In both business-to-business sales and business-to-consumer sales there is nothing that can compare to the power of simplicity. To some, simple doesn’t seem sexy or impressive; but simple can have a huge impact. I think many companies have mastered the complicated – like a website navigation menu system that has you pushing more buttons than a spirited game of Guitar Hero, or email messages trying to sell you everything on their product list; these companies are trying to be all things to all different people – and not doing any of them very well. I think complicated is the default setting for many companies. On the other hand, simplicity tells a powerful story to those tuned in to listen it.
Marketing automation provides companies with the power to do great things. Companies can now interact with their clients and prospects on a one-to-one level like they never have before. Much the same way a salesperson reads the expression and behaviours of a client with whom they are speaking face-to-face, marketing automation allows marketers to read their prospects’/clients’ digital body languages. However, like most new systems, it will also require some changes in the way companies do business. And sometimes, people want to stick to their “old” processes because that is what they are used to doing. While this is a natural reaction, it reminds me of a story.
I am sure many companies come to mind. However, in reality, your biggest competitor is not some other company but rather the status quo. If you are like most people, you see sales as a linear process: at some point, it has an ending. Your prospects will either choose your or one of your competitors. The truth is that more often than not, your prospects choose to maintain status quo and make no decision.
Unlike the loser of the Indianapolis 500, there is no money for someone who finishes second or third in a sales cycle. When companies compete, only one gets the order. Every other company (unless they were incompetent or obnoxious) is told that they came in second. The real reason they lost hardly ever shows up in a loss report: they were out-sold!
Regardless of your industry, if you don’t have a business development plan that includes social media marketing, you’re late to the dance. Not so late that everyone has gone home, -actually the exact opposite - ‘cause this is where your prospects are. And a marketing plan that does not include being where your customers are is pointless.
So you have successfully created awareness in your ideal prospect’s mind, and positioned your company to win through an engaging online buying experience. But what happens next can make or break the success of your company. How quickly and the way your sales people follow up on marketing generated leads can have enormous effect on who your prospects will buy from - and ultimately the return on your marketing investment.
Companies spend huge amounts of money on their offerings to establish or maintain competitive advantages. Yet, all that is a waste if they fail to make buyers’ short lists. With 92% of business-to-business buyers starting their search to their problems online, that means you need to be found on major search engines. But it’s more than just targeting keywords. It means targeting the keywords of buyers who are in the research stage of their buying processes. If you target only keywords for people who are in buying mode, you are already too late to the customer buying process.
The best way to create awareness for you company or marketing strategy is to ask yourself a simple question: “what bad things happen to business results for buyers with a particular title (CEO, VP, and so on) in a particular vertical (health care, financial services and so on) or geographic (e.g., North America or Europe) market because they are not offering what you are?” Much how top sales people develop their value proposition, marketing needs to understand this as well. The answers will enable you to create a message crafted in such a way to kill two birds with one stone. It can both generate awareness and increase urgency to act by illustrating the financial impact if the potential buyer does nothing.
Ten years ago, all you had to do was leave a voicemail that piqued your customer’s interest to get a call back. The reality today is that the B2B buying process begins when prospects accesses a company’s website, blog, white paper, or signs on to a webinar that it is hosting. They go online and Google your website but they also look at competitive offerings, reviews of your company, and check out forums or blogs discussing your company and the solutions you offer. Combine that with the fact that 92% of business-to-business buyers start their search for a solution to their problem online, and the customer buying process has drastically changed.
© 2013 Inbound Sales Network