B2B Customer Acquisition: The role of human engagement in a world of digital-first enterprise marketing
The buying journey is no longer controlled by sales teams - the buyers themselves are now in charge.
Has the buying journey changed in recent years?
The way that businesses buy software and tools is changing dramatically, particularly as millennials are increasingly taking over decision making positions from their older colleagues. The buying journey is no longer controlled by sales teams - the buyers themselves are now in charge. Buyers are comfortable and confident enough in their research abilities that they can complete entire purchasing decisions without ever talking to a sales representative.
Businesses that force potential customers to speak with a sales representative before making a purchase will be missing out on some opportunities. The ability for product sign ups without any interaction with a sales team needs to become the standard. Free trials, self-serve demonstrations & resources and other forms of product-led-growth should be the focus of any business that wants to create independent buying journeys for their customers. Alongside this, give your customers the opportunity to speak with a customer success manager if needed - although the majority of purchases will likely become entirely independent, some will still need specific questions answered.
The traditional, transactional relationship between sales and marketing teams is no longer relevant.
Should marketing still be viewed as a lead generation department?
The traditional, transactional relationship between sales and marketing teams is no longer relevant. The role of marketing has evolved beyond simply generating leads and providing content for their sales colleagues to share. As they increasingly share a common goal of increasing revenue, the relationship needs to be far more collaborative. After marketing teams research the industry and customer pain points to produce relevant content, it is up to the sales team to provide feedback on that content’s performance. If the sales team are asked the same questions regularly, then it is clearly an opportunity for the marketing team to produce content around. If sales and marketing teams can make this back and forth conversation a regular feature of their working lives, then they stand a far better chance of joint success.
What do businesses need to think about when advertising to millennials?
Because social media and digital content has been present for their whole lives, millennials are very good at ignoring advertising if they think it is not relevant or adds no value to their lives. The advertising that does resonate with them is typically entertainment focused rather than education focused. Millennials respond best to advertisements that don’t feel like advertisements. But most enterprise organizations are not ready for the challenge of reaching millennials with advertising that feels organic to their native platforms.
Businesses become too focused on their product or service and naturally gravitate towards creating educational content instead of entertaining content. Millennials only want educational content as they get deeper into their buying journeys, not towards the start of them. When businesses dress up educational content and try to be funny with it, it falls flat and immediately turns the consumer off. There are two things that businesses need to do if they want to create advertising that successfully engages millennials. The first is to have a really clear picture of what problem they are solving for their target audience. The second is to accept that they don’t have all the answers themselves, and to seek external agency help in producing their advertising. External agencies have an expertise in storytelling that most enterprise organizations simply can’t match.