Did you know …

Moms are 20% more likely to use social media than the general population, according to BabyCenter. In fact, 91% of moms now use social media regularly.

Integrated Marketing = B2B Sales & Marketing Success

Ready or not, marketing is a critical part of the sales process. If you have this figured out, then you’re organization is likely gaining market share. If, on the other hand, you are depending on your sales team for drip marketing, you are likely losing deals. Painful yes, but at least you know why!

b2b integrated marketingOver the past 10-12 years there has been dynamic shift in B2B buying process. People aren’t waiting by the TV, mailbox or phone for you to reach them. They’re finding all the information they need themselves. Think about it. Prior to the massive expansion of the internet, social networking and social media, B2B buyers depended on sales people for insights, information and education about products and services. Sales people were involved early in the sales process which gave them the opportunity, often over 6-18 months, to build a relationship, provide consultative guidance and position their products and services. The good sales people were able to clearly distinguishable themselves from the mediocre, and more importantly gain intimate insight into the buyer’s needs and position their solution appropriately.

The internet has dramatically altered the buying process.

Buyers are now able to find vendors (search), learn about their products and solutions (corporate websites), view demos (social media), and compare vendors and solutions (analysts’ websites, reports, blogs and social networking), all before having to talk to a sales person. Coupled with the increasingly difficulty in reach prospects via phone or email, inbound marketing is becoming critically important.

Today, incumbent vendors have a distinct advantage, assuming they are doing a good job, since their sales team is already engaged with the client. They have the opportunity to learn about the buyer’s needs, infrastructure, and processes, etc., while outside vendors on the other hand, don’t have this advantage. They can’t even get in the door.

Today, buyers don’t want to engage with sales people because almost everything they need is available to them, without having to spend the time meeting with sales people and take their phone calls. To make matters worse, sales people that try to engage too early are often rebuffed, hurting their company’s chances of making the sale in the long run. To buyers, sales people simply don’t add value early in the sales process any more, and they cost the buyer time.

Managing marketing to the classic formula (# of Leads = # of proposals = # of sales) just isn’t sophisticated enough anymore. This is especially true for organizations with sophisticated market segmentation and micro-segmentation, strategies in place.

Marketing must take responsibility for prospects and leads until they are ready to talk to a sales person. Certainly, the good sales people will find their way in and try to “disrupt” the sales process by building a relationship, understanding their needs, motivations, etc. In the meantime, marketing must understand and adapt to the sales cycle by making sure you are providing enough of the right information, data, case studies, etc. at the right time.

So, the question is, how is your organization managing this transformed sales and marketing dynamic?

Old School

Your organization has not embraced this new B2B sales cycle. Organizations still trying to do business via the old school approach are likely seeing a decrease in lead generation, lead conversion and close ratios. Your new business sales team, versus account managers, is probably frustrated with the lack of activities, progress and sales.

New School

Your organization has embraced it. Your sales team’s role has shifted. They still provide a critically important service (forging and leveraging relationship and closing deals!) however; their engagement with new clients has to be timed right. Engage too early and risk being shut out. Critical to this new buying approach, is your marketing group’s ability to generate awareness, foster leads, nurture them and then, at the right time, pass the lead to your sales team.

In School

If you are like most organizations, you are trying to determine how to best integrate their marketing and sales strategies to optimize the sales cycle, improve their close ratio and increase business. Often the answer to this is centralizing ownership of both the marketing and sales processes so the person responsible, can actually achieve it.