Thursday, October 21

B2B Marketing: Best Strategies for Businesses That Sell to Businesses

The same marketing strategy does not work for all types of companies. B2B marketing (business to business) is a way of doing marketing in companies that sell to other companies, following specific strategies and actions. In this article we will talk about B2B marketing, Capital smart city area of ​​expertise, and the best strategies to follow. Shall we start?

1. B2B Marketing, Industrial Marketing and Technological Marketing

B2B Marketing, Industrial Marketing and Technological Marketing, is it the same?

Before delving into the best strategies for B2B, a distinction must be made between these terms.

Initially, B2B marketing appeared in industrial companies. In this sector, many of the companies that sell to other companies are industrial. They manufacture machinery, parts, materials … that other companies that sell to the end customer need. It was with them that the need to implement actions that managed to generate more business, increase the number of clients (companies) and sales began to appear.

However, business to business companies are not just industrial. Others, for example, offer IT services, SaaS software, food … Therefore, the concept of “industrial marketing” cannot encompass new B2B sectors in which to do marketing, such as: SaaS Marketing or Technological Marketing.

The important thing is to know that in B2B marketing there are many options. And that is an area that must be strengthened to increase business opportunities, especially in the digital environment.

1.1. Key aspects of B2B Marketing (and differences with B2C)

What are the key aspects of B2B marketing? Undoubtedly, business-to-business marketing has its own characteristics, which are key to understanding what the best strategies for B2B companies consist of.

  •  The objective of the purchase: companies do not seek the same thing as a final consumer, nor do they buy in the same way. While B2C purchases are more impulsive and based on emotions, companies seek to meet their production needs. Attention to customer service, deliveries, profitability… factors that are more objective and less “emotional” prevail.
  •  The buyer: who buys in B2B? This question is critical to a B2B marketing strategy. We will always have to direct our actions to our buyer persona. However, in this industry, several people are often involved in the purchasing decision process.
  •  Targeted strategies: our buyers are very specific. In B2B it is possible that your clients belong to very segmented niches. The marketing strategy to follow in your B2B company should be too.
  •  Traditional marketing continues to carry a lot of weight:  although many B2B companies are carrying out digital marketing actions, (especially after confinement) traditional offline marketing actions continue to carry a lot of weight. For example, attending trade fairs or congresses. But, how many B2B companies are able to determine the ROI (Return on Investment) of attending trade shows and conferences?
  •  The purchase cycle: Several professionals intervene in the purchase, they are based on objective factors to buy … all this means that the purchase cycle is longer. In B2B Marketing it is essential to study and monitor our conversion funnel, which will show us at what stage of our sales funnel the users are. And also our conversion rates.

2. Objectives of B2B Marketing today

How is B2B marketing today? What are the objectives of the marketing strategies for this type of company? Let’s review some of the most important points of any B2B strategy.

2.1. Get to know the Buyer Persona

The customer must be at the center of our strategy. At this point there may be some confusion as B2B companies sell to other companies. Let’s try to clear it up!

On the one hand, there are the “fit” companies for our products or services. Here you can enter factors such as location, company size, turnover, the sector in which you work, your needs …

However, even in B2B selling, we deal with people. Here is the importance of the buyer person. The marketing department must do interviews, research to find out who the buyer persona is (position, studies, interests, age, needs …) and what their main pain points are.

2.2. Put the customer at the center

We want to meet our Buyer Persona to put the customer at the center of our B2B marketing strategy. We will create relevant and informative content for them. We will analyze the different stages of your Customer Journey. We will accompany you in your purchase process … Do not forget that your products supply a problem or need of your ideal customers.

2.3. KPIs and ROI analysis: measurable marketing

It must be possible to analyze the results of our B2B marketing actions. It is essential to select the KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) for the actions of our strategy and study their effectiveness. This can be: web traffic, web conversions, number of proposals sent, number of sales …

In addition, it is important to know the ROI (Return on Investment) of marketing actions, to know how to distribute our annual marketing budget and which actions generate the highest return or better results.

Did you know that many B2B companies still don’t track KPIs or their ROI? However, knowing this information is essential to request a larger budget from the company.

2.4. Social Selling 

We address specific professionals. It is important that our sales team works in parallel with the B2B marketing strategy with a Social Selling strategy.

Here, sales professionals prospect their buyer persona through social media and contact them directly. To do this, they must plan their messages well and request material or content from the marketing department.

The main space to develop a Social Selling strategy is LinkedIn, as it is the social network of professionals. However, depending on the sector, we can find professional interest groups, forums… hashtags or Twitter campaigns in which to collaborate or participate in Facebook.

2.5. Smarketing: Marketing and Sales Alignment

One goal for B2B companies is to fully align their marketing and sales department. In this way, B2B marketing and B2B sales actions can be carried out under the same plan. You can proceed with the Customer Journey and improve the overall results of the company.

  1. Marketingis responsible for creating content, generating traffic, brandind, acquire leads and qualify them to facilitate the work of the sales department.
  2. Salesmanages qualified leads (MQL) and identifies them as sales-ready leads (SQL). Then, give feedback to marketing, request content, share information about the main pain points of the buyer person and the sector. And, of course, they close the sales.

Not sure how to align your teams to improve your business opportunities? Download the Smarketing Guide to learn how to achieve this, how HubSpot can help you, and a series of practical cases that you can face.

3. 10 obstacles to Marketing Business to Business

What are the main obstacles that B2B marketing faces? Many of them are reflected in the Connext 2020 Annual Report. Especially with regard to the digitization of marketing and sales processes, fundamental for the development and growth of a B2B company today.

  •  Small marketing teams

Marketing teams in B2B or industrial companies are usually very small, usually made up of a maximum of 2 technicians. Sometimes, there is only the figure of the Marketing Manager.

These companies need to work with external marketing agencies in order to develop a B2B marketing plan and carry it out.

Marketing teams, being small, do not have a great decision-making capacity in the company to improve their B2B marketing strategies.

  •  Large sales teams

Faced with small marketing teams, we find large sales teams, with many salespeople. This company structure is traditional and denotes that a digital strategy is not being carried out.

As a business goes digital, sales teams shrink and marketing teams expand. Furthermore, the commercial teams of B2B companies tend to have a higher average age; a generation that is not so open to constant change and innovation.

  •  Traditional marketing

Many B2B companies continue to give preference to traditional marketing actions: brochures, advertisements in print media, fairs, congresses … As a result of the confinement caused by Covid-19, many industrial companies have been harmed by not having digitized their marketing departments and sales. Will the change accelerate?

  •  Little digital training

You cannot digitize a company who lacks training to do so. It is a complex process for which not only an investment in technology is needed, but it is also necessary to accompany the human team in this process.

Normally, the sales teams of B2B companies have little digital training, so they are not putting strategies such as Social Selling or digital selling into practice.

  •  Investment in production processes, but not in marketing

Industrial, technological and B2B companies have made a large investment in production processes over the years, but not in their internal processes. Both marketing and sales are one step behind compared to B2C companies.

  •  No tracking of KPIs / ROI

As the Connext 2020 Report reflects, many B2B companies still do not track KPIs or study their ROI at the close of the year. A B2B marketing strategy does not make sense if a process of continuous analysis of results is not carried out.

  •  Different CRM for marketing and sales

To generate and increase the company’s database, it is common to have a CRM. However, many B2B companies do not have a CRM that is shared by the sales and marketing team. Sometimes they work with different software. Thus, they cannot study the traceability of their results, or by what source the leads or users who have become customers come from.

  •  Emerging digital marketing actions

It is normal to have a website, it is common to write in a blog … but doing it in a professional way, with SMART growth objectives, content strategy and contact acquisition actions, is not so frequent in B2B companies. When it comes to B2B marketing, the actions chosen by the vast majority of companies show a state of incipient digitization of the sector.

  •  Little creativity

Purchases are mainly based on objective factors. Creativity has been relegated to B2C, where shopping is emotional. Many companies and marketers forget creativity. And this should be present in any B2B marketing strategy.

  •  There is no marketing and sales alignment

Message to all B2B companies: Smarketing is no longer an option!

4. Key elements in a B2B Marketing strategy

What does a business-to-business company need that decides to start developing a B2B marketing strategy? We talk about all the elements to consider.

4.1. Marketing plan and analysis: roadmap

The first step is to do an internal and external analysis of the company, sector and market. It is essential to know well, among other things, the buyer persona that the company is targeting. What interests you, what problems do you have, what challenges do you face …

Next, it is important to analyze what actions they are taking and determine a strategic B2B marketing plan that contains the various actions for the attraction, consideration and decision phase of customers.

In short, a roadmap is needed to cement the strategy to be followed. And this is the fundamental element to start.

Do you need a roadmap for your company’s B2B marketing strategy? Request information by contacting our team.

4.2. Web and Social Profiles

Surely, you have noticed that the playing field of B2B marketing has in many cases moved to the digital environment. It is a sector that continues to carry out many offline marketing actions. But digitization, also in the areas of marketing and sales in B2B, continues to gain ground year after year. 

Therefore, another fundamental element for companies that want to squeeze their possibilities in B2B marketing is a website and social profiles. Thanks to these elements, you can start attracting potential customers to your products and services.

4.3. Complete CRM like HubSpot

There is no use starting to increase the traffic on your website if we do not work in parallel with the conversion and start building a database. A powerful CRM is essential to manage all the users who leave their data through your website.

At Connext we work with HubSpot, a CRM that combines a suite for marketing, sales and services. If you want to try it for free, request it here.

The most important thing is to work with a CRM that is common to the various teams in the company, to have the entire database centralized on the same platform. From HubSpot, for example, we can study the traceability of contacts. That is, they enter our website, leave us their data, go to the marketing and sales team. All the data is collected in the same CRM.

4.4. Digital training of the technical team 

In order to develop an effective B2B marketing strategy, it is necessary for the marketing and sales teams to have digital training. Training the human team is essential, to put into practice digital marketing techniques, adapted to the B2B sector and its specific needs.

Especially, to leave behind the fairs and other offline actions from which no real data on return on investment can be extracted.

In sales, the sales team must also have digital training. In B2B, a very common sales technique is through social networks (Social Selling). Therefore, sales professionals must know how to proceed and manage their sales process in the digital environment.

4.5. Strategic B2B marketing plan

The marketing plan is a management tool that establishes all the actions that must be undertaken by a company in the marketing area throughout a year. It compiles all the actions for the attraction, consideration and decision phase, as well as the available resources (tools, equipment …).

5. Marketing Strategies for B2B

With all the previous elements in mind and on the table, it is time to consider what is the best B2B marketing strategy for companies in the sector. Each action will always have to be adapted to your company, products, service and buyer persona. But what are the main strategies that you should know?

Let’s see them!

5.1. Inbound Marketing 

Inbound Marketing is a strategy that, if you work in the B2B sector, you must know. It is a very effective way to do B2B marketing and in the digital environment. The objective is to implement an attraction strategy that gets your customers to come to you, reducing expenses and commercial efforts.

It consists of setting up a “machinery” that manages to attract your clients to your website, that invites them to leave their contact information, that automatically matures them and accompanies them in their decision process. And finally, they ask for information or want to speak to a sales professional.

Inbound Marketing is based on the creation of content. In B2B many processes must be explained, and many clients do not even know what the solution to their problems or needs may be. In fact, the purchase process is longer and therefore that “extra” of content and time that Inbound contributes is needed.

5.2. Social Selling

The B2B companies that are generating the best results are those that have aligned their marketing and sales departments. It is what is known as Smarketing (Sales + Marketing).

The commercial team has a lot to say in the marketing and attraction strategy, with strategies such as Social Selling. It consists of starting a process of prospecting, contact and conversation with prospects. Finally, a de-virtualization step to take the conversation from the online environment to the offline environment and generate a sale.

What is the difference between Inbound and Social Selling strategies? We could think of Inbound as going fishing and waiting patiently for the fish to arrive. However, Social Selling is a hunting strategy. It consists of prospecting and “attacking” directly users of interest to the company.

Both strategies are complementary and can be developed between marketing and sales to further improve results.

5.3. Account Based Marketing

Account Based Marketing (or ABM) is a very interesting B2B marketing strategy. Have you ever heard of her? Instead of launching actions from the company to attract other client companies as we do with Inbound marketing, we focus on a large account. A specific account or company. The objective is to attract them to our company, start a specific Buyer Journey with them and make them our client.

As you can see, for this strategy, absolutely all the material and the process used in the attraction, consideration and decision phases must be specifically determined for the company we are focusing on.

There are many ways to develop an ABM B2B marketing strategy. One of them is, for example, through LinkedIn. That is, we would combine a Social Selling and Content (Inbound) strategy with actions that direct us directly to the professionals of a specific company. And then, that they allow us to reach the professional with the final decision to acquire our product / service.

5.4. Loyalty

Keeping a customer and getting them to buy again is much cheaper than finding new customers. Based on this premise, we determine that a B2B marketing strategy that we cannot ignore is the loyalty of our customers.

What can we do here? In the B2B sector, incident resolution is one of the key points. Many companies are comfortable working with companies that are able to quickly resolve their problems and are easily serviced. A ticketing system, NPS surveys … are elements that can help you improve your loyalty actions. 

Then go back to your creative business! Think about what other actions can achieve the loyalty of your customers. The objective is to get them to recommend you in their circle of contacts.

6. Success Stories of B2B Marketing in Connext 

At Connext we are an agency specialized in B2B Marketing. We have helped our clients: 

  1. In the attraction phase, strategically increasing traffic to your corporate website.
  2. We have generated new sales opportunities, increasing the conversion of leads and establishing qualification processes to determine which ones are of interest to their companies and thus facilitate the work of the commercial team.
  3. We have improved business opportunities, increased sales.
  4. The image that companies show their customers.