In our last post on this series on whether inbound marketing really works, we saw why traditional B2B marketing tactics worked. In this post, we will look at what changed that made the traditional B2B marketing tactics outdated and why they may no longer work.
The biggest change today is the salesperson has lost control of the buying process.
First, with voicemail, lesser of your cold calls would get through to potential prospects. More of them would ignore your calls, and let them just ring out. This reduced the number of meetings a salesperson could book each week.
Next, with the advent of the internet and search engines, your prospects began to inform themselves. When they had a problem, they started to turn to search engines like Google for the answer.
Some smart people realised this, and began to create content that gave helpful advice on overcoming problems online. This meant your prospects no longer had to listen to your marketing messages to learn about how to solve their problems. They could perform searches, find answers to problems and compare solutions themselves.
Next, social media entered the scene. Your prospects started engaging with their friends, colleagues and brands through channels like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. They decide which influencers in their industry share the best content, and they listen to them.
These changes meant that progressively, as more useful content became available online, that the B2B buying process shifted. According to a recent CEB study of more than 1,400 B2B customers, 57% of a purchase decision is now made before a customer even thinks about talking to a supplier.
Where in the past, buyers would be open to talking to your sales teams very early in the buying process, your buyers now research on the web. They would prefer to talk to sales people only after they have done their initial research and have made themselves aware.
This has created a void in many B2B organisation’s sales and marketing process. There is a large part of the buying process that you are not in control of. Earlier, your prospects would engage with your company very early, they’re now waiting until they’re evaluating specific solutions before speaking to you.
That means B2B sales and marketing teams have to adapt. They need to fill that gap, and find a way to secure the attention of prospects during that research stage, which the prospect controls in its entirety.
So, what is the new order for B2B marketing? We’ll look at that in our next post.