Here are two B2B marketing stats you’ve likely heard before:
B2B buyers don’t contact potential vendors until 57% of the purchase process is complete.
By 2020, B2B buyers won’t contact vendors until 80% of the way through a purchasing decision.
This is not new information. It’s why we use marketing automation, why we nurture leads, and why we spend so much time creating content for potential buyers. And as a B2B professional yourself, you know this all too well because you’ve been on the other side of the purchase decision.
The implication of this statistic is that B2B buyers are waiting to come to vendors until they do lots of research on their own time. As marketers, we say: they want content? We’ll give ’em content!
And herein lies the problem.
As the Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Corporate Visions, Tim Riesterer has spent a lot of time thinking about this dilemma. After all, he points out, the 57% rule only applies to buyers, not just any old lead. Most leads are not at that 57% mark because they’ll never turn into customers. Tim summed his thoughts up nicely in an interview with Idio:
“The market has gone crazy for this 60%-towards-a-closed-deal thing at the detriment of understanding what a salesperson needs to do once they show up.
“As a result, there’s an absence of content being created to really help salespeople convert a lead into pipeline because the assumption by marketing is ‘Well, if this lead is already 60% of the way done, then all this salesperson needs to do is simply close the deal.'”
– Tim Riesterer
In other words, marketers end up spending lots of time creating top-of-funnel content and generating leads. When we pass those leads on to sales, it’s easy to assume our job is done. This leads to salespeople having to scour a long list of (mostly bad) leads and turn them into customers — when in reality, less than 1% of those leads will ever become closed-won deals.
Quality leads feel scarce — but maybe we’re just not looking in the right place. What can B2B marketers do to fix this?
Sales + Marketing = Smarketing
What the 57% stat should represent is not a challenge for marketing and sales, but an opportunity. An opportunity for marketers to align more closely with our sales team, learn to speak their language, and work toward the same goals. This is called smarketing.
If your sales team’s focus is on revenue and your marketing team’s is on lead generation, there’s a clear disconnect. The most effective way to align the two is to adopt an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy that puts accounts — not leads — front and center.
The first step to getting started with account-based marketing is for your sales and marketing teams to collectively identify and agree on target accounts that are the best fit for your solution. This allows marketing to have a better understanding of sales’ goals, and it reinforces marketing’s position as an important part of the sales process.
When you implement ABM, your marketing team is no longer responsible for that entire 57% of the buyer’s journey, and sales is no longer solely responsible for the remaining 43%. Instead, marketing and sales commit to targeting best-fit accounts and bringing them through the entire purchase process — together.
Account-Based Marketing 101
To learn more about the rationale behind account-based marketing and the six foundational pillars of a great ABM strategy, grab your copy of Account-Based Marketing 101. This quick read from Jay Baer and Terminus CMO Sangram Vajre breaks down the basics of ABM and provides resources for getting started. Click the banner below to download the e-book now.