Understanding The Buyer – How Can You Drive Business With Digital Body Language?

“Understanding the Buyer – How Can You Drive Business with Digital Body Language?” with Steven Woods, Chief Technology Officer, Eloqua

August 2011 Event

by Dan Galatin

Steven Woods, founder and Chief Technology Officer at Eloqua presented at the August 3rd meeting of the SVPMA. He discussed how the buying process has changed over the past decade in the face of the ascendency of internet search and online social media.

Mr. Woods began by discussing the typical buying process for a fairly complex enterprise product and delivered some general observations about buying today: it’s online, it’s all about the buyer, and it’s complicated. In today’s online environment, the basic discovery call between a sales team and a prospective client is increasingly obsolete; prospects can and expect to get information about a company’s offerings and solutions much more quickly and efficiently online. The challenge is that the sales team still needs to understand the buying organization. One classic method has been to have prospects fill out web forms, but studies have shown that buyers often do not tell the truth on web forms. Instead, companies need to instrument the information buyers access online in order to understand them.

Today, since anyone publishing content online has the ability to reach any audience, the “social filter” of social media – instead of the “economic filter” of advertising in traditional media – controls the availability of product information. Because of this fundamental shift, the buying process is all about the buyer. Companies must look for new ways for buyers to discover information about their offerings, either actively, passively or through influencers. Rather than purchasing buyer attention through these channels, organizations are increasingly trying to earn it through the quality of their engagement with customers. Examples of this type of effort include viral videos that interested buyers discover.

The buying process is complicated because of the number of people and relationships involved. However, since buyers are online, it is easier to instrument their behavior and understand what motivates them to buy. It is possible to systematically understand how buyers learn about your products and insert one’s organization into that conversation (for example, not necessarily by direct marketing but by sharing expertise in the problem domain and thereby gaining influence with prospects). Qualifying sales leads in today’s environment is about understanding not only their degree of fit but also how engaged they are in the buying process right now. In this way, it is possible to target marketing campaigns more precisely and to keep the audience interested in your company and your products. In order to figure out where deals are getting stuck in the sales pipeline, it is important to trust the data you are gathering about your audience’s online behavior rather than relying on your intuition alone.

In summary, Mr. Woods asserted that because the buying process is online, it is important to instrument customers’ online behavior to learn their “digital body language.” Because the buying process is all about the buyer, it is important to be discoverable rather than pushing information out. Because the process is complicated, it is important to systemize the process and build a robust revenue engine.

Dan Galatin has 19 years combined experience in product management and software engineering. He is currently a Senior Product Manager at Keynote Systems and can be contacted at dgalatin@yahoo.com.