Asking good questions was seared into my mental consciousness by several mentors early in my career. This notion was further influenced by prodigious reading of Peter Drucker. The premise being that good questions help you to focus and to get to the heart of what matters most. Here’s what I’ve learned over the years: it is hard to do and it takes practice! As I think about the future for B2B Marketers, these questions ring the loudest:
Who Are Our Customers?
We are undergoing the most significant changes in buyer behaviors in several decades as well as seeing the rise of connected social buyers, albeit younger, who behave much differently than traditional buyers. As simple as the question sounds, it is still the hardest question for businesses to answer. With existing buyers, new buyers, and expanding markets constantly in transition – getting insight into answering this question will need to be on top of the list.
Where Did Our Customers Go?
If we randomly picked a ten page year-end report, it would be a good bet that somewhere on page eight or nine in the third paragraph there is mention of it. You know what I am talking about. The one about, in management speak of course, losing existing customers or prospective buyers dropping out of the pipeline. If you don’t have solid answers on where they’ve gone – and why – then it is a safe bet you might see increases in next year’s ten page report.
How Do We Create A Better Buying Experience?
With distinctive differences between products and services narrowing substantially, experience-centered marketing and relationships will be the coveted playing field to win on. When was the last time your organization reviewed processes, systems, departments, and the likes to determine whether they added value to the buying experience? Were processes or systems put in place, now in hindsight, to address an anomaly that occurs in less than 3% of all situations? Meaning, the remaining 97% of existing customers and prospective buyers have to go through hurdles that in the end may cause them to say: forget it!
What Is The Best Way To Interact Directly With Customers?
If we totaled all of the articles written in 2011 in the B2B world, it would make you think that there is nothing happening after this so called 70% window where buyers don’t want sales interaction. Well, ignore at your own peril. What has happened is that it has raised the stakes on the remaining 30-40% where direct interaction from sales is still needed. In service what is the best means for direct interaction? In sales, what resources should be dedicated to field sales versus inside sales? What in the world is social selling and what do we do about it?
How Do We Best Equip Our Employees For The New Way Of Business?
If you haven’t noticed, buyers are a changing. Meaning your organization cannot stand pat without changing also. Buyers are expecting their suppliers and vendors to change with them. If there is a growing perceived gap between how much they’ve changed and how much you haven’t – could mean they will go elsewhere. It is time to look at the talent needed and the equipping technologies needed to have employees ready to do business in a new way.
How Do we Best Assimilate Social Media Into Our Business – The Right Way?
Enriching experiences with social media is here to stay. The cabling has been laid out and becoming hardwired into the mainstream conscious of every business. If you resisted, it is time to take a fresh look and ease up on the tight grip you’ve had on social media expenditures. Granted, the hype was spectacular and some companies bet their whole marketing budget on social media. Those who did will probably rethink that idea and be much the wiser going forward.
What Exactly Is Doing Content Marketing The Right Way?
Many B2B companies are grappling with the ideas behind content marketing and content strategy. It all sounds good – give existing customers and prospective buyers’ great content and that should result in gains in customer loyalty and buyer conversions. How to make that happen is where the grappling is taking place. When does too much content do more harm than good? When does too little content hurt conversions? What exactly is good content versus bad content?
As you see, the questions could never end. The important take away is to be sure to ask them. Ignoring them and sweeping them under the rug will only make the rug a little bumpy. And one day, buyers will simply pull the rug out from underneath you.
(Image by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)