B2B buyers behaviour require marketers to focus on influencing the business ecosystem
Although this evolution has started a long while ago, it is only relatively recently that the B2B marketing and sales community as a whole has realized the magnitude of the challenge: today, in most cases, potential B2B buyers do not want to be disturbed by marketing talk and sales call coming in at a – perceived – inappropriate moment.
For very rational reasons (do more with less people) and less rational ones (a frantic way to work with often poor time management, but few people dare to speak about it), time that can be allocated to potential suppliers is very limited. For a vendor, the key question seems to be how to detect the appropriate moment to engage with the prospective client, or how to generate this moment.
This is a very tough challenge. Many of the traditional marketing concepts and tools such as positioning matrixes, 4Ps (used in a classic way), trade shows and events, and many traditional demand generation tactics, are not really operational to tackle this issue. Of course Digital Marketing is part of the answer but it is surely not the full solution. So, in such a business environment, how to drive Marketing and Sales ( in that logical order)?
Buyers take information from peers and other trusted sources
The seed of the solution lays in the fact that those potential buyers and influencers of the buying process who do not want marketing material or sales calls, still need information on products and solutions, and they want it from trusted sources. Confronted to common or outstanding business issues, professionals prefer to talk to their peers, people with the same type of job facing the same issues. They also appreciate information coming from a source of information considered as neutral, such as consultants, journalists and bloggers with a solid reputation. Marketers need to play on this.
A new (evolved) role for Marketing
Because buyers want to take information from peers, the primary job of marketers has become;
- to make their company relevant to those who influence buying decisions
- to establish and maintain a dialogue on relevant business issues with professionals and influencers.
This is especially valid for the sale of high added value products and services, although it is easy to find examples of commoditized markets where these mechanisms are also at play. In order to play this game of relevance and dialogue, vendors, whatever their size, need to use the concepts of business ecosystem and of influencers. The power of these concepts is universal as – beyond some vocabulary specifics – they can be applied to all aspects of managing relationships: marketing, corporate communications, public relations, government affairs, and even internal communications. These concepts and the reality of the business environment are the key drivers behind the fact that marketing and communications have merged into a unified, complex and multi-shaped discipline.
The next post will explore the concept of Business ecosystem. Stay tune!