The B2B sales cycle focuses on the sales funnel: How to nurture and qualify prospects in order to turn them over to Sales at the opportune moment. The rationale for this is that sales reps are an expensive commodity with limited availability. The objective is to have these expensive resources talking to the prospects that are most likely to close. A lot of time and money are spent on achieving this goal. Big dollars are invested in purchasing and implementing marketing automation software, centralizing data, training personnel, creating business rules in the marketing automation platform, and in paying for consultants to implement the more complex and obscure portions of that marketing automation platform.
The B2C sales cycle focuses on the buyer’s journey: detecting what the buyer is doing and determining the context (e.g. is the first purchase, the third complaint this month, the second request for information…) of the buyer’s activity in order to respond in the most appropriate manner . The focus of B2C is on ensuring that the right offer is sent to the right person at the right time using the right channel. This is in contrast to nurturing and turning a qualified lead over to a direct sales representative. B2B marketing automation tools are very poor at B2C implementations because the customer’s journey is non-linear. B2B is designed for a linear sales funnel path from general inquiry to properly qualified prospect. B2C requires flexibility in order to deal with buyers who move back and forth in what may appear as a random path from awareness to purchase. B2C must continually integrate new sources of information, new channels and new media. This continual integration challenge is why B2B marketing automation platforms have a problem with B2C – it would take too much of their development budget to continually integrate, test and ensure a consistent platform experience to its users. It is also the reason that there are so few affordable B2C marketing automation solutions available.
Customer State Marketing focuses on the context of the customer event/action dynamic. Customer State Marketing allows the marketer to follow each individual customer along their own unique journey. Whether it is a B2B or a B2C journey is immaterial. What counts is the customer’s state at the time of the event. For example, what is the proper response to:
1) a white paper download event
2) an abandoned shopping cart event
3) one week of contact inactivity
The correct answer is “It depends on the context”! If this is the first time the contact downloads the white paper then the response is different than if it is the third time they download a white paper. If the contact abandons a shopping cart the response is different if this is the first cart they have ever abandoned vs. someone who always abandons a cart. If the contact is inactive for one week the response is different if you are sending them a confirmation email vs. a newsletter.
As you can see, the context of the event (i.e. what State the customer is in) determines the correct response. Only Customer State Marketing provides an easy and effective way to build marketing automation scenarios that take the customer’s state into account at the time of the event, whether it be B2B or B2C.