It is a Long and Winding Road: Closing the B2B Customer

In a typical B2B environment, the sales process is anything but quick and easy, compared to that of a consumer-focused organization. B2B sales teams are challenged with long buying cycles, complex organizational dynamics, multiple stakeholders, and professional procurement staffs with lofty discount demands. Those organizations who have mastered people-based marketing in the B2C world have created expectations that are difficult for B2B marketers to meet. Difficult, but achievable – and certainly worth it.

B2B organizations are expected to provide personalization, consistency across channels, and automated buying options that emulate those of consumer-focused approaches. Oh yes, and in many cases we also need to assemble complex orders and factor in flexible fulfillment options with timely delivery, customer-centric order management, and multiple distribution partners!

To make the B2B sales cycle even tougher, we must achieve all of this after roughly 70% of the buying cycle is complete. That is how close B2B shoppers are to making a decision before they even talk with a member of your sales staff.

It is not just a Long and Winding Road; it is more like Helter Skelter!

It is becoming clear that successful businesses and market leaders are not focusing on the mastery of a marketing channel, but rather on the delight of a customer. Customer experience is the number one investment priority for high-growth companies. So, how do companies delight their customers? Certainly one piece of the puzzle is with a seamless experience.

While a consistent experience is key to winning today’s tech savvy customers, for many companies, it is still out of reach. According to Accenture research entitled CMOs: Time for digital transformation, one in four CMOs cite a lack of critical technology or tools as the chief barrier to digital integration. Marketers know a plethora of digital technologies exist. Their challenge, however, is to rally around the right ones for their business.  

The same research shows that despite 77% of marketers saying it is essential or very important to deliver an effective customer experience for their company, only 62% think they’re doing a good job. While the customer experience is the No.1 recipient of investments among high-growth companies (at 69%), only one-third of high-growth companies report their online and offline analytic capabilities are completely integrated across all functions.

The best way to create competitive advantage in a complex and fast-moving environment is through a people-based marketing strategy, which focuses on communicating with people, rather than proxies. A people-based strategy enables marketers to provide the level of experience demanded from a B2C transaction with the nurturing engagement required by today’s B2B buyers. People-based marketing is achieved by focusing on three imperatives: enablement, activation and transformation.

Enablement

Leveraging the technology, data infrastructure, analytical approach, and integrated workflows needed to manage interactions and enable the customer experience.

Activation

Using data and insights to understand audiences, develop creative, and conduct media planning to deliver personalized, optimized experiences to each customer that encourage them to take action.

Transformation

Orchestrating a complex set of ecosystems, workflows, roadmaps, and corporate culture across the enterprise to bring people-based marketing to life.

A clear focus on these imperatives results in a data-driven organizational design and digital ecosystems built to delight your customers.

It is a long and winding road, to be sure. Why not rise to the demands of the B2B consumer by constructing an enterprise-wide ecosystem to create multi-channel personalized experiences? These investments support continuous relationships that span sales, services, retention, and loyalty, so, as B2B marketers, we never have to say “You Never Give Me Your Money!”


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