Use the 95:5 rule to understand what B2B is all about

Research shows that 95% of your B2B tech customers is not in the market right now (and that is excellent news).
We seem to keep chasing leads for the short term. There is nothing wrong with this, but it is time for a (much) better-balanced focus because 95% of B2B tech buyers do not want to buy something from you right now. Let's find out why this is excellent news.

There are irresistible pressures pulling marketers towards the short term, from sales to C-suite. So, to tell them that their efforts are probably not welcome with 95% of their potential customers might not sound like 'excellent news'. Bear with us to find out what is happening here.

Research by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute shows what many experienced marketers already suspected: up to 95% of businesses are not in the market for most goods and services at any time. This research was carried out for the LinkedIn B2B Institute and actually can ignite a fundamental paradigm shift.

The 95:5 rule doesn't mean you should stop focusing on your short term goals, but it is all about finding the right balance and knowing where your customers are in their buying journey.

Executing the 95:5 rule

According to Ehrenberg, most companies only change their providers about every five years, especially in services industries like banking, legal advice, and technology. This goes for B2B tech companies as well.

Although the short term chances of making that sale seem pretty meagre, the long term outlook can be really great. As long as they consider and execute the 95:5 rule. According to the Ehrenberg research, you should balance both your marketing and sales efforts accordingly:

  • 95% of your audience is most likely to be triggered by activities aimed at the long-term relationship and 'brand awareness'.
  • The other 5% is interested in closing a deal within the next three to six months.


Building a relationship, brand awareness and flipping the funnel 

Although many B2B marketers already know by experience that focusing on long-term relationships is crucial, this idea has not fully landed at all B2B and tech companies (yet).

Campaign targets like 'creating hot leads' are great, but it is not always possible to create leads that will buy your products or services right away. Maybe up to 95% of potential buyers find your offer intriguing, but they don't want or need it right now. Or they want it but do not have the resources yet. This is not a problem, because they will need it someday. And you have to make sure that you are in the buyer's heads the moment they require you.

Many B2B tech marketers want to focus their campaigns on brand awareness. Still, they had difficulty convincing the more number- and short-term result-oriented people in the organisation. For most CFOs things like 'brand awareness' sound like a more or less exotic nice-to-have rather than a necessity to increase revenue. There is an effective way to solve this misunderstanding. By flipping your traditional purchase funnel (the narrow end is now ‘consideration’ and the wide end where the money comes from is ‘awareness’), you can show your CFO's and other number-crunchers that brand awareness creates results -mostly in the long term.


Stalking your customers by accident?

In B2B in general and the tech market in particular, we sometimes see (new) companies that tend to breathe down the necks of their potential buyers. This can make buyers dislike or mistrust them, which is a fatal mistake.

But even when you don't feel you are 'stalking' your customer, you might be giving them something with your marketing campaigns that they don't need or want. If you consider the 95:5 rule and check your marketing and sales approach with these insights, ask yourself if they are aimed at awareness and a relationship. OR are you really just sending product information without considering your customer's needs?

Be honest with yourself and check all your campaigns and activities with the 95:5 rule. It is all about choosing a matching approach.

And now…

The 95:5 rule might not mean a brand new marketing-and-sales world, but it can mean a significant and lucrative shift in your campaigns. A well-balanced approach makes it easier to maintain your marketing budget.

The 95:5 rule shows that it is bad practice to cut your marketing budgets in challenging times because building, and maintaining, long-term awareness is an integral part of landing deals and revenue. It is all about building trust for the long term because selling your B2B tech products and services is only possible if buyers trust your company. Once all CFO’s understand that, even the most stingy ones will throw their budgets at you.

In the end the 95:5 rule is yet another piece of evidence that it is crucial to really know your market. Your marketing ánd sales teams need to have their combined data and insights up to date all the time. The 95:5 rule is what B2B is all about, so use it, spread the word and it can make an end to all false short-term expectations and long-term budget cuts. Now wouldn’t that be nice?

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