It’s surely one of the most used statistics in B2B marketing over the last couple of years. Sirius Decisions started it by declaring that 57% of the B2B buyer’s journey was complete before engaging a salesperson. In 2013 they added to it, claiming 67% of the buyer’s journey was done digitally. Google and others have since added their own estimates.
At Sirius Decisions’ 2015 summit, they admitted it might be time to ‘retire’ the statistic. But since then, I’ve seen more people than ever reference it. Marketers need to realise it’s not just about it being misleading. It’s about the fact it could be doing harm.
I worry that misuse of the 57% statistic creates a sales and marketing divide.
Too many times it’s used to suggest marketing’s responsibility for the sales process has increased. So we scrabble around, trying to work out how we can use marketing automation to nurture opportunities. Spending a fortune on new platforms, new personas and new content. Forbes’ claim about the ‘death of the B2B salesperson’ starts to ring true.
But we’re over-complicating it. Yes, automation can be very valuable. But not at the expense of the salesperson. We forget about the other truism in B2B marketing – the whole “it’s not business-to-business, it’s human-to-human” thing. A horrible phrase, but take it alongside the rise of digital and social, and what we’re talking about is a reframing of the sales and marketing relationship, and of the role of the salesperson. Not the rise of one at the expense of the other. Engage properly with sales, and they can be an integral, human part of your digital demand generation machine.
There are three more important reasons why we’ve had enough of the statistic:
The topic of digital and sales integration is explored further in this report about the 3rd era of demand generation.
If you would like to discuss the topic further, I’d love to hear your thoughts – you can contact me here.