In an earlier post, I talked about the importance of patience while implementing a strategic marketing program. This type of initiative is very different from a typical marketing campaign, where you usually know how well it’s working right away.
In a business-to-business company, the rewards of a well-executed strategic marketing program can take months, quarters – or even years. The benefits are not immediate, and they are not as easy to identify, but in the long-term the value can be significant.
Let’s dive into this deeper by first discussing the current environment for most B2B sales and marketing teams:
- Buyers now control the front end of the B2B sales process. In some industries, 50% to 75% of the sales process has been completed before the potential buyer ever speaks to a sales rep.
- There is a greater burden on B2B companies to effectively move potential buyers through the front end of the sales process using digital media: websites, email marketing, online advertising, blogs, content marketing, social media, etc.
- Potential buyers are including more people in the decision-making process, making it a more complicated one-to-many or many-to-many sale.
- You rarely win a sale by doing one thing well; but you almost always lose a sale when you do one thing poorly.
What this means for many B2B companies is that there’s a greater need for aligning a strategic marketing initiative with your marketing and sales operation. That means:
- Creating a strong link between your online and offline activities
- Having your entire team clearly understand your brand positioning, personality traits and the experience they are expected to deliver
- Having your marketing and sales efforts work in concert so that the sales team is able to jump in at any point and complete the sales process
If this sounds like a lot of work, you’re right! Designing the strategy is step one. Most leadership teams can do this very well. It’s the implementation of the strategy where things can get complicated — new processes, training or retraining people, and changing or creating new behaviors — these all take time. And people often resist change.
The longer it takes to deploy these changes within your company, the longer it’s going to take for you to feel the results. It’s not uncommon for a $5-$10 million company to start feeling the impact of a strategic marketing program 12 to 24 months after the beginning of the implementation.
But when you do feel those results, it’s rewarding — more prospects coming into the top of the funnel, prospects moving faster through the funnel, increasing win percentages, and more profitable customers. This can turn a good business into a great business!
For those who stick with it, the reward is well worth the wait.