Independent research and advisory firm Forrester
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Defining real-time buyer enablement in B2B

27th Aug 2020
Independent research and advisory firm Forrester
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A pirouette in ballet is the act of turning on one leg for one or more rotations and a clean finish. Like many things that appear effortless when done well, the execution of a pirouette requires a level of precision and momentum that can be achieved only through continuous training that taps the dancer’s technical foundation. It also means connecting that technique to artistic expression in time with the music and in sync with other dancers on stage.

Successful execution of a pirouette and the transition into the next movement depends on the dancer’s starting position and placement, the torque or force required to initiate and maintain rotation, and the ability to increase or decrease momentum in the turn — with an understanding of where and how to land, and what needs to happen next. Am I joining the corps de ballet in a waltz, or exiting stage left after landing in fifth position? Can I get there from the landing position without falling into the orchestra pit? 

What is most relevant to a B2B buyer in the moment is also in a state of constant motion, changing with each interaction on the basis of new information obtained. In addition to a buyer’s individual interaction preferences and information requirements, that buyer is more than likely functioning as part of a buying group that can be further aligned to a buying center and account entity — all of which provides critical insight into how and when to engage. 

Buyer enablement simply refers to the shift from selling in the general direction of buyers to enabling buyers to get the information they need, when and how they need it, to support their decision-making process. Like the flawless execution of a pirouette, the ability to enable B2B buyers and buying groups in the moment requires a solid technical foundation balancing torque with momentum. Organisations must be able to sense and respond to buyer needs in real time as conditions change and new insights are revealed about the buyer and the composition of the buying group. 

Tuning the Technical Foundation 

The complex and consumer-like expectations of the B2B buyer have organisations relying more heavily on digital tactics and techniques like personalization, testing, and conversion optimisation to drive action. The concept of real-time buyer enablement is a natural evolution of digital strategy and its goal of driving audience-focused and immediately visible engagement at scale, the success of which has typically been measured through activity and response. 

Building on this foundation of digital engagement, real-time buyer enablement pushes the use cases for digital analytics, buyer insights, content intelligence, and tactic orchestration to provide an enriched and actionable understanding of the buyer and buying group dynamics that drive continued momentum in the buying process. This requires a flexible and responsive approach to tactic activation and optimisation based on new buying signals and content insights. Address the common needs of the buying group while recognising that individuals consume information at their own pace. Demand and account-based marketing marketers must embrace three key concepts — respect, context, and conversation — to engage and enable buyers: 

Respect and relevance. Buyers expect interactions to be open, respectful of privacy and preference, and frictionless across touchpoints. The degree of relevance and value of each interaction is determined by and relative to the interaction that preceded it. Demand marketers should be rethinking approaches to content gating, the amount and type of explicit data required in exchange for an asset, and the data capture mechanism (e.g., traditional form, conversational landing page, authentication, business development rep). 

Immediate value based on context. Content contextualisation allows marketers to respond to buying signals in real time with best-fit content and treatment by connecting content and data sources across systems, processes and, above all, buying interactions. Context is the connective tissue for delivering in-the-moment relevance and intuitive value with each interaction, using content activation decisioning and consumption output to reveal important clues about buyers. 

Interconnected conversations. The information requirements, actions, and interaction paths of an individual buyer must be choreographed with the rest of buying group as its members move together through the decision process. The program strategy and tactic mix must be designed for real-time responsiveness, adaptation, and interconnectedness, providing a unified experience across devices and channels for any path the buyer might take. 

Synchronising Signal and Sensor 

To enable the empowered B2B buyer, organisations must understand the types of signals characteristic of their buyers as they move through different stages; what sensors can be used to capture those signals; and most importantly, how to classify and connect those signals across data sources, program activation systems, and demand management workflows. 

Mechanisms that receive buying signals are already present in the tactic set — from content and offers to delivery channels and orchestration decisioning. Together, these sensors and the signals they produce provide critical inputs that marketer and machine can use to trigger and tailor the next-best interaction based on the information contained within the signal. The ability to use buying signals to guide and inform each interaction must be built into program and tactic design with defined business requirements. 

Real-time buyer enablement is a commitment organisations make to their buyers and customers to be responsive, relevant, respectful, and aligned around a common goal of helping buyers make better decisions. Modern demand marketing strategies and tactics must be behavior-based and buying-group-aware to predict and respond to buyer needs in real time, requiring synchronicity of signals and sensors centered in immediate value, revolving around buyer need, and leveraging the momentum of contextual interactions and interconnected conversations. 

You can register to join Forrester’s CX EMEA event from 18-19 November 2020 here.   

 

This post was written by principal analyst Jessie Johnson and it appeared here. 

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