One of the stand-out observations from our recent survey of B2B marketing leaders is how our expectations as consumers are now filtering through to B2B sales and marketing processes.
Our consumer experiences with brands like Amazon and Apple have raised the marketing bar in areas like personalisation, speed of response and delivery and we’re no longer prepared to put up with a lesser service when it comes to B2B sales and marketing.
The marketers we spoke to have seen a radical change in the B2B sales and marketing processes deployed to meet this change in customer expectations.
The New School
This new school of B2B sales and marketing is characterised by:
- Personalisation at every stage
- Increased educational content
- Wholesale use of marketing automation tools
- Sales teams doing more customer research
- Use of organisational hierarchy data for account selling
From my perspective, the B2B marketing landscape is unrecognisable to nine years ago when Network Sunday pioneered the use of Linkedin for what became known as ‘social selling’. These days, ‘social selling’ is a bit of a dirty word – it’s become ‘anti-social selling’ as I described in this blog last year.
But this isn’t to say that social media marketing has no place in this brave new B2B world, far from it. Marketers will always find timely approaches that offer a personalised solution valuable. What has changed is the way customers want to interact. If you met someone at an event, you wouldn’t go straight into selling mode – neither should you online.
Socialising not selling
Attracting potential new customers is really about connecting with people at a different level – in an intellectual capacity where value comes first. You ask them what they do and what they’re interested in and offer value in terms of research or expert content you’ve produced that’s relevant.
Then it’s a question of maintaining a useful dialogue until such time as they need a service you provide. And if, at that point, to paraphrase Brian Burns* “..they know like and trust you” they’ll reach out.
Now that’s real social selling.
For more in-depth information on this, our new ebook ‘How B2B sales and marketing processes have changed’, featuring interviews with over 40 B2B marketing leaders is available for free download here.
*BrianBurns – ‘The Brutal Truth About Sales’