A reimagined buyer’s journey and go-to-market playbook? In this economy? As B2B organizations around the world grapple with the financial and psychological uncertainty wrought by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it might seem like an unlikely time to prioritize delivering an enhanced, highly personalized buyer experience. Leaders might wonder if they should instead hunker down and focus on saving money and avoiding change at such a fragile economic time.
However, these seemingly conflicting priorities are a perfect match, said Phil Harrell during his Summit keynote presentation. Yes, you can — and should — create a new go-to-market approach that matches modern buyer preferences while saving money through operational efficiencies. The dual payoff makes the undertaking well worth it.
“This requires reinventing the company’s go-to-market motion — these are not incremental changes,” Phil explained. “You need to reimagine the entire buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle, and that requires incredibly tight alignment.”
Consider the latest Forrester SiriusDecisions research findings on buyers’ preferences: Across all customer segments, buyers want a more streamlined yet customized experience, with more control over their buyer’s journey. “They want to educate themselves at their own pace, and they want companies to be more open and transparent with them,” Phil said. Rather than jumping in to convince buyers of a particular solution’s worthiness, winning companies first demonstrate that they fully understand their buyers’ problems, perhaps by sending personalized content at just the right time.
To start the reinvention, Phil recommended examining the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle from the perspective of buyers and customers. This exercise likely will reveal numerous friction points and opportunities for improvement. For example, sales reps might approach prospects without complete information on what each buyer has already done, missing an opportunity to provide the right context and content.
Although this work may seem daunting, if done properly it can deliver enormous cost savings through the magic of the all-important ratio between customer lifetime value (LTV) and customer acquisition cost (CAC). Phil recommended that organizations aim for at least a 3:1 ratio by increasing LTV and decreasing CAC for each buyer segment and offering.
Organizations have plenty of tools available for improving their LTV/CAC ratio. One powerful approach is to deploy agreed-upon buyer persona definitions to ensure that all go-to-market functions are pursuing the same buyers. Developing this deep knowledge of individuals who are involved in purchase decisions also boosts credibility with buyers.
Increasing the availability of digital self-service options throughout the buyer’s journey, in accordance with their preferences, also accomplishes the dual goals of reducing costs and optimizing the buyer experience. The pandemic-induced switch to virtual meetings over face-to-face sales visits will not reverse any time soon, Phil said. He urged sales organizations to make their reps as efficient as possible and invest in digitally enabling their sales force.
“Companies are under enormous pressure to reduce costs as they generate revenue,” Phil said. “They have to rethink how they are engaging with buyers.” The good news is that by marrying efficiencies with greater accommodation of buyers’ needs and preferences, organizations can elevate their LTV/CAC ratio and thrive in the current era and beyond.