In this guide we’ll cover everything you need to know about marketing – from what it’s all about and the tactics you might use, to how it all works and maximizing your results.
Whether you’ve already dipped your toe in the water, or this is all new to you, you’ll find clear explanations and best practice advice that will set you well on your way towards a winning lead generation formula for your business.
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What is B2B marketing?
Business to Business (B2B) marketing is about grabbing the attention of businesses who may have an interest in buying the product or service you are selling.
B2B products are usually designed to help target companies increase their profits, or to make their lives easier in some way. For example, they may offer a way to streamline existing processes, offer time-saving solutions, or open up new revenue streams that may otherwise have been missed.
Sales pipelines in B2B marketing often follow a more traditional path than those found in businesses marketing directly to consumers (B2C). As the products are usually more complex and the transaction values larger, they will take much longer on average to complete. For this reason, forming long-term relationships with key players within a target company is crucial, not only for landing the business but also for retaining it.
Key differences between B2B and B2C marketing
The sales being chased by B2B companies – and crucially the time they take to land – varies greatly in comparison to their B2C counterparts.
Selling directly to consumers is generally a much quicker and simpler task. There will be just one person to convince and they’ll often make their decision much faster. In contrast, selling to businesses involves managing multiple touch points and convincing an average 6.8 stakeholders – the number of people who will typically be involved in any one B2B purchasing decision, according to the Corporate Executive Board. Each of these individuals will have their own agenda and set of priorities. When combined with a more complex product and a larger price tag, the result is a far longer sales cycle.
Business to business marketers also have a much smaller target audience than those who aim at consumers directly. Because of this, it is vital to nurture each individual contact carefully. That means keeping a detailed record of each potential lead and any contact that is had with them, within an internal database or CRM. This ensures that everyone within the company knows exactly what stage each lead is at, what content they have digested, and who they have spoken to and when within the company.
B2B buyers make their purchasing decisions in a different way to consumers. They buy what they need, not what they want. Not only that, they will usually have to justify their purchasing decisions to a greater number of people. It is therefore up to marketers to appeal to their logic, not their emotions. That means understanding the product inside out, not just what it does and its features, but all the benefits and potential applications.
Having a good reputation and being considered a trusted brand is also important when you’re dealing with B2B buyers. Whilst a single consumer may be willing to take a risk on an unknown brand, business buyers are much more likely to research you and your reputation, long before they consider making a purchase.
What’s the difference between B2B sales and B2B marketing?
B2B sales and marketing teams both share the same end goal – to bring money into the business – but their individual priorities and methods will be very different.
The focus for marketing is to generate interest around the product or service being sold and convert that interest into business leads. Their purpose is to analyse the market and uncover the most effective channels for reaching those companies who are going to be the best fit for the solution on offer. They need to reach as many of these target businesses as possible and once they’ve grabbed their attention, to nurture them down the sales funnel by providing them with content that is relevant, interesting, and of value.
Marketers are there to secure the long-term returns – sowing seeds of interest that need to be nurtured over an extended period of time. They understand the importance of reputation and building a trustworthy brand and will focus on driving awareness for the company and its products.
In contrast, B2B sales is about getting a lead to sign on the dotted line and the product out of the door. Closing the deal is the most important thing to a sales rep. This means they take a much shorter-term outlook than their colleagues in marketing. Their targets are qualified sales leads who have already expressed a genuine interest in the product and have behaved in a way that suggests there is an intention to buy. They will look at who does fit the sales criteria, as opposed to marketing who will focus on who might.
While the two teams may have different priorities, when they work together the results can be phenomenal. Marketing should focus on bringing in the most relevant traffic, then nurture these leads along the funnel until they are sales ready. Sales should then step in to close the deal, creating a seamless experience. If sales work closely with marketing on every stage of the process, offering insights and feedback that helps strengthen marketing campaigns and targeting, then the whole process can be streamlined even further.
To get your sales and marketing teams working together more effectively, check out our blog: Smarketing: how to align your sales and marketing teams
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