B2B Marketing

Why B2B Marketing is Broken & How to Fix it

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1. B2B Marketing is Broken

For many years B2B Marketing and B2B Sales Teams have been at loggerheads and for the most part, work separately from each other.

Before going any further, and in the interests of disclosure, we are a Sales training company, and we’re sure many marketers may have a different take on this article, which is fine.

B2B Marketing is broken because it doesn’t deliver enough sales leads.

If you’re a CEO an MD an Entrepreneur or the Founder of a business, this article is to help you understand why your Marketing is broken so that you can take action and make improvements.

Many people have a problem defining where marketing starts and stops and where sales take over.

Our goal is to help you the business leaders understand this, because over the years this subject has been clouded, obfuscated and been misleading for many of us, of which we include ourselves.

  1. The function of Marketing is to create awareness and deliver sales leads
  1. The function of Sales is to convert those sales leads into orders
  1. If your salespeople need to fill their pipeline themselves then your marketing is broken.

There is no grey area, stick to this and you will save time, money and a lot of heartache.

Given the current crisis and the impending recession, now is the time to reset your sales and marketing model and make sure you exit with a strategy that isn’t just a dressed-up version of the past.

B2B Marketing
B2B Marketing

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2. Why your Marketing is Broken?

There are many reasons that your marketing may be broken, however, in our experience the most common challenges are:

2.a Expectations

Rarely do Business leaders explicitly tell marketing that they are responsible for sales leads.

B2B Marketing should be measured by the number of leads and not the number of likes, tweets, love hearts and the number of followers you have. If marketing knew they were being measured by the number of leads they generated then they would focus on generating leads.

That doesn’t mean there is no place for Social Media marketing.

It does mean that if Social Media is generating leads then carry on, but if it’s not, unless you have an unlimited budget and resources then you should reduce the time spent on social media and spend more time on lead generation activities.

Many marketers believe Brand awareness to be equally important to Lead Generation, and we agree – as long as it creates leads.

Brand awareness makes launching new products and winning repeat business from existing customers easier because it generates sales leads.

2.b Marketing Team

Is your marketing team adequately funded and resourced to deliver the number of sales leads the business requires?

An underfunded or under-resourced marketing team will struggle in the same way that every other function in the business would.

B2B Marketing has many disciplines and skills, and no one person can deliver all of them.

Even Enterprise Organisations outsource some of their workloads because they recognise that sometimes they do not have the right skill-set in-house.

SME’s and Mid Market Organisations may never have all the skills such as Data Analysis, Content Creation, Email Marketing, Video, SEO, PPC, Graphic Design and Social, so they need to call on agencies as and when required.

2.c Marketing Graduates

We love Graduates and the injection of enthusiasm, energy and fresh thinking they bring to a team, however, they need support.

Many companies hire a Marketing Graduate and then leave them in the “Marketing Department” without any support or mentoring. which is not only wrong, it’s unfair on the graduate to set such expectations.

In most cases, Graduates aren’t given mentoring or support from a more experienced marketer which would make all the difference.

Thia all too often resukts in the Graduate struggling and then leaving the company which benefits neither the business nor the Graduate.

2.d Marketing Strategy

Some SME’s and Mid Market organisations are “gifted” a taxpayer-funded marketing strategy review.

Normally over 40 pages long there is nothing inherently wrong with these documents other than no one follows them.

For most companies, the Macro Situation Analysis, the Market Analysis, the SWOT Analysis, the Competitor Analysis and all the other info sits on a shelf next to the Business plan gathering dust.

They are too long, too complicated and lack the focus required to be actionable.

Statistics confirm this formula is not working with: 660,000 new startups every year of which 20% are no longer trading after 12 months and even worse 60% are no longer trading after 3 years.

660,000 new startups every year of which 20% are no longer trading after 12 months and even worse 60% are no longer trading after 3 years.

Marketing is broken and there is no point carrying on with the same tired approach.

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3. Why Salespeople Shouldn’t be Generating Sales Leads

Salespeople should only be generating high value leads, however, let us explain exactly what we mean.

Salespeople should be targeting high-value strategic prospects. These prospects and leads are there to top up the Sales Pipeline, not to form the staple of the pipeline.

As an example, if you are selling to a specific vertical and have had lots of success your Salespeople may want to target more high-value accounts within that vertical that have not yet responded to marketing campaigns.

The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. Networking, cold calling and events are extremely time-consuming so it only makes sense to do this on high-value deals.
  1. No business has ever scaled using cold calling, so, if you want a business of scale you need a marketing team that is delivering leads.

As discussed we don’t believe that having expensive resources like salespeople filling their own sales pipeline.

Lead Generation for B2B Sales
Lead Generation for B2B Sales

Anyone who has done cold calling recently will tell you that their biggest challenge is Voice Mail with a study by Ring Lead claiming over 80% of cold calls go to Voice mail.

No matter how good the Outbound Sales Rep is at cold calling (and we mean cold calling, versus calling existing customers) most Sales Development Reps (SDR’s) struggle to get anywhere near a 5% conversion ratio – in reality, it’s more like a 2% conversion ratio.

So let’s look at the business case for this using the salary of an SDR based on £20,000 per annum which is much lower than many salespeople are paid and give them a 10% conversion ratio.

Salary £20,000Employers National Insurance @ 14% = £2,800

Total Cost without office overheads £22,800

So an SDR with a 10% conversion ratio which is hugely difficult will be wasting 90% of their time which is £20,520 per annum.

Let’s look at the same formula for a more senior Sales Rep earning £35,000 per annum which again is low.

Salary £35,000

Employers National Insurance @ 14% = £4,900

Total Cost without office overheads £39,900

More senior Salespeople tend to have a more varied role and may only be in the office 1 day a week so let’s break the cost down even further.

Number of possible workdays in a calendar year = 261

Total Salary Cost without office overheads £39,900 / 261

Total cost per day to employ the Sales Rep = £152.87

Multiply this number by the number of working weeks after holidays (48) because the Rep is only doing Cold Calling one day per week gives a cost of £7337.93 and then multiply by 0.9 to find the total waste = £6,604.14

Needless to say, if you have a team of Sales Reps cold calling one-day per week or on higher salaries than £35k per annum then the numbers quickly become even worse.

For us, the inefficiencies above simply don’t make financial sense.

B2B Marketing
B2B Marketing

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4. Steps To Restructuring Sales & B2B Marketing

As we near the end of lock down we have a unique window to plan and make the necessary changes and position ourselves to maximimise every possible opportunity.

4a. Restructure

The first step is to remove all the previous structures and create ONE new team. Call it anything you want except Sales or Marketing.

If you can’t think of a name call it the Growth Team – they are there to grow the business. Leaving the traditional sales and marketing silos will only continue the status quo which as we’ve discussed is broken.

Merging and changing the name sends a message to that the new Growth Team is different and change is happening.

Larger organisations should create Growth Pods – teams of Sales & marketing people who are focussed on a particular product, service, vertical or territory.

Small Teams made up of multi-skilled members who can find, close and grow sales opportunities.

Whereby before the Coronavirus Crisis there were Field sales Rep’s customers are now retrained to buy via Video Conferencing so look to make savings by completing more of the Sales Process remotely.

These new Growth-focussed teams will require different KPI’s that are laser focussed on Growth.

Unless it’s proven to generate sales leads, that lead to sales opportunities, that lead to sales, it’s simply shouldn’t be a priority.

4b. Start with the End in Mind

Start with the End in Mind. Analyse the top 20% of your customers who will typically be delivering 80% of your turnover and create new Prospect Profiles based on the decision-makers in these organisations that made the original purchasing decisions.

Check back your records to discover what was the source of the original sales leads.

These lead sources are where the Growth Team should focus all their energies. Larger organisations should create Growth Pods – teams of Sales & marketing people who are focussed on a particular product, service, vertical or territory.

For obvious reasons some original lead sources may not be viable for example, Trade Fairs and Conferences are simply not currently available.

These new agile teams can develop Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategies to target similar prospects with targeted messaging and then nurture them through each stage of the B2B sales pipeline.

Small agile Teams made up of multi-skilled members who can find, close and grow sales opportunities break down the traditional silos of sales and marketing.

Don’t hunt minnows, hunt whales. In many cases, it takes as long and costs just as much to win a small £10K order as it does to win a £100K order so think big.

The ironic part of this strategy is that as you hunt the whales, other opportunities will appear which you can land and you will eventually land your Whale.

Conversely, if you target minnows you will only every land minnows.

Be bold, think big and you will be rewarded.

Sales Consulting Services
Sales Consulting Services

4c. Retention

In the current environment, it’s more important than ever to retain your existing customers, however, your existing customers are your competitors top sales prospects.

These accounts will be targeted and unless you are doing some form of Key Account Management you run the risk of losing this business.

Start with the simple premise that every account where you only have one contact is at risk.

The one contact you have may leave, may move internally, maybe furloughed or made redundant, and if you only have one contact you might be in trouble.

Next, look at the services you provide to these clients and if you are still supplying the same product or service that won you the account, then place these accounts on your at-risk list.

Companies change, markets change and it could be that your client is about to outgrow you.

Wherever possible get in front of these accounts and ask them simple straight forward questions such as what you need to do to retain their business.

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5. B2B Marketing & Sales Technology

Buyers are online – everyone knows this, every study shows this, so we need to get online and wherever possible use technology smartly.

Sales & Marketing have for many years enjoyed the benefits of technology, CRM & B2B Marketing Automation but now more than ever businesses need to invest and use the technology to its maximum to drive down operational costs.

Customer Relationship Management needs to move from being an optional tool that is used when there is nothing else to do, to an intelligence rich machine that aids Salespeople not slow them down.

Simple Workflows can be created using Microsoft Power Automate which is free with O365 and eliminates the manual processing of many tasks.

IP Tracking on websites can provide important intelligence that your Growth Teams can use to create bespoke messaging and provide leverage to start early-stage conversations.

Where required, Leaders need to raise the bar in terms of sales performance.

This may require further sales training and sales coaching to bring the teams up to speed and develop their skill set.

Marketers should also be training and learning new skills to make them more self- sufficient and ready to take-off after lock down.

Post Covid-19 Growth needs to be lean, agile and impactful.

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Author Bio

Iain Swanston has spent over 30 years in B2B sales selling, training and leading teams both domestically and internationally.  In addition he serves as an Associate at Strathclyde University Business School where he has delivered the sales content for the Masters in Entrepreneurship since 2015.

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