I've been reading a lot recently about marketing and how B2B firms need to reach out to buyers earlier in the sales cycle.
There are so many reasons to engage earlier; positioning, avoiding price competition and building trust being some of the most well known.
But perhaps the most important reason for engaging customers earlier in the buying cycle is consensus.
When a number of stakeholders are involved, they don't just influence the end of the purchase process, but problem definition and solution identification - the very beginning of the buying cycle - as well.
If sellers aren't working to deliver their messaging and positioning to the whole buying group early - they can find that consensus for change falls apart or their firm is excluded from the list of possible solutions completely.
The solution is to be proactive - feed relevant messaging through you multiple stakeholders throughout all of the sales process, starting at the earliest possible opportunity and continuing post-sale to build trust and deepen the relationship.
This of course means sales teams need relevant, agile content, tailored to their targets for each step along the way.
Marketing needs to keep up.
B2B buyers found group decision making most difficult twice as often as individual decision making. More important, the phase they seemed to experience the most challenges with was identifying a solution—agreeing on the best course regardless of supplier. Most suppliers are focusing on the wrong stage of the buying process, falling all over themselves to persuade customers to choose them, rather than helping customers settle on a solution. Our data shows that customers are, on average, 37% of the way through a purchase process by the time they reach the solution-definition stage, and 57% of the way through the process before they engage with supplier sales reps. So all too often customer consensus has fallen apart before reps even arrive on the scene. If suppliers aren’t anticipating and proactively overcoming disconnections among stakeholders before sales engagements, they’re probably losing...