The business to business (B2B) marketplace is being transformed by digital and mobile technologies. As part of a technological revolution, there is a fundamental change in the way B2B buyers consume content. They now have adequate knowledge about a product before its purchase or any interaction with salespeople.
The internet has empowered today’s buyers. Perhaps they do not have to depend on sales as a basic source of information at the beginning of their purchase journey. They expect a more seamless and transparent buying experience all the way through. The alignment of marketing and sales is more crucial than ever before. To achieve this alignment, you need to be able to overcome significant barriers in culture. You also need to transform completely the marketing and sales model.
Our close work with many B2B leaders, as well as the outcome of recent interviews we conducted with +300 CEOs of top Egyptian businesses, has shown the need for a complete transformation in the way B2B companies engage customers, their data and technology usage, and the acquisition of new skills. From our experience, businesses that are applying these new methods and techniques were able to achieve great results, including efficiencies in marketing that improved by 15-30 percent.
A digitally engaged B2B buyer has emerged. They are more adept in online research and transactions. The top B2C (business to consumer) leaders, which include Amazon, Uber and Netflix, have shaped the experiences and expectations of new buyers. When performing business-related transactions, they look forward to a similar online experience. Companies need to master the art of engaging their customers, or else they stand the chance of losing many great opportunities.
Marketing is a major player in a customer’s buying journey. Although marketing and sales integration may vary by company and their customer’s size. For a big enterprise account, we will continue to see the importance of a dedicated account team that specialises in sales. Digital marketing is vital in the starting stages of the purchase or buying journey. Content helps to generate awareness related to marketing. Products should be compelling and attractive. B2B organisations are finding it difficult to change the way they work, however.
Marketing is also becoming more content-driven, especially when generating awareness and driving consideration for buyers while they are doing their early research. The big problem for most companies is that marketing and sales operate in different silos, each function having its own organisation and processes, and most importantly goals and incentives.
It’s difficult for B2B organisations to change long-standing practices and ways of working. But the price of not changing is rising fast.
*The writer is head of the communications committee of the Egyptian Junior Businessmen Association.