Guest Post: Stop Selling and Start Helping People Buy at Eloqua

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Here at Eloqua we believe in transparency.  We are open and honest about our growth, about our successes, about our mistakes.  An essential ingredient of transparency is the willingness to embrace perspectives that are not in total sync with yours.  After all, it’s listening that ultimately allows us to speak with more confidence.  With this in mind, I am pleased to publish this guest post from best-selling author Sharon-Drew Morgan, who argues we should all “stop selling” and instead “start helping people buy.”
Marketing automation has amazing potential as a way to close more sales, make the selling process more efficient, and help buyers get the content they need. The field is working hard at discovering all aspects of the buying process and how to influence it. With that in mind, I’d like to add my 2 cents.

With all of the money, brains, and technology behind it, marketing automation is only closing a fraction of sales it could be closing. Somewhere between the data collection, the lead scoring, and the telesales, around 90% of leads are being lost. That’s a shame for both sellers and buyers.

What’s missing is the current inability to enter the buying decision journey earlier. I’m not talking about the essential content data, the webinars or the white papers. I’m talking about the stuff that goes on behind-the-scenes that we aren’t privy to, but are essential issues that buyers must manage privately to get the necessary buy-in for a purchase.

A few truths (that we sometimes forget):

  1. until or unless all of the Buying Decision Team members are on board, the buyer won’t have the full complement of buying criteria and must delay a purchase accordingly.
  2. until or unless there is buy-in from every person, group, or piece of technology that will touch the final solution, no purchase will be made. The disruption would be too great.
  3. until or unless all familiar avenues for a fix – i.e. current vendor, repairing what’s already there – are tried, buyers cannot make a purchase.

It appears to us as if there is ‘no decision’ and the status quo is being maintained. But what’s really happening is that they are focusing first on maintaining the congruence of their working environment – and if they had the capability to fix their problem they would have already. Note that the industry guess is that 70% of buyers will buy eventually.

Politics, and people, and partners all get into the space between need and solution. Buyers must manage their non-need related politics and people issues before they can buy. And neither sales nor marketing automation address this.

When we follow folks on line, and do lead scoring or lead nurturing, we truly don’t know where along the continuum they are. What % of the Buying Decision Team does this person represent? What, exactly, are they doing with our data? Who is fighting the change?

We are operating on the hope and guess that by offering the right data at the right time, and by using the right lead scoring criteria, we will close. But we’re not!

I’ve developed a decision facilitation capability that makes it possible to enter the buying journey far earlier. No, it’s not ‘sales’ – it’s change management. It will lead the buyer through the off-line decision issues, help them get all the right Buying Decision Team members on board quickly, help them determine their buying criteria (the private stuff, separate from our content or their need), or dismiss their old vendor.

Buyers have to do this anyway. And this is where we’re losing our sales – not because our technology isn’t good.  Our technology is brilliant: It just doesn’t go as far as it could be.

Let’s expand our reach and add some capability. And close more. We just first have to move beyond the belief that ‘content is king’. It’s not: the buyer is king. Would you rather sell? Or have someone buy? They are two different activities, and we’re only focusing on one of them. We know how to manage the content end. Now let’s help buyers manage their own buying journey.

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