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  • Alan Thorpe

Why sales success requires a B2B marketing & sales transformation.

Updated: Jan 26

We reveal steps you can take to hit your sales KPIs…and win your sunshine bonus!

Why 2022 B2B sales success requires a marketing and sales transformation
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Buyers seek to take purchase decisions that give them the outcomes they want. Yet B2B marketing isn’t helping them take decisions that enable them to select the best solutions for their organisations.

Marketers have been massively keen to help buyers ensure alignment between their strategy, business cases and tech. In our previous blog we noted that Forbes found ‘94% of B2B decision makers are now seeking out sales teams that exhibit specific insights into their company’s problems.’

And 60% of marketers ramped up content marketing production in 2021.

But, like the UK government’s ‘eat out to help out’ scheme, unintended consequences have intervened. Buyers are overwhelmed with content. Yet most of this content is decent stuff.

Result? To be effective a B2B marketing & sales transformation is required.

Most of the content we’ve been producing is, like a cold drink on a sunny day, lovely.

But there’s too much conflicting advice.

Too much choice.

Too much to digest.

Too little buyer time to drink it all in.

There’s so much opinion over help.

It has significant value. But it’s not enough.

The outcome? buying decisions are falling into the ‘too hard’ bucket.

Gartner* have scribed out a typical B2B buying journey.

We think you’ll agree that the complexity of making change makes it hard for buyers.

Which begs question of B2B marketing and sales teams ‘does your marketing help buyers to navigate this complex process?’

If it doesn’t then you’re losing sales. Perhaps not fast at the moment. But the acceleration is coming. As it did for B2C businesses that failed to build helpful online experiences.

But can’t the sales team ‘oil the buying process?’

As HBR reported, the greater majority of B2B buyers now prefer a rep-free experience.

Where sales expertise is allowed in, it’s for a tiny 5-6% of buying time.

So, to win B2B organisations have to get upstream and aid the buying process.

Marketing has to deliver (as our slogan says) ‘growth through upstream thinking.’

The fix: first remember how we humans take decisions.

Kahneman’s model splits our decision processes into two distinct systems:

System 1 is instinctive. It’s how we prefer to take decisions. This is where branding is so powerful. Familiar brands deliver a mental shortcut. They make things easy for us.

System 1 is why we LOVE recommendations and referrals (the majority of B2B sales).

System 1 keeps our grey matter cool.

System 2 is far more rational. We’re assessing options. We’re doing the analysis. We’re thinking things through. The less familiar a decision the more it’s likely system 2.

System 2 makes our grey matter glow. We don’t like this.

Many B2B choices, such as buying tech, fall into system 2.

As marketers, our job is to reduce the mental headache of system 2 decisions.

The fix: how can we deliver consultancy selling, online? Take a look at how B2C plays to system 1.

Try different clothes colours and styles, design your kitchen from your bed.

B2C has thrived on our desire to be self-directed. Digital experiences and content quickly enable us to find what’s ‘right for us’.

D2C brands have met our ‘system 1’ preference.

And if a supplier doesn’t? One word. Debenhams.

Now we’re transferring our B2C purchase expectations from B2C to B2B.

That’s very reasonable! And an opportunity for leaders to trump (is that a rude word now?) laggards!

The fix: help buyers by supporting their ‘jobs to be done.’

Online ‘tools’ that seed purchase journeys win favour by meeting prospects’ desire for non-rep selling. They take the strain out of change. Examples (many of which work across multiple buying process jobs):

Problem Identification:

  • Educational material that speeds curiosity & understanding. Curate own and third party content to help buyers make sense of things.

  • Online self-assessment tools that benchmark a prospect’s ‘now’ vs. ‘best in class.’

Solution Exploration:

  • Solution build tools that enable buyers to ‘see’ what a solution might deliver. Interactive demos. Easy share buttons. Case Studies.

  • Business case calculators can spin up budget matched solutions / likely ROI timelines. Easy share/collaboration buttons.

Requirements building:

  • Questionnaires & templates that can ramp up requirements capture. Easy share buttons to bring in the wider buying team.

  • Journey builders that help prioritise quick wins from your solutions.

Supplier selection:

  • ‘Productised’ solutions that de-risk delivery. Proven methodologies that cheat change of its choke.

  • Client testimonials that offer confidence.

  • Online contract journeys that take the friction from final hurdles & remove risky final delays.

The fix: why bother? Because sales success is in the data.

Just imagine that your rivals have built online tools that support purchase journey ‘jobs to be done’ yet you’re still using a traditional model.

  • They’ve captured buyer data that drives deals.

  • You’re in the dark.

  • Your ability to support early stages is low.

  • Your responses won’t be as strong.

  • Your power to win is decreased.

  • Your relationships are weaker.

Oh…and if you’re too busy to do this stuff…ditch some irrelevant stuff…Here’s how (click image to link)

Shall we get started? Do it


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