A More Strategic Approach to B2B Sales
How Inbound Marketing, Outbound Marketing, AI, Big Data, Automation Are Changing the Way B2B Sellers Are Closing Deals
It wasn’t that long ago that sending brochures through the mail, knocking on doors, attending trade shows, and cold calling was the stock and trade for B2B sellers. While these things may still work, digital marketing, marketing automation, and data mining have changed the landscape. Using these tools and strategies are the key to closing deals in 2020.
We all know that the essence of effective marketing is to reach the right customer at the right time with the right message. That’s still the case, but the delivery mechanisms have changed.
Customers are often bypassing traditional marketing channels.
B2B buyers are doing increasing amounts of research online before ever connecting with a salesperson or rep. They’re doing their research online and whittling down vendor lists before sellers get a chance to sell!
If B2B suppliers are not showing up when B2B buyers are searching for information, they run the risk of getting bypassed in the sales cycle.
It’s changed the way marketers think about reaching customers. 41% of marketing budgets are now being spent on developing content for inbound marketing purposes. 55% of marketers surveyed said keeping their blogs filled with relevant content was their top inbound marketing priority.
Inbound marketing can catch prospects at each stage of the buying journey from Awareness to Consideration to Decision with relevant information. This increases the odds customers will engage with B2B sellers.
Inbound marketing catches people when they’re searching for you. It includes tactics such as blogs, social media, content marketing, thought leadership, and helpful advice.
There’s still a place for branding. If B2B buyers know who you are and what you do, your inbound marketing has a better chance to succeed. It’s not unlike the old days of the yellow pages. When you went to find a plumber, for example, you opened the book and looked down the list. The likelihood you’d pick someone to call that you’d never heard of before was small. It was a risk. You likely called a brand name you knew. Outbound marketing helps with this branding.
Outbound marketing generates brand awareness, encourages interest, and is effective for making specific offers. It includes tactics such as traditional advertising, trade shows, seminars, email blasts, direct mail, and cold calling.
Using data mining, targeting, and automation, outbound marketing can be highly effective – especially when personalisation at scale is deployed.
The term “Big Data” has been around for more than two decades now. It used to conjure up visions of mega-computers and teams of research scientists. Now, it’s the essential building block for successful B2B marketing campaigns.
Big Data allows B2B sellers to understand their customers better and zero in on strategies to engage and convert.
Not only can it help marketers to know which message is likely to resonate with which buyers, but it can also uncover the best way to engage customers and optimise offers. Deeper insights into what leads to conversions, retention, and creates loyalty can be used to focus marketing efforts.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence can take Big Data and find trends and patterns that humans may not be able to see. AI is creating connections that can be used to target individual B2B buyers, personalise content, and optimise marketing.
AI is also being used to reduce remedial tasks. This frees up B2B sellers’ time previously spent on routine tasks. For example, Chatbots can work as 24/7 sales teams and answer routine questions. AI-fueled Chatbots can not only engage with potential customers and answer queries, but it can also drive conversations to uncover buying signals and deliver qualified leads.
B2B sellers are also taking advantage of AI to create more customised Configure-Price-Quote (CPQ) deliverables.
The use of AI in B2B marketing has reached mass adoption. Gartner reports the implementation of AI has grown 270% in the past four years. A third of B2B marketers surveyed say it’s revolutionising their marketing and sales efforts.
Machine Learning (ML) means AI tools get smarter – and more effective – as more data is ingested.
Marketing automation is the engine that drives and nurtures leads throughout the buying journey. Using action-based triggers, it can deliver customised and personalised marketing messages to potential customers that increase conversion rates.
When AI recognises the warning signs that proceed customer churn, marketing automation can deliver materials designed specifically to prevent churn, such as discounted renewal offers.
Automation underpins both inbound marketing and outbound marketing. It can optimise advertising campaigns, content delivery, social media, and scheduling. It’s especially effective at referral marketing campaigns. Referral programs have a lower cost-per-lead and higher quality leads than other channels.
Working in Concert
AI uses Big Data to uncover deep insights. Marketing automation takes these insights and delivers effective inbound and outbound marketing.
All of these strategies work in concert in today’s competitive B2B marketplace.