Do you remember when prospective customers used to contact you as they were starting their buying research? Yeah, those days are over.
In the old days (5-10 years ago), lead generation could be driven more by interruptive marketing like mass advertising, cold-calling and email blasts. From that external stimuli, a prospective customer would contact the seller to get more information and begin the buying process.
The buyer would then expect to be educated by the sales team and guided through the sales process. Sales was accustomed to speaking with uninformed, early-stage buyers (many of whom were not qualified leads).
Information scarcity was at the heart of this dynamic where the buyer would seek information from the seller. That’s why the buyer would contact the seller at the outset. And a good salesperson could use the information the buyer sought as leverage to influence the buyer’s experience and decision to buy.
With the rise of the Internet however, the world of information scarcity for the buyer has all but vanished. Today, buyers can access a variety of information resources through search engines, social media and other online channels. On the Internet, the buyer can research their initial problem, possible solutions and even the seller and their products and services.
Now, buyers can delay talking to sales until they are experts themselves. According to Forrester, these days buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their purchase before they finally contact the seller. This late-stage contact makes it much more difficult for a salesperson to influence a buyer.
This new era of information abundance (and growing attention deficits) has changed the buying process – which has changed the lead generation process.
Not surprisingly, buyers are overwhelmingly finding their vendors instead of the other way around. This was affirmed in a MarketingSherpa study:
This makes your digital presence more important than ever for generating leads.
To generate leads now, sellers need to get found online while the prospect is doing that research prior to contacting the seller.
A modern lead generation strategy using content marketing will help you capture the interest of your buyers and build trust during their self-directed, self-education buying process. Doing so enables your company to collect information on potential buyers in order to nurture them toward becoming a customer.
A modern approach to lead generation means your sales team can waste less time cold calling a list of unqualified leads. And more time time actively selling and closing deals.
And it works, too. According to a benchmark study by Marketo, companies with mature lead generation practices achieve better sales productivity and higher revenue growth.
This sea change in how people buy has been the focus of Google’s ongoing Zero Moment of Truth study.
According to Google, 71% of people use the Internet for their business purchase decisions.
From a B2B lead generation standpoint, the early bird gets the worm. Do you want to get found by your prospective customers as they are beginning their buying journey so that you can travel with them? Or do you want to have them contact you for a price quote after they have preference for and trust in your competitor?