B2B Customer Acquisition: The role of human engagement in a world of digital-first enterprise marketing
You have to coordinate marketing and sales if you want to feed the customer through that early part of of their journey, so that they understand your solution and value you, even before they are in market
How have the needs of B2B customers evolved and what changes should sales and marketing teams be making to accommodate these changes?
First and foremost, organisations should be taking steps to flip the perspective in both sales and marketing from being product-first to becoming customer-first. Making that shift immediately builds important alignment between the two departments.
Sales and marketing also need to be co-ordinated better. In general, 95% of people you reach out to aren’t currently in-market, so you have to coordinate marketing and sales if you want to feed the customer through that early part of of their journey, so that they understand your solution and value you, even before they are in market. This is how B2B companies end up on the consideration list.
There is little value in hitting people again and again with sales calls. Today’s company leaders are primarily millennials, people aged 28-43 who are not open to carpet bombing through email, LinkedIn, phone calls, and texts campaigns. Sellers have to understand where the touches happen, and promote inbound and on-demand types of engagement, rather than whacking customer on every possible platform. If you’re sending an email ‘blast’ then it’s probably not thoughtful, not targeted and not co-ordinated as part of the holistic approach you need to have now.
Virtual connection, when done well, can be a more intimate and a better way of selling.
Should enterprise sales teams be investing more in virtual sales, and what should this look like?
Virtual connection, when done well, can be a more intimate and a better way of selling. There’s less distraction and more of a focus on the story you’re telling. People who need to have in-person contact to sell probably haven’t developed their storytelling or don’t feel confident in what they’re selling.
Some sellers just want to get in front of a customer and do a tap dance – what do you need? What do you want? That isn’t how we build connections, that’s done through stories that draws people in by demonstrating empathy and knowledge about their challenges and how to help fix them. That takes more upfront work than just throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.
When selling to millennials, how far do you think they tune out ads, and should B2B sales be focusing on more entertainment experiences over advertising?
Millennials don't hate marketing, they hate irrelevance and annoyance. Relevance is about understanding my challenges and needs and providing content that speaks to that – if you can’t do that, it doesn’t matter if you’re entertaining or providing an experience, you’ll still be irrelevant.
I also believe that business is serious. With humour and light-hearted cultural content, a little bit goes a long way. At the end of the day the salesperson can only make a sale if the customer believes in and trusts them. Entertainment may get a brand attention, but if it doesn’t also facilitate the creation of trust and belief, it will not help that company to close any more deals.