My guest today is Tony Zambito. In 2002, Tony established the first buyer persona research methodology designed specifically for B2B marketing and sales. This innovation helps leading companies gain better understanding of their buyers, leading to improved lead generation and revenue performance. His "Buyer Foresight" approach helps organizations gain predictability by understanding the behavior of their buyers in a changing market.
Below, you can read highlights from our discussion or use the links to start the video from different parts of the conversation.
Understand the Buyer's Backstory
Click to start video at this point—Tony explains that If you leave it to chance for the buyer to find you, you miss the bigger picture of the buyer's network. Buyers today are so networked that by the time they find you, they may have already developed their own version of a solution. They may very well have had conversations with suppliers, peers, and internal departments, and by the time you talk with them, you don't know this whole story. When marketers come in without knowing that backstory, they don't understand what's in the buyer's mind. "You need to understand the bigger picture of how buyers today are networked," Tony says.
Tony feels that, due to social media collaboration, even the standard labels for the players are becoming a bit outdated. The "approver," the "influencer" and the "decision-maker" are all sharing software and creating the story together. Interestingly, in recent years even vendors and suppliers have increased in importance in the buying cycle because of the way buyers are now networked.
Study Lead Behavior
Click to start video at this point—It's important for marketing and sales to agree on the definition of a qualified lead and what criteria are met to qualify as a lead. Tony considers a qualified lead someone who is ready to engage in a conversation with a sales rep and analyze the way a solution will address their pain.
The next important step he shares is the recognition and understanding of the buyer's behavioral hallmarks in every stage of the process. You'll be far more successful in generating leads. Tony feels one of the things missing in lead generation is the lack of emphasis placed on lead research. We’ve dug into the buying cycle but there is so much that can be learned from the pre-buy cycle. There is an identifiable pattern and a different persona displayed when someone makes the transition from lead to potential buyer. Tony sees the evolving of a lead persona, which will be very different from a buyer persona.
Don't Treat Your Leads Like Buyers
Click to start video at this point—"Not everyone is a buyer in the beginning," Tony points out, but organizations often treat them as if they were. If you do this, you may be hurting your chances of making a future sale and may have missed an opportunity to nurture a relationship over time.
Nurturing requires a "one-to-one relationship, not a one-to-many relationship." Even if your lead from the first quarter of 2013 has clearly identified the fact that they will not be ready to buy until 2014, it's a big mistake to simply leave them alone in the meantime. Tony urges his clients to stay engaged with their future buyers, and continue to have a conversation with them. In this way, the lead feels nurtured and you're a part of their networked conversation.
Your Organization Needs Buyer Predictability
Click to start video at this point—The ability to build a model of your buyers and to predict their behavior will be a key differentiator between successful companies in the near future. Tony's concept of "Buyer Foresight" is based on this ability, and understanding the buyer persona is key to predicting their behavior.
A business which has the skill to predict the future behavior of buyers will be able to anticipate the solutions, new sales approaches and brand messages they will need. This ability will help them connect with buyers on a level their competitors will not be able to match.
Going into 2014, the companies who will be successful are the ones which do the necessary research to define their buyers' persona at each stage of the buying cycle, nurture the buyer with a one-on-one relationship, and anticipate what will motivate those buyers in a rapidly changing marketplace.
Related PointClear article: How to Connect Your B2B Content to a Prospect's Buying Stage
You can connect with Tony Zambito and learn more about his work via the following resources:
LinkedIn: Tony Zambito
The next PowerViews will be with Michael Brenner of SAP. Stay Tuned.
By Dan McDade