B2B lead generation and sales is a complex world. As technology, trends, and preferences evolve, so do B2B marketing and sales.
Once reliant on billboards and email campaigns, B2B marketing today involves a smart, robust mix of data intelligence, tech, and the human touch to create and measure effective campaigns. Savvier and more connected, prospects now expect a speedy and highly personalized buying experience. Trends like social selling and advanced call centers can accelerate the sales pipeline while also improving and personalizing the client experience, meeting some of those demands.
Whether you're trying out artificial intelligence applications or launching a new social media platform for your B2B efforts, a few tips and best-practices can make your B2B campaign resonate and your sales climb.
Challenges of Growth, Lead Gen, and Sales
One of the biggest challenges facing B2B today is siloed marketing and sales teams. When these teams are not in sync, messages become misaligned. Rather than providing buyers with a seamless experience, those buyers may feel confused or misinformed.
Top B2B sales and marketing teams are more than two times as likely to collaborate on projects and meet common goals and metrics. In fact, business buyers often note that the sales team's awareness of marketing initiatives is a factor in winning their business.
Another common challenge faced by B2B marketing and sales teams is a failure to understand the intended market. Lacking a clear picture of who your products and services target prevents you from creating meaningful campaigns, customized content, and a story that generates leads.
Identifying the right customers is one of the first things a good B2B marketing team should do, and neglecting this prerequisite means your hard work and strategy will fall on deaf ears.
As with their B2C colleagues, B2B marketers also often struggle with being able to prove impact and show ROI. Teams that cannot define ROI have a much more difficult time justifying their value; that can negatively impact client retention in the case of marketing agencies and service firms, and budget allocation in the case of internal marketing teams. An inability to collect and analyze data also means that teams cannot define success and track their most effective strategies and tactics.
Working with data should be a basic requirement for any marketing and sales team; but, unfortunately, it often takes a back seat.
Accelerating B2B Growth
Identifying and overcoming common challenges is the best way to accelerate B2B growth. Of those challenges though, knocking down barriers between the marketing and sales teams may have the greatest impact.
Connecting these two teams allows for the marrying of digital tactics (marketing) and the human touch (sales), which creates the perfect environment for generating and fostering leads and ultimately closing the deal. The branding, website content, and campaigns produced by marketing are more effective when coordinated with the customer-specific solution messaging that sales uses.
Though B2Bs rely on AI, websites, and messaging cadence developed by the marketing team to start the conversation and generate leads, it is the human touch provided by Sales that positions products or solutions that are a fit for customers, building relationships and brand loyalty for long-term retention. Unsiloed marketing and sales efforts are the only way to make it possible for this marriage to happen.
A thorough understanding of your target customers and their path to purchase is another important way to accelerate B2B growth for your company. A combination of first-person market research, persona development, and customer-journey mapping helps identify and make sense of the companies with the highest propensity to buy and define the best timing for touchpoints. Ultimately, marketing teams becomes empowered to craft messaging for the right target at the right moment, and they're able to help sales teams develop an intimate understanding of buyers' pain points and needs.
Finally, it is critical that B2B marketing and sales teams know their data. Around 25% of the average database is inaccurate, which means the information feeding marketing campaigns is often leading teams astray. Developing an internal protocol for updating and maintaining databases enables your teams to target the right leads at the right moments.
Your teams should be able to monitor and analyze campaign metrics and prove ROI. Those numbers help inform the path of your current efforts and make data-backed changes for future campaigns. Using that information, you can improve your strategies to focus on the tactics and messaging that most resonate with your customers.
Strategies for 2019 and Beyond
Though many B2Bs say they are already implementing omnichannel strategies, it is easy to spot misalignment in messaging. Looking ahead, B2Bs will become more cohesive in their messaging, integrating social media, websites, the human touch, and all other communication channels into one, seamless strategy.
Today, many B2B marketers see content marketing as more of a B2C game, but teams that learn to implement this marketing strategy effectively in B2B will outdo their competitors tenfold. Content marketing is an excellent way to improve engagement and clearly show how your product or service aligns with the needs of customers.
Social media enablement is also primed to become the next go-to strategy. Monitoring social media channels for interactions from prospects can open up a world of information. That information primes your sales team to be able to pick up the phone and speak to specific interests and needs of the potential customer.
Though advances in technology have transformed B2B sales and marketing, some things will never go out of style. A sound understanding of marketing data and analytics, combined with the power of the human touch, is as important to B2Bs today as it has ever been. Coupling those timeless strategies with new technology will help your team overcome challenges, generate leads, and nurture them into long-term clients.