The Consideration Stage of the B2B Buyer’s Journey
In the consideration stage of the B2B buyer’s journey, your buyers are now well-aware of their business challenge and begin to evaluate the available solutions. Your goal is to continue educating them about your value and weed out the people who are not likely to buy your product or service.
At this point in their journey, buyers are weighing the pros and cons of your offering and the alternatives. It’s important to note that those alternative solutions might not be a direct competitor for you.
For example, if you sell CRM software, your potential buyers might consider entirely different solutions to their customer process problem—such as simple spreadsheets, a Rolodex, or even doing nothing about it.
Nurturing leads during the consideration stage involves answering the question “why do I need a product like yours?” as well as “why is your product the best one?” Teach buyers why your offering is the best solution (out of all the potential solutions) to the challenge they face.
Appointment setting strategies for the consideration stage
During this step in the buying process, your sales development reps should focus on qualifying leads and setting the initial sales meeting.
Consideration-stage prospects have already been warmed up to some degree by the SDR or by engaging with your marketing efforts. Now, your appointment setters need to nudge these prospects to the next stage, decision, but must confirm they’re qualified buyers first.
SDR lead qualification means converting cold leads and marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads (SQLs). For most companies’ purposes, SDR lead qualification criteria can simply include whether the contact has a need for your product or service and whether they have some say in the purchase decision.
Our suggested lead qualification criteria are a simplified version of well-known sales methodologies, such as BANT (budget, authority, need, and timeframe). But with the final goal of scheduling a formal sales appointment, SDRs only need to know that they’re talking to the right person at the right company. The closing rep can take care of the rest.
SDRs should ask discovery questions to determine if the prospect meets your qualification criteria. The right questions help your reps learn more about a prospect’s organizational environment and determine if your company can meet their needs.
Here are some example discovery questions that can answer whether prospects have sufficient need and authority:
- Where do you run into obstacles with your current solution?
- How are you currently handling [business challenge]?
- If you were to make a purchase, who else would help with that process?
- What is your decision-making process?
Any information beyond basic qualifiers that an SDR can pick up during discovery will end up benefiting the closing rep. For a full list of EBQ’s best SDR questions, download our Discovery Call Questions resource.
Using an SDR team to pre-qualify prospects for your sales rep allows you to make the necessary number of touches needed to convert them to an SQL. A call cadence beyond 3-4 touches is imperative for a B2B sales cycle, and many closing sales reps are too focused on more qualified leads to continue reaching out to colder ones.
But many companies still don’t have an SDR team, or they face difficulty running one due to the high cost and turnover of an in-house SDR team. This is why many companies choose to outsource appointment setting, so they can benefit from reduced managerial costs and bypass ramp time with an experienced, professional SDR team.
Your closer’s time is much too valuable for them to spend it on the long process of cold calling and qualifying B2B leads.
An SDR’s job is to reach out to your prospects, generated through data building and marketing efforts, and nurture their interest and trust in your company until the buyer is ready to speak to sales.
Consultative selling helps buyers evaluate
After an SDR qualifies a lead, your salespeople can step up to nurture the prospect and turn them into a real opportunity. In the consideration stage, this means proving the value of your product or service, especially in comparison to competitors and alternative solutions.
To an SDR, “converting a prospect” merely means setting the sales meeting. SDRs are selling the idea of learning more, not making the much more demanding request of actually making a purchase.
However, once a prospect agrees to the meeting request and lands in the sales team’s queue, the hard sell begins. It’s time to work toward converting them to a customer.
Your sales team should consult with buyers to identify their most pressing needs as well as organizational obstacles that need to be addressed before closing the deal. For most B2B decision makers, financial value and ROI will be a foremost concern. Closers should give specific examples to demonstrate why your offering is the optimal solution for their business challenge and how it will fit into their organization’s day-to-day.
Nurturing a B2B lead is often a long, arduous process that takes place over weeks or months, and the length of the sales cycle varies by offering and individual accounts. But at this stage in the buyer’s journey, your salesperson already has the prospect’s attention, so they should communicate strategically to hold the prospect’s interest and nudge them through to the decision stage.
As a marketer, your responsibility during the consideration stage is to clearly explain how your product or service will solve the buyer’s problem, especially in contrast to the competition.
Your inbound strategy in this stage should revolve around educational assets that not only inform but also highlight specific features that make your solution the best solution. Compared to the awareness stage, you can be a little more obvious and a little less subtle about why your product rocks.
Some tactics for reaching your buyers during the consideration stage:
- Instructional content: Research what your buyers want to know about a solution like yours, and show them step-by-step how it works. If they’re Googling how to choose the right lead generation service, write a guide on finding the best lead generation firm. Explain why your product or service is a sensible choice but remember to be impartial in your explanation, in order to maintain credibility and establish trust in your brand.
- Comparison grids: Compare your product or service and its features to your competitors. Your buyers are already looking for this information, so give yourself an advantage by providing it right on your website. This strategy also positions your company as an authority on the subject, encouraging further trust in your brand.
- Case studies: Show prospects how your product or service has helped clients in the past. Case studies demonstrate specific features and qualities of your offering that solve buyers’ challenges and improve ROI. Distribute case studies on your website in a dedicated space, throughout your content as relevant links, and provide them to salespeople to share directly.
Buyers in the consideration stage are not always familiar with your brand at this point in their journey; they might still be in the process of discovering all their options.
However, engaging prospects in the consideration stage often involves targeting prospects who have been exposed to your brand. These prospects are valuable, and you should aim to keep your brand top-of-mind for them.
One of EBQ’s go-to marketing tactics for remaining top-of-mind is email automation. Email automation allows the marketing team to nurture inbound leads alongside the SDR team. We use personalized email campaigns to drive continuous engagement with relevant content, strengthening prospects’ familiarity with and trust in our brand.
The beauty of marketing automation is that it’s designed to nurture leads over time through conditional logic. If the prospect doesn’t open an email or click the link, we can configure the automated campaign to wait longer before the next touch and avoid annoying our potential buyer.
Pardot is a common automation tool of choice for B2B marketers. You can learn more about using Pardot for email marketing in our B2B Marketer’s Guide to Pardot.
with a lead rating system
How can you make sure that both sales and marketing have a consistent view of each prospect and where they stand in their buyer’s journey? Using a lead rating system—a method of tracking how ready a lead is to buy—keeps both sales and marketing on the same page as they nurture prospects.
At EBQ, the old-school “cold lead vs. warm lead” system is not how our SDR team operates. We use a more incremental lead rating system (which we’ve dubbed EBRating) to determine level of interest, prioritize outreach efforts, and establish an appropriate follow-up cadence.
Our marketing department uses EBRating to track engagement and convert website visitors into MQLs. When a visitor views multiple pages on our website or downloads our branded content, points are added to their lead score in Pardot. When they reach a specified lead score, they convert to an MQL—a 3 on the EBRating scale—and are funneled to the SDR queue.
Integration between Salesforce Pardot and Salesforce CRM is relatively seamless. This makes it easy to customize how the 2 platforms communicate with each other and gives both our sales and marketing teams a single view of each buyer.
Setting up a suitable lead rating system can be complex, but the insight it provides is vital for your teams. At EBQ, we have Pardot-certified Specialists who ensure all our prospect data is integrated correctly throughout our processes and across platforms.
If you’re still looking for your marketing automation power user, EBQ has you covered with Marketing Specialists who can be outsourced for Pardot administration.
Chapter 3: The Decision Stage
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