The Rise of the "Unknown Buyer"
Web-centric buying process
People hardly go to a trade show. They prefer the convenience of getting information over the Internet from their office desk.
This gives your organization less trade show leads to work on.
Over the years, Web technology has brought sophisticated, fully interactive websites, with many features and functionality.
As a result, the buyer has shifted to a Web-centric buying process. Prospects, buyers, customers all are active on the Internet: the website has become the crucial node, not solely for information distributions, but also the Lead Generation.
Think about how far this process has come:
The potential buyer can do product search, find information to get started the first selection, view a demo, and even get advice or customer experience all online.
Just by using any search engine, defining the product features and product options, a potential buyer can do their research and fact finding. In some cases they can view an online demo, or even validate the product over a limited time frame. Hands-on experiences are shared and can be found by visiting online communities of interest or by communicating with peers who have tried or tested it.
This leads to a much better informed potential buyer.
Actually, he might know more than your sales people do.
For certain products or services, the actual buying process and transaction has moved onto the Web.
The implications of this Web-centric selection and buying of the new Internet Age, is that in essence we migrated almost all of the purchasing process into a non-human environment, where the salesman has little or no impact on.
The "Unknown Buyer"
All of these actions and methods of the new buying process, as above described, have created the “Unknown Buyer”.
Many of your current prospects are unknown buyers to your sales people. These people don’t want to contact the company. They don’t want to talk to a salesperson. They want to stay as anonymous as possible, until they decide to buy.
In most cases the "Unknown Buyer" ignores marketing campaigns and messages, because they are deluged with them.
The only time they listen is when they are interested in buying and your message is relevant to their buying decision. The message with valuable content for the "Unknown Buyer" needs to be timely orchestrated: right on time and the appropriate content.
The importance of relevancy of message
The more relevant and personalized your message is to the prospect, the more likely he or she will respond to you, if the timing is right.
The unknown buyer wants and has 24/7 access to information by the Internet.
However your sales team is not awake and present 24/7.
As the unknown buyer, searches the Internet for information, references and experiences, he or she craves knowledge. This is both for consumers for their personal purchasing decisions, as for a B2B buyer looking for competitive advantage.
They all crave knowledge.
This is very important aspect of the "Unknown Buyer": during the purchasing process, he or she will have gathered information in a very short time.
Your sales people need to defend themselves. They too can crave knowledge: about the company's products or services, but more importantly about the potential buyers on the company website, if they have the right tools.
Sales people used to have knowledge by face-to-face contacts and different types of communication. But that's almost all gone away:
Before the Internet era, prospects were forced to contact the company for product or services information. During this information exchange, both the potential buyer and the sales representative learned about each other. Thus sales people learned the identity and the needs at the beginning of the buying process.
On the other hand, the potential buyer learned about the sales person, the company and the products or services.
But today, if sales people do learn of a prospect’s interest, it may be just before they make the buying decision — or even not at all, if the sale goes to your competitor.
The need to identify the visitor / visiting company
As the Company Website has become the communication and information channel, your sales people need to watch the Website for information, in order to obtain information and knowledge about the potential buyers visiting the Website.
As this is a technical environment, appropriate tools are needed to reveal information about the visitors. The numeric information needs to be translated into understandable information.
The timely and interest matching message:
A timely message is required, as the potential buyer can turn away from your website, the very last moment before buying. Moreover the unknown buyer doesn't want to have much or any interference in his purchasing process, thus your sales people need to send him/her a message - a personalized message on time, containing the appropriate product or service information at the right price and on the right moment.
Revealing the "Unknown Buyer" for more sales
Today just having a website with products and services on display is not enough to be successful.
Promotion of your products and services can be done by using the website, Press releases, advertising and the media.
However, as the buyer has become "Unknown", and no interaction between potential buyer and your sales people exist, your sales people need to get more info from your website for Lead Generation and Lead Acquisition by finding information and reasons to communicate with the visiting companies.
Registration for downloads do work, but not for all customers and not for all products or services. Moreover, the unknown buyer often uses fake or hosted email addresses, allowing staying unknown.
There for: the more information one can filter out or generate form the website, by identifying the individual visitors and their origin (e.g. by company, country, language,...) and their interests, brings good reasons to start calling or sending a timely message to your prospects.
Prospects identified on the Website by your sales and sales team.