B2B Marketing Obsolete, Really? (Part III)

Lauraramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

At the end of October, Rebekah Donaldson, founder of Business Communications Group LLC, joined me for an informal discussion during a Forrester Teleconference about the future of the business-to-business marketing profession. We received some great questions from the audience after our talk. Earlier this week, I spoke again on this subject when MarketBright VP of Sales, Mike Pilcher, asked me to join Eric Rogge, VP of Marketing at Exalead, to talk about the future of both sales and marketing.

While Mike and I did our best to prophesy a grim future for our respective professions, Eric -- as Rebekah did about two weeks earlier -- helped to illuminate a way forward. In the end Mike, Eric, and I agreed that technology will be a key element (but not if applied indiscriminantly) to help marketing and sales shift from obnoxious bullhorn to respectful partner. Eric made three points worth underlining:

1) For marketing to evolve, we need to learn to listen more than we talk. We need to create listening posts throughout the Web that reveal what the market wants, prospects find interesting, and which problems are worth solving. Technology can help us do this, but not without human brains behind it to filter out the noise and tell us what's important.

2) Qualifying leads means more than answering the BANT questions. Early online interactions should prove to buyers that we are interested in doing business together, not just in hooking prospects and tossing them over to sales. Techology helps by tying lead scores to behavioral (as well as factual) information, but marketing has to be smart about where to take the conversation next.

3) Move fast, especially when you get it wrong. As Eric said, one "aw heck" can overcome 10 "attaboys", so it's important for marketers to move beyond the front of the pipeline to make sure customers are overwhelmingly satisfied -- and that sales doesn't take bad business. Great customer insight, fed by marketing-specific database information, helps marketers do this efficiently.

I wanted to thank Eric for providing this great insight and hope he doesn't mind my paraphrasing his contribution to the Webinar. Bottomline: the road out of marketing obsolescence is paved with open, truthful conversations and a true concern for our customers' future success. Technology will smooth the path, but not shorten the journey.

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re: B2B Marketing Obsolete, Really? (Part III)

No doubt, listening, qualifying and moving fast are very important, but from field sales point of view, the future is next month, next quarter, next half or next year. What are things marketing can provide sales today?I think, two items that cannot be overlooked are: positioning your company as a thought leader on solving a particular business problem and how you can solve that problem better then anyone else.

re: B2B Marketing Obsolete, Really? (Part III)

Great points. Listen more and act fast. We have seen customers have a hard time moving fast because they are so reliant on other departments such as IT to get stuff done. And marketing by definition wants to talk more then listen :)I would probably add to not overemphasize one area such as conversion. I have seen a lot of marketers get on a kick and everything is about conversion and other important things like relevant dialogue and listening as you posted here fall to the wayside. Be balanced in your approach...

re: B2B Marketing Obsolete, Really? (Part III)

Here here. Go 2.0-ers, go!

re: B2B Marketing Obsolete, Really? (Part III)

Building on Seamus' points about thought leadership and problem solving (both of which are right on), B2B marketers also need to focus even more on proof points. This is an area that can bring marketing and sales together in a more ongoing way (since both sides need proof points to work effectively); it can also promote more attention to customer experience after the sale, since that is the setup for getting serious documentation of value delivered. Most B2BV firms have at least some customer success stories, but building a more substantial program is still one of the best investments around.

re: B2B Marketing Obsolete, Really? (Part III)

B2B marketing often falls down connecting tech features to real benefits.This falls into the trap: perceived value and credibility are inversely related -- people believe marketers on the points that don't matter and disbelieve the things that matter!We just posted a short paper on this -- I'd appreciate any feedback from B2B marketers:http://www.velocitypartners.co.uk/2008/11/25/tech-benefits-recipes-for-corporate-positioning-and-corporate-message-development/Forgive the gnarly URL -- an experiment in SEO!