Making Technology Work for B2B

B2B markets feature complex sales with a considered purchase and multiple influencers, and unfortunately technology meant to support sales and marketing often fails to deliver the hoped-for benefits.  Bob Apollo, CEO, Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, spoke at the recent Econsultancy B2B event FUNNEL, and opened with several examples where technology had gone wrong:  

  • “Customer Relationship Management” solutions that are really no more than Sales Force Administration systems
  • “Marketing Automation” systems that are used to spew out more unwanted emails than ever before
  • Over-Complex Scoring systems that do nothing to increase sales confidence in the leads generated by marketing
  • Measuring the success of marketing on the volume of leads generated rather than value of business created

Traditional approaches to aligning sales and marketing are often internally focused, and Apollo’s perspective is that the emphasis should be on the customer and their buying journey.   Companies must identify with customers, understand how they make their buying decisions, eliminate obstacles, and facilitate the buying decision. 

 When it comes to identifying your “idea customers”, traditional demographic factors like size, sector, location have some value, however non-demographic factors are often more important, such as:  

  • What systems do they already have in place?
  • What relationships have they already established?
  • How are they organised? Where does the power lie?
  • Are they innovators or late adopters?
  • What is their position in their markets?
  • What are their key goals, drivers and initiatives?
  • What’s happening to them or to their markets?
  • How do they make buying decisions?
  • Which stakeholders are leading the process?

Key stakeholders in your team will need to contribute to build the customer profile including sales and customers, but also operational, technology, commercial and management, which will allow you to establish common patterns and identify the ‘trigger events’ which can make the sale 4-5 times more likely. 

It’s the buyers journey that matters, rather than sales and marketing process, so progress should be measured by what customers do rather than what sales (or marketing) people do.

2013 - Bob Apollo - Inflexion Point image

Following a more customer centric process will lead to a smaller, but stronger and better-qualified sales pipeline, resulting in a shortened sales cycle and better ROI.  By identifying with your customer, mapping out the key stages in the buyer’s journey, and connecting every piece of content with key steps in the decision process your sales team will have a greater influence on the sale, and ultimately close more deals.