In this article, I’ll delve deeper into the challenges of B2B marketing and how B2B companies need to adapt their marketing and sales strategies to win more business.
The buying process with B2B companies has changed over the years. So, you must adapt your sales strategy to get better results.
Today’s B2B customers spend most of their time collecting, reviewing, and gaining clarity over information that is sometimes contradictory or unclear. Most of this learning process takes place without the direct involvement of a salesperson.
What customers really value is suppliers who provide them with relevant information, through the right channels that make the buying process easier.
What Has Changed?
According to Gartner, as much as 80% of the B2B buying process takes place on its own through digital channels and the remaining involves interaction with potential suppliers.
This brings in new B2B marketing challenges because organizations have generally been slow to adapt to these changing customer behaviors.
The result is slower sales cycles, fewer business deals, and higher costs for bringing in new customers. The change is noticeable in several different industries, but companies that conduct sales primarily through direct meetings in the field are the ones who see the biggest differences.
Numerous studies show that B2B companies have great opportunities to improve their marketing based on how their customers prefer to conduct research, evaluate options, and make buying decisions. Adapting the sales and marketing to match their needs requires a restructuring of budget and resources.
Resources that were historically allocated to sales and outdated marketing activities need to be shifted to support digital content and educate customers online.
B2B Companies That Make The Purchasing Process Easier Get The Best Results
Gartner also emphasizes that what customers really want is to get the right information that helps them simplify their buying process.
Surveys show that the probability of closing a larger deal is three times higher when the supplier has shared content and information in a helpful manner before the actual purchase.
Online Research Is The First Step Towards The Next Business Deal
B2B marketers have started to realize that online research is the first step that the customers take before engaging in a new business deal.
By taking a position as the most credible voice in the industry, you can take the lead through the various steps of the buying process.
The companies that invest in modern websites with detailed information about customers’ problems and pain points tend to be the real winners. They have a greater chance of attracting, educating, and converting prospects into new business opportunities.
At the same time, the internet today is full of information that customers have a hard time knowing what to believe and who to trust. Companies need to understand this and base their content on providing knowledge that helps customers get over their fears.
With powerful content, you can increase the chances of gaining customers’ trust, reducing skepticism, and, above all, increase the probability of closing deals.
Your sales team is ONE of the channels to get to your customers – not the only channel.
Sales Will Only Come In Later
B2B buyers are also becoming savvy and prefer not to speak to a sales representative until they have done their due diligence and are ready to get a demonstration of a product or service.
To support this behavior, you need a sales strategy that is more passive. The content should educate and answer questions about your services to help the buyer through the decision-making process.
Using traditional sales methods to set up in-person meetings can be quite inefficient for new accounts but may work better for existing customers.
How To Adapt To The Scope And Challenges Of B2B Marketing?
Based on the insights that we have so far, there are a few things you can do.
1. Invest In Digital Content
Your online marketing should be able to guide a prospect to the point that they themselves want to talk to a sales representative to receive a quote. This means that the marketing team should create content that addresses any concerns that customers may have during the buying journey. Cooperation between the sales and marketing teams is necessary for this to work.
2. Allocate Budget And Resources
The management team should think about how to restructure the budget.
Since most of the buying process happens digitally, you should ask yourself whether it is the sales or the marketing team that should have more resources.
The cost of hiring a new sales representative can be diverted to the production and distribution of quality content. This will help prospective buyers to discover and choose your business both now and in the future.
3. Let Go Of Ineffective Sales And Marketing Methods
As the information is readily available online, the possibility to discover and evaluate new technologies and solutions has become easier.
What used to happen at trade fairs around the world now happens online on a daily basis. This does not mean that you should not represent your company at the events. It just means that the role that they play in a larger perspective is different from what it used to be before.
Many companies now see trade fairs as a medium to strengthen the relationship with already identified prospects and customers where the initial interaction begins online.
Your sales team needs to adapt their methods to the changes that have taken place and follow the principle of ” always be helping ” instead of “always be closing”.
4. Make Sure That The Marketing Team Spends Time On The Right Things
Think about whether your marketing team has the time and resources to work on all the content. The management team often requests the marketing department to upgrade the content creation process while still carrying out all the traditional tasks such as product sheets, rollouts, trade fair stands, newspaper ads, etc.
Have a discussion and carefully evaluate how you are using the resources and where they are the most useful.
5. Measure Your Sales And Marketing Activities
A major challenge in the collaboration between the marketing and sales teams is not knowing what impact the marketing activities have on the company’s sales results.
In a way, you are shooting in the dark and hoping that the efforts that have been made during the year generate the expected results.
You may have control over what you do for marketing, but this is not usually the case. Companies struggle to figure out what is ineffective with their respective departments and what actually generates sales.
As a business leader, this means that there is a gap where you do not see what the marketing activities generate in terms of results.
Therefore, you should invest in systems and methods that link marketing activities and CRM. This way you can use insights about customers’ digital behavior and make decisions as part of your sales strategy.
By reducing the gap between marketing and sales and measuring the results, you will be able to optimize your process of working on digital marketing and sales.
In practice, this means linking the number of visits, clicks, and booked appointments to KPIs that affect the company’s growth. These growth factors include:
- Increasing the number of business opportunities
- Increasing the percentage of closed deals
- Reducing the time spent on each new customer
- Shortening the sales cycles
- Reducing the cost of acquisition of each customer
- Positioning yourself as the most credible source in the industry and win long-term with the brand