be conducting at Forrester’s B2B Marketing Forum in Austin, Texas this year (October 5 – 6) on Journey Mapping: The Secret Tool Of The Customer-Obsessed Marketer. In this session, we will share methods and practice, honed in our buyer-journey workshops, which you can use to jumpstart your own buyer journey efforts, including:

  • A template for developing an actionable journey map
  • Guidance for establishing a ‘meta’ level journey hypothesis for different buyer archetypes
  • Tips for operationalizing your journey map in your customer engagement processes

I’d be delighted to see you there. Here’s a link to register for the Forum.  You can also receive a discount of $200 by entering this code: B2BBLOG17.