The role of human engagement across the B2B buying cycle continues to evolve in this digital-first, post-pandemic world. At first, this presented a concerning challenge, forcing marketing and sales professionals to review their roles and relationships in a more virtual, one-step-removed environment. How could they maintain their influence and build engagement?
Over time, however, necessity has sparked creativity. What’s emerging is a dynamic and innovative model of engagement that blends the best of digital, physical and one-to-one interactions and information exchange, to deliver something altogether more powerful and impactful. Marketing and sales teams are realizing that their roles respective to each other must evolve, too – that they need to support and feed back to each other in new ways, to keep pace with the changing needs of the market.
The challenges that remain now are more subtle and nuanced – such as how to maintain a sense of both personality and personalization; how to build a real connection with buyers at each point in their journey; how to approach and foster engagement at events; how to build and play a value-added role in online communities; as well as how to reach out to and track younger generations of buyers who have differing habits and preferences compared to more mature and more ostensibly relationship-oriented clients.
In this third and final edition of our MarketView publication on the topic, we have delved deeper into the latest thinking and developments around the role of human engagement across the B2B buying cycle. This time we’ve spoken to leading sales and marketing professionals at more than 60 B2B brands around the world, who have candidly shared their latest experiences and insights.
From the recognition that 70% of a B2B buying decision has generally already been made before a first sales contact, to the proposal of gamification and quizzes to engage buyers in a dialog, the role of chatbots in digital forums, and the importance of client involvement at events, many of the points and suggestions made by the individuals we spoke to were thought-provoking and ambitious.
Emerging and intensifying challenges include:
- Growing resistance to in-person meetings and live ‘face time’:
- as the demands on people’s time, and the challenges of their immediate working environment, persist
- as digital-first generations account for more of the buying population
- as convenience becomes the determinant of customer openness to engagement;
- The growing influence of consumer engagement, entertainment and fact-finding experiences on B2B buyer expectations;
- The accelerating pace of change to customer requirements and priorities - requiring greater proactivity and creativity to discover and respond to what customers want and need;
- The need to be more coordinated and cost-efficient in B2B sales and marketing planning and execution - harnessing smart automation, and intelligent targeting of rich digital experiences and appropriate thought leadership, to maximise the impact of every touch point.
And these are just for starters. This Market View publication brings together fresh insights from 33 senior marketing executives at some of the UK’s best known B2B organisations operating in or adjacent to the IT and associated professional services industry.
As you look to engage your own buyers in new ways that stand out and add new value, we hope the ideas and experiences of our featured contributors will inspire you.