They say that numbers don't lie - who am I to disagree? The statistics we're sharing below will give you some insight into the current state of B2B marketing that can you use to focus your sales strategy. If you're in a knowledge-based business like professional services or technology, you can longer rely on the old ways of generating leads and revenue. It's mission-critical to sync your sales process with the way your customers buy. Here are 5 inbound marketing statistics that paint a picture of how buyers are buying and how successful sellers are reacting.
1. The average buyer completes 57% of her buying process before ever contacting a salesperson.
What is she doing before she contacts the salesperson? She's conducting pre-purchase research - getting recommendations from trusted colleages, using search engine queries to educate herself on potential solutions and reading blogs and social media posts to understand her options. If you're not connecting with these buyers in the research stage, you won't get an opportunity to compete for her business. That's why it's so vitally important for B2B sellers to have an active inbound marketing program.
2. During the last five years, the average sales cycle has become 22% longer, typically with three or more decision makers participating in the buying process.
The continuing stagnant economic situation has led B2B buyers to become more risk-averse. Risk-averse buyers seek a broad consensus amongst stakeholders in the purchasing decision. They take more time to reach that consensus as well. It's important for B2B sellers to adopt tactics that minimize the perceived risk of doing business with them. You also need to be consistently persistent and cultivate relationships with all of the stakeholders in the buying process. It takes time and effort to uncover the buying influences. Miller-Heiman's Strategic Sellling Process describes 4 buying influences in a complex sale:
- The Economic Buyer controls the funding for the process. They can say no when everyone else says yes and they can say yes when everyone else says no. Many B2B sellers focus their sales efforts on the Economic Buyer. They may be doing so at their own risk. Risk-averse economic buyers don't want to put themselves on an island by not getting consensus from other buying influences. If you don't cover your bases with the other buying influences, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. As the deal value increases, the economic buyer is higher in the corporate heirarchy. The CEO is often the Economic Buyer, particularly in SMB companies.
- The Technical Buyer makes sure that procurement and corporate governance rules are followed in the buying process, which likely will take the form of a Request For Proposal (RFP). There may not be a Technical Buyer in smaller deal values and in SMB companies.
- The User Buyer is the end user of your solution. For example, if you're selling employee benefit consulting, the User Buyer is typically the head of the organizations HR function. They often have different wants and needs from the Economic Buyer. They're more concerned with the details and usability of your solution. They play an increasingly important role in the decision-making process in our down economy.
- The Coach is someone who wants you to win and supplies you with intelligence that will help shape your sales efforts. The Coach is often the User Buyer or someone who works for her. Your chances of winning improve significantly if you have a Coach.
The bottom line is that selling is becoming more complex. Your sales efforts and content marketing must address the needs of all of the buying influences at your target prospect.
Source: Sirius Decisions
3. Eighty-five percent of tech buyers said they need to encounter at least three pieces of content before engaging with a solution provider.
This research confirms the CEB research mentioned above. B2B sellers need to produce content that addresses all phases of the buying process - from awareness to consideration to decision-making. How well do you think you will do if you're not producing any content?
4. Inbound marketing generates more and cheaper leads.
Inbound lead generation delivers 54% more leads into the sales funnel than traditional outbound lead generation tactics. And inbound leads are cheaper - inbound marketers spending more than $25K per year save an average of 13% in overall cost per lead. These statistics reflect the fact that inbound marketing syncs with the modern buying process. They also create a compelling case for companies not generating inbound leads to get on the train or get run over by it.
5. 30-50% of the leads that enter the B2B sales pipeline are qualified leads, but aren't yet ready to buy.
Your sales process needs to reflect this fact and use lead nurturing, lead scoring and email marketing to determine which leads are qualified and help move them through your sales pipeline. Marketing automation helps you provide the right content at the right time as leads move through the pipeline and measures results so that you can iterate and optimize your marketing automation process. A robust internet marketing software platform like HubSpot is a prerequisite to effective marketing automation.
These statistics should help shed light on how the modern B2B company is buying solutions in the post-recession economy. If you're not adapting your sales process to reflect these realities, you have a tough row to hoe. If you use inbound marketing to match your customers' buying process, you'll be well-poised to grow in a challenging economy. If you're interested in learning more, please schedule a free consultation.