Three Myths of the “67 Percent” Statistic

By now, we’ve all seen variations on the statistic, but here’s the SiriusDecisions-approved version: 67 percent of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally. Let’s add to that: Our research shows that online searches are executives’ first course of action (just like everyone else). Now that we’ve set the record straight, let’s talk about some common myths about the 67 percent statistic and what you need to do about them.

Myth: Sales doesn’t get involved until more than halfway through the buying cycle. The 67 percent statistic in no way says that no one talks to a salesperson before getting halfway through the buying cycle, but this is how some have interpreted it. Just because buyers spend time online doesn’t mean sales is not involved at all stages of the buyer’s journey, including the early and late stages. It is true that the standard is now higher for sales to add value to the conversation, because so much information can be found online. Marketers, your mission is to help sellers get engaged early with customers and prospects by supporting them with enablement in the form of messages, content and other tools. Sales reps have the advantage of account relationships through which they can communicate regularly with customers and prospects. Help make those communications truly useful so that needs and opportunities naturally surface, and sales can get involved early in finding solutions.

Myth: It’s best to let buyers find you when they’re ready. Just because buyers look for information online when they’re ready to act doesn’t mean you have to wait for them. There are several ways to help sales uncover buyers who may not yet know they have a need. First, look at data-driven options (e.g. account profiling, propensity-to-buy modeling, segmentation, targeting). Also look into contact and account search behavior patterns and online activity to discover areas of interest. Use these to provide messages and offers for sales to share. This can be at the named account or strategic individual account level or at a macro-trend level that identifies early patterns of interest. Of course, it’s easier to qualify a lead when the prospect is actively interested, but the traditional role of sales to uncover and encourage interest shouldn’t be allowed to fade.

Myth: Your current inbound marketing strategy doesn’t need updating. The real message behind the 67 percent statistic is that every marketing organization must view its inbound efforts as absolutely critical to success at all stages of the buyer’s journey. Do not ignore the role of inbound marketing at later stages of the buyer’s journey, and be sure to look for gaps in the resources available to support buyers looking for validation rather than education. Regardless of stage, marketing must be vigilant in reviewing what’s really happening online and why. From search to content to contact identification, much can be done to understand what works, and where there are gaps in online execution. Build in resources and budget for regular adjustment, or risk losing your share of the 67 percent to competitors who stay on top of changing buyer needs.

About the Author

Megan Heuer is Vice President and Group Director, Data-Driven Marketing, at SiriusDecisions. With more than 15 years of industry and professional services experience, she has worked both in – and for – organizations to build a wide variety of collaborative sales and marketing deliverables that drive systematic, predictable growth. Follow Megan on Twitter @megheuer


13 Comments

  • Scott Armstrong, 3rd July 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Reply

    Terrific post Meg!
    1. We see truth in your findings every time we do prospect audits using marketing automation clickstream data.
    2. Helping sales match and share relevant content for each prospect decision stage is a terrific recommendation. It is not about preventing sales interaction, it is about making it more valuable to the prospect.

    Cheers

    Scott

  • Megan Heuer, 3rd July 2013 at 4:24 pm

    Reply

    Thanks Scott. I appreciate you noting the part about sales involvement. It seems like the interpretation of this number has been to see it as reducing the role of sales, when it fact it’s simply raising the bar for the value great sales people can bring to the process.

  • Paul Everett, 4th July 2013 at 11:50 am

    Reply

    Oops! I was busy ranting away in a comment earlier today on John’s post: http://www.siriusdecisions.com/blog/sales-to-marketing-i-need-help-with-the-buyers-journey/#comment-9132

    But you’ve put it better than I did!

  • Tony Zambito, 8th July 2013 at 10:26 am

    Reply

    Hello Megan,

    Thanks for a good post. I am happy to see Sirius Decisions make a comment on this. Too many marketers and sellers are taking the statistic mentioned literally and gospel-like. I have advocated for marketing and sales leaders to understand how this can vary for their own industries and segments. Much myth has been built around this 67% number or other numbers above 50%. It behooves leaders to think in terms of how inbound marketing and sales interaction can happen in parallel as opposed to neat start and end stages. Thanks, Tony Zambito

  • Megan Heuer, 8th July 2013 at 11:03 am

    Reply

    Thanks Tony! I agree completely with your comment- Every marketer and sales person needs to understand the buyer’s journey and customer lifecycle they support and it’s by no means one-size fits all, or neat and linear for that matter. We all agree that behavior has changed and there’s plenty that happens online, but your thought about parallel vs. replacement is key to creating a complete, accurate strategy.

  • Dan McDade, 8th July 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Reply

    Megan, in addition to your good “myth busters”, I find very few companies can actually exist on inbound marketing alone. Most companies, big and small, must do some traditional outbound marketing to fill the pipe. Too, an over-dependence on inbound marketing tends to drive smaller deals with lower level decision makers. One company we work with saw their average deal size on inbound generated opportunities drop to 1/3 of what they enjoyed from proactive, targeted and intelligent outbound.

  • Julie Schwartz, 9th July 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Reply

    Thank you Megan and everyone else for finally setting the record straight. This statistic has been misquoted more times than I am able to count. Well done! We now have confirmation that sales is not obsolete. Sales may have to change their approach in response to changing buyer behavior, but the need for sales is as strong as ever.

    Julie

  • Megan Heuer, 9th July 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Reply

    Hi Julie, All those misquotes are exactly why I wrote the post. From where I sit (working with clients on account-based and customer marketing), sales is very definitely a big part of the process. Both marketing and sales have to make changes to better adapt to buyers and customers, but they’re still a team. Thanks for your comment!

  • trish bertuzzi, 10th July 2013 at 7:20 am

    Reply

    Meg, a thousand blessings upon you. I have fought over this stat for the last 2 years to no avail. I can not thank you enough for setting the record straight and I can assure you I will b sharing this post for many months to come!!

  • Megan Heuer, 11th July 2013 at 9:42 am

    Reply

    Hi Trish and thanks for the kind words and for sharing the post. I felt it was essential to change the dialog on this statistic so we don’t make the wrong choices as a result. You’ll see more from me and other analysts on this, to be sure.

  • iris, 31st July 2013 at 1:56 pm

    Reply

    Hi Megan,
    this is an interesting thread!
    What is the source of the “67% statitic”. Is it a white paper or brief?
    thanks,
    iris

  • Craig Nelson, 17th October 2013 at 10:37 am

    Reply

    Hi Megan,

    Great post! The buyer journey stat has been misused by many, your myth busters are dead on. Buyers going digital is one more reason to align the efforts of marketing and customer facing roles. A recent post suggested the reduced value of the seller to the buyer’s journey which certainly does nothing for alignment or addressing the shift to addressing the needs of today’s smarter buyer. It’s imperative that someone in sales or other customer facing role be enabled and work with marketing to set the vision of the buyer early on. If they don’t do what it takes to engage early they will spend cycles competing for business they can’t win because they didn’t set the buyer’s vision, establish credibility with the buyer or help the buyer identify needs and possible solutions. Buyer’s want thought leadership type guidance during their journey. Those that may not agree should think about that last time they reviewed an RFI/RFP that was basically written by a competitor… If marketing enables sales, partners and other customer facing roles they become sales advisors that buyers need vs avoid during their digital buyer journey. Your ideas are critical to targeting quality buyers using social selling techniques, well targeted content, marketing and company intel, and tools such as LinkedIn to reach buyers unaware of problems or earlier in the problem discovery stage. Engaging buyers early and providing what they need to advance will translate to a better buy experience. Let’s do what it takes to enable smarter sellers that buyers need!

  • logesh, 13th February 2014 at 3:44 am

    Reply

    Thanks for the blog Megan, These three myths are more valuable and needed for everyone including the professionals too. Once again thanks for sharing this blog with us!!!


Leave a Comment