Buyer behaviour has evolved with the introduction of the internet and smart devices. Buyers can now access an abundance of information instantly, they can view detailed specifications, pricing and reviews about goods and services around the clock. Meanwhile social media encourages browsers to share and compare.

As a result, buyers can delay engaging with companies until they know as much, or even more, than their sales reps.

In fact, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they approach a vendor, and in many cases, buyers postpone talking with salespeople until they are ready for quotes.Marketing has now assumed the critical role of engaging and educating prospects using inbound marketing techniques co-ordinated by a marketing automation platform – and continues to have an important role in the final stages of a sale.

As potential buyers and existing customers navigate the Internet and social media they leave traces of their behaviour (mostly from cookies).

While there is a vast amount of data to analyse from a number of different sources, a group of tools has emerged which allow this data to be collected and shared intelligently. These tools go under the collective name of marketing automation.

By analysing this information against buyer profiles a company can continuously refine their messaging, making it ever more personalised for buyers at every stage of the buying cycle. It is also possible to produce and organise Web content (e.g. the inclusion of forms and surveys) to encourage prospects to share their details and move from anonymous to known.