According to a survey by Chief Marketers’ 2019 B2B Marketing Outlook, marketers are struggling to connect with B2B purchase decision-makers. Nearly 60% of marketers said it’s their top challenge.
So, many marketers are wondering what can help them engage. For many, the answer may lie in their brand.
The Importance of the Brand is Growing
Recent research suggests that branding plays a big part. It can even move B2B purchase decision-makers to engage with vendors. A study conducted by LinkedIn shows just how far a strong professional brand can really go.
This research involved more than 500 US-based B2B purchase decision-makers. All of these individuals influence purchasing decisions at B2B companies. They were asked what influences them the most when it comes to initially engaging with sales.
52% said that the top factor was a salesperson representing a well-known company with a strong professional brand. This is a large increase from a previous study.
This Is Mirrored By B2B Company Spending
Branding plays a powerful part in the sales funnel too. So, B2B companies have taken note. In fact, a 2017 report from Spencer Brenneman LLC illustrates this point. It shows that the majority of companies have increased their brand investments since 2012.
The study was based on a survey of 150 B2B purchase decision-makers. 97% of those surveyed were using some resources for brand research. Also, 87% of those surveyed had increased their brand investments over the prior five years.
82% reported that this paid off. They had more sales and more customers too.
Salespeople As Brand Representatives
Over half of the B2B purchase decision-makers cited choosing to engage with sales if their company has a strong brand. The next most important factor was salesperson knowledge.
This is where personalization comes in. B2B purchase decision-makers also want salespeople to give relevant information. This makes sense. They want to work with brands that understand the challenges they face.
Reach Out To The Right B2B Purchase Decision-Makers
Almost all (96%) of those surveyed said they would be more likely to engage with a vendor under certain conditions. These include the sales professional understanding their professional needs or also their role (94%).
93% said salespeople sharing content relevant to their role is important too. It is also very important that salespeople target the right people for the first discussions. Also, 92% said that this would raise the chance of them considering a company’s products or services.
Knowledge Is Key
So, we know what kinds of salespeople B2B purchase decision-makers want to interact with. However, understanding what kinds of mistakes to avoid is also key.
Research has also shown buyer frustrations for a long time. These include over-aggressiveness and also lack of knowledge. One study from 2015, of over 1200 participants, showed that nearly half of all of the respondent’s biggest frustration is aggressive salespeople.
In the second place, 46%, was salespeople who lack knowledge. This included salespeople not even being aware that they were trying to sell to existing customers.
Prove Reliability to B2B Purchase Decision-Makers
This makes sense. They want salespeople to know what they’re talking about. The stakes are high when it comes to B2B purchase decision-makers.
For a professional, choosing to work with the right companies can boost their career. Choosing the wrong companies, however, can do the opposite.
Salespeople represent the brands they are attached to. If they are unprofessional, it is unlikely that they will make the sale.
Expertise And Reliability Create Trust
Ultimately, any effective salesperson will cultivate trust with B2B purchase decision-makers. It is trust that will set them apart. Salespeople must work to overcome what HubSpot calls a “trust deficit.”
Their research echoes data from many other sources. B2B purchase decision-makers want salespeople to listen to their needs. They also want them to provide relevant information and respond quickly too.
All of these elements are key to developing trust in any sort of relationship. Also, to build trust, salespeople should try to feel more like reliable advisors.
Center Branding Around Buyer Needs
According to Chief Strategy Officer of The Content Advisory, Robert Rose, failing to integrate the customer into branding is a common mistake.
“A brand’s story isn’t always the brand story #apostrophesmatter. Our universe of heroes should be part of stories that don’t include ourselves…”
It is not about saying that your product is the best as loudly as you can. Instead, it is about understanding customer needs. Then it is about meeting them.
Marketing And Sales Must Come Together
The LinkedIn survey also included more than 500 B2B sales professionals. It found that 44% said that they work closely or very closely with marketing. This is a big change from the 2016 version of the survey. It shows a 35% increase between 2016 and 2018.
Generally, when marketing and sales work together, success results. In fact, the leading sales professionals were more likely to work closely with marketing. Nearly 60% of top sales professionals said marketing is a key player in closing deals. So, consistency and collaboration are key to branding. They will make professionals confident in your business.
Create Consistent Messaging
Another benefit of marketing and sales coming together is consistency in messaging. Consistent messaging is key to any brand. If your business is inconsistent, customers will be confused.
There may be some room for growth in this area. 50% of the B2B buyers surveyed said that consistent language from marketing and sales is very important. 39% said that is important.
However, despite this, almost half of the surveyed buyers reported something surprising. They said that they often or always get conflicting messages from sales and marketing.
Strong branding often comes down to consistent messaging. B2B purchase decision-makers are influenced by strong brands. So, this is why marketing and sales must work together.
Companies are working on building their brands for a reason. A strong and consistent brand has been shown to impact B2B purchase decision-makers. Brands help businesses and buyers connect. So, it’s important that they are solid.
Salespeople become representatives of a company’s brand. So, they need to engage with customers in the right way to make the sale. A strong brand needs strong salespeople. So, you cannot have one without the other.
The world of marketing is changing fast. Salespeople are finding more and more success by working closely with marketing as well. This is a new change. However, it is important to keep an eye on it. In the future, new strategies will always be needed to face new challenges.
What do you think matters most to B2B purchase decision-makers? Comment below…