The B2B Marketing Excellence podcast, was held on Feb 24th, 2023, with Mike Darnell and Thomas Goldsmith as hosts. The topic of discussion was B2B Digital Marketing in Times of Turbulence, and the podcast was based on pre-submitted questions. A 60-second video was shown at the beginning of the podcast to introduce Vimi, a digital agency that focuses on Consulting, Design and Development for Branding websites, apps, and Digital Marketing. We have been around since 2010 and have worked with over 250 client organizations.
Vimi mainly focuses on what we call “Invisible Giants -Industry, manufacturing & finance B2B companies whose activities shape our daily lives, but are unknown to the general public. These companies rely on trust and long-term relationships between vendors and clients because the transactions they run are usually very large. An example provided was the production of computer mice and the company that makes them relying on the company producing LEDs to provide the right LEDs in the right amount for many years to come. With the shift towards B2B digital marketing, these invisible giants are now looking to see how they can engage through online platforms.
Building Relationships for the Long Term Online
As a B2B marketer, solutions can be complicated, and customers need to pay attention to understand them in-depth. B2B marketers need to focus on building trust and credibility with their counterparts/customers. The pandemic and subsequent shift online have impacted the foundational relationship between B2B companies and their customers. When interactions take place in a physical space, the situation is very different from when the space is digital. Non-verbal communication, such as body language and tone, play a significant role in physical interactions, whereas they are lost in online meetings. People’s brains are starved for 70% of the inputs that they usually have to decipher interactions. This phenomenon is called Zoom fatigue
To counter online meeting fatigue, meetings should be 45 minutes maximum, and if they need to continue, another meeting should be scheduled. Long negotiations that require detail-oriented thinking should be broken down into piecemeal meetings, and a pre-planned schedule should be followed.
Trust and Credibility
The first step in a B2B relationship is to establish trust and credibility. This can be achieved by showcasing logos of big companies that the provider has worked with on their website or presentations. The potential partner needs to know that the provider is trustworthy before discussing solutions or services. B2B marketers need to focus on providing the right information at the right time, considering the counterpart’s brief attention span and the unfortunate reality that they have other companies they are considering. This approach aligns with the four P’s of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
An easy way to start establishing credibility is to have a 30- to 60-second video that introduces your company. This video should state who you are, your accomplishments so far, and what you do. Starting a meeting with this short video is an excellent way to start building a relationship. You could also put this video into your email signature. It’s a short clip that anyone in your organization can use whenever they send an email, and people can quickly understand the context of what the conversation is about. Keep the video under a minute, as research shows that you lose about 50% of your audience for every 30 seconds of video viewership.
Many companies have a lot they want to say, but your audience doesn’t need to hear everything. Remember that your audience might be multitasking, so you need to win and maintain their attention.
You can’t always meet your Decision Maker
In B2B processes, the team doing the pitching is often not exposed to all the decision-makers. If you’re meeting with a procurement officer and a few members of the operations team related to what you’re selling, but the big decision-makers aren’t in the room, how do you cope with that?
In these turbulent times, experienced sales-people can usually sense the concerns of every role and decision-maker in the buyer’s team. Start by making a slide for each specific department and their goals in relation to what you’re selling. Be open and transparent about acknowledging all these roles and prepare some materials for them. Let them know that you’d appreciate it if the message gets to whoever it may concern if that specific person is not in the meeting.
Emphasize that you understand the decision is being made by a team, and each member of the buyer’s team has their own interests and challenges. If you can help each one score a win in their domain, they’ll vote in your favor even if they’re not in the room.
If your solution is compared to another, and the competitor is better, you need to weigh it so that you’re still chosen. Realistically, what everybody wants is the best long-term relationship-based
solution, and people are willing to pay a little more for that. Companies want to know that you’ll be there for years to supply them what was promised, and that it can be delivered with peace of mind. That is paramount for B2B.
B2B = Long Buying Cycles
What is a buying cycle? A good example of a short buying cycle is a mug; you walk to a shop, pick up the mug, pay for it, and you are done. A long buying cycle, on the other hand, entails the opposite. An example would be Kirloskar, a company that manufactures huge industrial pumps and is now pitching for a new power station. The buying cycle can take years from the moment they hear about the project, to locating the correct decision-makers, and until they are actually going through a buying process.
So how do you cope with that in turbulent times? You need to start by identifying all the steps. First, account for the fact that members on your team and members on their team may change over time.
B2B sales cycles are best managed on CRM
You really need to document where you are in the process very carefully. If it was offline and there are a few people in the room and one of them then changes their role, that’s okay. But if it’s all online, you really need to be very strict with people in terms of how they document meetings in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM). The CRM becomes really important when dealing with tight minute meetings, and being very detailed becomes very meaningful.
If somebody transitions, and you bring in their replacement, you can easily bring them up to speed about the different ways that different members interact and what they find most meaningful. If you have all that documented in the CRM, then when people are replaced, it’s relatively easy to continue the process. But if every time you start from scratch, you’re risking losing all the effort that’s been put into this large transaction so far, and it’s very tragic.
On your own side, you should also be prepared, especially in your sales team. The reality is that people enter as a junior salesperson in their early to mid-20s, and they are very eager to close deals and make money. However, the problem with the B2B cycle is that it takes months for a transaction to take place. Young associates are not going to see a lot of money in commissions in the first few months of their employment because they haven’t closed any deals yet. In this way, all the knowledge and training they have received seems wasted. The key to this is communication. Be very clear and precise in everything that you do, especially in a team, so that everyone knows the bigger picture.
B2B Marketers care about Return on Investment
Everybody wants to know how to get ROI for their marketing. It’s still early days for understanding how people are getting ROI from marketing with this transition online. If the discussion is about long buying cycles and the transaction that takes years, there is not much that can be said as there have not yet been years since the pandemic. The first batch of deals post-pandemic is being closed right now. According to a poll from the Digital Marketing Institute
, in 2022, B2B marketers claimed to be getting their best ROI from search engine optimization and paid social, with the worst being in mass media, i.e., radio and TV. Radio is at 1%, and paid social is at 31%. All the online platforms are over 20%, whereas everything that’s offline is in the low single digits with nothing above 4%.
The B2B Marketing Excellence Podcast’s second episode will be held on the 24th of March 2023 on the Vimi.co Facebook page. The topic will be ‘Brand Website Analysis,’ and if there are any specific questions that you want answered, please register
and send in your questions and website for analysis before midnight on the 22nd of March…”