Behind every company name, LinkedIn message, search engine query, cookie ID, or text message… there is a person. Marketing is no longer B2B or B2C; it’s B2Me (Business to Me).
This is because…
…The Buying Process Has Changed.
How many of you get in the car and go to a store to buy a new appliance? A new car? A computer? Most of the hard work is done online by the consumer—without ever engaging a salesperson. Often the sales person is really just handling the transaction—not the selling.
In fact, 90% of customers initiate the first step in the buying cycle The number of times a customer will “touch” a vendor before making a purchase is 11! The way customers purchase has changed tremendously, and it’s more customer-initiated and customer-driven than ever. And the Business Buyer is starting to buy like a consumer.
Clearly, the buyer’s journey has changed. And therefore the role of marketing must change.
73% of [CEOs surveyed] said that CMOs lack business credibility and the ability to generate sufficient business growth 72% are tired of being asked for money without explaining how it will generate increased business
Buying is now self-initiated and starts onlineNo geographic, platform or organization boundariesEasily targeted and mapped
The way customers purchase has changed tremendously, and it’s more customer-initiated and customer-driven than ever. 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, or whitepaper. 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.
With an increasing tendency and capacity to research purchasing decisions online long before they engage with sales, the pressure for B2B marketers is on!
Combine that with the fact that 92% of B2B buyers start their search for a solution to their problem online, and the customer buying process has changed drastically.
So given these changes in the Buying Process, we know that Marketing needs to play a stronger role in the early part of the Sales cycle. In that respect, where are we starting from? How are we doing with respect to Marketing today?
The alignment is inevitable. We (marketing) know the customer BEFORE they are even a customer. In fact, we are getting better and better at predicting not only what leads will convert, but when and for how much.
Marketing owns the data that tells us what, where, when and how they like to shop or research they purchases.
The synergy between marketing and sales is greater than ever. This depicts how the two disciplines can come together.
So what is our role in the traditional sales pipeline or funnel today and how do we connect in, and more important, get sales to recognize the role we play?
Volume…. It is a combination of brand, thought leadership and awareness. Our job as marketers has always been to increase the volume of customers going into the sales pipeline; what has changed is how and when we do it.
Thought Leadership has been important but it is more important now than ever…..
A question that is asked of customers each year, as part of ITSMA’s annual survey “How Customers Choose”:
What role did the solution providers’ thought leadership content, such as the research, analysis, and advice often found in reports, white papers, Webcasts, and articles , play in determining which providers make it on to your shortlist?
In the last published report, there’s been a dramatic shift in how customers view thought leadership as part of their decision making on which vendor to choose. Now a full 45% of customers surveyed view the depth and quality of thought leadership as critical, and another 43% as important, as a criteria for determining which technology provider to chose from.
Customers want someone to help them see around corners; get a glimpse of the future, etc.
But it is more than just a platform to provide a point of view. Thought leadership needs to create a connection…..
The research conducted last year by Google and CEB included survey responses from 3,000 B2B buyers across nearly 40 brands and 7 categories. It revealed that B2B purchases are more emotional than B2C purchases… And on top of that, a greater proportion of B2B customers are emotionally attached to the brand they purchased than B2C consumers. Rather surprising, don’t you think?
Why are customers more emotionally connected to B2B brands?
More B2B than B2C customers are emotionally attached to the brand they purchased—where the cost and risk associated with each purchase is so high.
It’s about risk. There’s more risk in B2B purchases. Losing time and effort if a purchase decision goes poorly Losing credibility if you make a recommendation for an unsuccessful purchase Losing your job if you are responsible for a purchase that fails
B2B buying is highly personal—even more so than B2C buying—due to the level of personal risk that buyers feel.
More risk = more fear.
Recognizing the importance of an emotional connection…
An example is what we’ve done at Cisco through our brand work and our Internet of Everything campaign.
On Interbrand’s best global brands report Cisco moved from 14th to 13th of the most powerful brands (September 2013) and Cisco was cited as #1 B2B brand (Forbes, October 2013)
The speed at which we help move the sale through the pipeline is also important. Velocity includes sales enablement, inbound marketing and lead qualification. It is accelerating the time a customer takes from awareness and expressing interest to preference and purchase.
This is where we can embrace our charter of engagement – to capture and engage customers once they begin the journey.
As I said earlier, the customer is now in charge of the journey and we need to think about that. We are seeing a trend of more and more consumer behavior – today customers are 2/3 through the process before they even talk to us!
A recent report from Demand Metric says that content marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing, yet generates 3 times as many leads. (source: http://www.demandmetric.com/content/content-marketing-infographic)
Big Data got its big push from companies like Google, Facebook, eBay, Twitter and Amazon. Each of them collect a lot of data, analyze them and use them for improving their processes. Most of them are B2C, except that when it comes to Amazon Cloud, it is a B2B company as well, and Google does B2B as well through their advertising services and platforms.
These are great examples when learning best practices. However, there are a number of other examples of companies having excelled in individual areas, such as Wal-Mart and P&G in Supply Chain Analytics, Marriott in Revenue Management and more – all of which have a B2B flavor.
This is where content is king.
Here’s an example of an automation platform that we developed at Cisco. This automation engine tied all of the pieces of our waterfall together on the back end to allow for tracking and accountability.
As of May 2014, The number of visitors to cisco.com has doubled since 2006, currently serving 14 million visitors per month.
Traffic to m.cisco.com - the mobile site - has doubled more frequently, and is currently growing at 28% annually. Of course that’s nothing compared to mobile apps growth of 700%!
With respect to social media, our audience base grew 46% YoY to exceed 10 million for the first time.
The result is that we achieved $2.8B in our sales pipeline.
Marketing scrums can also make a difference. One example was our Switch It Up Scrum work. Our use of a home page for switch demand generation offer led to 2X increase in click-through and 40% of contacted users converted to leads. Improvements to webinar promotion and presentation were also very successful. Registrations were up 134% and attendance up 148%. And, we had a 25,000% improvement on inbound switch sales leads!!!
Content is king not only for your customers as you engage, but also your sales team. Where you can help them move faster with the very best sales enablement possible. We created a new sales enablement platform for our sales team—Sales Connect.
This enables them to find the right content at the right time so they can have the right conversations with customers - spend less time finding and piecing together their information, and more time in front of the customer
Lastly, how do we add to the overall value of the sale—increasing the wallet share so that the sales team is getting more out for the same amount of effort put in.
Like most companies, we are facing new, and in many cases, unfamiliar buyers. We can expand our share of wallet by engaging with new buying centers within our current customer base.
This requires different, more personalize content, and in many cases, different vehicles to reach them. For some, it is not mega-events to reach these new buyers. In fact, it’s smaller – its focused – its high touch.
Research shows that when you sell a solution rather than a product, you’ll see a 479% increase in the sale. But we can only sell a solution if we know what problem we’re solving, and that means knowing whether you’re talking to the CMO, the CIO, the network manager, or any one of the other possible dozen buyers in the enterprise.
This is really the final piece. It is easier to keep a customer than to get a new one, yet what is marketing’s role here? First, for companies like Cisco, 10% of our customers account for 95% of our bookings. Loyalty is critical – and profitable.
Customer experience is critical. Knowing them at all moments of their journey, tagging them throughout the journey, is incredibly important. These are all examples of how to strengthen the experience and lead them to loyalty.
Their input is critical and you get the best input from your most loyal customers. IBM Global Insights study shows that: Customers are second only to executives with “Chief” in their title, in terms of influence on company strategy.
In B2B, cost and risk associated with each purchase is so high. It all starts with the emotional connection I referenced at the beginning of our discussion. We felt incredibly proud when recent research from CEB and Google said that the company’s customers are most emotionally connected to Cisco.
Our role is to enable sales to get more out from what they are putting in—changing the size (increasing awareness), the speed (enabling them to sell faster) and the value (larger share of wallet) of the sales pipeline
The Holy Grail: Connecting Marketing with Sales by Blair Christie
THE HOLY GRAIL
CONNECTING MARKETING WITH SALES
SVP & Chief Marketing Officer
September 17, 2014
AdAge CMO Strategy Summit, San Francisco