The boost in investment is in response to changing—and increasingly digital—customer preferences across the ILAER buyer journey. According to the participants in Alexander Group’s 2018/19 XaaS Sales Strategy Study, more than 15 percent of all deals originate digitally.
Companies are exploring ways to boost value for buyers who are increasingly more informed about their choices, less patient in terms of time to realized value and more willing to self-serve. The summarized new buyer purchasing mandates are: extract maximum value, try before you buy, pay for usage only and incur OPEX (operational expenditure) over CAPEX (capital expenditure).
To meet those demands, companies are investing in customized, easily consumable content, robust IP/advocacy programs and ways to deliver instant, high value. The digital prospect engagement funnel is a framework that helps companies ensure they are deploying the right digital roles and tools in this portion of the buyer journey. It starts with self-learning and ends with activation.
The funnel has both self-driven and company-driven stages. And much like most of the overall buyer journey—particularly in the ‘Land’ phase—engagement is typically non-linear and non-sequential. The five stages are:
1. Self-learning: Buyers demand customized content in easily consumable formats to make informed decisions. For basic products or solutions, buyers expect to complete the transactions in a self-service model with limited bureaucracy (remember, the stages are non-linear and non-sequential).
2. Community validation: Buyers confirm and validate their choices by engaging a variety of digital outposts including forums, blogs, references, and partner- and company-sponsored content.
3. Instant value: Buyers demand technical and concierge support to drive instant value (e.g., assessments and insights on their data). Use of digital chat is ubiquitous. Email, and telephone/voicemail to an even greater extent, are widely regarded as too slow.
4. Trial options: Buyers expect customized solutions based on trial and proof of concept (POC) results. POC timelines are shrinking for all but the most complex enterprise-wide solution trials. Sixty- and 90-day trials are now the exception.
5. Activation support: Buyers want support in activation and a smooth ramp time. Companies increasingly provide Customer Success Managers to ensure a smooth transition from sales to service.
Successful companies are adapting to changing buyer preferences. They are meeting buyer expectation in terms of where and how they want to buy—providing value across each of the five digital prospect engagement funnel stages.
How well-defined are your digital roles and processes across the buyer stages? Is your company poised to deliver on the new buyer purchasing mandates? Schedule time to review the Study findings and benchmark yourself against your peers.