The Evolving Journey of the B2B Buyer

Purchase orderDaniel Heimlich posted the following photo on his LinkedIn page. Not sure who the conference speaker was, but the five statistics represented on this slide — from well-respected organizations like Forrester Research, IDC and Harvard Business Review — are a good representation of how B2B prospects are behaving on their “buying journey.” I’ve seen many of the statistics (or close approximations) individually, but not in one spot like this.

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Marketing Technology – Your Best Friend or Nightmare?

Technology NightmareOne of the most important enablers of an effective lead-to-revenue framework is marketing technology, which, combined with CRM and a great website, gives you a powerful platform for growing profitable revenue (always the best kind of revenue). And the good news is that there is a proliferation of solutions available, driven by the need for better planning, execution and tracking. But this can also be a bit of bad news because too many choices can lead to confusion and inaction. Worst of all, it can lead to the digital version of what we used to call “shelfware”; software that was purchased but unused (sitting on a shelf).

The following graphic illustrates the problem.

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Why You Need to Pay Attention to Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing

As a B2B or B2C marketer, one of the best ways you can support your company’s sales team and revenue targets is to become better at search engine marketing (SEM), which is sometimes referred to as search engine optimization (SEO). SEM/SEO is a great way to boost your marketing performance in the new year. Best of all, you can accomplish this at a relatively low cost when compared to other marketing tactics.

Many companies suffer from a lack of leads and revenue because they pay no attention to SEM. I’ve actually had a CEO of a potential client tell me that they had no desire for people to find their website since they had already identified the vast majority of their prospects and it was the job of the sales team, not the website, to turn these prospects into customers.

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B2B Sales and Marketing Trends for 2016

Marketing and Sales TrendsAt the end of each year, my team and I publish a report on the major B2B marketing and sales trends. The idea is not to show how smart we are but rather to provide ideas you can start using immediately to grow your business. Feel free to download the full report.

Trend 1 – Importance of Digital Reputation. B2B prospects spend lots of time searching online before engaging with a potential vendor and if the experience isn’t right, they will leave quickly. On the internal website side, you should have a website that is clean, professional and easily navigable. Externally, you need to find every site that a potential purchaser could use to learn about you or your business category, and make sure your presence there leaves a good impression. Content should be fresh and relevant and tightly related to your core value proposition.

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Entrepreneur or Not – You Need to Read This

Entrepreneur

If you are a corporate wage earner — as I was for much of my working life — you may decline to read this post because of the term “entrepreneur” in the title. However, I assure you that — regardless of how you make your living — it does have relevance and can provide food for thought.

I had the pleasure of attending a 90-minute talk by Gary Schoeniger on the topic of Redefining Entrepreneurship.

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The Tao of B2B Buying Behavior – Why Emotion Trumps Logic

B2B Buying Cycle Emotion

I’ve always wanted to use the word “Tao” in a blog post because the term has such profound (albeit esoteric) implications. Browse Amazon’s selection and you’ll see many offerings, including the Tao of Leadership, Physics, Dating and Pooh. According to Wikipedia, Tao or Dao is a Chinese concept signifying “way,” “path,” “route,” or sometimes more loosely, “doctrine” or “principle.” This is relevant because as a B2B marketing and sales practitioner, I want to know everything I can about the “path” buyers take on their purchase journey.

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Time – Your Most Valuable Marketing and Sales Asset

Time DeadlineNot sure about you, but I am at a place in my life where I would choose more time over more money. The list of things to do grows longer and the time seems to pass more quickly. And while many marketing and sales managers wish for bigger budgets, sometimes what we really need is better allocation of our time. Here are a few characteristics about time

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Marketing Specialist or Generalist – Which do You Need?

One of my favorite business writers, Bob Bly, published an intriguing article in an October, 2015 newsletter on the topic of whether a marketing generalist or specialist is preferable. Bly opened his article as follows:

Robert Heinlein, the great science fiction writer, despised the idea of specialization. “Specialization is for insects,” wrote Heinlein. “A human being should be able to

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The Importance of Processes in Effective Lead-to-Revenue

Process OptimizationComponent 3 in our recent eBook The Essential Guide to Building Your Lead-to-Revenue Machine is optimized marketing and sales processes. You can read lots of articles and white papers about the various technology options – CRM, marketing automation, sales enablement etc., but in my experience, unless you get the processes right,  even the best people and technology will just help you fail faster and more expensively.

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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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