Mixing Humans and Tech in the Customer Journey A B2B How-To Secret:
Jason Voiovich joined our Scaling Presales webinar series recently. Voiovich is a fractional CMO and author of Marketer in Chief: How Each President Sold the American Idea. Watch his full webinar “How to Nail the Human and Technology Mix in the Customer Journey” here.
The big question we wanted Jason to answer was how we (revenue teams, especially in SaaS) can use tech in B2B to be more effective – and to improve the buying experience – without diluting any of the meaningful human touchpoints that help us connect with people.
There’s always the risk with tech of making customers feel like our brands are nothing more than a disconnected cyborg.
A Tenuous Balance
We accelerate a lot of workflows with tech, but leaders have a hard time balancing it with quality human connections, without over- or under-rotating. Buyers adapt quickly when brands over-rotate on things like automation, for example.
Think about your behaviors in response to modern marketing. Who doesn’t try to get around online lead tracking and form fills? People dodge gates and automated responses with incognito browsing and dummy data. The attitude is basically, “When I want a human, make it easy to get one in front of me. Otherwise, stay off my back!”
In the last ten years, marketing and sales spend has grown at 4X the rate of population growth. The level of spend is 10-30% higher than GDP – Presales spend is still relatively new but surging. We’re essentially getting a lower return on our investments, despite there being a heavy technology focus.
Unfortunately, technology lulls a lot of suppliers into a “fix-it-and-forget-it” mentality. They think they’ve done all the instrumenting they need just by buying the tech, and after a few early but unpredictable/unforecastable successes, they stop dialing things in or innovating.
In order to keep customers engaged, you need to use technology to improve the experience with greater levels of relevancy. That should include some measure of customization to their unique problems, while leading them to buy and adopt with confidence and ease. If you use technology to increase relevancy, it will drive better results.
Rethinking the Buyer Journey
Buying and selling processes look very different. Buying journeys are chaotic and asynchronous, and they change from person to person and stage to stage.
Sales processes are linear, clean and completely unrealistic. They almost never reflect the realities of buying. Nowhere is the buyer even considered, oddly enough.
We need to realign our maps. Simplicity works but only insofar as it is mapped around the buyer. Consider Amazon. One of the things that makes it so successful is that they make buying irresistibly simple. Whatever you need, whenever you need it, and in whatever form, usually you have it with the click of a button.
Bow Tie Model
Rather than the typical convoluted flow chart, one way to think of the buyer’s journey is in terms of a bow tie with a few components on each side, and the sale as the knot in the middle.
An approach like this is intended to help you provide your champions with enough of the right detail to make a good decision – with confidence, enabling them to get others on board – but not so much that it complicates the decision.
The left side of the bow represents the Customer Acquisition Process. It really only consists of assessing three components:
Market size: You need to know who is in your market to quantify how much of the market share you are winning.
Interest: You need to generate interest in your market to close a deal.
Awareness: Coupled with interest, you need to create awareness for your product.
To enable buyers throughout, identify their different motivations in each stage. Once you make that sale or “knot” in the middle, you move to the right side of the bow, which represents Account Growth and consists of these steps:
Buyer Feedback: Determine if the buyers are satisfied with their purchase.
Repeat Purchases: Satisfaction leads to repeat sales.
Advocacy: If buyers are satisfied, they will generate referrals and new buyers.
To use this model effectively, start by focusing in on three elements:
Need: What does your buyer need from you at each stage?
Delivery: What combination of humans and technology is best suited to deliver it?
Measurement: What simple metric (quantitative or qualitative) will tell you if you are succeeding?
Voiovich says that 90% of all companies — even the most sophisticated, billion dollar brands — can get immediate benefit from distilling motivations in the buying journey down. Rather than focusing on complex plans or sales funnels built around your business outcomes and processes, shift the focus to customers.
Your aim is to help them create buying group consensus. Different people want different things at different stages. Alignment is key. How can you accommodate that with tech in ways that don’t introduce conflicting priorities?
A Practical Example From Our Wild World of Automated Demos
Our focus is on the demo experience, but it can serve as a good template for other touch points. Revenue teams deliver a lot of repetitive, overgeneralized live demos that don’t help buying groups move any closer to group consensus. They’re also riddled with waste on the part of SE teams.
Even though humans deliver these demos, they are often so generic in nature they actually feel robotic, and 30-50% are unqualified.
Counterintuitively, technology can make demos more individually relevant at scale based on individual needs and selections. It works in 4 broad phases (and this is the part you can replicate across other touch points):
Create – Sales Engineers create interactive videos in modularized segments (i.e. maybe segmented by different product features, maybe by different values or benefits) with supporting documentation for different audiences. This forces you to think through personas and needs by stage. For each segment, the SE creates a longer or more thorough version as well as a shorter or more introductory version, which viewers will have to choose. A group of these segments are then packaged into a branching demo (maybe one demo for each LOB or each vertical you’re targeting).
Send – Reps, usually AEs, email the most relevant demo as a link to their contacts
Views and shares – The recipient makes it even more relevant by identifying their role in the buying group, by making selections from the different segments, and then the demo adjusts to their selections. They’re prompted to share it with their colleagues as well, adding new stakeholders to the mix.
Tracks – Consensus tracks all the engagement, including the selections and the stakeholders added, along with what they viewed and downloaded.
By adjusting the demo experience to individual selections and making them available on-demand, you turn an otherwise stale and generic experience into something relevant for each person. And you do it without investing additional man-hours and without holding buyers hostage to a supplier’s calendar.
They’re in the driver’s seat in the best way possible: guided but still choose-your-own-adventure; customized but scalable; always available and when you need it, even after hours.
50% of automated demos are viewed the same day and 13% are viewed after hours, which tells us that buyers actually want and will consume high-quality content quickly. At least 1-2 of a deal’s key decision makers prefer to get caught up outside of normal working hours (you know….that time when you’re not around).
Not only that, if they consume and share one of these demos, they’re 81% more likely to become an opportunity. And they automatically self-qualify as a Demo Qualified Lead, or DQL.
In this case, technology lets you deliver a better experience and sets up first live meetings to feel a lot more like 3rd or 4th live meetings, with buyers who are much more ready to go deep into solutioning.
Technology as a Way Forward
The bigger picture is that we should leverage technology more effectively to make buying easier, more pleasant and fast. You can try a simplified buyer journey model to find where you can implement technology to enable more buyers to close deals faster.
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