Take An ‘Always On’ Approach To Marketing And Demand Generation – Forbes
Working alongside our chief revenue officer (CRO), Brian Glynn, who is responsible for managing sales at True Influence, I’ve been learning about the fast-changing dynamics of business-to-business (B2B) sales and how it is being transformed in light of current market trends. These trends are reshaping B2B sales and often offering companies substantial opportunities for growth.
Marketplace Trends Impacting B2B Sales
B2B buyers have a voracious appetite for content throughout the buyer’s journey. In fact, according to Demand Gen Report’s “2019 Content Preferences Survey,” which surveyed 200 senior-level B2B marketing reps, before engaging with a sales rep, 41% of buyers consume three to five content pieces. We’re finding that their expectations today often mirror business-to-consumer (B2C) expectations in terms of the buying experience and response times.
Advancements in new technologies, such as machine learning (ML), are offering businesses better tools for accessing — and using — critical information. For example, machine learning automates data mining and discovers patterns that are not humanly possible to see. These insights provide a higher level of nuance that can be used more effectively to accelerate sales.
We’re also seeing a shift in how customers are less concerned with an asset versus the value it provides. In other words, we’re finding that customers are focused on business outcomes, not product features. In parallel, the rising subscription-based model of sales is reshaping customer management. Sales teams are required to make sure they are in step with the customer throughout the entire life cycle.
As a result, B2B sales is evolving into more of a science than an art, and companies are leveraging digital technologies to meet B2B buyers’ expectations and drive “always on” demand generation programs. At True Influence, many of our clients are looking for data-driven insights, using advanced analytics tools, so they can focus on truly understanding the customer. We offer these insights with what we call intent data.
McKinsey points out that the role of a CEO is key to succeeding with the “science” of B2B sales. The CEO must drive greater engagement and tighter collaboration and execution across the organization. Like I wrote in a previous piece, to successfully manage the push-pull relationship between sales and marketing, it has to start at the top.
Keys To An ‘Always On’ Approach
It’s important to understand what the term “always on” means as it relates to demand generation.
“Always on” does not equate to creating more campaigns and content for delivery at forecasted funnel stages to generalized buyer personas. And it does not mean wasting precious resources to run programs for the sake of “being on” just in case an anonymous prospect shows interest.
Instead, an “always on” approach requires developing a more intelligent strategy that makes it possible to surround your buying community throughout the entire buying journey. To achieve a more intelligent approach, you need to focus on specific elements in your go-to-market strategy and combine sophisticated analysis with “always on” demand generation to:
- Identify customer segments and find the best opportunities by combining internal and web activity data. Best practices, according to SiriusDecisions’ “Identifying and Overcoming Buying Group Blindness” research brief, involve identifying multiple individuals from the same prospect organization who are engaging with web digital assets within a window of 30-60 days.
- Identify the buying group responsible for purchasing your solution. SiriusDecisions’ research, for which 924 B2B executives and leaders were surveyed in 2019, found 59% of buying decisions are made by groups of people, rather than individuals, and they engage in about 15 interactions with sellers.
- Acquire new leads and engage customers through digital outreach to ramp up new customer acquisition. Make sure that you provide new customer leads that your sales partners will follow up on. This means that you have previously agreed to a coverage map with sales so they will follow up on the leads.
- Prioritize leads and improve conversion with effective routing to the sales funnel to increase conversion rates and sales efficiency. The best method to prioritize leads is by using intent. Intent identifies customers who are in the market for your type of solution.
- Grow within existing accounts by improving the ability to identify high-propensity accounts for upsell and cross-sell opportunities. Generally, the coverage model agreed to with sales includes accounts that have bought something from you and need to purchase more.
Successful marketers increase funnel velocity by moving prospects through the sales funnel with:
- Appropriate and personalized content for each stage of the funnel. Remember to base the content on your segmentation and personas. Plan for different content for each stage of the funnel to move a prospect from one stage to another. For example, case studies work best if they are like the prospects you are trying to win (e.g., the case study covers a chief information officer in the technology industry).
- Relevant, persistent and personalized role-level engagement. Today, prospects often expect to be provided with content relevant to their role and their industry. A new trend is a “series,” as we have all become accustomed to Netflix, Amazon and the like, where we binge-watch series.
- Multiple tactics and touches throughout the various stages of the buyer’s journey to feed decision makers’ needs and information. It’s important to tell a story with all your touches and to integrate your tactics. Generally, this story is around a theme, and a variety of tactics bring the theme to life: email, social, web, etc.
The consumerization of B2B, the continued rise of machine learning and the customers’ mind shift away from asset transfer to value delivery are accelerating a transformation of B2B sales. This transformation requires a more intelligent, data-driven and personalized sales and marketing strategy.
These trends, coupled with a plethora of digital tools and powerful analytics, offer businesses a significant growth opportunity. Those who adopt an “always on” demand generation approach and become proficient in the science of sales will be better positioned to outperform their competitors, increase profitability and drive greater shareholder value.
About True Influence
Founded in 2008, True Influence is a demand generation company accelerating sales revenue. We expertly leverage data, technology and content to drive high-impact marketing campaigns and share detailed results and insights to help you win new business. True Influence generates revenue across multiple industries, promoting brands and products from some of the most successful global companies. Its customer base includes well-established blue-chip brands like IBM, Microsoft and Cisco. For more information visit True Influence online at https://trueinfluence.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.