The landscape of technology is ever changing, and that is significantly amplified when it comes to sales and marketing with B2B companies. Just over the last two years alone, the changes have been quite monumental:
- Digital commerce has increased: More consumers are turning to e-commerce for their purchases. According to McKinsey Digital, over the past five years, daily e-commerce spending in the United States has doubled, and it’s expected to increase over the next four years by 40 percent. Furthermore, approximately 85 percent of those e-commerce buyers choose to stay online for repeat purchases.
- Target markets are shifting—thus so are the buying strategies: For quite a while, baby boomers — at 75.4 million approximately — were the largest online market, but today, millennials — at 83.1 million approximately — have overtaken them. And, it should come as no surprise, the purchasing preferences of that 83.1 million are quite different. Unlike baby boomers, well over half of millennials prefer to do their shopping online, and 80 percent put a strong emphasis on reading reviews pre purchase.
- Increased autonomy amongst buyers: One of the many changes that came out of the pandemic has been an increased independence amongst buyers when it comes to researching potential purchases. Gone are the days of the sales team being the main provider of information during the sales process — buyers have much more information at their fingertips, and they are using it.
Because of these changes (and the list could go on) B2B companies must adapt — and adapt quickly — if they want to stay on top of their game and top of mind for their potential customers. The reality, however, is that many are not. A McKinsey study reported that B2B companies actually lag behind B2C companies in what they call “digital maturity.”
But how do B2B companies do that?
There are a number of digital products and services in the marketing-technology space. In fact, according to the MarTech 5000, there are approximately 7,500 available (for more on that, see our previous blog post about how Fleetio chooses products to fit its tech stack). While options are always a positive, having so many can make the selection and execution of technology quite confusing and chaotic. But the value is clearly there for B2B companies in determining what works within their system that can help the sales process and the potential customers throughout the buying process.
To start, B2B companies must prioritize the presale process in order to meet — and hopefully even exceed — their sales goals in a technology-driven world, and that requires the utilization of digital marketing.
Utilize Digital Marketing to Improve the Presales Process
The presales process includes all of the steps that must happen before a consumer actually decides to purchase a product or service and become an actual customer. This phase of the process is when a potential customer discovers the product or service and (hopefully) realizes the benefit it provides them, guiding them to eventually complete the sale. The importance of this process cannot be overlooked — it can literally be the difference between a successful sale and a seriously missed opportunity. As technology has overtaken the sales and marketing process, companies must ensure they are adapting to the digital world to see the presales process through to completion. That means companies must put greater emphasis on meeting the customers wherever they are, and that can be across any number of digital channels.
There are three best practices B2B companies must include in their sales and marketing plan in order to achieve that goal; drive traffic to the website; and just as importantly, continuously generate serious leads of potential customers who are truly interested in completing the purchasing process and closing the deal:
Digital marketing: Though a general term that encompasses many different options for promoting a business and its product or service to potential customers, digital marketing is a given in today’s internet-driven world. Effective digital marketing leverages a variety of digital channels — such as email, social media and web-based advertising — but it does so cohesively and strategically. Every aspect of digital marketing must be integrated and solidified around a well-defined plan based upon the company’s growth strategy. When utilized in that manner, it creates a unified experience for potential customers, yielding better results and stronger sales.
Search engine marketing: Search engine marketing (SEM) is the process of driving potential customers to the company’s website by purchasing ads on search engine results pages. It is also often referred to as paid search advertising.
Search engine optimization: Search engine optimization (SEO) is simply increasing traffic to the company’s website in an organic way rather than through paid SEM.
While digital marketing is critical to foster a positive presales process, there is another aspect that cannot be overlooked in order for it to be successful: the customer experience.
Crafting the Customer Experience
No amount of digital marketing can succeed if it is not done so thoughtfully and with the customer experience in mind. Launching a digital strategy without first having a well-thought-out plan in place to ensure you understand your potential customers and can therefore engage with them properly is like first selling your home without any thought or preparation as to where you’ll move once it’s sold. The scenario truly plays into the well-known Benjamin Franklin quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
To truly understand the customer experience and equip all digital efforts with the best message possible, means understanding the buyer’s journey. Companies must be able to identify and then help potential clients remove any potential barriers that prevent them from becoming lifelong customers. There are best practices that have been proven effective at removing friction through the buying journey, regardless of the industry. Employing this framework into the very beginning of the sales process creates a roadmap for the company to better understand potential clients so that all sales and marketing efforts are fully aligned around their behaviors throughout every stage of the decision-making journey.
Leveraging these best practices also means companies can not only better understand their customers’ decision-making journey, but they also can create more effective campaigns. When a company truly understands their prospective clients, they can create a personalized marketing campaign that can meet the prospect with the right message at the right time, taking that potential prospect all the way through the process and converting them into not only a lifelong customer, but also an advocate.
So where do you go from here?
As no two B2B companies are alike, the process is certainly going to be somewhat different for every company out there. But if you’re reading this, you’ve already begun investing the right time and energy into solving the problem. We’d like to help you continue with the right steps. We are a sales and marketing consultancy company grounded in this science of behavioral change. With that foundation top of mind, we can help you invest in the technologies that will help you drive new growth and probability—all with a sincere focus on your customers’ needs throughout the entire process.