This is part 2 of a limited series on why buyer choice modeling is the new view B2B Business must adopt to improve revenue performance and develop long lasting relationships with buyers.
Growth is getting harder and harder to come by. With this comes the realization that some of the embedded thinking about how to reach and market to buyers are not working well. In part 1 of this series we looked at how the funnel is facing a slow death and the limitations of so called funnel thinking. We are entering a new era of the buyer. Buyer behaviors are shifting yet we know only a fraction about this shift. One emerging insight is that of buyer choice. Simply stated, buyers are making multiple choices prior to as well as well after buying decisions.
Buyers Have Many Options. The floodgates have opened on channels, social media, old media, the Internet, and countless other ways to interact, explore, retrieve, and digest information in this new era of the buyer. With countless options available, buyers are making choices on where to start their exploring.
The Buyer At The Center Of Strategy, Marketing, And Sales. Conventional funnel thinking has a hard time doing this. A better way of stating this is that conventional strategy, marketing, and sales decisions are funneled through an old paradigm of the buyer where marketing and sales held the information cards – cards used to target, sell, and persuade buyers. Today, buyers make the choice on which information cards they decide to deal. B2B leaders today must find ways to focus strategy on the buyer, the choices they make, and the experiences they have with their organizations.
Experience Determines Choice. A while back, I made a choice to attend a Broadway musical – of which I am a big fan. The pre-show experience and excitement was plenty of fun with a great dinner in New York. The musical started and about 20 minutes into the musical the dread began to overcome me. I knew this musical production was going to be – dreadful. We made the choice to leave at intermission and the choice didn’t ruin the entire experience of the evening but it sure changed it. We chose to find a jazz club and had a great time which meant cancelling out the plans we had after the show. Buyers today are taking experience cues well before the buyer decision journey and well after. The buyer experience cues they take-in alter their thinking about the choices they make. And they could be choices about whether to continue having an experience with your organizations – or – find another.
Buyer choice anchors five choice elements that can be thought of as continuously orbiting buyers today. A fundamental shift is happening here. In the conventional DNA of funnel thinking, we are accustomed to thinking that involves phases or steps. One phase ends and another phase begin. What I propose is something we can call the Buyer Orbit. This is meant to shift the thinking towards recognizing that buyers are continuously addressing goals, challenges, issues, uncertainty, and growth that are in a continuous orbital loop. This applies to buyer choice:
Explore. As mentioned in part 1, funnel thinking usually started with attempts to make buyers aware of a product or solution. It is still rooted in the thinking of flashing attention-getting means before buyer’s eyes as well as push messaging outwards in the hopes of making buyers aware. Today, buyers are mapping out deliberate exploration prompted by the orbital loop of the goals and etc. that orbit them. Confronted with many choices, buyers are taking time to map out where to explore, how to explore, and etc.
Network. As buyers make progression towards less of a single buyer model to that of a world that includes ecosystems and open networks, buyers are making choices to interact with networks and different ecosystem players to collaborate on addressing the issues orbiting them.
Decide. The way buyers decide today is becoming increasingly complex. Choices are being made on such things as the rules for deciding, who is included, checking dependencies, and assessing impact. Buyers today no longer make decisions in a vacuum.
Buy. The actual buy choice has become a higher stakes game in the B2B world. Not only are the rules for deciding more complex, but there are more dependencies related to buying and potential impact as well. The experience element here is now more critical than ever because of the high stakes. Making the wrong choice, for example, on a software platform designed to measure quality of manufactured parts could have drastic affects downstream with OEMs and distribution.
Relate. The word – relate - has more applicability in a B2B context than say engage for example. The higher stakes involved means buyers needs an organization that can relate to the high stakes and a relational bond is being formed. In the example mentioned above, there may be many discussions before and after the buy choice to ensure that the software platform meets an intended goal. The ability for B2B companies to provide relational choices and experiences becomes an important factor. Does the company provide relational choices whether they are face-to-face, telephone, or complex networking technology that involves exchanging design ideas and specifications?
The new era of the buyer is resulting in a paradigm shift on what is required thinking about the buyer today. Letting go of funnel thinking is no easy task – especially when you strip away the hyperbole and promotion that can surround strategy, it is still very much about the funnel. Buyers today have many elements related to growth, goals, and uncertainty orbiting their world. Making choices as this orbital loop continuously impacts their world is changing the very nature of buyer behavior today. These changes are rocket propelled by a new world of hyper-connectivity and hyper-competition.
Next up: The Buyerology of the Buyer
- Slow Death of the Funnel: Why Buyer Choice Matters to Revenue (buyerology.com)
- How B2B Leaders Are Understanding Buyers Better With Behavioral Buyergraphics (buyerology.com)
- Boost Demand Generation Using Target Ready Buyer Models (buyerology.com)
- Buyerology: The New Science of Understanding Buyer Behavior (buyerology.com)
- Predictive Buyer Modeling Is Changing the Future of B2B (buyerology.com)
- 5 Ways New Buyer Behaviors Are Impacting B2B Sales (buyerology.com)
- The Single Buyer Model: A Dangerous Road Towards Competitive B2B Marketing (buyerology.com)