Business development · 28 October 2019

How to avoid zombie? sales and change buyer behaviour


If you’re leading a business that sells to other businesses, youll know just how hard closing a sale can be, and how long it can take. With so many decision-makers involved and a widespread belief that change is likely to be risky and disruptive buyers are rarely swift to move.

Prospects may even fester in zombie loops? where they lurk in your CRM as a notional opportunity that never actually converts; a forever maybe? that drives your sales team mad. What should be the most dynamic part of the business becomes a slow, torturous slog.

Marketing has the power to change buyer behaviour and convert prospects and zombies into paying customers (without resorting to a double-tap to the head).But to do that, we need to learn how to maintain momentum when selling. And to do it well, we need to understand our customers better.

1. Breaking down the customer journey

Let’s strip out all the sophistication from the buying process for a minute. We have a customer who realises their business has an unmet need. They look for possible solutions and narrow these down to a shortlist. After interacting with potential suppliers, they together with multiple colleagues make a final decision and buy.

As the provider of this chosen service or product, we try to meet their needs and find ways to deliver extra value. Some then buy from us repeatedly, while others end up going elsewhere, finding some of their needs are not met.

The customer or, to you, the sales lead zombifies when they have an unmet need you think you can solve, but they never quite make a decision to actually buy.


Because people don’t buy B2B products or services in the same way they do their weekly groceries. Trying a new brand of cereal doesnt have wide-reaching consequences for their colleagues, nor will it put them in the firing line.

B2B buyers are ultra-cautious because change is risky. The fear of what they might lose if they make a poor decision can outweigh the gains they hope to achieve from buying. In reality, it’s an emotional as well as a rational purchase.

Plus, in B2B, there are almost always other people involved in the purchasing process: higher-ups with sweeping demands, budget holders to convince, and users to placate (who are quite happy with how things are thank you very much).

2. How to close a risk-averse buyer

Your sales and marketing efforts need to focus squarely on the questions and concerns likely to arise from a) your point of contact and b) all the people they work with who you may never meet.

You need to make it ‘viscerally real’

Customers need to be reassured with a view of what the next week, month, or year will be like if they sign on the dotted line. They need to know your contingency plans for inevitable issues and setbacks. They need to see that you get where they’re coming from and feel safe in the knowledge you understand their business inside out.

To do this, youll need to devote time and resources to demonstrate what it’s like to work with you. This means producing empathetic easy to use onboarding content created exclusively for customers at this point in the buyer journey.



Jason Ball is founder of B2B content marketing specialist Considered Content.

High Streets Initiative