How Professional Services Firms Can Navigate Today’s Buyer Journey

Demandbase image

May 28, 2024

7 mins read

Featured Image Blog Navigate Buyer Journey

How Professional Services Firms Can Navigate Today’s Buyer Journey

Guiding Prospects from Point A to You: A professional services guide to modern marketing

The journey from initial prospecting to converting leads into loyal clients has undergone a seismic shift. Gone are the days when word-of-mouth referrals and in-person networking were the primary drivers of business growth.

As buyer behavior continues to evolve, professional services organizations are facing the imperative to adapt. More and more professional services organizations are embracing “modern marketing”, characterized by data-driven insights, personalized messaging, and omni-channel engagement strategies.

Here’s what you need to know about modern marketing for your professional services organization.

Understanding the new B2B buyer journey

The buyer’s journey has evolved into a primarily self-service process. From initial awareness to final purchase decision, today’s B2B buyers traverse a diverse landscape of online research, content consumption, social media engagement, and email communication before reaching a final purchase decision.

There are three factors shaping this modern journey:

  1. The buying group has expanded: 6-10 people, on average, are engaged in today’s B2B buying committees.
  2. These decision-makers prefer to research and evaluate online: 63% buyers prefer not to interact before the Explore phase.
  3. Prospects leave behind valuable clues through their online activities and behaviors which signify their intent and interests.

How modern marketing responds to today’s buyer’s journey

In 2024, we asked marketing leaders at professional services companies about their experience with modern marketing (ABM). 61% of them cited improved funnel velocity and/or conversion rates as a top benefit of a modern marketing approach.

But what is modern marketing? Modern marketing—often called account based marketing (ABM)—involves identifying a select group of high-value companies and creating tailored campaigns to target key members of the buying teams at those accounts (companies).

This enables professional services organizations to identify, connect, and communicate with your best-fit customers, whether they are in your existing networks or outside the rolodex—at the right time, across the right channels. This means stronger, more meaningful relationships with your ideal clients, and shorter sales cycles.

What does a modern marketing campaign look like?

Here’s what a campaign-specific strategy can look like for a professional services organization.

  1. Identifying high-value accounts: Using buying clues from your data and third-party sources to spot hidden intent and pinpoint prospects with high potential.
  2. Research and account profiling: Targeting specific buyer roles and their most pressing pain points.
  3. Personalizing content and messaging: Tailoring content to address the needs of decision makers.
  4. Utilizing omnichannel engagement: Employing targeted ads, ebooks, webinars, and content syndication to capture leads across various platforms.
  5. Nurturing and building relationships: Continuing engagement through email nurture, offering industry reports, best practices, and case studies.
  6. Engaging business development and driving conversion: Utilizing platforms to pass qualified leads to sales partners for personalized email sequences that drive sales conversations.
  7. Managing post-sale relationships: Providing ongoing support, value-added services, and upselling opportunities to expand client engagement.
  8. Optimizing campaigns: Monitoring key performance indicators like engagement rates, conversion rates, and client satisfaction scores to make data-driven adjustments and optimize results throughout the campaign.

Key tools and tactics for executing your modern marketing strategy

You can use many of the technology platforms and digital channels you already have to implement modern marketing. However, success depends on integrating them effectively to provide personalized buyer experiences.

Here are the top components of a successful modern marketing technology stack:

  • CRM System: A hub for prospect and customer data, the CRM system facilitates tasks such as lead management, sales pipeline tracking, and reporting, enabling Marketing and business development to track and analyze customer interactions.
  • Marketing automation (MA) platform: Software tools that streamline and automate lead generation and lead nurturing, allowing marketers to use the MA platform to effectively segment and nurture leads from target accounts for better engagement tracking and personalization.
  • Account-based marketing (ABM) platform: Feature-rich platforms (like Demandbase) that allow marketers to identify and target specific audience segments and accounts through personalized ads, while also capturing intent signals based on how accounts engage with content.
  • Sales enablement platform: A centralized tool that streamlines outreach activities, while also tracking and enabling reporting on phone calls, email sequences and other interactions.
  • Personalization tools: Allow Marketing and business development to deliver different messaging, content, and experiences on your organization’s website based on visitor information, such as engagement history, on- and off- domain intent signals, journey stages, and more.
  • Analytics tools: Serve as a shared platform for both marketing and business development to track KPIs, ensuring both functions are working from the same data to support joint decision-making.

Start small, test and evaluate

At its core, a modern marketing approach is about creating a conversation where you genuinely connect with buyers because you understand and can speak to their unique needs, challenges, and goals while catering to their preference for convenience and autonomy in their digital interactions.

Launching a small-scale pilot program will allow you to implement a modern marketing approach with minimal risk and investment. Follow these steps to create an effective pilot.

  1. Build your team. Form a compact team with one marketer and one sales partner who can collaboratively delve into potential challenges, become fully aligned, and refine your modern marketing strategy before diving into full-scale implementation.
  2. Define objectives. Clearly define the objectives of your pilot campaign, such as increasing pipeline velocity, improving win rates, or expanding into new markets.
  3. Select target accounts. Agree upon a list of high-value target accounts that fit your ideal customer profile (ICP) and your business goals.
  4. Develop account profiles. Create a consolidated profile that captures common characteristics of the account segment, including key decision-makers, pain points, and buying motivations.
  5. Create program messaging and content. Develop content (i.e. email nurtures, advertisements, blogs, guides, personalized website landing pages) that is tuned to the needs of the account segment. To start, limit the content to one of your services, and to one or two buyer roles.
  6. Implement multi-channel outreach. Create a plan to deliver your program content and messages across at least three of the channels your buyers regularly use (e.g. programmatic, email, social, etc.) Your teams should collaborate to execute a multichannel strategy that ensures buyers are not met with content they have already engaged with, but instead are provided with new content.
  7. Track and measure engagement. Using agreed-upon tools and KPIs, your teams should regularly meet to review engagement metrics such as website visits and intent signals, as well as business development follow-up activities such as emails, phone calls, and Linkedin connections. Both should have a unified view of data.
  8.  Iterate and optimize. After a predefined period (often, quarterly), adjust campaign targeting, messaging, content, ad strategy, and other factors based on performance observations.

How modern marketing measures success

While tactic-level metrics are still important for understanding how well individual campaign elements are performing, modern marketing program KPIs aim to evaluate how the joint efforts of Marketing and business development contribute to revenue and growth. Typical KPIs include:

Account engagement.

Measures how involved target accounts are with your marketing and business activities, including their interactions with your content, website, emails, and social media.

Account reach.

Evaluates how effectively your marketing and business efforts connect with target accounts, tracking the number of accounts reached, engagement rates, and depth of engagement.

Pipeline contribution.

Assesses your campaign’s impact on the sales pipeline, including metrics like qualified leads, opportunities created, pipeline velocity, and progress of target accounts through the sales funnel.

Revenue influence.

Determines the revenue impact of your marketing and business efforts, tracking metrics such as closed deals, deal size, and revenue from target accounts.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC).

Calculates the cost-effectiveness of acquiring new customers through marketing and business development activities by dividing the campaign’s total cost by the number of new customers acquired.

Return on investment (ROI).

Measures the overall ROI of your campaign by comparing revenue generated or cost savings against the total campaign cost.

Customer lifetime value (CLV).

Evaluates the long-term value of customers acquired through your approach by estimating their expected lifetime value based on revenue, retention rates, and upselling opportunities.

Marketing and sales alignment.

Determines the level of collaboration between business development and marketing teams. Evaluate team metrics such as whether they are targeting the same segments/accounts, using the same data sources, have the same/complementary goals, and are focused on the same SLAs.

Customer story: A professional services firm’s marketing evolution

A professional services firm sought faster market expansion and enlisted our help.

We deployed a scalable modern marketing program using Demandbase to target prospects from high-value accounts with tailored content.

Collaborating closely with the client, we optimized operations and technology, then developed an omnichannel program, including content syndication, targeted ads, and coordinated email nurtures and sales outreach. Insights from these engagements empowered sales partners to initiate meaningful conversations, driving accelerated purchases.

Key Results:

  • 1657 target accounts reached with Demandbase
  • 580% increase in solution page views
  • 30% average email open rate, nearly 40% above the standard for their industry
Demandbase image


B2B Go-To-Market Suite, Demandbase

This article was published in:

Related articles