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Are Your Marketing and Sales Systems Broken?

Everything Is Broken

Everything Is Broken (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For many in marketing and sales, the march continues towards the attempt to develop tactical plans that will connect them to buyers.  We have seen many variations over the past two as these attempts are made.  Whether they relate to demand generation, content marketing, sales enablement, and more, efforts are being made to make adaptations to changing buying behaviors.

After two or three years, there is still much frustration that some of these new tactics are not working.  Senior executives are scratching their heads and wondering where the ROI is on some of these new tactics.    The problem may lie in the inert marketing and sales systems that are in place.  By systems, I do not refer to technology.  Technology enables systems and processes.  What I am specifically referring to is that companies have built-in systems and processes that have been in existence for years and may not have undergone a serious overhaul in many years.  Simply put – in today’s connected buyer world company marketing and sales systems can be broken and out of alignment with buyers.

Buyer Designed Systems

B2B companies today will need to evaluate whether they have systems and processes that are buyer designed.  If they are not designed with the buyer in mind, then getting good results from whatever systems or processes you have in place will be a difficult mountain to climb.  This especially true for larger organizations where layers upon layers of systems and processes have been designed over the past two decades – and they can be as thick as the United States tax code.

In marketing and sales, various systems and processes have been built around how to market and sell to the customer and prospective buyer.  When we live in a frantic chaotic world, the annual budgeting process unfortunately can become routine and thoroughly evaluating the results of in-placed systems and processes can be overlooked.  Sales systems, which have been put into place several years ago and with considerable investment, may no longer be aligned with the buyers of today.  Marketing systems and processes may be slow in transitioning to be more aligned with new buyer behaviors associated with search and content.

Here’s what happens when strategies and systems as well as processes are out of alignment themselves.  There is a struggle to execute.  When there is a struggle to execute, teams generally will fall back to the way things have always been done.  And, when you go back to the way things have always been done, then they will be out of alignment with buyers.

Based on Knowledge of the Buyer

The key to aligning newer marketing and sales strategies with your systems and processes is buyer knowledge.  Without it, the connection between them will not be evident.  With true buyer research, the glaring holes in systems and processes get shined on with a bright light.  For example, many a frustrated sales rep will personally walk a buyer through systems and processes to close a deal – out of fear that the company’s own systems and processes will cause a deal to go awry.  And many a frustrated buyer has abandoned a buying process and decision with a company out of frustration from too many hurdles to jump before they can get the information they want.

The design of systems today within companies will need to revolve around the buyer.  What’s interesting in this area today relating to strategy, tactics, and systems is that companies struggle to get the right frame of reference.  Most organizations continue to have the frame of reference that even with new strategies in place – the focus is still on marketing or selling to the buyer.  The buyers of today are looking for a connection with them - not seeking a connection to them.

Do you know enough about your buyers to discern the difference between strategies and systems designed to do activities to the buyer versus with the buyer?  Understanding this critical difference today in designing system and processes that allow you to be with the buyer can put you in alignment with buyers – and ahead of competitors.

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One Thing That Can Get You From Here to There in 2012 and Beyond

image from www.flickr.comIn the world of B2B management, there are numerous head scratching efforts going on as we peer ahead into 2012 and beyond.  Primarily, it has to do with how to get from here to there.  One of the issues faced by B2B companies with the high degree of uncertainty, global economic turbulence, and a rapidly changing buyer driven and social world is figuring out where the from here to there actually leads to.

Recent buyer and management interviews tell me a lot of head scratching continues to go on.  Plenty of internal angst and debate is taking place on how to get from here to there, what is needed, what should be done, and what a lot of people think.  The what to do aspects of internal planning usually center on strategy and tactical questions such as:

How do we grow revenues?
What can we do to generate more leads?
How do we expand business with existing customers?
What type of content will drive more traffic to our web site?
Should we get more active with social media?
Do we need to improve our product quality and offering?
Should we boost marketing and sales budgets?
Do we need to hire more people?
What should our pricing strategy be going forward?
What new technologies do we need to adopt?

As you can see, the list of questions for B2B organizations can be endless.  And plenty of them have to do with what should we do – probably more so than how to get from here to there.  What is striking however is that there is a tendency to dive into the angst over and debated questions without truly having clarity on where from here to there actually should end up.  As they say in the venture capital world: sometimes there is no there – there.  So in this riddle of thinking, to figure out how to get from here to there, you first have to figure out where the there actually is.

What is the one thing you can do to figure out where the there is and how to get from here to there?

You have guessed it by now, I am sure, if you have read my articles before:

Attaining deep qualitative B2B buyer insights.

Investing in deep qualitative B2B buyer insights means talking to your customers – and yes that sometimes means with the help of a third party.  Let’s face it – in certain situations buyers are more revealing to a third party when the perceived wall of sales agenda comes down and the expertise level to conduct qualitative research is not in-house.  However the point is this: to be informed on where the there is actually means your company needs to be talking with existing customers and prospective buyers deeply outside of a marketing and selling context.

Revealing buyer insights can tell you plenty about where your existing customers and buyers are headed.  Deep buyer insights give you a clue on where the planning of how to get from here to there is suppose to end up.  Giving you answers to the above mentioned type questions as well as what you should be doing to align with your buyers.

Collecting deep qualitative B2B buyer insights – before you get in over your head in angst and debate – can alleviate much of the headache that comes with strategy and tactical planning.  Imagine a meeting with less I think we should debating going on and more discussion on how we need to help existing customers and prospective buyers get from here to there.    Helping your customers and buyers to get from here to there helps you figure out how you and your company will get from here to there.  The definition of where that is, if you are aligned with your buyers, should be a two sided coin.  Helping buyers achieve their emblem of success on their side of the coin ensures that you will have an emblem of success on your side of the coin.

The one thing you can do is acquire deep qualitative buyer insights.  The type of insights that inform you on the map you need to put in place that shows you, your teams, and your company how to get from here to there.  Now – can you imagine getting anywhere in the world without a map?

(Image by Kenny Madden © All rights reserved)

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