B2B Sales Cycles are a Fraction of the Buying Cycle

Posted on February 19, 2014

Lori Wizdo posted on the Forrester blog in 2012 that B2B decision makers are 65%-90% decided before contacting a vendor. MarketingProfs published a great Infographic in yesterday’s feed further outlining the challenges of demand generation for B2B marketers. What this means is that the amount of time a vendor has to actually persuade a buyer to purchase has shrunk to one-quarter of the amount of time the buyer will spend in the buying cycle.

What’s a B2B marketer to do? The answer: get found earlier in the buying cycle so that you are creating brand preference before the buyer contacts your sales channels.

The problem? Many B2B executives are in denial about the DIY approach buyers use to learn about products and instead prefer to talk about themselves instead of educating buyers to build trust. Why? Because building trust takes time but pitching products is instant.

This “microwave mentality” (I spend money this week so I want to see leads next week) is putting B2B marketers in a no-win situation. One question every CMO needs to ask is this: “Am I selling or helping people buy?”

The former no longer works but many brands are organized to support the old ways. Worse yet, the CFO and other executives don’t attend MarketingProfs Webinars, read CMO forums, or subscribe to David Edelman. So their understanding of what works is trapped in an outdated framework. I know this to be true because I’ve been a CMO in midsize financial services and technology where the older executives were clinging to an antiquated demand model.

Applying the McKinsey CDJ, modern marketing strategy now needs to integrate all four media types (paid, earned, owned, shared) and map them to the various stages of the decision journey. Educating your executives how the tactics they grew up with (paid & earned media) integrate with new media and influencers will help you pave the way for transforming your marketing.

There are companies getting this right (I enjoyed a Webinar with SAP last week showcasing their content portal similar to Adobe’s CMO.com). If you work in a company where your executives are like Austin Powers thawing after 30 years in a block of ice, show them the way. If your company has already got religion, congratulations because every day is an opportunity to experiment — and after all, as marketers we’re all seeking that which cannot be found (the perfect attribution model).


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