The days of ‘selling’ to B2B buyers in the traditional way are all but gone now. Today the emphasis is on forging trusted relationships by starting conversations about issues that matter, exchanging ideas and sharing knowledge, and extending value even before there has been a transaction.
Even if you’re a software company that can offer a free downloadable demo and time-limited trial of your product, you’ll need to think more laterally about how you’re going to impress, surprise and delight would-be customers – offering them a taste of what it would be like to work with you, and the extra mile your business is prepared to go.
These are the strategies leading businesses are invoking now, to be seen and heard above the market noise - in a digital-first environment where in many situations face-to-face engagements are losing their appeal.
Offer the buyers a chance to air and share their concerns and challenges, and hear how peers are addressing the same issues.
Getting a buyer to spend what little spare time they have on a Zoom or Teams video call as a first step in the relationship development process had better offer them more than a virtual sales pitch sharing slides, for instance. Today, offering buyers a platform to share their concerns and challenges, and learn how peers are addressing similar issues provides for a more valuable introduction to you and your offering. Along the way, they might get to hear about how that other company applied your software or service, and what difference that made. But through the dialogue - through the networking opportunity - a value-based exchange can grow organically. Start by becoming a facilitator of learning rather than a one-sided sales machine.
In the digital world, human engagement needs to be smarter and more targeted, geared to adding value for buyers, harnessing different formats and channels at key points in their decision cycle.
For this Market View on the evolving role of human engagement in B2B enterprise marketing, we conducted a spot poll with our initial 19 interviewees – comprising senior marketing people in leading tech and professional services organisations. Without exception, each expressed an active interest in involving buyers and salespeople in thought leadership programmes. More than 8 in 10 agreed that audiences no longer distinguish between B2C and B2B buying experiences; that to engage buyers today businesses need to surprise, excite and entertain their target audience in the same way consumer experiences do. Poignantly, more than half felt the role of salespeople now needed a ‘radical’ rethink.
As Nik Nicholas, Partner at Radically Digital, put it, “Rather than selling to the client, we should try to bring them along on the sales journey and make them a fundamental part of that process.”
That’s something we practise as well as preach at Network Sunday. To learn about the sophisticated range of levers we employ to engage B2B buyers and add value for them from the earliest stage of the lead generation and development cycle, why not get in touch? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our sales director Simon Warman-Freed at email@example.com.