May 07 2018
There was a time not so long ago when the absolute best marketing a company could employ was B2B sales outreach. Back then, a determined sales team could cold-call hundreds of leads, deliver a well-crafted pitch, and close more than enough deals to make the company profitable. Throw in some client appreciation retreats and liquor lunches, and word of mouth would do the rest.
Those days are gone.
For starters, the B2B sales professional who can successfully make cold calls is a dying breed. If you have a person like that on your team, hang on to them! Those skills are still critical. But the sad fact is that cold calls have fallen out of favor with customers. These days there are dozens of ways to avoid cold callers, and most salespeople don’t like to do it anyhow – so consequently they aren’t very good at it.
The “one-size-fits-all” sales pitch is also a thing of the past. Broad positioning statements and boastful feature-benefit presentations have been replaced with tailor-made account-based sales techniques and inbound lead nurturing that aligns the value of your product with the specific needs of each customer – usually without the assistance of a salesperson in any way.
For business owners in industries who for decades have relied on traditional sales methods, the new age of B2B sales is frustrating at best. Given that each year approximately 50% of all B2B sales teams miss their quotas, it’s high time that companies take a new look at how marketing can help companies close more deals.
Why People Hate Marketing
If you ask the owner of a small to mid-sized business (SMB) what they like most about marketing, you’ll probably get a sarcastic answer to the effect of, “Nothing”.
If you probe the answer deeper you’ll discover that most business owners don’t understand modern (aka digital) marketing. They don’t trust it, and they don’t like dedicating so much budget to a strategy that isn’t yet proven. They’ve bought into the lie that marketing doesn’t work and is really just a non-billable waste of time.
We can’t completely blame the business owner for this deep cynicism. Many marketing teams struggle to demonstrate ROI or clearly illustrate how their efforts lead to conversions – or even assist the company’s goals. This is due, in part, to a breakdown in communication during the strategic phases for setting goals and defining success.
There are also disconnects between the sales team and marketing team whereby each is operating in a silo rather than providing the necessary feedback loop to optimize campaigns. It’s always been our belief that you should tear down these walls if you want to experience greater success throughout the company.
Finally, to bring it back to the budget, marketing is like most complex systems. It requires an upfront investment to set up a successful strategy. You can’t reasonably expect to generate millions of dollar in revenue if you take too lean of a marketing approach. The initial time investment and setup costs alone are sometimes more than a business owner will stomach. But wait, there’s more!
There are maintenance costs – for when steps in the process don’t work as planned or experience setbacks beyond anyone’s control. There are additional costs – for when you suddenly decide to start a new campaign that wasn’t part of the original plan. There are costs to recreate the entire strategy if/when your team decides to go in a completely new strategic direction. Business owners already experience enough “nickel and dime” pressures thanks to taxes, fees, permitting, labor costs, and overhead. However, no one likes to spend additional money on something they already don’t understand or trust.
What Sales Wants From Marketing
So, what can marketing do to help the sales team?
If the question is left up to business owners the answer would be more conversions, bigger deals, smaller budgets, and less competition. Not surprisingly, salespeople answer the question differently. They want:
- More qualified leads
- Better messaging
- Stronger marketing materials and collateral
- More case studies and content
- Greater representation at industry events
These are completely understandable. Salespeople want to spend their time with prospects who are actually prepared to buy, instead of spinning their wheels with people who give false promises or disappear shortly after a proposal.
They also want help discussing the features and benefits of their products, specially tailored to each account. That “discussion” involves a significant amount of storytelling about the company’s brand, successes, and subject matter expertise. If you remember, salespeople are not engineers (or scientists, architects, technicians, etc). But they desperately want to sound like one in order to effortlessly move the sales process forward.
What Sales Also Needs From Marketing
Let’s start with some painful stats:
Only 3% of buyers think salespeople are trustworthy. Ouch. We can thank the bad rap on decades of bad salespeople, scammers, and negative portrayals in movies. Unfortunately, no matter how polished the approach it’s not enough to just have “better messaging”, “more collateral” and “greater representation”.
57% of buyers are less dependent on sales people. Thanks to the internet all of the information is (or should) be freely available to educate the buyer as they move through the awareness and discovery phases. Buyers want to educate themselves before they speak with a salesperson. As the numbers show, this is because they feel too often that salespeople only talk about things that pertain to the sale versus the things that matter to the buyer. As a result, 60% of buyers prefer to speak to a salesperson during the consideration phase, whereas another 20% prefer to wait until they’re ready to make a decision.
72% of companies with less than 50 deals a month did not achieve their revenue objectives. Let that sink in for a moment If you’re the owner of a B2B SMB. “We need more leads” makes a ton of sense.
Sales teams need a greater volume of educated and informed buyers who trust the company BEFORE they ever speak to a salesperson. You won’t get that from the traditional B2B sales model. Only marketing can do that.
Setting up demand generation methods across a variety of marketing platforms allows a company to funnel buyers to various content sources and guide them through the awareness and discovery phase. Along the way they can choose if and when to contact the company to “learn more” or “register now”, but bringing the buyer back into the funnel during consideration is where the most opportunities for salespeople occur. Once the buyer initiates the sales process, salespeople can THEN use all of the great messaging and marketing materials to guide the buyer through to close.
Learn To Love Marketing
Marketing costs money. Marketing takes time. Marketing requires communication and involvement from stakeholders and the sales team. It is what it is. But if you approach the process with the clear intent of giving your sales team the advantage to close more prequalified deals then the benefits of marketing are obvious. The ROI is less about B2B sales directly attributed to marketing and more about empowering companies to efficiently close more deals.
Divining Point is a marketing agency that enables companies to take control of their brand and build greater demand for their products and services. If your company is struggling to tell its story and lure buyers to the table, then call us today.