Being rigid with a flexible approach
B-to-b sales and marketing executives need to be more flexible in their business practices if they intend to capitalize on all of the constant change sweeping through the economy and business purchasing, according to Ben Bradley, managing director of marketing and lead generation company Macon Raine.
Bradley, a contributing writer to Follow the Lead, recently hosted a ZoomInfo-sponsored Webinar titled, “Agile Marketing in a Changing Economy.” The overall: In light of the volatility in b-to-b markets wrought by the Internet – and now the explosion in social media – companies must fundamentally rethink their business practices or they may end up getting pummeled. (Just check out the Fortune 500 list from 1980; at least half the companies are dust. And that’s well before “dot-com” entered the global lexicon.) “Mike Tyson said, ‘Everyone has a plan until they’re punched in the face,’” Bradley said. “Companies need to have more agile marketing, where turning on a dime is part of the business proposition.”
Bradley stressed that traditional methodologies of managing customers no longer suffice in a Web 2.0 world and that companies have to institutionalize a flexible approach to sales and marketing practices. “Product marketing has to map to new buyer behavior,” he said. “Conventional wisdom says [sellers] need to reach people early in the process, based on business value. It’s a linear approach from awareness to need to selection, but no purchase of consequence is happening that way anymore.”
In a digital age buyers no longer need anyone to hold their hands and go from one stage of the sales process to another. Buyers are strategizing on their own terms. It’s up to the sales rep to be supple enough to respond to the buyer according to his or her particular M.O. “A buyer may skip all the steps in the process and then talk to his neighbor about an aspect to a solution,” Bradley said. “There’s no single series of selling in order to get to a close.”
Of course, at the heart of the new paradigm is data management, or lack thereof. Bradley pointed to a study by SiriusDecisions showing that 25% of the average b-to-b database is inaccurate, which “levies a ‘bad-data tax’ on every marketing campaign and program that employs it,” he said.
To access the Webinar, please click here.
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