The various channels and touchpoints new prospects and existing customers have with your company is making tracking and responding more intertwined and increasingly complex.
At the same time, marketing is facing pressure to drive revenue and is being held to stricter financial benchmarks, and sales is trying to adapt to a more advanced and well-informed buyer, who is harder to engage than ever before.
The New B-to-B Marketing
B-to-B marketing and sales teams need a more cohesive and strategic approach to pipeline generation in order to adapt to these new realities.
The following trends will thus start to crystalize in the year ahead:
Digital Marketing Will Become Pivotal in the Buying Process
We’re all familiar with the standard sales collateral – written case studies, flashy PPTs, marketing one-pagers touting benefits and pricing, the list goes on. In any given buying journey, the amount of text and documents sent for the buyer to consume can be overwhelming.
In 2017, we will see these materials become increasingly digital and consumable with rich media and visuals. Furthermore, with the buying process being more circular than linear, digital assets will be used deeper in the sales cycle, will be delivered by sales throughout the selling process in context and will play a much more significant role in driving sales success.
Sales Will Make Better Use of Customer Data
Buyers no longer rely on sales to learn about a product and/or competition. Between the Web, review sites and interconnected colleagues, prospective buyers already know everything about you and your offerings and then some.
As a result, the sales role is evolving to a more educative and consultative role, with the key differentiator being the buying process itself. It’s pretty intuitive: people like to buy from those who they feel are experts and provide them knowledge and value.
Successful vendors are the ones who anticipate the buyers’ needs and engage them with highly relevant, valuable information. This means that sales must combine customer data and their insights from the front line and shape the engagement approach; in a sense, acting more as marketers. By doing so and being more data-driven, sales can use information, such as the buyer’s specific pain points and the problems they’re trying to solve to customize outreach based on the audience.
ABM Will Go Mainstream
Account Based Marketing (ABM) has recently taken the marketing industry by storm. While many have learned the premise of it in previous years, the reality is that many companies are still struggling with how to implement ABM in their own organizations.
In the next year, we will see companies more significantly implement ABM as best practices and toolsets around ABM become clearer. Marketers will also learn how to best empower their sales counterparts to use available marketing content to its maximum potential. In 2017, ABM will graduate from an innovative program to a core B-to-B marketing strategy.
Content Formats Will Evolve With Consumer Preference
A Statistic Brain report showed that the average attention span of today’s buyer is about eight seconds long.
Spurred on by the increased use of smartphones and mobile content consumption, the majority of people today tend to skim rather than read. Preferred content in 2017 will be brief, visual and headline-oriented, while still being accurate and informative. The marketers who are able to adhere to these changes will capture the interest of the buyers and inspire the coveted “Let’s Talk” request.
The Relationship Between Marketing and Sales Will Shift
Recently, one question is being asked more and more of marketers - “What did you do for my revenue this year?”
It comes as no surprise that marketers are being asked to prove their value and contribute to sales and revenue. The bar is high, and the pressure in 2017 is only going to get higher.
This expectation will inspire a new dynamic between sales and marketing, and the decisions they make. Marketing now needs sales to weigh-in on:
- The MarTech Stack – With thousands of tools to choose from, sales will have a bigger voice in making decisions about the tools to implement. Already, we are seeing companies turn to approaches likes Audience Marketing and ABM to break through the noise.
- Content Marketing – Sales knows prospects best of all, so the input into the content served to prospective customers will be highly valued.
In the year ahead, marketing and sales will no doubt have to navigate very dynamic industry developments. From evolving buyer preferences to innovative tools to the adoption of new strategies, there’s much to prepare for. Those who can find a way to adapt will advance beyond the rest.