The shift in buyer behavior resulting from the ubiquitous availability of digital information requires continuous adaption of B2B marketing strategies to keep them working effectively and efficiently.
Key factors affecting marketing approaches, especially for the sales of complex solutions, include:
- The overwhelming and exponentially growing volume of information available.
- The corresponding reduction in buyer reliance on vendor’s sales people for product information and technology trends.
- Growth in the size of buying committee teams and the resultant increase in complexity of the decision-making process
- The increasing need to address both business buyer and technical buyer needs.
To engage today’s well-informed buyer marketers must offer more unique business insights, delivered via a host of traditional and social channels. And messaging must be personalized, simple, and delivered seamlessly across channels. In this new medium, many roads can lead to reduced customer acquisition costs (CAC), but broadly speaking, there are two key determinants:
1) the effectiveness of your lead generation program, and
2) the effectiveness of the sales process itself.
Critical to optimizing both processes is gaining a deep knowledge of your target buyer, including – knowing their objectives, challenges, motivations, and influences.
As we’ve previously discussed, lead gen is more about customer-centric education and less about product promotion. The reality is that any informational campaign needs to be integrated across the different channels that your prospects use to gather information. Make sure you know what these are. If webinars and trade shows are particularly popular it’s important to keep them up. Make advertising point back to your website where you should offer information of business value rather than product details.
Your marketing mix has a big influence on your lead generation costs so make sure that the activities you do and the content you deliver are very effective. Research what your prospects are searching for and promote content that answers their needs.
With respect to the sales process, research indicates that IT buyers would like to shorten their buying cycle and reduce the amount of effort that the process takes*. They need to realize value quickly, and to limit the cost of complex decision-making processes. Marketers can help simplify this process by providing sales with clear, insightful information and user-friendly tools, such as proof of concept approaches, demonstrations, and added value capabilities (e.g., ROI calculators, case studies, and testimonials).
Planning for the inevitable prospect questions and being ready in advance will not only speed the sales process but will make the sales person look like the professional thought leader customers expect. An added bonus is that by working together sales and marketing can craft an enhanced sales process that will generate better yields. The combination of a shorter cycle (and therefore a lower sales cost) and an increase in conversions is precisely the recipe for reducing customer acquisition costs (CAC).
Aligning more cost-efficient inbound marketing strategies and tools closely with the sales process is an effective way to enhance value for your prospects and reduce CAC. While buyers attribute two-thirds of the delay in purchasing decisions to themselves, you can help expedite matters by providing ready solutions for each step of their journey. Careful segmentation of your target market(s) and developing strong decision maker personas will help you anticipate needs and provide appropriate problem/solution content and tools.
Optimizing your processes and reducing the CAC is essentially about efficiently addressing each decision point within the buying process. Helping prospects quickly transition from being overwhelmed by information to a place of clarity, will see you well positioned. By distilling the volumes of available information down to the essential – clear customer-centric business insights – and streamlining your content and its flow you can also create a great user experience throughout the purchase process and significantly increase the chances of success. It’s a win-win as the natural consequence of this heightened effectiveness and efficiency for your prospects is a reduction in customer acquisition costs for you.
Resources: *IDC’s 2013 IT Buyer Experience Survey – Abstract