B2B brands have been navigating a changing sales process in recent years. And since strong sales performance is a key component in any company’s health, other departments should be alert to these shifts in the field.
Since their specialties can be so connected, marketers in particular should be closely attuned to the needs and wants of their sales reps. B2B field marketers in particular can offer a lot of support to their companions on the sales side.
Here are some important takeaways for field marketers who want to understand today’s sales process.
1. Relationships Are Still Key
This is one thing that hasn’t changed. Sales has always been a relationship-based trade, and marketing is the same.
Even though the sales process has gone through some upheaval thanks to new technology, relationships are still at the crux of success. Trends also point to more and more people being involved in a customer’s decision to make a purchase.
Field marketing creates an opportunity to see a ground-level view. When you’re actually talking to people face to face, walking around a conference with them, or sharing a coffee, you gain valuable insights into their priorities, likes, and needs.
The relationships you build can provide a strong foundation that sales reps will use to close.
2. You’re Not the Only Expert
Here’s where the shifts come into play.
In many traditional models, prospective buyers had to rely on sales and marketing pros to get their information. Thanks to the Internet, however, now anyone can brush up on the topic of their choice.
This is good and bad for the sales process. It can speed things along, making prospective customers more aware of their options and needs. But it also changes the role of a sales rep in the customer’s eyes.
That’s where field marketing can make a big difference. You offer prospective buyers a different type of education. When you give a demo or a class about your product, you should be prepared to tailor it to more informed audiences. You’ll hear more technical questions (and the askers will expect competent answers).
You’re helping them be ready to interact with a sales rep who will take on the role of a consultant rather than a teacher. Go into your marketing events ready to treat your prospects as equals. They may know a lot more than you think.
3. Know Your Sales Team’s Tools
We’ve come a long way from the Rolodex and index cards. Today’s top sales teams are working with vastly more sophisticated systems for managing their information and customer relationships.
To be most helpful for your sales colleagues, the marketing team should also be up to date on what software the sales team is using. Ideally, you should be using it too.
Getting both field marketers and sales reps in the same ecosystem can help them become closer allies. It offers your whole organization a centralized place for sharing insights, which makes it easier for both groups to do their jobs.
What marketers learn in the field can help land a sale, while the sales reps’ insights can help create stronger, more targeted marketing content and events. It’s a place where all the involved parties share what they learn, what they’ve done, and who they’ve met in the course of landing a customer. By the time final paperwork is signed, that adds up to a huge volume of data that nobody will want to keep in their heads.
There are many options and features available to B2B operations in the CRM software market. Make sure you’ve got tools that both sales and marketing departments can and will use. For instance, some will help you create customized reports about the sales process that can help present information to the top brass. If you’re having trouble explaining the ROI of field marketing work or making strategic suggestions, good data can make your argument more convincing.
4. Be Online and Be Social
Field marketing focuses on live, in-person events, but that doesn’t mean you’re exempt from having an online presence. Being active on social media has several benefits in the modern sales process.
For starters, social media is a gold mine of information about your desired audience. With all the tools available for social insights or targeting, smart field marketers and sales reps can get a leg up if they’re observant.
Plenty of the B2B world is equally as active on social media networks as they are at conferences and conventions. Besides, social circles can help give you more ins with the locals—even before you’re on the ground.
Beyond the opportunities for getting cold hard data, having a social presence has become a must for any field. Networking today is more than just schmoozing at cocktail parties looking for an in. Building a group of genuine connections inside and outside your field is a big part of how the business world works today.
So, chat with people on Twitter, LinkedIn, or whatever networks are most useful for your industry. Be a part of the online community, and you’ll find a large amount of crossover into your real-world connections.
Along with the above tips, the most important thing for sales and field marketing teams to do is to stay in contact. These departments should be checking in with each other regularly to make sure goals are aligned.
The sales process isn’t done changing, and neither is marketing. Things are usually in flux at the industry- and company-wide level. Keep the communication channels open so that you can be the best allies possible. Make a strong relationship with your sales team a part of your B2B marketing playbook.