Different B2B Buyers Show Different Signals

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In business-to-business dealings, the average number of interactions per buying cycle increased from 17 in 2019 to 27 in 2021. And the companies that can capture, analyze, and act on insights into interactions throughout the buyer’s journey have a better chance of cashing in, Forrester Research concludes.

But awareness of the power of such signals to drive performance lags the available technology capabilities, according to the research firm.

Business buyers are extremely diverse, Forrester points out, noting that in some companies it’s a single person who makes purchase decisions, while in others there are huge business buying groups. Others fall somewhere in between.

By delivering the right signals to these groups, B2B sellers can greatly improve their results, Forrester says. Yet only a little more than one-third (35 percent) of sales professionals who target business buyers see signals provided as a priority, meaning that most don’t have good insight into their leading sales performance indicators.

These signals are important for sellers because they show how best to improve engagement, which in turn converts a higher degree of sales and increases overall revenue.

There are a variety of signals that sellers can use to improve their results.

The first are the direct signals attached to particular products or services, such as web clicks, completed forms, and content downloads, to name a few. These could also include interactions with frontline personnel, such as in a store, contact center, or marketing or sales department, through phone calls, emails, and chats. One of the major challenges in recognizing and tracking these types of signals is having a comprehensive view of all of them and not keeping this data locked away in silos.

Technology can help capture these signals to provide a comprehensive customer view, though Forrester points out that person-to-person interactions are becoming fewer and fewer as more business customers opt for digital interactions. Therefore, the research firm recommends that companies look for ways to capture as many B2B buyer signals as they can.

In addition to direct signals, the next type of signal is what Forrester calls detected signals, which it defines as those captured by third parties. These indicators might not be directly focused on a specific product or service, but they still can provide valuable information for the seller, according to Forrester.

An example of such signals would be news reports about the organization, peer discussions, third-party interviews, and surveys, all of which can provide additional context for these indirect signals.

Then there are derived insights, which Forrester defines as signals that arise from analyzing the directed and detected signals. A good analysis will uncover relationships, trends, and correlations to help improve account health and buyer sentiment while limiting risk.

Organizations that lack these signals have poorer performance, with go-to-market plans, strategies, and sales and marketing campaigns all suffering, according to Forrester. “Organizations should build these plans using the insights from historical performance, market potential, and prospect data,” Forrester says in the report.

Failure to do this will likely result in suboptimal buyer engagement, lower productivity, and lower revenue, according to the research firm.

To close the buyer insight gap, organizations must also look at non-tech factors, according to Forrester.

Many organizations have added B2B technologies so quickly that they have a cumbersome, unwieldy system, researchers assert, noting that often companies focus on a technology’s function rather than on the actual need for the technology to reach objectives.

So Forrester recommends using an outcome-focused technology approach. Such a strategy will help ensure that the right technologies are in place to drive revenue and achieve business goals.

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