Many B2B companies have undergone a digital transformation in recent years, which now has been accelerated further as a result of the pandemic, and marketing departments are thus facing new challenges to tackle in order to keep up with developments. At the same time, digital use is growing and primarily on social media. This means that B2B companies have better conditions than ever to run their business digitally – So why have some not succeeded in this yet?
1. There is an outdated mistrust – “Social media marketing does not work for us B2B-companies that have complex business compared to B2C-companies.”
This is a common misinterpretation from B2B companies, that the new media channels, compared to traditional ones, is adapted to the B2C business – with other words, a click away from a purchase.
The classic tactics for B2B marketing have long been seminars, events, emails and newsletters. Many companies are at the starting point of posting organic posts on social media, and still only measure likes / comments on content that focuses more on employer branding than sales. They have a distrust of digital marketing, as one does not sufficiently understand the possibilities of digital advancement with targeted marketing that differs significantly from traditional reach media.
Those B2B-companies that have dared to test are however often too quick to evaluate. Ask yourself – How long does it take for your salespeople to process a lead before a deal?
It will take the same amount of time for an ad to place your brand and your products as well as offers top-of-mind before we can count on a deal. On average we do not see results within 3-6 months depending on the complexity of the deal. Marketing via social media can contribute to both growth and profitability in the long term – if you play it cool and provide the right conditions.
2. The marketing department does not cooperate with the sales department when it comes to lead management & evaluation.
A challenge we see that many marketing departments at B2B-companies are faced with is the collaboration with the sales department. The marketing department and the sales department usually work on two fronts where the communication and customer journey / touchpoints with the target groups are not common, despite the fact that both units actually work towards the same business objectives.
There are opportunities to review how the departments can work together and complement each other’s knowledge and insights. The marketing department should work to give salespeople the right conditions through hot and qualified leads that social media can drive into larger volumes than the sales force, which significantly streamlines the sales team’s time and hit rate. Nevertheless, the sales team can contribute insights and key values for both target group targeting and communication in relation to the activities the marketing department must prioritize and act on.
3. You do not dare to step out of the corporate suit communicatively.
The general difference in how a B2C-company and a B2B-company communicate, respectively, is the tonality in relation to the target group. B2C-companies have a more natural behavior of emphasizing their brand and services with more emotional tonality in a more easily consumed format, while B2B-companies mainly focus on information-heavy communication to promote a product or service – often materials produced for internal use which emphasizes what the company is good at instead of what added value the company provides to the end consumer. It’s time to think more from the outside in and more customer-centric.
What is often forgotten is that behind every buying decision there is a person, with real feelings and interests. And as we know, we as humans have a rational and an emotional side. The rational side is often highlighted in your professional role where efficiency in your work is a decisive factor while you as an individual buy products that in one way or another will shape your lifestyle or existence, such as decorating your home. But that does not rule out being more playful with the emotional side of your target audience base – based on insights such as demographics, interests, etc.
Let’s think: B2E – “Business to everyone” instead of B2B to be inspired by how B2C-companies work with their communication. Let the sales people focus on their material based on hard facts and instead enable the marketing department to translate this into an emotional and engaging context based on soft values. Ultimately, B2B marketing is about creating value / interest in relevant target groups – which results in reducing the time for sales to run on unqualified leads and increase the time on qualitative leads.
4. The sales process / management of leads is not digitized.
It is not uncommon for B2B-companies to still spend a lot of time on manual labor and have not digitized their sales process. This makes it difficult to keep track of what the investment made in social media, and what it has generated in actual business.
Each sales process is also delegated to an individual salesperson and the results linked to actual marketing activities fall between the chairs. To be able to develop and streamline the process, you need to map and identify pitfalls based on your starting point. Only then do you have the opportunity to follow your process from A to Z – which means the target group interacted with your ad and with your website & content, qualified for a lead, flowed through various activity-controlled events in your CRM-system, signed an agreement and associated business. This way, you can also measure back a fair ROI on your investment and find patterns that can contribute to more cost-effective campaigns by acting on your insights.
5. Misses parts of the technical implementation for a fair evaluation.
And finally, once you as a B2B-company have a digitized sales process established and started generating leads through your social media, it is common practice not to keep track of the final return. It takes a technical set up to have the right measurement in place – pixels that can track what happens along the entire customer journey allow you to put a value on a conversion to finally see what a lead costs and generates in actual revenue from each channel in your media mix.
Define your cost per lead & how many leads you need – Start by counting backwards together with the sales team and map out how many leads are actually required for it to be a deal. Analyze your actual buying price and sales cycle – How much are you willing to invest for each lead in relation to your margins on a deal? And what resources are usually required in time to land a deal? Then you can calculate how many leads you need and what you are willing to pay for a lead from social media to remain profitable. Applying your actual sales process in the way of measuring your investment in social media both contributes to a fair starting position and significantly facilitates what expectations your company should have on actual revenue based on previous sales results.
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