Businesses that focus on selling products and services to other businesses are very similar to those that sell to consumers. The differences between the two lie in their sales and marketing activities.
In business to business (B2B) marketing and sales, everything from lead generation to targeting buyers to the sales process must be specialized. It requires unique B2B marketing strategies, skills and sales techniques.
Concerning the B2B customer, author Blake Morgan once wrote, “There’s a lot on the line with their purchasing decisions, and many buyers wonder if they could have gone with a better vendor, even after the deal has been signed. They consider a variety of risk factors, including damage to their professional credibility, a reduction in job security, inability of the software to perform as promised and a loss of monetary investments.”
Companies focused on B2B marketing have three key challenges:
It doesn’t matter what you sell. Professional service firms, marketing agencies and ingredient suppliers all face these same B2B marketing and sales challenges.
In fact, there is a wonderful film (and play) called Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) that illustrates these challenges. The main plot revolves around getting “good” leads for the salesmen. While the film is set in New York City in the early 1980s and focused on consumer sales, it is still very relevant today. It shows that even after four decades, generating qualified leads and sales opportunities is still a businesses’ biggest challenge.
How B2B businesses generate sales leads can vary greatly. Yes, the internet has changed many things, and both big and small companies now use digital marketing to generate their sales opportunities.
However, small businesses have been slow to adopt marketing technology. In fact, research shows small businesses are 10 times less likely to adopt emerging technologies than larger enterprises. In 2018, only 84% of small businesses used email marketing, and less than half of those used any marketing automation. And while 79% of small businesses now report email marketing is important to their business strategy, and 64% of B2B marketers use a dedicated email marketing platform, only 42% of small businesses report having effective or very effective email marketing strategies.
In fact, most smaller businesses still prefer traditional sales and marketing tactics, like cold calls, to digital marketing. The digital age has left many small and medium-size businesses behind. Since companies struggle to generate qualified B2B sales opportunities, it goes without saying their marketing tactics to qualify and to prioritize the leads they do generate are suspect.
In order to avoid as many B2B marketing and sales challenges as possible, small and medium-sized companies, professional service providers or any new startups need to focus on inbound activities. They should only use the outbound methods where they can measure success.
Inbound marketing includes everything companies do to allow potential prospects to find them and get them to provide their contact information, including:
Outbound marketing includes everything companies do to initiate activity without the prospects’ consent, including:
Hubspot is one of the foremost inbound marketing experts and the reason the term “inbound” has become so popular. They believe inbound is more effective and 62% less expensive per lead than outbound. Other more recent research shows that 68% of companies using inbound strategies report their marketing strategy is more effective, compared to the 48% that use outbound tactics.
©All Rights Reserved. November, 2020. DailyDACTM, LLC d/b/a/ Financial PoiseTM
Scott Steer is a New York-based marketing strategy/engagement/activation consultant focused on optimizing omni-channel marketing.
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