Lifecycle Marketing

By: Frank Chenn @ ChannelReady

Today, companies must understand a 360-degree view of its prospects and customers lifecycle, in order to serve their needs at each stage in the new buyers journey.

Today, B2B companies struggle with a highly competitive business landscape, that puts pressure on their sales and marketing teams to adopt new ways to fuel growth. Technology has influenced buyer behavior and accelerated the pre-sales process by giving greater control to prospects and consumers. A potential customer can go online and learn about your company, do extensive research in advance of the sale, narrow down their search parameters, and identify the people + brands they want to engage with.

These rapid shifts in buyer behavior have transformed the traditional “top down marketing funnel,” which used to be driven by more linear marketing tactics to one that is characterized by random access moments. In addition, there are increased pools of competitors and an overabundance of marketing channels, creating confusion for a business to manage. Fortunately, there are practical ways for a company to grow sales and invest in marketing. But it requires patience and the right plan, customized for you.

Over the course of 25 years, we have studied many sales and marketing teams, ranging in size from small to large, and have observed, most companies invert their sales and marketing efforts by expanding sales too soon. Many tend to grow sales without proper market validation, a clear message or having the right tools in place to support sales acceleration. Acknowledging the complexities of today’s integrated sales + marketing cycles, simply reinforces the need for a realistic plan.

Companies must develop realistic sales + marketing plans to support today’s buyer journey. Greater emphasis should be placed on creating early stage awareness, educating prospects about what you do, and, most importantly, the problems you can solve for them.

Many B2B companies rely on B2C marketing tactics to drive a sale. It’s one thing if you sell low cost, low margin products, like home appliances, mobile phones, televisions or products that are readily available online, however, it’s an entirely different thing when you’re selling customized enterprise software. In that environment, prospects need to consider a host of user requirements, product features, set-up costs, administration and maintenance. The more complex and expensive your product or service, generally, it will take longer to market and sell. More extensive education and training becomes a requirement, while more people within the organization need to validate and approve the sale - all details leading to extended time and effort.

Since no two companies are the same, why would you waste your money on “me too” marketing tactics that duplicate what everyone else is doing? After all, isn’t the point of your business to offer something special to your customers? Despite your desire to grow sales quickly, there are no short cuts. Today, marketing teams and executive sponsors need to understand a holistic view of their prospects and understand where they are in their own internal sales and marketing lifecycle. They need to develop targeted roadmaps that help sales departments win deals by creating the right tools that will engage a prospect at the right contextual moments. This also means, taking the proper time to do your homework, to research and identify who you currently serve, what they buy and why.

It’s more important than ever to identify the things that differentiate you from your competition. Prior to jumping into sales and marketing automation, invest in research to understand your customers and require teams to become experts on your company, products and brand.

As a prospective buyer begins to value your knowledge and experience, you create opportunities to build trust and a meaningful relationship, allowing you to rise above your competition and stand out. Seasoned companies understand this intricate dance. But they may fail to target and align sales + marketing activities for the customers that consume their products the most. Doing research to identify who you serve creates quantifiable information and data and can reveal insights into the markets you serve, exposing your ideal type of customer. This can lead to highly accurate buyer profiles that reveal patterns and information you can use to develop your own personalized Lifecycle Marketing Plan.

Since 80% of sales come from trusted relationships, it’s critical to shift away from “me too” marketing tactics and focus on creation of your own unique Lifecycle Marketing Plan. It’s time to take pause and re-align your efforts to prepare your teams for maximum growth.