Prospect and customer connection is where marketing and communication tyres hit the road. Connection in all forms and formats, social to business, has been suspended in a surreal state for more than a year. Face-to-face meetings, trade shows and networking sessions – the most critical tools for customer connections and engagements – are obsolete for the foreseeable future. We are in an uncharted territory of ‘Omni-digital’ now. The pandemic hasn’t introduced the digital transformation of communication channels for B2B marketers but expedited the process.
It will take a long time to go back to normal if that is at all possible. Meanwhile, the digital connection channels will spread their wings beyond webinars and newsletters and try to find a sustainable form. This will widen the gap between the winners and losers in B2B marketing – as the checklist-based, activity-driven marketing will not only become obsolete, but impossible. If we look at the complete buying cycle of a B2B procurement, as presented by Gartner – it can be divided into six specific jobs to be done. The trigger can be initiated by aspirational reasons or regulatory changes, or a macroeconomic impact, like the situation we are facing today.
Then each prospect needs to go through four different stages – problem identification, solution exploration, requirements building, and supplier selection. Throughout each stage, they need to validate their assumptions, fine-tune the requirements and, most importantly, create consensus. Although it looks straightforward, the actual process is more iterative and nuanced.
That is especially the case now – when most companies are following a rule-of-thumb ‘wait and see’. Looping back, taking a step forward followed by three steps backwards is a common scenario. That’s the reason the old workflow of handing over the lead from marketing to sales – after nurturing them to become sales qualified leads – is no longer feasible. In the new regular, marketing and sales can’t rely on a linear sequential process – it should be a parallel process.
To say that is easy is an understatement. The reality is riddled with departmental silos and organisational politics – but we need to break down the wall between the two departments to survive. There is no other choice.
About the author
Anol Bhattacharya is CEO of GetIT and has over 20 years of experience with hi-tech and telco clients in the field of B2B marketing strategy and consulting. Anol is a regular columnist on the topic of B2B marketing in various print and online portals and has given keynote addresses, and been a panellist, at major marketing conferences across the APAC region.