Sales and marketing – always a person-to-person affair, but now more than ever before. In the age of digitalisation it isn’t just B2C marketing that is being redefined in the light of customer requirements and crucial marketing success factors. B2B marketing, too, is under considerable pressure and in due course will undergo far-reaching changes for everyone involved.
The fact that such periods of change and pressure are the very ones that provide the path and the energy for new orientations, as well as markets with changing structures and participants, is familiar to us from many and varied situations in the past. Digitalisation, and the concomitant necessity of changing our view of and for customers and of further developing our own sales and marketing work, are creating distinct potential for B2B enterprises as well as huge opportunities to set themselves apart from the competition.
The starting situation is that B2B marketing is facing major challenges:
– As in the B2C segment, customers are steadily becoming harder to please. This requires the substantial further development of goods and services and a high level of interaction.
– New market participants are entering the markets with hitherto unknown models or unconventional business models. These are often more flexible, contain new services and have a far more individual attitude to their customers than the players in evidence so far.
– Customers are extremely well-informed and have a high level of procurement competence that translates into a high degree of procurement power for them. Several pioneering companies have made an early start in finding new answers to these challenges by digitalised means and by applying a new dimension of relationship management – and their results have been successful: by enhancing customer value, costs can be reduced and above-average organic sales growth plus significantly improved marketing productivity can be achieved.
Several pioneering companies have made an early start in finding new answers to these challenges by digitalised means and by applying a new dimension of relationship management – and their results have been successful: by enhancing customer value, costs can be reduced and above-average organic sales growth plus significantly improved marketing productivity can be achieved.
What are the secrets of success? Whether it’s B2C or B2B, we are always dealing with people. People who have to make decisions must also have the feeling that their decision is the right one. By what means can this be achieved?
Relationship management – the more in-depth, the better
Deep marketing knowledge of the customer as an individual is the most important basis. Who is this person, what are the suitable arguments irrespective of the product, is there potential support for my marketing work in my contact person’s environment – or individuals who can influence the respective purchasing decision negatively? What are their motives and what are the suitable arguments in each case?
These are just a few questions that should be answered in the course of intelligent relationship management and processed using appropriate measures. The deeper the resultant customer matrix and the systematic customer analysis become and the more individual the measures derived from that are, the greater the customers’ trust, and therefore the marketing success, will be.
Future-oriented marketing is linked digitally and intelligently in the individual measures. Successful business enterprises are already achieving an extensive linkage of sales-related and digital activities and opening up totally new sales channels for themselves.
By the same token, processes and systems are being enhanced in a way that enables customers to conclude simple and trouble-free transactions from anywhere themselves. This makes it possible for the company to save resources and make processes leaner. The outcome of this is not only greater customer satisfaction, but also a considerable reduction in the company’s own costs.
Just keep it simple – there’s a great deal of truth in that, also in respect of B2B marketing. The simpler it is for the customer to understand and buy a product or service, the sooner he is prepared to do so and the greater is his level of basic trust. But the “keep it simple” principle plays a relevant part not only in the product range per se. Anyone who, compared to the competition, can simplify processes, facilitate interactions more directly and access possibilities at any time, can secure relevant advantages on the market for themselves.
Individuality and experience are crucial in the B2B segment as well
The more personally one speaks to the customer, the more individual the offering and the more positive and stimulating the customer experience and the fulfilment of the performance promise are, the greater the marketing opportunities will be as well – a result that we are familiar with from the B2C segment and is equally pivotal in the B2B segment.
Added value generates selling value
The B2B segment, too, contains a diversity of possibilities for creating sales-based added value, reducing costs and generating sales growth. The main focus of this should be solution orientation. This can be managed, for example, by bundling product and service offerings or by way of integrated solutions.
Cooperation is a source of strength
With the right cooperation partners, transaction costs can be reduced, additional services offered and costs reduced further – and sales increased. Cooperation is also a source of fresh potential for opening up new markets and operating across company boundaries.
Thinking beyond sales and marketing
Customers can be relevant for business enterprises not only from a marketing point of view. In matters of innovation, too, cooperating with customers has proven to be highly successful. In this respect, what is required of the sales and marketing functions is going to change as well. It won’t just be about selling the products any more; it will be about identifying customers with added-value potential, fulfilling it and using it for the company’s own added value. In this way, sales and marketing have the possibility of influencing and optimising the efficiency of sales and marketing, product development, purchasing and production in a highly positive manner.
In summary, digitalisation in the B2B segment makes it possible to offer considerably more sophisticated and even more individual solutions. The great thing about it is that the stringent, intelligently linked implementation makes it simpler and more convenient than ever before to reduce costs significantly.
The basis for implementation is a commercial and marketing-related reorientation from the inside out accompanied by professional project management, an intensive and continual potential and process observation and optimisation, as well as an interdisciplinary cooperation across all relevant authorities and departments.
There is no general recipe for success – every business enterprise must work out relevant and specifically suitable success models for itself and implement and enhance them together with the management and staff.
What opportunities and factors can you see for your company and what are your views on the issue of digitalisation? I look forward to an exchange of views with you on this enthralling topic.