It isn’t easy being a B2B marketer. From the outside, it might appear as if you’ve a wealth of tactics at your disposal to grow awareness, conversion, market share (white papers, Webinars, blogs, social media, videos). It’s true that there are many levers to pull, but, before you start crafting witty prose or record viral-ready video, there are a few fundamental questions you must entertain. Make these questions top of mind and your stock will rise.
1. Who is my market?: Seems logical, right? But you’d be surprised at the number of companies that go on for years without a clear sense of the ‘target’. Targeting everyone in your database with an e-mail blast isn’t a strategy. Analyzing the characteristics of your best customers, however, is worth the time. Take your closed wins and losses from the past year and look for common themes or threads.
If that doesn’t work, or becomes too cumbersome, time-consuming, complex, consider working with a vendor that helps you understand the power of your past to steer your future. There are some slick and effective solutions available now that will better help you pinpoint whom you should be targeting for new business. Gartner recently released a comprehensive guide to the who’s who in the emerging market of predictive analytics for Marketing and Sales.
Understanding your market requires you to be bold. Pick up the phone, call a customer, thank them for their business, and ask them how business going. Listen intently to their response. As much as you want to ‘sell’ your latest and greatest to solve their problem, you are better suited just to listen, take notes and recap back to the customer what he or she just shared. It’s in these exchanges and responses that you’ll find valuable and profitable unmet needs.
Most likely, you’ve a few target customers in your city. It’s a common truth that the best answers to your business’ future lies not within your company’s four walls, but in the hearts and minds of your customers. Know their world intimately and you can start to piece together what your product or service can and should be doing next year, the following year, and beyond.
We say it’s important to interact with our customers, yet we don’t do it nearly enough. Start today – cancel that ‘valueless’ meeting that just takes space on your calendar and take a local customer out to lunch. Your sole agenda: ask how business is going and listen.
2. Are you united with sales?: The best B2B marketers have trusted, valued relationships with their company’s key, strategic salespeople.
The average, underperforming B2B marketers mindlessly create sales tools (one sheeters, collateral, competitive comparisons) that rarely get a look.
Believe me: We’ve all worked with some very challenging salespeople. They didn’t respect marketing and certainly weren’t going to spend time reviewing, reading and leveraging something that wasn’t going to help close deals.
Let’s look at this from the salesperson’s perspective. If I have a number to hit, and the pressure is on to do it, I will find the quickest, easiest path to get there — with or without your golden, cherished marketing asset.
If you engage with sales and ‘team’ with them on bringing on the ‘right’ clients, they will see you as an ally. Your best route: get your favorite and most talented reps out of the office (your treat!) for a coffee, beer, lunch and ask them how it’s going. Why are they winning deals? Losing deals? Are there things about a buyer segment that they’d like to know but don’t? They are on the front lines. Don’t let this advantage slip away.
Salespeople don’t want ‘another’ piece of collateral. They want to know they can be seen as a trusted, valuable resource for prospects and customers. What can you do to help position sales as an advocate that doesn’t just sell, but helps customers and prospects answer the questions that keep them up at night?
This isn’t rocket science, yet sometimes the simplest of things are the most difficult to resonate. Keeping these 2 questions in mind every day as a marketer should make your job easier. You’ll have your finger on the pulse of the market and you’ll build a bridge to a sales team that’s more than willing to have you in their corner. Marketers: here’s to a great 2015.
Until next time,