Brad: What does the Forum theme "Driving Growth With a 21st Century Selling System" mean?
Peter: It means several things around my research area, particularly in terms of the challenges marketers are having in developing content that customers find valuable and making sure the right message gets to the right buyer, and, of course, at the right time as well. I’ll be running a trackthat addresses the Message component of the 21st century selling system; we’ll talk through several examples of how to develop and tune the Message to each member of the buyer team, what we call the Audience, and then of course how to think about different content delivery programs. Most importantly, we’ll discuss combining content that is mostly output from marketing programs, with conversation, which is what salespeople deliver in front of their contacts in the accounts – that all needs to be fully aligned to what the buyer needs for the Message to be effective.
The Age of the Customer is upon us. And that is not hype as you know too well yourself if you have been trying to satisfy B2B buyers over the last few years.
B2B buyers today are more demanding, informed, value sensitive, and have more choices available to them than at any other point in history. After taking a beating in 2008, and over the protracted course of this recovery, a permanent change has taken place in how B2B companies buy (think groups pooling their resources to solve big business problems), why they buy (to get a result you can prove you are able to help them achieve), and what they expect in the conversations and interactions with the companies who aspire to meet their needs (in a word, empathy).
For now, let me just say the answer is not better, yet. Last year, when we asked respondents about their perception of the agenda of the sales people with whom they meet, 20% said either “they try to understand our challenges and offer suggestions” or “they are genuinely interested in partnering with us make sure our initiative is a success”. In our recently completed survey that result dropped to 14%.