Call us biased, but we reckon Friday's AntiConLX Global was our best one yet! And a big part of our success this year was our fantastic speakers, like Steve Russell, Sean Donnelly, Kevin Sleap, and Jonathan Pieterse. Whether you're catching up on sessions you missed or just want to rewatch - let's jump right into this session on all things cross-channel activation.
In this interactive panel session, we took a deep dive into cross-channel activation tactics. The insights gained from this approach are pretty darn impressive. This holistic view benefits B2B marketers in today's tricky, digital, buyer's journey.
So, let's jump in.
How Has the Buyer’s Journey Changed And What Do Marketers Need to do to Embrace this Change?
The buyer's journey has changed pretty dramatically, becoming far more complex. There are now more people involved in the B2B buying processes than ever before. In fact, Gartner has found that there can be anywhere between 12 and 18 individuals in a buyer's journey, all of which need to be influenced. But only a small percentage of these people will be actual decision-makers.
On top of this, the decision-making process is becoming more devolved outside the tech and IT function itself. In 2014, about two-thirds of tech buys were taken by the IT function. However, now it is down to a third. That is a dramatic shift away from this department.
Another change is job changes. This trend sees people moving jobs more often, due to dynamism in the job market - one in five decision-makers change jobs every year, and 41% of workers say they're considering a job move in the next 12 months. This is particularly notable as 80% of salespeople cite delays or loss of opportunities due to people leaving or moving jobs.
And now for the big one: buyers have become more digital. The largest buying group now are millennials, who are digital natives. They tend to be 'always on', and spend more time researching on their own. This means they're getting further through the buyer's journey before they're ready to have a conversation with sales. So, it's getting more difficult for sales to have a conversation with them early enough in the buying journey. This creates a challenge and an opportunity for marketing at the same time.
One of the biggest changes is that these buyers want to do the research on their own. They want to remain in the places, spaces, and channels where they feel comfortable. They want to validate their thinking and decisions with people they trust, in these aforementioned places and spaces.
What Can B2B Marketers do to Adjust?
Marketing, nowadays, has a much more strategic role to play in the buyer's journey. Marketers have to construct a great buying experience. But they're having to predict and respond to a conversation they no longer control.
So, what they're having to do is replicate this complex and nuanced face-to-face sales interaction, but in a digital environment. Ultimately, this means marketers have to rely heavily on accurate, intimate, and timely data.
Right then. This begs the question of the cross-channel divide. How can marketers navigate this divide between offline and online, as part of this cross-channel strategy?
Recently, we've seen a resurgence in in-person events, for obvious reasons. There's one key difference between off- and online, in that offline events see buyers spending a lot of time talking to people on the floor and at the stands. They listen to talks extensively. This all becomes a very important touchpoint in the buyer's journey and buyer process.
Yet, those offline experiences are siloed. So seeing which accounts, and people within these accounts, are engaging with you offline will enable marketers to deliver relevant experiences and follow up in a timely manner, and serve them with the right content, at the right time.
"We'll be very reliant on a human person to be able to make those engagements with those customers in real-time.
Whereas what we're finding now is that a lot of that work, the evaluation that the customer needs to make happens much earlier on in that buying process, you know, with the shift from age groups, for sure, but I think it's also how technology has moved as well.
The thing that we tend to rely on within Rockwell is that we try to be focused on the data. So we let the data do this."
- Jonathan Pieterse
There is a misconception that tech is the be-all-or-end-all. That it's going to do the job for us. But this requires a bit more thinking. Marketers need to consider some of the processes that are going to drive the smart marketing strategy that they want to deploy, and then get technology to automate and scale it. Tech should empower your team, not replace it. Let it help them do what they do best.
But to do any effective marketing, you need to put the buyer in the middle and deliver connected relevant experiences. They don't want to have sales conversations, they want to be helped through their buyer's journey. so, you've got to start with the data, and the insight that gives you, and then help them through effective processes using the tech to automate.
What is the BDR's Position Within the Cross-channel Approach?
"The technology that we bring from marketing is really meant to be like the suit that we put around their BDR functions, enabling them, to make them smarter, more strategic."
- Jonathan Pieterse
From a marketing point of view, marketers want to make sure that if they are passing on anything for a BDR to qualify, or do any kind of initial engagement, these individuals are fully-fledged, and that there are plenty of contacts. In fact, Jonathan sees the whole smile and dial approach to be dead, or at least dead within the next five years.
Classically, it's been a volume game. It's been about activity and generic interruptive outreach and trying to fill up the funnel. These days it is much more about using the data and using the insight, using the engagement, and being relevant. Individuals must be subject matter experts.
BDRs are often the first conversation that the organisation has with their prospective clients. So, it is such a crucial role. So enabling them, and kitting them out with insights is vital. This means working in concert with them, building confidence with sales, and bringing them with you on the journey. Doing so is a crucial part of the revenue operation of a winning, modern business.
"The end goal always should be hanging over highly engaged, well-researched leads that are built around verified opportunities, backed up with sales.
Insights and intelligence, and supported with accurate direct contact details. That's going to win the attention of your salespeople. And it's going to win their trust as well.
- Kevin Sleap
- "I would just say you know, set the buyer in the middle. Obsess about the buyer, make sure that you are set up to be able to understand and reach and engage your buyers" - Kevin Sleap
- "What I would say is be opportunity-obsessed in everything that you do. iI you're going to be running a multi-channel campaign, you need to be able to identify opportunities in what you do. If you're able to get that data, find it, and use it with an opportunity mindset" - Jonathan Pieterse
- "I guess my point on all of this is that having access to really good data is paramount. This is the thing that's going to be a real game-changer" - Steve Russell