During difficult times and seemingly uncontrollable costs, it can be easy to pull the plug on the company’s marketing efforts.
You may wonder what you are really getting out of the marketing efforts and how you could get more results from the sales team.
But what is the real problem and how should one think about the b2b sales & marketing efforts? What is the role of marketing team and its investment during times like these?
A Change In Buying Behavior
Compared to a few years ago, we have much higher expectations when it comes to the type of information available online.
What do we do now when we face a challenge or if we are not sure about something? Do we take out the telephone directory, look up the yellow pages and call a completely unknown company?
Of course, we wouldn’t do that. But it can be said that we are still doing some of it indirectly. It’s just that we expect to get the answers quickly when we are looking for the information. We look online on the search engine and through our contacts on social media.
If your company chooses not to share the expertise, your potential customers will look elsewhere, which means that you are not taking advantage of the potential business opportunities.
The result is that it is your competitors are eventually contacted and get the chance to build new relationships. Perhaps, they could even take over the business that was once yours.
70% Of The Purchasing Decisions Are Made Before The Initial Interaction
For closing B2B sales, as much as 70% of the purchasing decision is made before the prospect reaches out or sets up a meeting with a sales representative.
If we were to look back in time, we can assume that the figure was significantly lower. About 20 years ago, maybe 20-30% would be more reasonable, which means that most of the purchasing process used to happen in person – usually with the sales representative. The relationship starts earlier, and they have more time to get to know each other.
So what does it mean in the future i.e 5 or 10 years from now?
- Will we go back to what it was like back in the days before smartphones, seamless connections, and voice-controlled assistants?
- Will a bigger part of the purchasing decision be made online before your next customer contacts you?
- Who in your company works with the sales department?
- Who has the biggest influence on your business? Is it the sales or the role of marketing team that is more important?
Since most of the purchasing process of the customers and prospects takes place when they do their own research, we have to recognize that there has been a shift.
Previously, the sales team had greater control. Now the functions of marketing teams in the business are increasing.
Cutting Your B2B Marketing Budget
In most companies, it is the marketing department that gets smaller budgets. They are the first ones to experience budget cuts during tough times.
The sales department on the other hand tends to get more resources. Traditionally when it comes to budgeting, sales is classified as a revenue driver while the marketing role is seen as an expense.
What we need to recognize is that the roles have changed. To succeed with the customers, the sales and the marketing efforts need to be integrated and the teams need to work towards a common goal with innovative strategies.
This is usually accomplished by using salespeople, key account managers (KAM), and others as subject matter experts. Their knowledge can be shared by the marketing team through articles, videos, podcasts, and social channels.
By addressing the questions that customers usually ask during their buying journey, we can move things online and meet customers’ needs much earlier in the purchasing process.
This also means that the marketing teams need more resources than before – not less. But instead of using the budget for newspaper ads, press releases, and trade fairs, it is now a matter of producing content for which the distribution is cheaper than before.
And if the management agrees to this, and takes decisions based on what customers want, then the digital marketing and sales efforts will be successful. But if you do nothing about it, you risk falling behind your competitors instead of positioning yourself as the most credible voice in the industry.