B2B buying has changed: Customers have more control than ever over what information they see—and choose to dismiss. They're also using social media to learn about technology and solution providers. In an interview posted on the Modern B2B Marketing blog, Kristin Zhivago offers insights to help marketing and sales organizations meet such changes head-on.

Closing the information gap: "Now, in our Google-dominated world, by the time the customer contacts a salesperson, he has 80% of his questions answered and he is looking for answers to the remaining 20%—and those questions are very specific to his situation," Zhivago says. "This means that marketing people must be answering as many questions as possible on the website, and that salespeople need to be more knowledgeable than ever about the finer details of their products."

Speedy follow-up: Customers expect immediate responses to inquiries. "The most effective lead management technique I've seen," recounts Zhivago, "was one where salespeople called the prospect 15 minutes after that person downloaded a white paper. ... The person actually appreciated the call, was able to ask additional questions, and was impressed with the company's efficiency."

Post-purchase analysis: Your best opportunity to learn about the buying process is after the purchase, when customers are happy to tell you what drove their final decision. "The information can be used to reverse-engineer a successful sale, understand what must be done to make it easy for the customer to buy, [and] then manufacture future sales," says Zhivago.

The Po!nt: Catch up with the increased expectations of buyers. Put your marketing and sales on the right track—and shift into higher gear to respond rapidly and effectively to their information needs. You're sure to end up in the winner's circle.

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