The Impact of Strategically Orchestrating the B2B Customer Journey

The customer experience is top of mind in nearly every B2B organization, but most are getting it wrong. According to Salesforce research, fewer than half (49%) of marketing leaders believe they provide an experience completely aligned with customer expectations, and customers agree.

In a rush to embrace the new reality of the customer-empowered world, more than 75% of today’s B2B buyers are actually finding it harder to make purchase decisions.

These people are blasted with interruptive sales and marketing activities day in and day out. They receive product announcements, cold pitches, meeting requests, and all sorts of other offers that rarely provide a solution to their problems.

So how does one stand out in this crowded environment?

The key is to orchestrate interactions – both online and offline – around the entire customer journey to increase the likelihood of being in the right place, at the right time, with the right information. Through this orchestration, you’re able to intentionally and predictably engage, nurture, and convert prospects into Closed-Won revenue, creating a clear path from interest to purchase. But to get there, you must fully understand how to shift away from tactical activities and towards a marketing and sales motion designed to support the customer journey.

Understanding the B2B Customer Experience

Today’s average buying group consists of six to 10 decision makers. During the purchase process, 90% of buyers agree that information is generally of high quality, but 50% were overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content available. With access to more content comes more choices customers are increasingly finding themselves more paralyzed. The result of that is a delay in time-to-purchase.

The average B2B purchase decision now takes 4.9 months and even the average “no purchase” decision is taking 4.7 months. Moreover, 84% of these decision makers report their purchase process took longer than expected—by nearly double – and 65% said they spent as much time as they’d expected to spend on the entire purchase just preparing to speak with a sales rep.

What this boils down to is a very unsatisfactory customer experience preceding the vast majority of B2B purchases (so unsatisfactory that 40% of the time, customers have some form of purchasing regret).

How Demand Marketing Needs to Adjust

In an environment already characterized by dissatisfaction, a randomized, product-centric, campaign-driven approach to demand marketing only makes matters worse. Executing random acts of marketing exacerbates the problem by ignoring the customer’s needs. This method favors tactics that rely on random chance that your effort will reach the right person at the exact moment they’re ready to buy. It does nothing to guide a prospect down the path to purchase.

Tactical marketing campaigns succeed only if enough prospects happen to be at the stage in the journey that aligns with the campaign or content offer. This approach is hit or miss – and more often, it’s a miss.

In this state, you’re not orchestrating engagement, you’re just blasting outbound emails and hoping for the best. Even if marketing manages a win here and there, this batch-and-blast approach is neither scalable, nor repeatable. That’s why the average lead-to-revenue conversion rate ranges from a mere 0.375% to 0.6% depending on the type of market.

Instead of falling back on this old routine, organizations must shift to a Strategic Demand Marketing state and adopt an always-on, perpetual model. This means that marketing and sales leaders must move away from an inside-out, product/solution-led approach and instead embrace a customer-centric strategy that supports growth goals.

Facilitate the Customer Journey

While it might be fair to say that all marketers want to be considerate of the customer journey, almost none build their entire marketing programs around it. Today’s demand marketers should always give customers what they want, when they want, through the channels they prefer. They should intentionally facilitate the customer journey instead of waiting on a prospect to raise his or her hand.

While the path is not easy, it becomes more realistic when you can move forward one-step-at a time. Start by:

  1. Understanding the customer experience as a whole
  2. Charting the path for broader alignment of people, content, process, and technology across all the departments that touch the customer experience
  3. Optimizing your tech stack

Understanding the Customer Experience as a Whole

The most crucial step in understanding a full customer experience starts by building what we refer to at ANNUITAS as Conversation Tracks – a critical, foundational model for scaling and orchestrating interactions with prospects – and a subsequent content model that maps the customer journey for every stakeholder involved. The goal is to find the information that each critical person is seeking along every stage of their journey. Then, with data in hand, you can create content that is relevant for all prospects at all stages of the buying process. To see a complete content model and how it supports a real customer journey, read Does Your Poor Customer Experience Explain Your Lack of Growth?

Charting the Path for Broader Alignment

Even with the most comprehensive content model and a sophisticated technology setup, you won’t be able to fully support the customer experience unless your entire organization is on board. Shifting to a Strategic Demand Marketing state requires that your people, process, content, technology, and data are all aligned and operating on the same principles. To read more about how to do that, check out Making the Shift From Tactical Demand Marketing to Strategic Demand Marketing.

This stage of the process means aligning KPIs, org charts, roles and responsibilities, and so much more to the goal of orchestrating the customer journey to provide sales lift. This shift impacts more than just marketing’s day-to-day – it transforms your entire go-to-market. It’s a big job, but doing so results in a 4-10x improvement of lead-to-revenue conversion.

Optimizing Your Tech Stack to Support This Go-To-Market Approach

Once you’ve established your content model, you’ll need to support it with strategically implemented marketing technology.

A disjointed tech stack results in a disjointed customer experience. Your marketing and sales tools should be able to do more than just automate an email send – they should be able to understand your prospects’ behavior and prioritize leads in real time, ensuring that a prospect is truly qualified and ready to talk and continuing to nurture those prospects that aren’t. We provide guidance on how to evaluate your current tech stack in the article “Is Your Martech Stack Orchestrating Engagement or Just Blasting Outbound Emails?

For more on this topic read:

Does Your Poor Customer Experience Explain Your Lack of Growth?

Making the Shift From Tactical Demand Marketing to Strategic Demand Marketing

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