During the past year, many organisations have accelerated their digital transformation efforts and the demand for various technology solutions has increased. However, the transition hasn't been smooth sailing for most B2B tech marketers. The B2B tech sales and marketing landscape has changed dramatically and companies that fail to adapt to these shifts risk lagging behind their competitors.
Key Challenges Faced By Today's B2B Tech Marketers
The fast-changing B2B purchasing process poses new challenges to marketers, making it more challenging to get in front of the right prospects with the right message.
Most B2B buyers research online before contacting potential vendors, especially now that remote working has become the norm. If you fail to identify prospects and get onto their radar before they create their shortlists, you could be missing out on many opportunities.
Many companies are delaying long-term strategic initiatives to focus on tactical projects through 2021. Buyers are seeking solutions that can deliver tangible outcomes in the next 90 days, and marketers are under increased pressure to identify demands more accurately.
B2B purchasing processes have become increasingly complex, often involving buying committees of 6 to 10 decision-makers. To accelerate the sales cycle, you need to effectively navigate buying group dynamics by having the latest information about the target account.
Purchasing decisions are increasingly influenced by buying group members whose titles don't reflect their decision-making responsibilities. For instance, stakeholders from risk/security/compliance, finance/accounting/procurement, customer service, etc., are involved in tech purchasing decisions. The traditional approach to buyer persona at best is ineffective and at worst, hinders your ability to reach the right audience.
B2B buyers appreciate vendors that help them manage their purchasing processes by providing relevant and useful information. You need access to accurate customer data to anticipate a prospect's needs and deliver the right content at the right time.
The shift to remote selling eliminates most opportunities for sales reps to build rapport with prospects in-person. As such, there's an increased reliance on marketers to foster relationships with potential buyers via various online channels before sales teams get involved.
Most companies are limiting their marketing spend. B2B tech marketers are under pressure to achieve more results without an increase in their budgets. As such, you need to allocate your resources in a more informed and efficient way.
How To Effectively Navigate the Changing B2B Tech Marketing Landscape
B2B tech marketers need to make quick adjustments to adapt to the fast-changing business environment and customer expectations. Here's what you can do to increase marketing ROI and support sales teams more effectively:
Revisit Buyer Personas
A buyer persona should encompass a prospect's needs throughout the entire buyer journey, anticipate the interactions among stakeholders in a buying group, and address the context in which sales conversations occur.
Besides the "people persona" of individual buyers, you should also create "account personas" that describe the companies you're selling to (e.g., their verticals, company size, and priorities.) This will provide the context you need to effectively identify and engage the right decision-makers at the right time with the right message.
Uncover Immediate Demand
In the past, many B2B tech marketers had more runway to create demand for their solutions. Today, you need to change your approach as more companies make decisions based on their 90-120 days needs and seek solutions that can immediately deliver tangible results.
You should identify buyers who are already in the market and find out what they need. For example, you can leverage intent data to identify prospects searching for a specific topic online. You can then deliver highly-targeted ads, reach out to the right contacts, and position your offerings most appropriately to increase response rates.
Capture Online Search Traffic
As B2B buyers are doing most of their research online, you need to get in front of high-quality prospects early in the decision-making process so you can build trust, nurture relationships, and deliver relevant information over time.
You can publish high-quality content to improve your website's SEO ranking and use online advertising platforms (e.g., LinkedIn, Google Ads) to drive traffic by delivering highly-targeted messages to specific audiences. Then, set up effective lead capture mechanisms on your website and follow up with a lead nurturing strategy to progress prospects down your funnel.
Prioritise Targeting and Resources
Online market channels are enabling marketers to capture more leads but not all of them are ready to convert. You need to identify the highest-quality prospects so you can best allocate the resources you have at your disposal to facilitate the buyer's journey.
You can analyse your website traffic, internal customer information, and external intent data to find out who your best customers are and what pain points are driving them to seek out your solution. Then, use the insights to update your buyer personas and focus your resources on accounts with the highest potential.
Implement ABM and Personalisation
Account-based marketing (ABM) is highly effective for supporting B2B sales. When complemented by marketing personalisation strategies, ABM helps you deliver the right content to the right people at the right time to increase conversion rates.
You can further support ABM with information from a variety of sources to refine targeting and navigate buying group dynamics. For example, use first-party information from your customer database, second-party intent data from review sites and publishing networks, as well as third-party "big data" from IP lookup, ad networks, etc. to inform your outreach tactics.
Align Sales and Marketing Activities
A key to ABM success is sales and marketing alignment, which can help ensure that you're delivering a seamless customer experience to build trust and accelerate the pipeline. However, complex buying group dynamics often results in a non-linear sales cycle. As such, sales and marketing activities should happen in parallel instead of in a serial manner.
To make sure sales and marketing teams are rowing in the same direction, establish shared metrics and measure joint key performance indicators (KPIs.) This will help create synergy among the teams and encourage collaboration while delivering a cohesive customer experience.
Support Sales with Marketing Content
With remote selling becoming the norm, buyers are consuming more information digitally before speaking with a sales rep. Marketing content has taken on an important role in progressing prospects down the sales funnel and supporting sales teams to deliver a cohesive purchasing experience.
You should implement a shared content library to which the marketing team can upload content and templates. Sales reps can then draw from these resources to support their outreach efforts. This will not only improve efficiency but also ensure that salespeople are delivering the appropriate content to each prospect.
Implement Common Technology Platform
Marketing and sales teams should be using the same platforms, such as customer data management (CDM) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems to effectively share information in real-time so they can deliver a coherent customer experience.
Many CRM platforms also offer lead scoring features, which allows marketing to pass high-quality leads to sales at the right time to increase conversion rates. Such collaboration will help the teams operate more efficiently and ensure that they're focusing resources on prospects who are most ready to make a purchase.
Enhance Remote Customer Interactions
B2B tech buyers often need extensive support and product information to make their purchasing decisions. Marketers can help facilitate the buyer's journey by incorporating online product demos, as well as omnichannel pre- and post-sell support into the appropriate customer lifecycle stages.
You can also use marketing automation technologies to deliver the right information at the right time to your prospects. For example, you can set up an automated email series triggered by each recipient's interaction with your previous content. Prospects' response to the information can then be recorded in your CRM system to inform future conversations.
Invest in Customer Retention
Customer loyalty helps B2B tech providers increase profitability, especially if you offer managed services or SaaS products. Not to mention, it costs less to retain a customer than to acquire a new one — as such, an effective customer retention strategy can increase the ROI of your marketing budget.
Therefore, a marketer's job isn't done after a prospect has converted into a customer. For example, you can nurture customer relationships by offering exclusive content, show customers how to apply the latest industry best practices with your software, and provide top-notch post-sale support to make sure that customers are getting the most from your products.
While navigating the rapid changes in B2B tech marketing can be daunting, the challenges can also open up new opportunities for marketers who are willing to adopt new approaches and technologies.
From using the latest data analytics technologies to enriching digital interactions through multi-media content, B2B tech marketers can now deliver highly-targeted information at the right time and to the right audience to facilitate the customer journey and increase their ROI.