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It is now clear that the B2B Marketing discipline has yet to reach a “New Normal” and probably will not get there soon. Disruption after disruption shuffles the effectiveness of doing B2B lead generation and client prospecting. Let’s review the market directions and how we should acquire new business clients today.
The marketing field is constantly evolving. What worked yesterday cannot necessarily deliver results today. The key element is to constantly gauge the effectiveness of your marketing strategies and tactics and ADJUST. Let’s take a bird’s eye view and identify first what are the multiple factors that influence marketing for businesses nowadays. Here are the 5 main challenges that are driving a sharp change in B2B Marketing:
The B2B customer journey is no longer linear or straightforward (Gartner)
Decreasing buyer’s attention span – A recent study by the Technical University of Denmark indicates that the abundance of information is narrowing our collective attention. This does not mean that humans lose concentration after 8 seconds, as was previously suggested. Instead, B2B buyers are now highly selective with their time allocation when it comes to content. Due to their limited resources, they will only focus on high-quality, reliable, and riveting content (Note: We hope that you will reach the end of this blog to learn new ways to conduct business client prospecting).
Low B2B buyer’s trust in vendors – When making a purchase decision, B2B buyers have lots at stake and thus they crave trust. B2B buyers often look to build a relationship with a vendor that instills strong confidence and their deliverables will yield positive business outcomes (i.e., address the challenges their organization faces effectively). Nevertheless, research results from Forrester and Edelman show a widening gap between how B2B clients perceive vendor providers and how vendors grasp their own reputation. See the diagram below regarding your specific industry sector.
The B2B buyer’s trust perception is much lower than how vendors believe their actual trust level.
70-80% of interactions of B2B sellers are digital (remote or self-serve)
Generation millennials and generation Z are shaping the B2B buyer characteristics (NGA/LinkedIn – Anita Lettink)
In just another decade, generation Z (1997-onward) is threatening to take over with millennials being mostly in management positions. Thus, it is critical to understand the unique characteristics of these generations.
For these generations, online search is the first step in researching a B2B solution. Digital interaction is the preferred client prospecting method with an emphasis on convenience and availability. Thus, mobile interaction is taking a stronger part, as it is a speedy way to gain knowledge whether through quality content or interaction with social friends/reviews, not with sales representatives.
The table below explains the shift in the buyer characteristics (by generation):
|Area||Millenials||Generation Z||Trend Impact|
|Values||Convenience & flexibility||Product quality & availability||Client experience is above other vendor features, including product quality|
|Purchase||Impulse buying||Browse online and then in-store||Easy and immediate access to vendor data|
|Device for purchase||Desktop & mobile||Mobile||Unique preferences on how and when they want to interact with vendors during the sales process|
|Shopping Experience||Personalized & traditional||Customization & crowdsourcing||Expectations for personalized sales and marketing outreach|
|Social Channels||Facebook & Instagram||Snapchat & Instagram||High reliance on the perspectives of family, friends, and acquaintances|
Sources: Pew Research & Direct Objective Consulting
Achieve Growth with Practical Tactics
To address the above challenges we would like to show you how incorporating the correct B2B marketing strategies or lead generation tactics will yield the business growth that you are looking to gain. While the above-listed challenges are interconnected and certain strategies and tactics can address multiple objectives, our exercise below will only demonstrate a few examples of adjusting or adding certain B2B marketing strategies/tactics that in turn will derive a strong impact on your business growth.
Too Much Information Out There – How Can I be Found Out?
Gartner’s research finds that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. In fact, this is because 33% of all buyers desire a seller-free sales experience – a preference that climbs to 44% for millennials, which is in line with the above McKinsey & Company findings.
How B2B tech buyers split their time during the buying process (Gartner)
When you realize that your website is no longer the center of the world for your potential buyers, it means that your B2B marketing must also invest in external properties so that you will be able to drive back prospective clients to your website. Here are a few ideas to assist you in doing it:
Replacement of the Physical Selling
As most clients are leaning first toward a seller-free buying environment, B2B marketing’s role is to identify who is really interested in your solutions, expose them to a content that would engage them and based on their level of engagement decide which client (account) to pursue further.
The following examples demonstrate this strategy:
The Traditional Sales Process is Broken – What do I Offer as an Alternative?
While it is important to maintain a sales-free environment at the early stages of the buying process, the sales team has a critical role throughout the middle or bottom of the sales funnel. The new role of the salesperson is to validate the sales opportunity, identify the obstacles that prevent clients from making decisions, and facilitate the buying decision by providing critical content that will tip the decision toward your solution.
Another strong trend that we see the market evolving into is a high demand for a self-service environment that minimizes the interaction with people. Instead, implement sophisticated chatbots and well-designed websites that walk the prospects through a process where they receive information for every little interaction they do. Each potential client receives a personalized experience that satisfies their specific needs. If this process is well-thought, you can even offer a B2B ecommerce site that shortens the sales cycle and enables you to better customize and support the experience of the millennial and generation Z B2B buyers.
B2B Marketing and lead generation have evolved into a complex integrated process where sophistication, automation, and tactic integration are key to success. Continuous measurement provides you the ability to constantly adjust, improve and surpass previous results, leading your business to high growth.
If you would like to see how the new directions in B2B marketing apply to your organization, please do not hesitate to contact us for a consultation session.
“Ranking our Web site high on search engines results, designing a professional Web site look and developing engaging relevant content for a heavy technology company like us resulted in a dramatic increase in client leads that we receive from our Web site.”Simon Robin CEO, Hardent