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Big Little Lies - 3 myths about the 3 stage buyers’ journey

Tom Perry
by Tom Perry - June 19, 2019


As B2B tech sales become more complex, the basic, three-stage model of the buying journey – awareness, consideration, and decision – is an increasingly poor fit for reality.

It’s encouraging B2B tech companies to depend exclusively on content marketing for lead nurture and qualification. They’re ignoring their prospects’ need for the human touch. And that’s killing their leads. So what are the main problems? Well, we think there a few myths when it comes to the famous three-step process, which is actually detrimental to your marketing and the buying process your prospect follows.

Myth one: Buyers go through a linear three step process

This may have been the case five years ago when the inbound revolution was in full flow. However, with a content saturated market dominated by continuous publishers, it is extremely hard to put your content in front of the right people, at the right time. Obviously if you have the right tools, expertise and business intelligence, then it helps! But the explosion of ABM has also turned the three step process on its head. ABM relies on hyper personalised content but is more often than not targeted to accounts rather than one person. In enterprise buying there is always more than one stakeholder involved in the process…and ABM taps in to this process perfectly. However, when there are multiple stakeholders involved, it is very difficult to map the individual journeys of people who are part of a collective purchase decision on to the oversimplified three stage process. In short, an ABM purchasing process is far from linear. The path that that multiple stakeholders follow cause the lines between ‘awareness’, ‘consideration’, and ‘decision’ are much blurrier than the three-stage model would have you believe. Even when a stakeholder is still defining the challenge their organisation faces, they may well be consulting your sales team or marketing content as part of that process – and as a result, adding you to their long list of chosen vendors.

Myth two: Content is king

I myself am guilty of heralding this untruth…and I unashamedly hold my hands up and quickly offer an addendum…good content is king but it cannot qualify leads on its own. content can’t do everything. It can’t deliver the same level of business insight of a human conversation. It can’t begin to establish a personal rapport between buyer and seller. And when we depend exclusively on content marketing, we inevitably neglect our prospects’ needs. We are assuming leads will qualify themselves and project themselves through the sales cycle…this firstly puts a lot of pressure on the content you are creating…it really must address the target’s every need and also relies on the consumer to want to quickly progress their journey. Content in fact needs to extremely high end, very personal, different, timely and above all quickly followed up by some personal interaction.

Myth three: Prospects do not want to receive outbound marketing

The three-stage model has naturally been championed by inbound marketers, leading to some pretty wild claims, such as: “Buyers don’t want to be prospected, or demoed, or closed. These steps add zero value to the buyer.” The idea that your buyers will move, solely via self-directed research, through the three stages of the traditional model is a dangerous one. And it’s an idea that’s only been reinforced by the growth of the content marketing industry. Content marketing’s champions have been quick to present it as a silver bullet for lead nurture and – coupled with marketing analytics and automation – lead qualification.

The result? B2B marketers have been focusing on creating content aligned to an oversimplified journey. And they’ve been neglecting outbound efforts. And the human touch. Instead of popping an engaged lead in to an automated workflow so they receive another piece of predetermined content, why not give them a call and try to ascertain what it is they actually want. What are their pain points? What is the process they have to go through to make a purchase decision, how many stakeholders are involved, what information would they like to receive in order to make the process easier? Finding out this information from a freshly engaged contact will not only give you the valuable insight to qualify them through your sales cycle further but create a relationship with that contact which will certainly stand you and your company in good stead.

See our new model of the B2B tech buying journey

These are just three of the myths surrounding the infamous three-step buyer’s journey. We’ve created a new model of the B2B tech buying journey, and mapped these new, crucial elements to it.

To read some more of the issues and see our reformed buyers' journey, download our full investigation in to what is killing your B2B tech leads. 

As well as taking a deeper dive into the everything we’ve talked about above, the eBook offers practical advice – and even checklists – to help you align your marketing strategy to our new, much less murderous, Buyer’s Journey model. 

 Download the case file


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