John Ellett , CONTRIBUTOR
“Engage the customer the way they want to buy not the way you want to sell”
Last week, B2B marketers from around the world gathered to share insights on the evolving practice of business-to-business marketing. Under the banner of “Putting Customer Obsession To Work For B2B Marketing And Sales”, analysts from Forrester, executives from martech companies and leaders from B2B marketers discussed innovative approaches for putting the customer at the center of B2B marketing efforts. Here are six tidbits of advice garnered from the event.
“Don’t try to change everything” - Laura Ramos, Forrester VP and principal analyst, acknowledged that the mindset shift from ‘inside out thinking’ to putting customers at the center of marketing is not easy. She recommended starting by focusing first on existing customers who have a high lifetime value and then turning them into brand advocates. By cultivate strong customer communities, reinforcing customer knowledge and being empathetic to their feelings, you can build trust which will lead to loyalty and lifetime value.
“Behavior trumps profiles” - Amanda Kahlow, founder and chief strategist at 6sense, shared how predictive analytics can help B2B marketers identify in-market buyers and help you target the right person and account at the right time with the right message. By using data from a myriad of first and third party sources that reflects the behavior of people and marrying that with profile information, marketers can progress beyond targeting accounts and individuals based on basic look-alike modeling to more effective targeting based on predictive intelligence. Marketers who are then empathetic to the needs of buyers can expect to see significant improvements in their demand generation efforts.
“Gating content kills relationship building” - Forrester principal analyst Steve Casey cited the firm’s research that 68% of B2B buyers prefer to gather information on their own. He added that 81% of Millennials and Gen Xers, increasingly important audiences to B2B marketers, decide not to download content because they didn’t want to fill out a form. He encouraged marketers to create conversation-qualified leads by retargeting anonymous visitors to promote the next episode of the content portfolio and eventually offer even more relevant content in exchange for name and email only. You can get most of the additional information you want from data appending services or by progressively profiling the buyer.
“Engage the customer the way they want to buy not the way you want to sell” - Phil Horn, SVP of Sales and Service for the Sacramento Kings has helped keep the NBA team’s arena full with business and family ticket holders by adopting digital platforms that help his sellers engage with buyers in more personalized ways. By prioritizing social media engagement, filming personalized videos and drafting emails using AI-technology, the Kings have topped the league in new ticket sales twice, even without having a championship record.
“Make deposits before asking for withdraws.” - Social selling expert Jill Rowley highlighted how ludicrous the behavior of most sales people is who reach out asking for “ten minutes of your time to learn about your needs.” Time is a precious commodity and the right to ask for it should be earned by adding value in advance of an ask. With a little research, a salesperson can anticipate issues that may be relevant to a buyer and then share content that is valued and appreciated. Marketers should equip sellers with a repository of content, both curated and created, that meets that threshold.
“Marketing performance measures shouldn’t be about who gets credit” - During a panel led by Allison Snow from Forrester, the topic of KPIs and measuring marketing contribution to pipeline was discussed. Panelist Guarav Chand from Dell, Jim Blackie from ON24 and John Bell from Travelers agreed that measurements should be used to optimize the demand generation system and to tie marketing and sales teams to common objectives. Fighting over who gets credit between the two functions diminishes collaboration and ultimately hurts business performance. CMOs and CROs should co-present to their leadership from a common set of data and not bring their own facts to justify their positions.
John Ellett is CEO of the CMO Accelerator at nFusion, and author of The CMO Manifesto: A 100-Day Action Plan for Marketing Change Agents.
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