For marketing leaders, the pandemic is just one of a number of massive changes their teams have been navigating. Buyers expectations are changing. The number of invested decision makers in buying decisions is expanding. Buyers are increasingly inclined toward self-service interaction. As the world continues to plan for a post-COVID environment, enterprises must ensure that virtual selling is as effective – and profitable – as in-person selling. This requires a modification of marketing tools, a shift in skills, and change in operations that moves from silos to a more integrated sales program.
This shift requires integration between sales and marketing, embrace of digital transformation, and a content strategy that is dynamic, agile, and highly effective.
Using content to moving from engagement to trust
There’s no question that the B2B buyer experience has changed, as highlighted in TrustRadius’s 2021 B2B Buying Disconnect report. Consider that 60% of B2B tech buyers are millennials. For these younger buyers, analyst reports and industry rankings matter less than they did for previous generations. In fact, millennials are 20% less likely to use analyst reports and rankings when making purchasing decisions, and those in Generation Z are 30% less likely. These new buyers value experience, favoring free trials, demos, and other users’ reviews. Marketing teams must ensure that sales teams are armed with customer-centric and experiential content that builds customer trust. A personalized content engine within a sales enablement tool can be exponentially more effective with alignment across content and sales teams, and can ensure that every customer contact point is an opportunity to communicate value and ROI.
Delivering content that maps to the changing buyer’s journey
Purchasing decisions are complicated and are mostly made by a committee. B2B buyers are on the lookout not just for price, but also for a vendor who will serve as a trusted partner – both initially and on an ongoing basis. Gartner reports that today’s buying groups average 6-10 decision makers. Giving sales reps generic marketing material isn’t just ineffective and a potential waste of time, it’s a massive lost opportunity to communicate value to different parts of an organization and to create multiple champions within complex buying teams. Content is the essential tool to demonstrate value, to differentiate against competitors, and to communicate that your organization is as committed to your customers’ success as they are. To create internal advocates out of your customers, work to develop a holistic approach to your interactions, one that considers:
– a customer’s company culture and values,
-how your solution or product can most easily integrate with existing systems and processes,
– the data and metrics each member of the buying team needs to become a champion,
– and specific pain points, whether industry-wide or internal, that you can uniquely solve (and how).
Establishing your commitment to customer success goes a long way in establishing valuable new and ongoing relationships. In fact, customers who perceive that the information they’re receiving from a vendor is helpful in their buying job are nearly three times more likely to buy a bigger deal with less regret.
Create cohesion across the company
Too often, content marketing operates as its own island within a broader organization. Gartner estimates that by 2023, just 25% of organizations will integrate sales, marketing, and customer experience. Savvy businesses recognize the latent opportunity to align departments and ensure goals, metrics, and approaches are shared across all departments. When planning for 2022, 35% of CMOs said their top priority was to integrate marketing alignment with other functions.
Future proof with tech
There’s no question that even with the best intentions, ensuring that your organization’s tech stack works together introduces its own challenges. Often, sales teams rely on legacy CRM systems and marketing teams look to cloud-based solutions, leaving both teams to privilege familiar technology over the unfamiliar. If the entire organization cannot be moved to a single CRM, then sharing data across a data lake or warehouse is critical – and profitable. McKinsey found that when sales reps could use historical and industry insights during customer engagements with access to recommendation logic, sales grew and customer satisfaction increased. The software will matter less than shared data that can be used both to create and manage content, as well as give reps access to data-driven insights designed to boost customer engagement and sales.
Integration and alignment of sales and marketing are the future of successful B2B sales organizations. To create efficiency, efficacy, and revenue, sales organizations will need to adopt a holistic view of, and approach to content, communication, and customer engagement.