True success is when marketers can map their content marketing to the B2B sales funnel. This means that they must understand the behaviors that buyers go through at each phase to include problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, and then supplier selection.
The B2B buyers journey is unique in that every buyer is different. They use Google differently, they have conversations with various people differently, they seek advice in forums, on social media and over the phone.
Gartner fielded a study about the B2B Buyer Journey and identified six buying “jobs” that customers must complete to finalize a purchase. The study was meant for sales people but there are some lessons for marketers too.
The six buying “jobs” below:
The B2B sales funnel has evolved over the years. It used to be linear, or at least marketers thought it was linear. Reading this was perfect timing. We just completed a project for a client where we built an audience persona (informed by real data) and we mapped their conversations to MEDDIC—an acronym for Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, and Champion. This process emphasizes better customer qualification and is used by sales people globally. It tracks how buyers and IT Decision Makers consume content and media in the sales funnel.
With that in mind, I started to map some initial thinking to address this new buyer’s journey.
- Empathize with the tech challenge
- Provide unbiased & alternative solutions
- Reinforce product capabilities of the tech stack
- Elevate customer references, amplify everywhere
- Activate influencers for 3rd party validation
The B2B sales funnel isn’t linear. It doesn’t map to the purchase funnel you learned back in business school either. It’s unique, ever-changing and dynamic. More importantly, the buyer’s journey is unpredictable. This is why mapping shareable content to the buyers journey is so important to your brand marketing efforts.
The B2B sales funnel isn’t dead, despite the industry punditry. It is changing, yes. But the beauty about data is that you can uncover insights that will help deliver content in the right channel, to the right audience and at the right time.