We have been closely following the shift in B2B and B2C sales organizations. It’s not news that sales motions are becoming more complex. However, what’s different now (and continues to evolve) is customer expectations within the buying and selling experience. Customers now dictate their ideal buying experience, a trend that will only grow as accessibility to information across all digital and physical spaces increases. So what needs to happen (which largely hasn’t happened yet, especially within the B2B space) is for sales organizations to adapt their sales processes toward a customer-centric, dynamic selling approach.
As B2B buyers take more control of their purchasing journey, they enter and exit the sales pipeline at various points in the buying process. In just a couple of clicks, buyers can now discover how other companies have solved similar problems, get recommendations on which vendors might be able to help, compare products/services, get relevant reviews, and even receive pricing. In most cases, they can do all of this without having to talk to a single sales rep.
More and more buyers are taking to this online, self-serve approach because it’s more efficient to troubleshoot their own problems, get answers to their buying questions, and most importantly form opinions in a non-biased way.
The traditional “linear” sales funnel in which everyone enters the sales process at the top of the funnel and follows a similar buying experience no longer exists in most B2B industries.
In fact, the new sales funnel is not a funnel at all; it is a complex web of individual buyer paths intersecting at various sales and marketing touch points.
The below infographic illustrates this new reality for sales organizations and visualizes the new buyer paths leveraging online, social, and third-party information before prospects engage with sales. According to CEB, on average B2B buyers are 57% through their buying journey before ever engaging with a sales rep.
So, it’s time to finally lay our sales funnel to rest and welcome this new sales journey. Sales teams will have to create new sales roles, involve marketing, and embrace technology to help unravel the complexity of this new sales reality.
For more information about aligning your sales teams and processes to the buyer journey, download this deep-dive on Building a World-Class Sales Team.