My Uncle Mike was a pretty imposing figure when I was a kid. He stood 6’3”, had broad shoulders, and a “Mr. Clean” hairdo. He grew up in Queens, NY and never lost the thick “Archie Bunker” accent. Our visits to his home (which brought together 10 cousins) often resulted in squabbles over the normal stuff about which elementary school kids bicker. One of those arguments happened when we were stuck inside on a rainy day. Perhaps the cabin fever accelerated the pace, but it wasn’t too long before the bickering had reached a crescendo, and my uncle walked in. He stopped, stared at us over his glasses, and said in a calm, but threatening voice, “Knawk it awff”. We froze. And he continued, “…or I’m gonna come in theya and dent ya heads!” It worked. We found our “indoor voices” very quickly.
As I look across the B2B marketing landscape, I think my Uncle’s message would apply: “Knock it off!” (I’m not 6’3” or an imposing figure, so I don’t think I’ll get away with denting anyone’s head). However, let me explain.
There are a few things that we know about B2B marketing and sales today:
- The buyer has changed and disrupted the status quo. As a result, what we used to know as marketing and sales has changed
- Due to this shift, there is a skills gap that exists with both marketing and sales people
- While technology is prevalent, it’s failing to meet expectations. Its full value is not being realized by organizations
- 4. Volumes of content have been written to address these issues (some by yours truly)
- Change (increased effectiveness) will only occur when we start putting our words into action
So how do we get there? Below are some thoughts for each of the groups in the B2B marketing and sales environment, starting with my own.
Consulting and Service Vendors:
“Knock it off!” Stop trying to be all things to all people. Instead, be clear on what you provide and to whom you provide it. Let’s face it; the “jack of all trades” dynamic doesn’t work today. Buyers want specialists, not generalists. So, if you’re a demand gen agency, then make that your focus. Don’t go telling people that you can also consult on sales process. Conversely, if you’re a consulting firm, don’t bill yourself as an agency. If you represent a certain technology, then be up front about it. Buyers deserve clarity. The buying process is already hard enough, and our lack of clarity on what we do as well as what we don’t do is making it more difficult. The ultimate goal should be bringing value to the customer. That starts with being clear on our offerings. True value will come when the various partners identify their specialty and partner with others who can bring additional expertise to the customer.
Technology vendors (yes this means you Marketing Automation vendors), you’re in much the same boat as the consultants and service providers. So, “Knock it off!” Stop trying to cover every square inch of the market. No solution today can be all things to all companies. And stop focusing on features and functions. Buyers want to generate better quality leads and ultimately more revenue. Show them how to do that. Otherwise, you’ll continue to maintain the statistic that cites more than 75% of automation owners saying they are not getting the value from the platform. Educate the user, and lead the way to helping them meet their objectives.
One more thing . . . stop standing in the public square and berating each other. We have a less than a 20% adoption rate – go sell and educate the market and let the customers determine the legitimate vendors.
Yes, I understand. For years we were deemed irrelevant unless someone needed nice graphics. We used to bemoan the fact that the sales team had all the say, while we were not even seated at the table. But it’s not that way anymore. We are relevant. We can prove that we are contributing to the bottom line. We can prove our worth.
So, “Knock it off”. Let’s quit whining about how we’re underappreciated and start proving our worth. Start developing demand generation and lead management processes that can be measured and increase revenue. If the new world of B2B marketing requires you to acquire new skills, then go get trained. There are so many resources available to help you to begin making a difference in your organization. Below are just a few (Disclaimer: Some of these are one where I have a vested interest):
The instruction is there for the taking, so get going. If your organization will not enable you to learn and gather these new skills, it may be time to hit your network and begin looking for a new job. The time is now!
OK, so traditionally you’ve been the breadwinners in the family, and that’s great. But it’s a different world out there today. So, “Knock it off”, and shed the “go-it-alone cowboy attitude”. Buyers don’t need you as much as they used to. They now have each other, the web and social media. What does this all mean? It means that in most cases, by the time they find you they are already 60-70% of the way down the buying path, having made most of their buying decision.
That doesn’t mean it’s doom and gloom, however. It just means that your approach to selling needs to be integrated with marketing like never before. Marketing can help you drive business, obtain higher quality leads, better engage prospects and enable you to generate more revenue. You need them like they need you.
As with marketing, there is an array of resources to help equip you in the new B2B selling world. Here’s a listing of some:
In addition, look at these thought leaders and learn from them:
David Brock – Partners in Excellence
Gary Hart – Sales Du Jour
Trish Bertuzzi – The Bridge Group
Randy Aronis – Ingenuity Sales Consulting
There is no doubt you are in charge and your new buying process has indeed turned the industry on its head. Please bear with us as we work on these issues, seeking to make your buying experience all you expect it to be.
At the same time, continue to keep us honest. Do all you can to educate yourself. Verify the facts you read, make the best-informed decision possible and provide feedback as it will only make us better.
The time for bickering is over. It’s time to “Knock it off” and begin changing so we can improve the buyers’ experience and perform better for our customers. And let’s do it now. I don’t want to have to send Uncle Mike after “yuse”!