A recent piece in the Harvard Business Review caught our attention: “Traditional B2B Sales and Marketing are Becoming Obsolete”. We agree and we see this every day with our own clients and partners, who look to us to help interpret what this means for their business and what they can do to address it.
The acceleration to mostly digital multi-channel buying was well underway pre-pandemic, and a quick switch from in-person to all digital ripped the proverbial band-aid off a bit faster. The good news is this affords every B2B company an equal opportunity to rethink the status quo in how they go-to-market, and the ones that do so fastest and most effectively have an unprecedented opportunity to capture market share.
"The good news is this affords every B2B company an equal opportunity to rethink the status quo in how they go-to-market..."
The focus of Adamson’s HBR piece was on organizational structure, which is wildly important, but for most leaders the idea of completely dismantling Sales, Marketing, Service, and Success teams doesn’t feel realistic, or at the very least, not immediate. What can a business do today to take small steps forward?
1) Start making digital-first changes now
Customers want to be able to execute research and test products on their own before ever reaching out. Businesses need to rethink their digital strategy to accommodate this. These changes could be as simple as saying goodbye to gating every little piece of content and ditching measurements like counting form submits. Or, they could be more complex, like restructuring the website to reflect a more customer-centric experience, including guided content pathways that meet the buyer where they are in their fact-finding journey.
2) Put the right resources in place
Most companies are woefully lacking in operations teams in general, but especially those that support digital and experience. The promise of personalization has been continually undercut by the realization that personalizing well is a content-heavy endeavor, which most companies do not have the creative resources to address.
The same has been happening with technology and data. The promise of all the shiny customer-facing, account-identifying technologies is hindered by the lack of resources to manage, maintain, and improve these systems, while dirty data piles up without any standard management and governance. Companies who are successful in this space are treating technology and the data outputs from this as commodities, valuable resources that need to be properly maintained and supported. Thankfully, this is easier than ever when utilizing tools from the modern tech stack.
3) Put the right analytics in place
A data point from Accenture reports that “84% of C-Suite executives believe they must leverage artificial intelligence to achieve their growth objectives, yet 76% report they struggle with how to scale.” AI can be a fantastic tool to solve many business problems, but key to success is finding the right use case, and ensuring that a baseline is in place, and objectives are clearly defined, so real outcomes can be measured. Leveraging out of the box solutions from platform providers is an option, but one that will leave companies wanting over time, as the models are not tailored to specific business needs and can be challenging for users to interpret. Where possible, leveraging customized, transparent AI models will be more beneficial. Also, see point 2 above on support resources – any model is only as good as the data feeding it.
B2B buying habits are continuing to change as external forces and new behaviors reshape the way buyers seek to collect information. This will be a threat to businesses who can’t make the pivot fast enough, but an opportunity for those companies who recognize the need to address this head on and take steps, even small ones, towards change.
Ready to elevate your B2B Sales and Marketing?