B2B Marketing

To Your B2B Marketing Success!
Join us for actionable business-to-business insight that will help you get B2B sales and marketing results. You will find many valuable ideas here across a broad spectrum of B2B marketing topics and issues.

How to Get Invited to the B2B Sales Dance

Why Market Awareness Often Trumps Sales Skills

Invited to Sales DanceMy friend and client, Richard Hoffmann, just published a really great white paper on behalf of his company, Trade Only Design Library (www.TODL.com). The purpose of the paper was to tell manufacturers how to grow their market awareness among the architecture and professional design community. I was intrigued by the first two paragraphs of the paper:

Have you ever heard your VP of Sales say something to the effect of, “When we get invited to the dance, we can beat our competitors, but too often, we just don’t get invited because our prospects don’t know who we are”?

It can be frustrating when other manufacturers get the business not because they have better products, but because they were only better in another respect: name recognition. The marketplace leaders get invited because potential prospects know who they are, but they did not know your company, let alone the quality or suitability of your products. Even if your sales force is just as talented, you can only win if you have the opportunity to compete. So the first order of business when it comes to building a strong sales channel is to create enough market awareness to get your products onto the consideration list – to get invited to the dance!

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For B2B Companies, Selling Better is Not the Answer

Sales Growth on a blackboard with Thumbs UpWhen challenged, we humans have a tendency to resort to the known and familiar path (not taking “the road less traveled”).  And in the B2B arena, this can often mean figuring out a way to sell faster, harder, more aggressively, etc. This can mean upgrading sales skills, hiring more sales people, changing comp plans or finding a new system to move prospects through the sales funnel.

I understand this — my first job in the computer software industry was with a company that was then a startup, but became an industry leader that was later sold for about half a billion dollars. Our software ran on mainframe systems and there was no email, social media or smartphones to conduct promotions. In fact, the PC was just appearing, and this little company called AOL was introducing us (at a snail’s pace of 300 baud) to the joys of being online – with virtually no commerce involved. Many, if not most, readers will have no idea of what I am talking about in the last two sentences, but that’s okay. The point is, if you spend a lot of your career in a sales model that depends heavily on direct sales reps to find, educate, engage and close prospects, that’s how you will tend to approach the future quest for revenue.

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Digital Disruption and Disintermediation – Key Drivers for B2B Companies

Digital DisruptionOne of our super-smart clients sent me a really interesting article titled The Battle is for the Customer Interface. The article talks about how the customer interface (usually web-based) is where the action and the big profits are.  To quote from the article: “The new breed of companies are the fastest-growing in history. Uber, Instacart, Alibaba, Airbnb, Seamless, Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, Google: These companies are indescribably thin layers that sit on top of vast supply systems (where the costs are) and interface with a huge number of people (where the money is).”

So what does this trend have to do with “disintermediation” and “disruption,” and why should you care?

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How Do Potential B2B Buyers Find You?

B2B BuyerThere are hundreds of articles, blogs and papers on the subject of finding B2B prospects.  The conversation goes something like this: “Let’s find out where our prospects hang out and sell them something.” This is the essence of push marketing. On the other hand, we practitioners of pull marketing (or inbound marketing, if you prefer) know that it is almost always better to be the one found than the one doing the finding.  (I’ve written a bunch of blog posts about pull marketing – you can see one example here.)

There are all kinds of ways for B2B buyers to find you, including:

  1. Walking past your trade show booth.
  2. Doing a Google web search for a particular category of product.
  3. Seeing your banner or sponsored ad at a website.
  4. Running across your company on a social media platform.
  5. Learning about you from a friend or colleague.
  6. Reading reviews from online rating sites.
  7. Seeing your ad in an online magazine or content syndication site.
  8. Receiving a requested (opt-in) or non-requested email.
  9. Hearing or seeing your ad on a broadcast medium (e.g. radio).
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Why Pattern Recognition is so Important in B2B Marketing

B2B Marketing Pattern RecognitionYou might think that pattern recognition is an unusual subject for a B2B marketing guy to be discussing in his blog post. But stay with me and you will see that I have a very important point to make.

In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. This is a statistic that is often quoted to show that true expertise usually doesn’t come cheaply. But that being said, there is wide variation in how long it takes individuals to master their craft, assuming that they ever do indeed achieve mastery.

For example, compare two individuals. The first person attends a prestigious culinary institute, followed by apprenticeship at a five-star restaurant. His or her goal is to learn from the best and get to the top of the profession as soon as possible. By contrast, individual two attended a couple of cooking classes at community college and went to work at a diner where he or she has been a short-order cook for the past several years. Both individuals have invested the same amount of time but the outcomes and skill levels are very different.

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Can You Really Use Marketing to Shrink the B2B Sales Cycle?

new-sales-model-thumbnailIt seems at least once a week that I talk to a B2B company about how to shrink their sales cycle. Sales executives and CEOs get especially frustrated because their quarterly sales forecasts become much harder to predict when the sales cycle timing is all over the map. For example, we have one technology client where it seems half their deals close in days or weeks, while the other half can take six months or more. So what is going on and what can us B2B marketing types do about it?

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Criteria of Efficient B2B Lead Generation Processes

Lead to Revenue ProcessesMy team and I are always preaching the doctrine of the consistent and predictable lead generation engine as a key part of the Lead-to-Revenue Machine. In my recent book, The Essential Guide to Building Your Lead-to-Revenue (L2R) Machine™, I included a chapter on how to build efficient lead generation processes as a key component of L2R success.

The fact is this: Even the most creative branding and awareness-building program won’t produce the desired results unless you can efficiently work prospects through the system and produce revenue at the other end. But like everything else in marketing, you can’t improve

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Why a Powerful Brand Strategy is Crucial to Your Lead-to-Revenue Plan

How Branding Supports Lead-to-RevenueWhen I published my recent book, The Essential Guide to Building Your Lead-to-Revenue (L2R) Machine™, I chose brand strategy as the first key component of the framework because of its extreme importance to L2R success. Building the rest of your marketing and sales initiatives on top of a weak brand is akin to building a house on a bed of sand. It may work for a while, but will have no chance of sustainable success. We find that clients who focus on the brand early in the process have a much better chance of hitting revenue targets quarter over quarter and year over year. This is why it is so essential to define your brand promise as a guidepost against which you can gauge all of your tactical activities.

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Top 6 Ways that Marketing Supports B2B Sales and Revenue

B2B Sales and MarketingSince the early days of B2B marketing and sales, marketing VPs have been asking that puzzling but oh-so-important question: “What in the heck does sales want from us anyway?”  And the problem is, the sales department sometimes doesn’t know what it wants — or it changes what it asks for on some seemingly random basis. One day it’s, “We need a lot more leads.”  Another day it’s, “We need more qualified leads,” or “We need more marketplace awareness.”  Some days, they want all three.  And there are myriad other requests like sales collateral, website changes, event support, press releases, and targeted campaigns. The list can be endless.

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Does Your B2B Sales Model Need an Overhaul or a Tune-up?

When designing a new, or optimizing an existing, sales model, you will be faced with some tough but extremely important decisions. The lifeblood of your business is not only in creating valued products and services, but also the ability to acquire new customers at a low cost relative to the average transaction amount. When you can do this, you get positive attention from the CEO and investors.B2B Sales Models

The adjacent graphic shows the major B2B sales models and how they relate on two important criteria: the cost per transaction and the amount of personal interaction required. When you include hybrids that combine elements from more than one model, there are dozens of possibilities.

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