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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

CEB (now Gartner) have the 57% statistic.  Which if you didn’t know is based on a large sample of buyers in a business to business (B2B) context.  In summary, this means that the buyer no longer needs to ring you up and ask for a brochure.  You may recall in the past we used to be called by people asking for brochures. We would put one in the post and then they would receive it three days later.  Buyers, have access to internet and if we want to buy something, from a car to a $500 Million outsourcing deal we go on-line and get that information. Which means, as buyers we:-

  1. Ask questions. “Can my network help me, we are looking for a new accounting system, what do you recommend?”
  2. Look for content “Top 10 Things You Need to Think about When buying a New Human Resources (HR) System?”
  3. Go to Google and search for solutions to a problem. You might search on products you know, Workday, SAP, Oracle or key words, ERP, Accounting, Supply Chain etc.

Traditionally as marketers you define key words that people will search on and you either tune for them in content or buy them through Google Adwords.  Buyers then consume content, blogs, white papers, videos, anything that is insightful and educational.  Buyers generally tune out anything that is overtly sales or pitching as we all try and avoid sales people.

In addition to the 57%, CEB, now Gartner also has another statistic which is 37%.  As a buyer embarks on their buying journey, they know nothing about what it is they want to buy.  As they read more and more content they are formulating a view of their requirements.  It is approximately 37% of the way through the buying process, which is when they decide what it is they want.  And they seek a solution to their problem.  It being 57% of the way when they contact a salesperson.

During the buying process people will, as well as ready your content they will:-

  1. Look at your website. As pretty much 99% of these are “corporate brochures” telling you how great the company is, so much so they all blur into each other.  That said, we are seeing that people on visiting the website will often deselecting vendors as much as selecting.
  2. Check out your people on social media. As buyers are seeking a solution to their problem they seek experts who can help them.  This can be social media influencers, as well as employees.  Activating your employees to talk passionately way, without pitching is a critical piece in today’s business development jigsaw.
  3. Be active in “dark social”. While the term “dark social” sounds like some sort of hacker world, it actually refers to the areas that social media listening tools (we use Brandwatch) cannot reach.  For example, WhatsApp groups, Facebook Groups etc.  For example, somebody researching a new CRM system might ask people’s advice in such groups.

Intent Data The Game Changer

As a corporation, a marketer and a salesperson there are a number of routes you can take.

The 57%er – This person sites and waits and hopes the phone rings.  Hope was never a strategy and this is not recommended.

The 37%er – This person uses Content Marketing and SEO and hopes they bait the buyer as they are part of the way through the process.  We would advise you put your budget into this area as part of your Marketing mix.  DLA is a great case study for this, we put out a blog a day (there are 12 of us in case you think we have massive resources) and get 3 pieces of inbound everyday.

The 0%er – This is where the marketer and seller are using intent data.  The moment the buyer start searching you are there educating, providing insight and collaborating.

A Solution

While there are a number of solutions out there, the one we have used is Microsoft Dynamics 365, the module contained within which is called MSE, Microsoft Social Engagement.  This allows you, by sales rep to listen for intent.  This means that each sales people (it only takes an hour to set up) can listen based on their own territory or product speciality.  In effect you can be in meetings and prospecting at the same time. How good is that?

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