I had some time this week to reflect on almost 40 years in this crazy B-to-B marketing communications business and realized not much has changed.
Let me explain. In our business someone wants to sell something, so they ask us to help to communicate why they should be talking with them about product X as opposed to one of their competitors.
35 years ago, we didn’t have many options in the B-to-B space to get their message out. There was direct mail, trade shows, referrals (today we call it networking) and a newfangled machine called a fax that we could send messages out on. With the exception of referrals, we pretty much had control of the message, when it went and the frequency. The only thing we couldn’t control was when someone actually referred a customer to you.
Today we have so many other alternatives of getting our message out with digital offerings and social media. Some of these tactics we can still control what is said and when it goes out. Others, like social media, we have no control over messaging or when people decide to look at your info and better yet, contact you.
The point being in both cases is that we either identified a prospect or they identified us and the sales cycle started. No matter which scenario you chose, what comes next is the same. You need to talk with the prospect, listen to what they need and give them a reason to buy from you instead of your competitors. For most B-to-B items, unless they are considered a commodity, there are value-added benefits for doing business with one company over another. It could be a unique feature or a great support team after the sale.
I’ve always said an ad or blog post won’t sell anything. People and companies do, and they do it by interacting with each other in person on the phone or email. You can’t take the human element out of the equation in most cases, and I’ll guarantee you when you lose a sale that you thought you had, it could be because they liked what someone else said better.
My point is, you can use all the marketing tactics in the world, but if you don’t have good qualified sales to back it up, the sale won’t happen. That’s why it was important 40 years ago as it is today – sales and marketing need to work together as a team.
Like I said, the more things change, the more they stay the same.