It Takes Great B2B Marketing to Drive Sales Growth

The bottom line is that CEOs need to invest appropriately in their B2B Marketing functions to get the most from their Sales organizations and drive revenue growth.

Contributed by Brad Grob.

One big challenge I often see is when CEOs of “business-to-business” (“B2B”) companies have invested significant resources into the Sales organization but are reluctant to invest in the Marketing function. Often, Marketing is relegated to creating “brochure ware”, e.g. very basic “one sheets”, collaterals, etc. But in today’s competitive environment, B2B Marketing plays a critical role in helping drive growth.

In companies I work with that experience significant revenue growth, much can be credited to the B2B Marketing departments that help make the sales staff and sales process so effective. One of my clients has large, autonomous divisions throughout the country. The divisions with the most sophisticated Marketing departments have growth rates 2-3 times that of the divisions which under-invest in that area.

While there are many initiatives that a best-in-class Marketing function should undertake, the following three are high on the list.

B2B Marketing Initiative Priority No.1: Build strong market presence.

A recent Corporate Executive Board study of more than 1,400 B2B customers found that those customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision—researching solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking, etc.—before even having a conversation with a supplier. The implications of this are staggering. First, Marketing must build prospect awareness and consideration through strong online (e.g. SEO, SEM, display advertising, social media etc.) and offline programs. Second, significant product “content” needs to be created and proliferated throughout the Web to ensure decision makers are favorably influenced towards the company’s products. This involves creating white papers, competitive comparisons, case studies, articles/content that demonstrate “thought leadership” and insights, video testimonials, etc. Content needs to be incorporated into the company’s website, on industry resource sites, in relevant social media platforms, etc. Third, the content must clearly communicate the company “positioning”, value proposition, unique benefits, and differentiation versus the competition. Failure to do all of this means that by the time the company sales person gets in front of the prospect, it is likely too late.

B2B Marketing Initiative Priority No.2: Maximizing lead generation.

In best practice companies, Marketing plays a critical role in providing strong sales leads. A critical initiative is for Marketing to develop strong inbound lead generation programs that are incorporated into the activities described above. A “warm” lead from the right, targeted prospect has incredible value. Cold calling is difficult and often has low rates of success compared with warm leads in which prospects have identified themselves as being a buyer. Marketing should also develop a set of prospect criteria and then do the research to build a strong prospect list. Its far more effective for Marketing to do this (than Sales) since they have appropriate skill sets with access to the right resources (e.g. databases, analytical tools, etc.) versus have Sales staff to use up precious “selling” time.

B2B Marketing Initiative Priority No.3: Providing effective Sales training and tools.

Marketing has a critical role in ensuring that the sales force is appropriately equipped and effective in doing its job. Training must be on-going and encompass many different areas such as: what target markets to pursue; customer needs (by market segment); how to communicate the company positioning, value proposition, product benefits, etc.; deepening product knowledge; competitive knowledge and selling; etc. In addition, Marketing needs to make sure that Sales has the right tools to make them effective in getting and closing business. While this might consist of “one sheets”, it’s more likely that today sales staff needs sophisticated multimedia sales presentations, analytical tools to quantify ROI, etc.

The bottom line is that CEOs need to invest appropriately in their B2B Marketing functions to get the most from their Sales organizations and drive revenue growth.

Brad Grob helps companies to accelerate their revenue growth through impactful strategy, marketing, and sales solutions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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