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Crossing the Chasm: The New Obstacle for B2B Buyers

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I've come to the conclusion that evolution is lopsided. Especially when it comes to B2B marketing vs. sales. It seems to me that either one or the other is evolving, but much of the time it doesn't seem to be both. At least not within the same organization.

The best marketers are on a quest to get to know their buyers. They're doing the hard work to create personas, develop content strategy and execute content marketing in a way that moves the needle by building relationships.

On the other side, salespeople who are in tune with their markets are spending the time to do research on prospects, learning how to apply the content that marketing is developing to supporting relevant dialogues with customers. And with all of this in hand, they're adding value to keep the progression established earlier in the buying process moving toward the decision to buy.

Then there's everyone else. What the heck happened?

Why is it that in so many companies these two ends of the buying process never join in the middle? It's like buyers need to cross the chasm on their own to get from one side to the other.

What makes you think they have the motivation?

I'm hearing a lot lately that marketing is doing great getting leads into the early stages of the buying process, but that there's a bottleneck in the middle that is somehow keeping them from moving farther.

Take a look and see if any of the below sound familiar:

  • Marketing doesn't have a content strategy so what was appealing once, has nothing to build on so prospects are left to languish
  • The attempt to get prospects into sales conversations goes something like this: "I see you downloaded a white paper. I'd like 30 minutes of your time to give you a demo of our solution..."
  • You don't have a nurturing program with any real chutzpa. It's more of a keep us in mind when you decide to do something worth our while type of email series.
  • Salespeople decide the lead that marketing sent over isn't the right contact so they try to go around him to get to someone more important. Only that someone more important tasked the contact with building the business case. Or he was the champion without whom you will never get the deal.
  • Sales contacts the lead as if this is the first time they've interacted with the company and starts the conversation over - paying no attention to what the prospect has expressed interest in previously
  • Inside sales is still trying to qualify on BANT, but the problem is new, so there isn't any budget defined, nor timeline because they don't know what that looks like yet; and the person evaluating is not the actual buyer / decision maker.
  • The nurture process stops when sales gets the lead but they don't keep in contact by providing more parts of the story. They just "check in" from time to time.

There are a ton of things that could be represented in those bullets above. But each of them has one characteristic - the focus is on the company, not the customer.

When are we going to learn that it's not about what we want, but what our customers must have?

Our customers do not want:

  • Irrelevant follow up
  • To educate our salespeople
  • To waste their time
  • To start over as if they've learned nothing during the 8 months they've been engaging with your content when sales comes into the picture
  • To experience Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as part of their buying process

What they do want is:

  • Information that helps them solve a problem
  • Credible expertise that can take them beyond the content
  • Reasons to keep moving forward
  • Confidence that they're making the lowest risk decision possible
  • Proof that the outcome they'll get will do what they need it to

Relationships are the highest currency we can build in today's "social" business environment. I spend a lot of time failitating introductions for my clients to vendors who can bring expertise to the table that's not in my wheelhouse. They like this. It makes them feel important and they get darn good treatment from those I recommend.

Why is it that marketers don't facilitate introductions of highly qualified prospects to salespeople? Why is it that we don't help our sales team see the value in pursuing the leads we've worked hard to nurture to a readiness for conversation?

Why is it that marketers don't share the background of prospects with salespeople? Sure, marketing automation can help improve visibility to what they've seen or clicked on up to now, but do your salespeople know what other content you have that would enhance that prospect's experience moving forward?

There's a wide gap in B2B companies between the marketing and sales organizations. What are you going to do to close it?

Or are you relying on your prospects making the leap across the chasm on their own?

Feeling confident about that?

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.