A need to better connect with buyers, accelerated by the pandemic, is still very much at the forefront of marketing strategies for most businesses. And with hybrid working patterns now firmly in place, the emphasis on digital platforms to reach customers where they are continues. Expectations of digital engagement are still growing, as buyers now expect engaging content tailored specifically to them.
In the past, the complexity of the B2B buyer journey meant that digital platforms were seen as a ‘nice to have’. However, the pandemic has made them a ‘must have’. Businesses must now be able to reach their buyers through an omnichannel strategy with a seamless buying journey. This rapid investment in digital has left many marketing and sales teams with skills gaps and a need to change their traditional ways of working.
Crucially, the transformation of martech platforms has enabled the capture of vast amounts of data. In turn, that data can be used to better understand buyers and create better content. But the sheer complexity and amount of this data can be difficult to comprehend and gain any insights from without the righ skillset. What marketing and sales teams need now in the B2B space are new data and engineering skills, a combination which is very much in demand right now – in fact, there has been a 20% increase in data engineering salaries post-pandemic.
This data-driven approach has also led to cultural changes within businesses, presenting a need to be able to quickly adapt strategies in response to data. This often requires a change in the way that employees think and work. Having a culture of agility and experimentation is key here, to be able to quickly understand and use the data that is being collected.
Working in this way within a B2B business can often lead to key tensions arising. Sales teams have traditionally been responsible for acquiring new customers and they often fear the new digital buyer journey. They worry that they’ll lose control of the buying process and be replaced by digital channels.
They also fear that they won’t be able to keep up with the ever-changing digital landscape, especially since businesses now often make assets such as product catalogues available to customers online, when previously sales people would have been able to draw on these to demonstrate their knowledge of the market.
But it is not all doom and gloom. Instead, we need to focus on the huge opportunities that this new world provides. By working more collaboratively, marketing, sales teams (with the right mindset and approach) and martech platforms can bring out the best in each other and supercharge digital experiences.
For example, customer experience mapping and empathy mapping are key tools here, to help teams understand where there are holes in a B2B digital journey, and what specific technology and content can be used to fill those. There needs to be a more human and empathetic approach to this customer-facing content, but the right data must guide its creation, and where it should sit within a digital journey.
By focusing on research and planning in this way, marketers and sales teams can together understand how to connect the journey to provide better B2B digital experiences, as well as capturing valuable data to feed back into experimentation.
Mindsets have shifted enormously regarding the art of the possible in sales and marketing.
One of the positive legacies of the pandemic is that teams have grown more accustomed to rapid digital transformation, and the key to maintaining the momentum is breaking down silos – bringing all departments together around the customer journey, and getting comfortable with making improvements through a test-and-learn approach. Sales teams need to be able to adapt and change their strategies in response to the data being collected. They can then work together with marketing teams in order to create engaging and relevant content.
Having gained greater pace, productivity and responsiveness over the past few years, mindsets have shifted enormously regarding the art of the possible in sales and marketing. Practices such as small, bite-sized goals, little-and-often communication, experimentation, and regular reviews are helping teams continuously improve the way they connect with customers and each other.
Marcus Lambert is chief technology officer at Omobono.