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What Comes After Sales Enablement?

29 Oct

Take B2B Marketing to the Next Step with In-Person Meetings

In-Person Meeting

As building products marketers, it’s amazing to think of the amount of time and energy we spend planning out the perfect marketing tools and strategies. Sales enablement is one such tool that is becoming increasingly prevalent and effective. Done right, sales enablement can provide your team with the tools needed to generate and nurture more qualified leads and close more deals. But what can often go overlooked is what comes after sales enablement—the real, human-to-human contact that finalizes a sale.

It’s not just sales enablement that can fall victim to this, either. A lot of marketers spend time creating highly detailed, specific marketing campaigns, lead scoring systems, special trade show events, and so on, but never develop follow-up plans to determine what will actually be done with the leads produced from their efforts. Put simply, you can collect all the form submissions you want on a landing page, but if you’re not doing anything with those submissions other than sending them more automated emails, you’re not accomplishing much.

And yet, it’s more common than you think. Marketers fail to turn over qualified leads to sales, and salespeople fail to pick up the phone and call the leads they do get from marketing. It’s an endless cycle of unproductivity if not addressed.

As B2B marketers, we cannot rely on digital-only tactics or even sales enablement alone. Face-to-face is still the best method of actually closing a sale. Just look at a few stats I found in a recent Marketing Daily article:

  • In-person meetings are 85% more effective than virtual meetings, and this is even true for existing customers (65%)
  • For complex products and services (AKA most B2B purchases), decisions are made more on the basis of organizational/personal relationships and trust than technical features and functions
  • Cognitive studies prove that, in B2B sales, there needs to be an emotional connection beyond analytics
  • Overall outcomes of group purchases are far superior when there are face-to-face meetings with vendors, leading to both better efficiency and long-term satisfaction

Just because face-to-face is important in the B2B world doesn’t absolve you of the responsibility to incorporate digital marketing and/or sales enablement. Instead, consider what your marketing can do to prime a prospect for a face-to-face meeting. And consider what sales enablement tools you can provide that will make the biggest impact for your sales team during a trade show or another face-to-face meeting with a buyer.

To read the full article from Marketing Daily, click here.

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Don’t Be Too Cool for “Old School”

22 Oct

Building Products Marketers Should Remember Direct Mail

Mail

As B2B building products marketers, it’s hard to resist the allure of the new and shiny. After all, it’s our job to push the envelope, develop new and exciting creative, and experiment with marketing tactics that drive results. But it’s also our job to use tried and true tactics that are proven to still have relevance in today’s marketplace.

A lot of marketers will be quick to tell you that direct mail is not one of those tactics—that it’s “old school” and doesn’t have the impact that digital/social/email all do. But marketers in the building industry would do well to learn what those in the fashion industry have proven time and time again: that everything comes back in style.

A recent study commissioned by Canada Post reveals that direct mail is no exception to the rule. In fact, according to this article in Marketo’s blog, direct mail still proves effective for B2B marketers, even in a predominantly digital age. Here are a few of the statistics from the study that you can’t miss:

  • 70% of people are curious to find out what’s in their mailbox. I wonder if as many feel the same about their email inbox.
  • 64% visited a website in reaction to direct mail. And typing in a website takes a lot more effort than clicking a button…
  • 51% prefer a combination of both mail and email. You may think digital is cool, but your audience might be sick of it. Mix it up.

Marketers get excited about the many new and different tools, communications channels, etc. available to us. And that’s okay; we see some cool and useful technology in our line of work, and these tools can be both fun and effective at driving results for our sales. But sometimes “old school” thinking works—when it’s right for your audience.

Take, for example, one of our clients, a major building products distributor. Many would say that fax is “old school” and no longer an effective marketing technique in the modern age; however, we conducted a survey last year of this client’s 10,000+ marketing list and discovered that fax is the second most preferred communication tactic by the audience. Ignoring a clear referendum from our audience simply because it seems “old school” would be ridiculous. And the same is true of direct mail, which continues to be effective, as the study proves.

Don’t get stagnant or miss out on conversion opportunities because you think you’re too cool for “old school.” You’re not. In fact, no marketer is too cool for something that drives measurable results.

But don’t take my word for it—the proof is in the numbers. Check out the full article for more direct mail insights.

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Building Products Marketers Need Sales to Survive

15 Sep

Sales and Strategy Go Hand In Hand

Business people meeting

What if I told you that all the effort you put into marketing your building products was absolutely useless? What if I told you that no matter how great the creative, how brilliant the strategy, and how alluring the incentive, your approach was doomed to fail?

Because they are—if you fail to incorporate your sales team into your efforts. I’ve written before about how no building products promotion can be effective without buy-in from the sales team. But this applies to more than promotions—it’s your entire marketing strategy and beyond.

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review takes that idea to the next level, making an argument I agree with: that sales should be part of every conversation about strategy. All too often, marching orders come down from on high with no real understanding of what is happening to those on the ground pushing the product or services. And the further away the “powers that be” get from customer contact, the more obsolete their strategies can often become.

Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from the article:

  • Communication is key: “People can’t implement what they don’t understand.”
  • It doesn’t matter how many emails you send if you don’t engage your sales team as partners: “The process for introducing and reviewing plans often exacerbates the separation of the strategists from the doers. It typically involves a kickoff sales meeting followed by a string of emails from headquarters and periodic reports back on results. There are too few communications, and most are one-way.”
  • If you don’t explain the big picture, they won’t be able to create it: “Even when sales teams are trained in negotiation and selling tactics, the larger strategic context—especially the implications for target priorities—is often left out.”
  • Whose job it is to partner with sales: “Clarifying strategy is a leadership responsibility.”

Click here to read the full article—it’s full of important information that building products marketers should really take into consideration, especially as many of us start to work out the final details of our 2016 planning.

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Not Ready to Speak? Try Listening.

25 Aug

With Building Products Social Media Marketing, Start by Listening

Stock Photo for Blog 8:24

I hear constantly from building product marketers that social media doesn’t apply to their business—that it’s “a B2C thing” or that it’s “for Millennials” and has no use when it comes to generating marketing qualified leads and closing sales. But when someone says this, what they’re really telling me is they’re not ready to use social as a platform to talk. My suggestion is this: if you’re hesitant about incorporating social media into your marketing plan, start instead with listening.

Quick story. I was at a trade show two years ago when a UPS delivery truck left behind a package containing my client’s pop-up booth. While an account coordinator at my agency tried frantically to get through to someone to talk to on the phone, I tweeted at UPS for help.

In the time the UPS social team responded to me, contacted the nearest store manager, and had the truck re-route to come and pick up the package, the account coordinator still hadn’t even reached an actual person on the phone.

These are the kinds of opportunities companies miss when they don’t at least listen to what’s happening in the social space. But there are many more benefits to social listening beyond just customer service. A recent article I read outlined a few that GE Lifesciences experienced when they began using social listening tools to monitor their industry:

  • Understanding language and terminology prospects were using
  • Learning the topics their audience was most interested in and creating content based on this information
  • Creating keyword search repositories for SEO and website taxonomy

Not every building products company is ready for a full social media marketing plan. I get it. 68% of CMOs openly admit their companies aren’t ready to fully incorporate social media into their strategies. But just because you’re not ready to use social as a platform to market your products doesn’t give you a free pass when it comes to listening to what your audience is saying.

At its heart, the building products industry is still about people. And as generational dynamics shift (hint: they’re already shifting), you can bet that those people are going to be on social media. One day social media won’t be optional—start listening now so that when that day comes, your company is prepared to speak.

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I Want B2B Marketers to Talk Dirty

13 Aug

Why Now Is the Time for B2B E-Commerce

notebook with shopping items on online shopping concept

There’s a dirty word in the world of B2B marketing. A word that strikes fear in the hearts of B2B marketers and sales people everywhere. It’s a word many are afraid to say, but not me.

I’m talking about e-commerce. (See? Told you—not afraid.)

Many B2B companies—and marketers, for that matter—are hesitant about e-commerce. How will it impact my business? How do I implement it? Whose feathers will I ruffle in the process? What will be the repercussions if I spend money on an expensive system and it fails?

These are important questions, and yes, there are a lot of those complications to consider. But this article makes a compelling case for B2B e-commerce by talking about how a luxury sunglass maker deployed an e-commerce portal for their 2,000+ wholesale clients and saw sales increase by 35%.

And guess what? It’s not just sunglasses; it’s building products, too. I can go to BuildDirect.com and order a pallet of vinyl siding right now. On the industrial side, Grainger is closing in on about 40% online sales—and with Grainger, we’re talking billions of dollars. Whatever your industry, you can no longer say e-commerce has nothing to do with you.

As more and more Millennials move into B2B buyer roles in the next 5 years or so (and yes, there are many who already are in buyer roles—my business partner Renae wrote about that here) it will be important for B2B companies to have some sort of e-commerce system in place. The companies above are proof that there is not only customer demand for these systems, but lucrative and untapped sales opportunities to be had by adopting them.

And for B2B companies hesitant and worried about the complications surrounding a B2B e-commerce portal, perhaps now is the time to work out those kinks. Because this issue is not going away, and I predict it will very quickly change from “something to do tomorrow” to “something that should have been done yesterday.”

Granted, I’m not a fortune teller. I don’t read palms, tea leaves, or crystal balls. But this is less an act of looking through the fog to predict a far-away future than it is looking both ways before you cross the street—it’s not down the line; it’s right in front of us.

So say that “dirty word” and say it often. I promise no one will tell your mom.

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