On Linkedin recently, I read a photgraphed slide that stated ‘It’s no longer about B2C or B2B, its about H2H = Human to Human!’ I could not agree more with this statement. It converges the once estranged Consumer and B2B Marketing techniques, by focusing on what the individual person requires in order to make the right investment decisions when individuals are using devices, communications and cloud services, and evolves the narrative to keep pace with world of social media / ubiquity of information sources.
In this context a company wishing to sell a solution to an organisation must contend with three related dynamics.
1. Marketing must understand where Decision-Makers and Influencers seek information, which will be used to help inform their own decisions during the Purchase Process?
2. How does the Sales Account Manager have the requisite skills (and confidence) to understand the personal priorities of Decision-Makers / Influencers in the target organisation?
3. How are these important aspects of the purchase decision experience threaded together in order to optimise the chance of a successful selection and perhaps selection as a strategic partner?
In the book ‘The Challenger Sale’ by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson, a survey of 5,000 people involved in procurement decisions established that 53% of Customer Loyalty was driven by the Purchase Experience – covering the one on one engagement through to the cross-functional contact.
This means that access to information, and supporting the individual to understand its impact on the business will be vital in order to provide a competitive advantage. An integrated approach such as this is no mean task, due to the heightened challenge of 1, 2 and 3 above!
What do the Sales and Marketing teams need to do?
1. Inbound Marketing (including SEO, Content-Marketing, Social Media) must be acurately planned based on regular insight analysis, based on primary and secondary research, on how information is being sought and consumed in order to best brief the Decision-Maker / Influencer team. The aim here is to use the right blend of publications, communications and media to ensure the optimum consumption of your information. A useful article is available at:
2. Sales Account Managers must be trained in order for them to be confident at being ‘Business Managers’ based on detailed knowledge of the commercial objectives, measurements and personal priorities of the matrix of Decision-Makers and Influencers across the target business. With this role they can make proactive proposals or respond to RFPs in order to position solutions that will help the business achieve such objectives, measures and other priorities. ‘The Challenger Salesperson’ is adept at such a holistic business management approach.
3. This is the hard part, which is ensuring that a mutual focus on the customer exists across the Marketing and Sales spectrum. This is achieved through shared objectives / defined accountability, a robust planning, pipeline management and training regime, and constant review and measurement to ensure the customer-focus remains and grows over time.
A more sophisticated, integrated, customer-led approach will deliver business results. Leadership and collaboration between Sales and Marketing has never been more important!
The Challenger Sale – How to take control of the Customer Conversation, Matthew Dixon & Brent Adamson
Andrew Ford, February 2014