As addressed in “The Capabilities B2B Organizations Need to Succeed“, B2B organizations today face a variety of marketing challenges.
According to a study by B2B International, more than half of businesses named building brands and effective communication strategies as challenges, while nearly a third identified business growth, “such as attracting new customers and penetrating new market segments” as their top priority.
What underlies these obstacles? The biggest factor is that most organizations are adhering to their traditional selling process, without truly understanding their market. In today’s B2B reality, you can’t sell the way you want to sell — you have to sell the way your customers want to buy. While this mantra sounds simple, its application requires more than a shift in mindset. Following the imperative to its ultimate expression requires an organizational realignment: eventually reconfiguring the relationship between marketing and sales.
Real Results Require Real Work
The process starts with research, as noted in the Forbes.com article, “5 Steps to Sell the Way Your Customers Want to Buy.” The author advocates live interviews to help you achieve step 1: “Find out what customers want and how they want to buy it.”
The next steps include adjusting your offering, aligning your business model to customer preferences, integrating the customer buying process into your operation and building and deploying a growth plan. In other words: change the way you do business and build a revenue action plan around this new process. Feeling overwhelmed yet?
“In today’s B2B reality, you can’t sell the way you want to sell — you have to sell the way your customers want to buy.”
Technology to the Rescue?
Organizations can be stymied faced with the task of creating this alignment and the associated capabilities necessary to enact a new selling paradigm. Many turn to the promise of technology for a quick fix.
Choices abound. There is a swell of new and enhanced technology in the marketplace designed to reach and engage with buyers. For most organizations, jumping into the deep end of the pool and drowning in technology alternatives is not the right place to start. Capabilities are combinations of process, people, and technology. At Baker Tilly we help our clients consider and develop capabilities in that order. While technology plays a role, it’s not the silver bullet.
Understanding the Buying Process
Examining the buying process will help you align your sales approach. For almost all buyers, the buying process involves three key steps:
- Education – Getting smart about who/what in the market will help them either solve their business challenge or attain a business goal
- “Whom will I spend my time talking to?”
- Solutions – Aligning commercially-available products/services to their specific situation and reducing their options
- “Who understands me and my needs and shows that they are a credible alternative?”
- Selection – Picking a winner
- “Who best meets my timing and budgetary needs? Who treats me the way I want to be treated?”
Through this process, buyers look for information and interactions to meet their needs based on where they are in the process. Not all interactions will be digital (in-person contact augments digital communication) but they must be easy to access and simple to understand.
To truly align your sales practice with your customers’ buying preferences, the sales and marketing functions need to interoperate in a whole new way. Baker Tilly’s partnership with our clients allows us the deep understanding to help with that alignment. Find out how Baker Tilly can help your organization realign with market realities and increase marketing effectiveness.