At a recent roundtable, where individuals focused on helping sales and marketing leaders gathered, Gartner presented interesting findings from its annual research project. The findings suggest that the assumption that B2B buyers progress in a linear fashion is fundamentally flawed. In a prior article, I discussed how the customer’s journey is really a set of “jobs to be done” (see article here). The consequence is that the customer journey looks more like a maze than a linear path or funnel (below).

Understanding that the customer journey is a maze and not a linear process has significant implications for marketing leaders. Below are five.

1. The unobservable process is a maze. Thinking about the B2B customer journey requires understanding that the process the salesperson observes the customer going through is just the tip of the iceberg. The customer, in addition to seeking information from the buyer, is also working behind the scenes to find information, validate it and align the organization. This represents 83% of their time, with only 17% spent with the salesperson.

2. Break the baton. Blow up the funnel. Historically, marketing focuses on the top of the funnel and then passes qualified leads off to sales. This approach doesn’t work in a world where the customer can visit the website right before the final purchase decision to find information or can become aware of the company from a salesperson.

3. Sales is just another information-delivery channel. If sales were conceived of as another information vehicle (just as websites, email, brochures, events, etc.), how would marketing think about integrating sales communication and activities with digital and traditional communications? Rather than tossing a qualified lead to sales, how can marketing create decision-enabling tools that can help facilitate the customer’s need for information?

Read More at Forbes.

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