Understanding your audience decision process – shifts in B2B sales and marketing

Shifting customer dynamics require an audience-centric strategy and framework for nurturing sales and staying on the right side of market disruption. Multiple research sources document that B2B customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on—before even having a conversation with a supplier. In this world the celebrated “solution sales rep” can be more of an annoyance than an asset.  
— Harvard Business Review - The End of Solution Sales 

Traditional marketing and demand generation solutions can leave you empty handed if you are operating with market and customer assumptions. Behaviors have shifted as research tools and peer influence plays an increased degree of importance in a connected world. 

The simple, reductive logic of the purchase funnel has been dismissed as not reflective of the multiple influences in the decision process of modern companies. The expansive dynamic of social influence and peer validation are the new loyalty engines and advocacy has grown in importance along with the dominance and impact of social media.
McKinsey’s “Loyalty Loop” acknowledged the influence of loyalty and social media but it only represents a certain dynamic within the decision process.   

Now that the consumer decision journey is well established within marketing practice it hasn’t stopped marketers from simplifying the expansive uniqueness of actual decision journeys. What is often ignored when we view CDJ’s as a “buyer” journey is the core benefit of the CDJ – to map customer and audience need states and relevant behaviors on and off the marketing stage.

How to minimize the narrow focus or allow for solution bias into the process? Map consumer decision Journeys in conjunction with strategic planning or research initiatives, specifically social ethnographic research. Rigor is required to limit narrowly limit focused to the known touch-points, but rather to research focused on audience centric needs, decision path and external influence.