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Times have changed. The traditional “buyer” journey from prospect to deal has vanished, in part by the emergence and adoption of Social Media and the Web 2.0. In a simpler time, the traditional buyer journey looked something like this:
The responsibility of marketers in the old world was to create awareness (and great marketers were also effective at advocacy). To generalize, marketers were responsible for 20% of the buyer journey and salespeople were responsible for the other 80%. Much like kicking a field goal, the marketers snapped and held the ball, while the salesperson came in to kick it through the uprights.
Today, increased interconnectivity changes that traditional buyer journey model, and makes way for the Zero Moment of Truth. In this stage, immediately after the stimulus and before the First Moment of Truth, the prospect searches for information that influences their buying decisions.
Here’s an example: As a buyer my zero moment of truth happens the minute I watch an exciting movie trailer—when I immediately head to Rotten Tomatoes to check the movie scores and reviews. If the scores are above 70ish I will likely then go online and buy a ticket to see the movie.
What this indicates for marketers is a growing need to develop some of the skills and knowledge of salespeople, particularly in consistent, multi-targeted interactions with audiences. The traditional 20/80 split is reversed and marketers are now responsible for engaging with communities, prospects, advocates, and influencers.
This also changes things for the modern salesperson. We need to think more like marketers - I say that as a salesperson writing a blog post…. It’s almost laughable to think about the “Always Be Closing” technique in this day and age, and attempting to pressure prospects into buying will leave a salesperson wondering why they came up short on revenue targets.
Enter the age of social selling, where salespeople need to nurture, share and engage with prospects in ways that add value to the prospects. The other advantage of social selling for the modern salesperson is that it represents a very powerful research tool. Last spring I sat down with Andrew Jenkins, a social selling influencer. He explained that before he meets with a prospect face to face he knows if they’re a scotch drinker, whether or not they’re married and have kids, their political views, etc… all of this information can be invaluable to building and nurturing prospect relationships.
What’s ended up happening is the marketer’s customer journey is moving more and more downstream, while the salesperson’s customer journey continues to move upstream.
Whether you’re a marketer or a salesperson, one thing holds true: you need to be engaging early and often and doing so in a manner that adds value to the community you serve. Get to know your community, listen, constantly engage to always be nurturing relationships - if you've done your research and you’re in the right place at that instant moment of truth, you will own the sale.