Very little – if any – buying happens after a single interaction in the B2B buying process. It’s the sum of the parts that results in a quality lead and eventually a successful sale.
Forrester’s 2022 B2B Buying Survey reports that the average number of B2B buying interactions before purchasing — online research, conversations with providers, and other steps taken to learn about offerings or vendors — jumped nearly 60% from an average of 17 interactions in 2019 to 27 in 2021. According to the report “Buyers now exercise more due diligence than ever before, conducting more research and engaging in more conversations with vendors and third parties. More people are involved in today’s buying process as well, with executives playing a greater role than in the past.” The report also states that:
- Online, self-guided buying interactions continue to grow at a faster pace than human interactions and now make up over half (56%) of B2B buying interactions
- Executives, finance, and IT — groups that cut across functions — are most often involved in B2B purchases
- Purchasing decisions involving multiple people and departments have become more common, while the simplest scenarios, involving just one or two people, have dwindled.
It is these forms of complex decisions which Gartner outlined in their 2019 B2B buying journey which many people will be familiar with:
As the journey outlines, there are multiple people in the process, but also multiple points where a potential customer will complete specific activities – like downloading a white paper – as well as repeat particular activities – like multiple website searches at different points, for different reasons.
Over time, and particularly as a result of COVID, more and more of these pre-purchase activities have obviously shifted to a digital environment. Gartner’s data shows that today:
- B2B buyers spend only 17% of the total purchase journey with sales reps
- Because the average deal involves multiple suppliers, a sales rep gets roughly 5% of a customer’s total purchase time, and
- 44% of millennials prefer no sales rep interaction at all in a B2B setting.
And these sorts of trends are set to continue. Gartner’s The Future of Sales: Transformation Strategies for the 2025 Sales Organisation report predicts by 2025 80% of B2B sales interactions between suppliers and buyers will occur in digital channels.
The need to manage and track as many (potential and existing customer) interactions as possible is driving the complexity of marketing technology – or MarTech – for organisations. Check out this recent MarTech “stack” shared by Grant Thornton:
Large-scale systems like Marketo are being used to manage tools such as LinkedIn campaign manager, ON24 events and webinars, Google Ads, Whooska podcasts and more. These tools are delivering multiple pieces of content and enabling numerous interactions with target markets. Marketo is then connected with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform such as Sales Force to manage activities and other tools relating to leads such as a LinkedIn sales navigator, Qualtrics customer feedback, and iManage document management. Again, supporting and enabling interactions throughout the customer journey. And through these connections, interactions are being tracked by these tools and systems, and then activities optimised, to ensure the marketing and sales funnel is working the best way possible for the business.
Whilst all of this might seem overwhelming, the main message to take away is that an organisation needs to have a range of different tactics and well considered, helpful content and product/service information in the market at any given time so that their target markets can interact with you. And that ideally, you have in place a way to track and connect them to ensure the way you have allocated your marketing budgets are bringing you the best outcomes.
Have you got your multi-touch interaction bases covered in 2023? Talk to us at The Measured Marketer and let us build your roadmap to success.