If you are a technology executive with a superb IT service or a SaaS product, hoping to conquer the world with just your sales teams, then you might want to re-think that strategy.
The B2B technology landscape is not the same as it was a decade ago. Don’t believe us? Here are some data points from Forrester that corroborate our claim.
- Close to 92% of all B2B purchases start with an online search.
- 62% of B2B buyers now claim that they can finalise the top contenders for an IT project by looking solely at their digital content and presence.
- 60% of B2B buyers don’t prefer sales representatives being the primary source of information.
Many such data points are signalling a shift in buying behaviour. Our recent conversation with Michael Hamilton, Global Marketing Director at SAP, also indicates the same.
This shift in buying behaviour has led to the decentralisation of power that traditionally resided in the sales teams’ hands a decade ago and spread it across the marketing function.
Don’t get us wrong; we are not trying to undermine your sales teams; they will always be the most critical cog in the wheel of closing those multi-million-dollar deals.
However, we are trying to draw your attention to how B2B marketing has become the most powerful tool in your arsenal to win market share.
But before we go to the topic of how you can do that, let’s quickly talk about what is causing the shift in buying behaviour and why should you, as a technology executive, take marketing seriously in 2021?
- According to a Manpower Group report, millennials make 35% of the global workforce.
- Another research by Merit suggests that millennials can constitute up to 73% of a buying committee at an organisation.
There are quite a few implications of this phenomenon. The millennial buyers who have grown up with smartphones, the internet, and social media are well informed and connected. They carry out their research while purchasing the smallest of things.
Reading blogs, watching explainer videos and educating themselves is something they do before going to the salesperson.
This practice of self-empowered purchasing translates to B2B technology buying as well. It thus becomes imperative for marketing teams at IT companies to create relevant content and buyer touchpoints in each stage of the purchasing cycle.
Too much information! Too many stakeholders!
The traditional sales cycle that involved sales representatives leveraging their network and pitching to the procurement teams has a lot more hurdles to overcome nowadays. Organisations have “buying centres and committees” that comprise 6 to 10 stakeholders from different departments such as finance, human resources and operations. Furthermore, each of these functions has a different way of evaluating vendors. It can thus get tricky for the business development manager pursuing the account to reach all the parties involved effectively. Things like B2B marketing and account-based marketing can create that reach at scale.
Let’s get to the “How.”
Now that you understand the “what” and “why” of focusing on marketing, let’s get to the how.
As a technology executive, how can you ensure that sales and marketing teams complement each other rather than competing? Here are our recommendations.
- Give your marketing team a place at the leadership table:
By this, we mean to involve them in strategic discussions such as what geographies and territories to target, what services to pitch, etc.
Sometimes the marketing team sits over a gold mine of data and has the vantage point in understanding the buyers at a big picture level.
Furthermore, marketing teams can now purchase intent data to zero down on a target account’s stakeholders, driving better results.
- Sell marketing principles such as ABM to the sales team:
This is the differentiator that can set your growth numbers apart from other technology companies in the market.
Showcasing the actual value that the marketing team can bring to the table will align both these functions. Organisations with high collaboration levels between sales and marketing teams have a higher chance of exceeding their revenue targets.
You can read about how to get sales excited about ABM in one of our previous posts.
Navigating the turbulent waters of marketing is even more difficult than acknowledging its importance. But don't worry, you have taken the first step.
We hope that this article gave you some perspective on why marketing is critical for your success in 2021 and how you can leverage it with efficacy. And if you feel you need to offload the tricky stuff because you would instead focus on your core product and services, feel free to contact us!