Aug 26, 2020

Creating an Omnichannel Sales Funnel in the B2B Auto Industry

Nudging a B2B buyer to the point of sale is really just a case of providing the right information at the right time and in the right place. In the past, auto companies relied heavily on traditional marketing tactics, like direct mail and telemarketing, to spread the word about their products, but times have changed.

Now, more B2B buyers than ever start their search online. However, with so many apps and platforms available today, two similar customers might have very different buying journeys.

One might find an article of yours via Google search, end up on your site, sign up to your mailing list and set up a sales call one month later. Another might come across your brand via Linkedin, where they interact with you for a couple of weeks before reaching out via phone for more information.

Both of these have the potential to be high quality leads and, while they interact with your brand in very different ways, the end result is still the same: a sale.

To create a successful sales funnel in the B2B auto industry today, you have to align the journey with your target customer’s needs. This means finding the balance between various communication channels.

This is easier said than done. Some might prefer emails, others might prefer a quick message on Facebook or via the chatbot on your site, while others lean towards onsite content.

Why B2B Auto Brands Need an Omnichannel Sales Funnel

The sales landscape has shifted dramatically over the past few years.

There’s no longer a linear line to sale. Instead, B2B buyers now usually have enough information at their fingertips to make a decision on who to buy from without even speaking to a salesperson. This means it’s your job to know what to serve them, when to serve it to them, and where to do that.

According to research, more than 90% of B2B marketers really struggle to leverage three or more communication channels throughout the sales funnel. But by creating an omnichannel journey for customers based on their individual needs, you can reap huge rewards. 74% of businesses have seen sales increase with an effective omnichannel sales strategy, and 57% of companies believe it enhances the customer experience.

The Stages of the Sales Funnel

First things first, it’s important for you to know the different stages B2B auto buyers go through when considering a purchase. This will help you understand what they need and when they need it. It will also help you figure out where this information might be best served.

Stage 1: Awareness

This is the point where a buyer becomes aware of your B2B auto brand. Maybe they have a problem that they’ve just discovered needs solving, such as their previous supplier doesn’t sell the part they need anymore, or they want to streamline their dealership sales.

At this point, you want to show buyers that you understand their needs and begin to position yourself as a solution.

This might involve:

  • Creating a series of blog posts that tap into the buyer’s needs
  • Filming a set of short videos for social media that focus on a specific challenge your buyers might be facing
  • Building out pages on your website that target specific search terms your buyers are using to find out more information
  • Encouraging visitors to sign up to your email list with handy, downloadable content

Let’s take a look at auto parts manufacturer, Magna. They have a dedicated blog where they consistently publish topics that tap into their buyers’ needs.

Stage 2: Consideration

Once a buyer discovers your brand and can see that you might be able to solve their problem, they move into the next phase of the sales cycle.

At this point, they’ll be weighing up their options. There’s a high chance they’ll have found other B2B auto brands that do a similar thing to you and will be in consideration mode as they decide which is the best one for their needs.

Your job at this stage is to highlight your USPs and really cement your positioning as the best solution.

You might do this by:

  • Nurturing prospects via email and sharing stories around your brand and products
  • Sharing case studies from past customers
  • Highlighting different use cases of your product, whether that’s via a blog post, video, or on social media channels
  • Cementing your brand presence on a variety of communication platforms so you’re always at the front of the buyer’s mind
  • Comparison charts between your product and a competitor’s
  • Sending a text message reminder about a buyer’s interest in your product

B2B software company Project Cars Pro has a selection of demo videos on its site to showcase different potential use cases.

Stage 3: Decision

Finally, it’s time for the buyer to make a decision. Buyers are likely to reach this stage at various times depending on how many stakeholders are involved and how much decision making power they have.

At this point, the buyer is essentially set on choosing you, and it’s your job to nudge them off the fence.

To do this, you might:

  • Set up a demo call where you can discuss your product in relation to the buyer’s specific needs
  • Send personalized messages to the prospect and create a human connection with them through emails or by picking up the phone
  • Walk them through the onboarding process so they are aware of the next steps
  • Create materials they can use to persuade the decision makers in their company that your product is the best solution

The B2B Automotive Sales Cycle Has Changed

The sales cycle doesn’t look like it used to. For B2B auto brands of the past, it was once a case of picking up the phone and cold calling prospects. Now, it’s a much more passive process where the buyers are in control.

As a result, auto companies have to take a back seat and focus on inbound marketing methods and omnichannel sales techniques to capture their audience in various places.

When you consider the different stages of the sales funnel, it becomes much easier to map out a journey that a potential buyer might take. Then, it’s a case of making sure you’re supplying the right information at each of those stages and giving buyers what they need to make it to the next phase.

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