The New Buyer’s Journey

Lorraine Maurice

Tech disruption within the sales sphere has created a new buyer’s journey, replacing the idea of a static sales funnel. Before the Internet, customers had few sources of information to rely on before making purchase decisions. Now, websites and social media inform customer decisions, and business partners must build relationships online if they are to succeed.

Digital relationship building

In today’s market, digital content plays a critical role in building awareness of and interest in your brand. Forrester Research notes that 70 percent to 90 percent of the buyer’s journey occurs before first contact with any vendors, and most buyers consume an average of 11.4 pieces of digital content before making a purchase decision.

Buyers learn about your company, its products and services, industry reputations, and thought leadership by visiting multiple websites and social media platforms. They might read reviews and ratings on a popular site, bump into your business on a friend’s Facebook page, watch a video on YouTube, or receive a recommendation from a blogger.

Digital content most often creates online awareness of your company, sparking the beginning of the new buyer’s journey. After discovery, motivated buyers will interact with your online presence, a human representative, or both. Your company misses opportunities to create contacts and strengthen the developing interests of potential buyers if it doesn’t engage them through these types of media at the beginning of their journey.

Online, buyers may browse the specifications of your products and services, go through your brochure, watch a demo, or view an ad. If you have a brick-and-mortar store or call center operation, your digital communication can complement the efforts of your sales staff, help bridge the gap between physical and online perceptions of your brand, and create an obstacle-free shopping experience.

Creating value doesn’t stop after the sale

The “always be closing” mentality – famously explained by Alec Baldwin’s character in the film Glengarry Glen Ross – has been transformed by the new buyer’s journey into a philosophy that focuses on creating continuous value.

Continuous value involves post-sale activities that support your buyers’ purchases and validate their decisions to invest in your company. Ideally, these activities prevent interactions that can permanently sour the buyer/seller relationship.

Activities such as post-purchase communication are designed to nurture your customer’s willingness to leave positive reviews, mention you on Facebook or LinkedIn, and speak well of your business on other websites and social media platforms.

Post-purchase communication also helps to lead buyers into the next phase of customer engagement, which focuses on renewal of interest so you can upsell or glean repeat business. Despite the sophistication of sales technology, acquiring new customers remains more expensive than selling to existing buyers. When renewing a service or buying the new version of your product, effective digital content and human relationships can make consumers decide your business adds value to their lives.

The key to creating continuous value depends on communicating mutual benefits. Nurturing the customer relationship fosters business growth by maintaining buyer interest.

Leveraging the new buyer’s journey

Altering your trajectory to match emerging buyer habits may seem difficult at first, but it is essential for ensuring business success in the long run. Learning how to join the new buyer’s journey creates value for your business by creating long-term relationships with invested customers. Digital content and social media remain key to harnessing this sales philosophy, as they generate and massage prosperous business ties.

Interested in learning more?  Visit the SAP Marketing Academy homepage, choose SAP SME Academy Live Series and find the “Buyer’s Journey” Series.

Click this link to hear a more detailed discussion of “The New Buyer’s Journey” and how SAP is helping business partners to pursue this new way of selling and building customer relationships.

Lorraine Maurice

About Lorraine Maurice

Lorraine Maurice is the Senior Director of Global Indirect Channel Marketing at SAP. She is responsible for the launch of SAP partner programs, solutions and communications into the Indirect Partner Ecosystem, which includes many partner types such as VARs, Distributors and DRCs.