B2B Marketers’ Current Focus
By Gail Chiasson
While sales collateral, personal visits, public relations and trade shows are still key among tools used by Business-to-Business marketers, there are two sectors that are growing wildly: custom publishing, and Internet technologies such as Webcasts, e-newsletters and online videos.
So important have they become that many B2B professionals no longer view these as ‘new media’, and are embracing custom media as a proven way to target customers and prospects. Custom media such as newsletters and magazines are being used not only to develop sales interest, but also to improve branding efforts and credibility. They not only are not tossed, as is 98% of direct mail, but often are passed on to others for whom they are relevant.
But it is important that these custom media are directed to the right people, those whom the marketer knows are the decision makers and influencers. It’s not always easy to locate the specific management targets that marketers want to nurture and prep for the eventual sales pitch.
While word-of-mouth and seeding the community can help generate leads, a B2B listing is often useful. There are many listings. An example is ProFile Canada B2B Top 40,000, published by Owen Media Partners. This listing was originally compiled for research and library use, so already had a good reputation prior to being purchased in 2001 by Owen, which keeps it as up-to-date as possible.
On the technical side, Webcasts, Webinars, search engine marketing, Web advertising and e-newsletters have become part of B2B marketers’ tools. However, for best effect, marketers integrate them with trade shows, PR, direct mail, customer publishing and whatever other tools comprise their approach. And, in dealing with the Web, the ‘landing page’ — the page on which a potential customer first lands on the B2B marketer’s Web site — is seen as especially important. The page should be tied directly to the ad on which the potential customer clicked. The marketer then has only a few seconds to convince him to stay, to read more, and perhaps to share contact information.
Ally Motz, CEO, SiriusDecisions Canada Inc., Montreal, says that sustaining growth is a major trend this year, with sales leaders focusing on expansion, optimization and innovation. Expansion initiatives put pressure on first-line managers to subdivide territories and hire new reps, and on training organizations to address the influx of new hires. ‘Putting more feet on the street’ increases market coverage, creates deeper penetration, and forces sales reps of sell a wider range of products and services as their territories are compressed.
Increasing sales productivity requires a keen focus on the processes, skills and knowledge required by salespeople, as well as how resources are integrated at both the individual and operational level.
Innovation is required to propel growth to the next level. Reshaping coverage models, introducing new, more specialized sales roles, changing compensation plans or launching new products into new buying centers stretch sales capabilities and test sales operations like never before. Best-in-class sales executives always think in terms of optimization and innovation; it sustains them when market conditions and budgets limit their ability to expand.