Optimising Your Channel Mix to Match the Evolving Buyer’s Journey

by Mark Taylor

The B2B buyer’s journey is shifting with the increasing preference and expectation that digital channels will be incorporated into the channel mix.

As a result B2B go-to-market models are in a state of flux, with leaders needing to continually review and refine the channel strategy to match the buyer’s journey and manage internal costs. A key challenge for business leaders is the need to evolve the channel mix in sync with the buyer so as to not be left behind and lose relevance, but to also not be too progressive and alienate more traditional buyers.

Rate of Change Matrix

 

When to move to digital sales?

Determining the most effective and cost-efficient sales and channel model is a continuous balancing act. Do you maintain a focus on face-to-face sales reps that travel from customer to customer? Do you have a more cost-effective inside sales force to reach your customers? Are your channel partners delivering on your strategy? How much do you prioritise a digital sales platform?

It may be tempting to follow the current trend of backing a digital channel strategy – there’s no doubt it’s an alluring proposition. A digital channel strategy offers a lower cost and effort pathway to market whilst enhancing the customer experience and modernising your value proposition. With good reason, many leaders with legacy business models are feeling the imperative to push forward in order to protect against disruptive new entrants.

However, there can be significant risk in jumping on the digital bandwagon too far and too soon if it doesn’t match your specific buyer’s preferences. In a recent example, a major player in wealth management made the shift to a digital-only sales model, which turned out to be too progressive for the majority of their client base. As a result, they lost significant market share to competitors that maintained traditional face-to-face, relationship-based selling.

Being too far ahead can be as costly as being left behind 

As you incorporate more digital into the channel mix to adapt to the new buyer, it’s critical that your organisation changes at the right pace. It’s all about understanding your customers. If your channel mix doesn’t match your target customers’ buying preferences and take into account your competitors’ stage of evolution, you may alienate a sizeable portion of your existing and potential customers.