The path to purchase for a b2b buyer is changing. Buyers are tapping into readily available content, data on the Internet and peer networks to drive a more informed buying decision before they even engage vendors.
This is changing the way sales and marketing work together to support the entire purchasing ecosystem of a buyer—not only in the way we drive top-of-funnel awareness, but in the way marketing supports the entire sales process by communicating with greater relevance.
So for once, marketers need to think beyond simply delivering more leads as proof that marketing is adding value to the sales organization. It's not about the sheer volume/quantity of empty leads with some promising ones in the mix. It's about shifting the mindset to work hand and glove with sales to drive more aligned marketing programs and content strategy that will serve the buyers from start to finish.
Create a synchronized plan
Marketers can no longer operate in siloes, creating programs in some dark room and executing without including the sales team from the get go. Collaboration is key. Marketers need to partner with the sales team to understand the current challenges, get their insights on what's working and what's not and find ways to enable and empower their sales process. By closely working with sales from start to finish, marketers can create a more aligned marketing plan that can support their sales process – from driving awareness to converting leads into opportunities.
Segment strategic from non-strategic accounts
If you've ever worked with sales, you will understand that they have some key targets they're pursuing quarter by quarter. By working alongside sales, you can gain clear visibility into the strategic accounts in the pipeline that can have an impact on their revenue target. When developing your marketing program, your path to influence and convert the strategic accounts will require out-of-the-box thinking and more impactful marketing campaigns that will be personalized for those accounts. The strategic accounts should be given high priority while your marketing campaigns give air coverage for the rest.
Communicate with relevance
Sometimes we think that communicating more frequently to our database of contacts is better. Understanding your buyers' path to purchase and what's impacting their journey can have a clear impact on what and the way you communicate across key channels – including how sales approaches their accounts.
According to Jay Baer, creator of the popular Convince & Convert blog and author of the book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype, businesses must resist the impulse to over-share and think of ways to communicate with greater relevance, rather than talking more. Your content strategy should reflect the sales funnel and relevant content can support the entire ecosystem – content that supports education and solutions to customized content that lays out the blueprint for the buyer on how to improve their business performance.
Create out-of-the-box campaigns
According to a global study of 300 senior salespeople by SiriusDecisions, the top three requests were better leads, programs that salespeople can launch themselves, and programs to accelerate pipeline. In other words, they want a campaign-in-a-box with awesome thought leadership to get them in the door. Further, they want pipeline acceleration programs. With sales relying more on marketing for lead generation, marketers must look to the next generation of marketing programs.
With that said, we now must think outside the box to create impactful campaigns based on pipeline, segmentation, and revenue goals. It takes a bit of homework to understand where the near-term and long-term opportunities are and assess what the crucial assets are to support this.
In addition, to drive pipeline accelerating programs, marketers need to look at not just thought leadership content, but understand how customization works to drive more targeted programs and messages that hit the heart of their pain points.