You may think the above statement is a bold one. Perhaps it is a little stereotypical and judgemental, but bear with us, we have our justifications.
In B2C, generally the buying decision is fairly simple and often it’s a low value purchase with little risk or consequence if the wrong decision is made. Usually in B2C Sales, the salesperson knows more than the purchaser, and has only a handful of frequently asked questions that they need to learn how to answer effectively.
B2B purchase decisions take longer
In B2B the purchasing process is often more complex and takes much longer. The reasons for this include the value of the purchase (often high in B2B), the number of people involved and affected by the decision and perhaps most importantly the reputational risk of making the wrong decision can be significant.
The subject matter is also deeper and requires some expertise to understand. Because of the depth of knowledge required to make a good decision B2B buyers generally undertake their own research prior to meeting a salesperson and in some instances are subject matter experts in their own right.
Perhaps this is one reason why B2B salespeople tend to stay within the same industry, as they build an in-depth knowledge of the sector or market, enabling them to be genuinely consultative.
Knowledge is key
A credible B2B salesperson has to be seen as knowledgeable when advising businesses on a particular solution. They not only need to be able to demonstrate their expertise but they also need to be able to relate to different people’s agendas and priorities.
The people involved in a single purchase decision could include the MD, Ops, Finance, IT and Procurement. Each of which may have their own objectives and preferences over which solution is chosen.
So a successful salesperson needs to have a base-level of competence and knowledge across a wide range of facets; technical, pricing, implementation etc. to remain credible with different functions within the Decision Making Unit.
Marketing support the sales process
The job of marketing should not stop when the initial sales enquiry is made.
In a typical B2B sales cycle there will usually be several months of discussions and education that will take place before a decision is made.
This is a critical phase in which marketing needs to support sales. Marketing may have created the initial awareness, but now the continuation of their role is to provide more detailed sales collateral during the buying-consideration stage; Buyers Guides, Whitepapers, Case Studies, Technical Specification and the like.
Having different content to support the sales process is also a really effective way of being able to communicate with all members of the Decision Making Unit with specific, tailored messaging, which would be fairly challenging for one sales person to do on their own.
Help your sales people succeed
If you have good sales people but want to see them increase their conversion rates, marketing needs to play a key role.
Most people realise that with the right marketing support you can generate better quality leads through a combination of inbound and outbound marketing.
But the role of marketing doesn’t finish when a leads is generated and sales engage with the prospect. Good marketing should also help these leads through to conversion through targeted lead nurturing campaigns.
Clearly lead generation is important for B2B businesses. But there is a significant uplift in sales that can be achieved by extending the role of marketing to support sales-lead conversions.