B2B Customer Acquisition: The role of human engagement in a world of digital-first enterprise marketing
As salespeople are becoming more proactive in a digital-first marketplace, marketing teams also need to find ways to own and manage these new channels.
How should enterprise B2B sales processes adapt to a remote sales model?
Many companies are struggling with marketing and utilising marketing data to drive better performance. When we consider digital marketing, it’s vital to recognise that digital is more than a website. It needs to be underpinned by marketing automation and technologies that drive customer experience, campaigns, activities and content. Digital empowers sales to engage proactively with customers at the right time, rather than triaging inbound leads.
We see a similar challenge in marketing, where there is often a mode of operation that you work on a project and then move on. As salespeople are becoming more proactive in a digital-first marketplace, marketing teams also need to find ways to own and manage these new channels. That will involve moving away from a once-and-done approach to engagement to a recognition that digital channels are ‘always on’ and can’t be treated in the same way as traditional channels.
We already see smaller, more nimble companies bringing sales and marketing together as a ‘revenue ops’ team, often reporting to a CEO, COO or CFO.
Is there an argument for the sales and marketing functions to be brought together in this digital-first world?
We often see that sales and marketing teams believe they’re speaking the same language, when they’re completely misaligned. At the very least, we need to stop talking about “sales plays” owned by Sales and “marketing campaigns” owned by Marketing, and build a culture of shared success in Sales and Marketing, where both teams come together for joint planning and joint sharing in the success.
There is an argument that sales and marketing can be brought under the same roof, with customer success, so that these teams are working to a shared strategy and using common data to drive cost efficiency and improve prospect engagement. We already see smaller, more nimble companies bringing sales and marketing together as a ‘revenue ops’ team, often reporting to a CEO, COO or CFO. It will be a matter of time before larger organizations adopt similar organizational structures.
Getting to this model requires business to solve three challenges - how to get marketing teams working together, and then getting marketing and sales teams working together, and then solving for how the joined-up revenue team communicates their influence and value. There is also a need for massively increased data rigour, to demonstrate the value of marketing in a digital realm, where you can’t say you influenced a sale in more than one of ten touches.
How will AI change the role of marketing in the B2B world for marketing teams and prospects?
AI is certainly a tool for now, and not just for the future. We are seeing lots of marketing teams starting with generative AI to create writing, editing and visual design, and there is some nervousness about how that impacts people doing those jobs.
It’s worth considering that since generative AI is newer on the market, most business people haven’t yet had much time to test the results of AI tools for their projects. In our company, we’ve tested several such tools, and our early findings are that AI has a lot of promise, but users should not expect that results will be perfect in the early stages of testing. The models need time to learn and adapt before the results will improve. In the overall marketing function at-large, we will need time to see where the biggest bang for our buck will come from. Our recommendation is that companies should not yet fire their writers and designers, with the hope that AI will immediately replace these workers. Further, if we use AI to create the best SEO article or an amazing visual design, we will see how things change over time.