How Lead Nurturing Fails

How Lead Nurturing Fails:

from Wide Angle 
It is officially May, which means our 2013 B2B research project is about two months from completion.  As some of our readers will know, we’re focusing on the rationality of customer decision-making in B2B purchases.  So far in recent blog posts, we’ve presented two findings: larger buying committees do not act rationally, and cognitive overload is undermining marketers’ best efforts to inform customer decisions.
As part of our research, we explored The BuyerSphere Project, which takes a fresh look at organizational buying behavior.  Based on an extensive research project, this book explores why prospects that appeared to be a sure bet to buy would suddenly disappear out of the funnel – a common experience for most B2B marketers and sales reps.  We’d like to share some of its findings and insights.
Marketers typically try to influence the purchase by targeting customer pain points with functional, educational information about their solution.  This approach isn’t wrong, but it’s not usually sufficient, because simply proving business value is no longer enough to win the purchase.  Now that “‘99% of B2B buying is about covering your butt,’” Marketing needs to place more emphasis on persuading (not just informing) the customer.  The BuyerSphere Project argues that Marketing’s new role is to “soften the soil, increasing the perception of the perceived reward or minimizing the perception of the perceived risk” for the purchase.
One big mistake that marketers make is to treat the buying organization as one individual.  As the book discusses, there are actually two main stakeholder types with whom marketers engage: Users and Decision-Makers.  Users (or “doers”) are the people that have to get things done, while Decision-Makers are the ones who attempt to impose a logical, rational buying process.
The User’s objective is more personal than organizational.  They want to fully explore a product to increase their personal value as an organizational asset before considering its improvement for the company’s overall effectiveness.  As such, they are much more interested in features and benefits, but they are also more emotional because they “might fall in love with a product… making them heroes in the process.”
This disposition gives Marketing more opportunities to engage, but unfortunately, Users are almost never in charge of the actual purchase decision (despite their opinions being sought out early in the process).  Suppliers usually do a good job building trust with Users, but at some point, the process is taken over by Decision-Makers.  The Decision-Maker’s main concern is to eliminate organizational risk from the process, and to do their job well, they have to be extremely risk averse.  They thrive in bureaucracy and regulation, and as a result are deeply intertwined in organizational politics.
So given such different stakeholder profiles, what are the implications for Marketing?
Beware of overinvesting in a User relationship.  Users’ deep interest in the product motivates them to attend webinars, download white papers, ask for demos, etc. – which means that they constitute most of the leads generated through digital/online channels.  Decision-Makers, on the other hand, don’t sign up for webinars, watch videos, or listen to podcasts.  They might download a white paper, but there’s usually never one written specifically for them.  Users will often pass along a favorite supplier, only to find that more suppliers have to be found for the Decision-Maker’s objectives.  As the purchase moves towards negotiation, the Decision-Maker relationship becomes much more important
Prepare for the User-Decision-Maker transition of power.  When buying power is transferred to the Decision-Maker, the User becomes support.  It’s quite likely that a User is on the road to being sold on a solution, but the Decision-Makers can take the process almost back to square one in order to align it with their objectives. Consequently, it’s almost certain that information will get lost along the way.  The BuyerSphere Project dives deeper into the preparation for this transition.
For more, please refer to The BuyerSphere Project.
Have thoughts or experiences about this topic?  We’d love to hear them!

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