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business to business sales and marketing

Overcoming Common Business to Business Sales and Marketing Challenges

Show Business to Business Sales and Marketing Who’s Boss

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 sales and marketing, lead generation, targeting buyers, and the sales process all must be specialized. Therefore, they require different marketing methods, skills and sales techniques.

In regard to the B2B customer, author Blake Morgan, 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.”

[Editor’s Note: Interested in comparing B2B challenges with those of consumer marketing? Check out Scott Steer’s previous article, Overcoming the Biggest Consumer Sales and Marketing Challenges]

Companies focused on selling to other businesses (B2B marketing) have three key challenges:

  1. Generating qualified sales opportunities (solid leads and prospects)
  2. Prioritizing those qualified sales opportunities by “sales readiness” – a fancy term for what the sales team should focus on closing now
  3. Creating more opportunities to address and connect to the prospects who will be ready to buy within the next 18 months

No matter what you sell, professional service firms, marketing agencies and ingredient suppliers all face these same business to business sales and marketing challenges.

In fact, there is a wonderful film (and play), Glengarry Glen Ross, that illustrates these challenges. The main plot revolves around getting “good” leads for the salesmen. The film was set in New York City in the early 1980’s and focused on consumer sales. It is still very relevant today (and to this article) because even after four decades,  generating qualified leads and sales opportunities are businesses’ biggest challenge.

No matter what you sell, professional service firms, marketing agencies and ingredient suppliers all face these same business to business sales and marketing challenges. Click To Tweet

Business to Business Sales and Marketing in the Digital Age

How businesses generate sales leads can vary greatly. Yes, the internet has changed many things, with companies big and small using digital marketing to generate their sales opportunities. However, research shows companies with less than 1000 employees have been slow to adopt marketing technology. Only 84% use email marketing and less than half of those use any marketing automation.

In fact, over 50% of smaller businesses (many of my own clients, before they saw the light, included) prefer traditional sales and marketing tactics, like cold calls, to digital marketing. Indeed, 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 that their tactics to qualify and prioritize the leads they do generate is suspect.

Inbound Activities Will Set You Free

In order to avoid as many business to business sales and marketing challenges as possible, the plans of both small and medium-sized companies, professional service providers or any new startup need to focus on the inbound activities and only using the outbound methods where they can measure success.

Inbound – everything companies do to allow potential prospects to find them and get them to provide their contact information, including:

  • Email Marketing
  • Paid Search (SEM)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Content Marketing (Blogs, Infographics, White Papers, etc.)

Outbound – everything companies do to initiate activity without the prospects’ consent, including:

  • Paid Media & PR
  • Warming up cold calls with ‘specific and targeted’ direct mail/email outreach
  • Tradeshows
  • Referrals
  • Account-Based Marketing (we’ll get into the specifics of this in another article)

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.

I can talk for hours on business to business sales and marketing and lead gen! If these are topics you’d like to hear more about, or if you have specific questions, please drop me a note.

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About Scott Steer

Scott Steer is a Marketing Strategy, Branding, Advertising, Promotion & Business Development Consultant with 25+ years working on iconic brands like Coca-Cola, Kraft, Anheuser-Busch, Gillette, and Texaco, as well as dozens of smaller niche brands. Scott helps small and medium sized companies use data and the resources available to them to optimize their sales and…

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