What do you see as the biggest marketing challenge that B2B technology companies are facing in customer acquisition?
All too often we have people in sales and in marketing that are working to hit targets, but their individual approaches are not aligned. Even worse, sometimes we see marketing and sales working on campaigns that are polar opposites.
Getting sales and marketing aligned is a critical success factor but it’s a challenge. First, there are limits to technology. Digital marketing tools aren’t always designed to support one-to-few outbound marketing, to help companies focus on niche audiences and issues.
Second, there’s a metrics issue. It isn’t always easy to track leads through marketing to sales and understand whether the deals made by sales are genuinely the same leads that came through marketing, and how much work was involved to convert. Organisations need to measure conversion rates at every stage of the journey to understand how joined up sales and marketing really are, and where improvements can be made.
What role do you see human interaction playing in an increasingly digital landscape?
Human interaction will always be a core element of certain services. While we see the development of AI tools and Chat GPT, there is a role that can’t be performed by AI. It requires human involvement to build relationships, to understand the unique situation that the customer is in, and to position the organisation as the right provider for them to succeed.
Where AI will add most value (at least in the short-term) is in transactional services, which lend themselves well to automation.
It requires human involvement to build relationships, to understand the unique situation that the customer is in, and to position the organisation as the right provider for them to succeed.
Without the right skills, the risk is that sales agents assume that the digital journey is a complete and accurate experience that will meet all of the customer’s needs.
Is training important in supporting sales teams in this new selling environment?
We rely on technology to understand the buyer’s digital journey, but that can only be effective if we are giving sales agents the training and tools to ask the right discovery questions. Without the right skills, the risk is that sales agents assume that the digital journey is a complete and accurate experience that will meet all of the customer’s needs.
The customer can use a website or watch a video but that doesn’t necessarily answer all of their questions, so human interaction remains key. We need to train salespeople to use that website data and understand it, what insights are reliable, and understand that this intelligence is the start of a sales process, not the climax.
I’ve yet to meet a salesperson that won’t take the easiest route to a sale, that’s smart not lazy! But, we have to recognise that the sales which are most worth it take time and so it’s important to help build skills like active listening and creating compelling events.
Tom is a Sales Director with 20 years’ global experience in B2B sales. Predominantly working with start-up & scale-up businesses he is experienced in all aspects of sales including people, process & systems.