B2B customers are changing.
They no longer want to speak to your sales reps and are instead conducting most of their research online.
This is true for 67% of B2B buyers.
Now, does this mean B2B sales teams are no longer relevant? And that you should focus more on B2B marketing? Not at all. The B2B companies that are excelling are successfully aligning their B2B sales and marketing funnel.
Together, you can drive more leads and convert them.
Let’s discuss how you can do this for your business.
What is B2B Sales & B2B Marketing?
What’s the difference between B2B sales and B2B marketing? Both teams have the same end goal — to drive revenue. But they go about it in different ways.
For example, in B2B marketing, the team focuses on the overall picture. They want to drive as many leads as possible using a range of tactics. This includes content marketing, paid ads, social media, and video marketing (to name a few).
B2B marketers are thinking about stakeholders across all levels of an organization. So they must create collateral that resonates with higher-ups, not just the end-user. That’s because the stakeholders are the decision-makers. If you can convince them, it’ll be easier to get your product in the end-user’s hands.
B2B sales, on the other hand, focuses on one product and person at a time. They get on a call, email, or webcam to discuss the individual’s needs and suggest the best solution.
The leads salespeople get stem from marketing campaigns. So the two have to work in tandem to ensure the right type of leads is coming in (for easier closing).
How Are B2B Sales/Marketing Different from B2C Sales/Marketing?
Can you rely on the same sales tactics for B2B customers that are used for B2C consumers? Not quite.
B2B sales differ from B2C sales in several ways:
- The relationship between B2B companies and customers are continually developing (vs. many B2C customers being one-time patrons)
- B2B customers tend to be long-term (especially in SaaS)
- The sales cycle is much longer (there are more decision-makers involved in business-to-business sales and the products are more complex)
When it comes to B2B marketing vs. B2C marketing, you’ll find the following differences:
- B2B marketers tend to have a niche market (B2C has a large scale market)
- B2B buyers are rationally driven, not emotionally driven
- B2B marketers are more focused on lead generation, B2C focuses on brand awareness
- B2B marketers look to build personal relationships, while B2C cares more for transactional relationships
- The Decision-making process relies more on open communication for B2B customers, while B2C marketers look to simplify the buying process
What Does the B2B Sales Process Look Like?
There are eight key areas of the B2B sales process:
- Lead generation (finding sales qualified leads)
- Discovery (understanding the product and how it can help the prospect’s business)
- Qualification (ask the right questions to see if your product is a good match for the customer)
- Pitch (use the customers’ pain points to pitch the product as a solution)
- Objection handling (overcome common objections by repositioning your offer)
- Closing (the most exciting part of the B2B sales funnel)
- Follow up (If no closing, be sure to follow up to see where the customer is in the decision-making process)
- Check in (ensuring new customers are satisfied or have feedback to offer)
How to Build a B2B Sales Team
Building a successful B2B sales team is about more than people. It requires creating a collaborative sales culture that promotes productivity and customer satisfaction.
You want your salespeople to work as a team to achieve company goals vs. working in silos. Then when it comes time to fill positions for your team, you should focus on key functions like:
- Sales Development (SDRs) to drive leads through the pipeline
- Team leads to guide and encourage your salespeople to strive forward
- Account executives/sales reps to communicate directly with customers and close deals
- Customer success specialists to ensure new clients are properly onboarded and supported
Just be sure you’re hiring the right people — offer trial periods to see who should stay and who should go. And implement the best sales tools to help drive leads and close deals. Also, be sure to diversify your team so you have people who can relate to different types of customers.
How to Create a B2B Sales Funnel
The B2B sales funnel consists of five key stages:
Understanding how customers engage at each stage of the funnel is critical. This will help you to decide the best strategies to drive leads to the next step.
It’s also ideal to see where customers are falling off to determine the area that needs the most work. Maybe you’re doing great with building awareness but aren’t nailing leads at the consideration or preference stage.
In this case, you may need to improve the content you’re producing and promoting so it better resonates (and answers questions) of your audience. Blog posts, lead magnets, and online quizzes can help your sales prospecting strategy.
The key components of a B2B sales funnel include:
- Lead generation (finding the best way to attract ideal customers)
- Lead nurturing and qualification (educate leads until they show intent that they’re ready for engagement)
- The first meeting (discovery call, formal product demo, direct sales pitch, or a combo)
- Closing the deal (understand pain points, challenges, and objections and counter them with solutions)
- Retention and referrals (offer great customer support to boost retention rates)
No two sales funnels will look the same, so you’ll need to experiment to see what works for your business.
Want to learn more about creating campaigns for marketing, sales, and CX? Download our strategic guide here!
How & Why Should B2B Sales and Marketing Teams Align?
As a B2B company, you want to continue growing your business and revenue. This requires generating more leads and sales. But to improve the odds of success, you need to align your B2B sales and marketing teams.
With the two departments working together, you can ensure your marketers better understand the customer (using salespeople’s customer-facing knowledge). And that your sales team has access to the materials they need to give leads and close more deals (guides, case studies, etc.).
Once aligned, your B2B marketers will understand:
- The best leads to market to
- Which leads to nurture
- The best way to segment
- Which leads to move on to sales
- The best leads to convert to opportunities and customers
- Which content and sources perfect the best
And your B2B sales team will understand:
- The best leads to follow up with
- The detailed history of every lead
- That cold leads will be nurtured first
But does it work?
One company was able to boost its new revenue by 34% using marketing and sales alignment.
What Are Some Strategies to Align Sales & Marketing Teams?
There are many benefits to aligning your sales and marketing teams. But you need the right strategies to ensure a streamlined approach.
Here are several ways you can do that:
- Create a single customer journey that’s shared by both teams
- Build an ideal customer profile for marketing and sales to follow
- Take a marketing-first approach to warm up leads before salespeople engage, but use sales as consultants to marketers
- Measure and track the same KPIs
- Get feedback from customers and share with both teams
- Ensure marketing messaging is consistent with sales messaging
- Develop marketing collateral to help salespeople close deals (sales enablement)
- Integrate marketing and sales systems and processes
What Are Some Strategies B2B Teams Should Implement?
Which B2B strategies are worth taking with you into 2021 (and beyond)? Let’s take a look at several that are expected to reign in great results.
But before you can start building B2B strategies, you need to learn how to conduct b2b market research.
This consists of:
- Competition research (study your top three competitors)
- Qualitative interviews (talk to experts in your industry)
With the information you gather, you can begin looking for techniques to stand apart from your competitors (and appeal to your target audience).
Here are some strategies for your B2B teams to adopt:
- Use marketing automation and Martech tools
- Add more visual elements to your content
- Continue (or start) growing your social media presence
- Use big data and AI for high-quality marketing and sales insights
- Create more relevant content for your audience
- Take an omnichannel approach to your marketing and sales
- Develop content for every stage of the customer journey
- Build long-lasting relationships with your customers
- Build partnerships between marketing and sales
- Implement account-based marketing for personalized content
- Use conversational marketing (and employee marketing)
Best Practices for Lead Generation
Lead generation is the natural process of moving prospects down the funnel toward a potential sale or signup.
So if you’re looking to drive more qualified leads to your B2B business, then you’ll want to keep the following best practices in mind:
- Use lead magnets aimed at specific businesses
- Segment your email list for personalization
- Build email list building campaigns (popups work great on blog posts, and landing pages)
- Retarget hesitant buyers
- Use exit-intent popups to capture visitors before they leave
- A/B split test all of your campaigns
- Create powerful calls to action on your website, blog, and any other collateral you develop
- Use content marketing to drive inbound leads
- Try FOMO (fear of missing out) deals to boost your conversion rates
- Use social media marketing to connect with your audience and share valuable content
How to Create a B2B Marketing Plan/Strategy
You don’t want to go into 2021 using irrelevant hacks and tactics. Nor do you want to implement gimmicks that can hurt your reputation.
What you need is a strategy (which implements key tactics) that drives your business towards S.M.A.R.T. goals. These are goals that are:
- Specific (simple and to the point)
- Measurable (so you know if it’s working)
- Achievable (not outlandish)
- Relevant (resonates with your business and market)
- Time bound (so you know when to achieve the goal by)
Once you have your goals, you’ll need to determine the types of tactics you want to include in your strategy. For example, if you’re looking to increase your revenue by 7% by the end of the year, then you have two options–generate more leads, and retain and upsell to more customers. Or you can even do both. With your goals in place, you can start putting together which methods to use, such as: paid search ads (ideal for generating new leads), email marketing (for nurturing leads and accounts), social media ads (to target specific groups), content marketing (to drive top-of-the-funnel leads), and collecting customer testimonials (to convert more middle/bottom-of-the-funnel leads).
With your market research completed and customer profiles developed, you can zone in on techniques that best cater to your audience. Aim to 10x your efforts (and content) so you’re out doing whatever your competitors are doing.
How Can Sendoso Be Incorporated into B2B Sales/Marketing Plans
The purpose of any B2B marketing and sales plan is to drive more leads and convert them into customers. Sendoso is a platform that helps B2B companies achieve this using corporate gifting solutions.
Let’s say you’re looking to engage new leads. Sending a gift will make your brand stand apart and show you’re committed to making them happy.
This same practice can also be used if you’re looking to retain customers. For example, if a client’s membership is about to expire, you can send a gift as a reminder (and nudge) to renew their plan.
Sendoso can be used in several B2B strategies, including:
- Improving the customer experience
- Demand generation
- Account-based marketing
- Sales development and sales
- Field marketing
We have a warehouse full of unique gifts you can send to prospects and customers. Plus, our platform acts as an extension of your marketing and sales tools. It enables you to track your corporate gifting campaigns and see analytics reports to see how well they’re performing.
Learn more about Sendoso and how it can help your business reach its marketing and sales goals.