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4 B2B Marketing Strategies To Increase Sales

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Struggling to hit your sales goals? Try these B2B marketing strategies to increase sales—including marketing and sales alignment, lead conversion, customer retention and surviving a changing marketplace—to get your company's sales back on track.

Kip Botirius, CEO
March 11, 2020

This year is well underway. Has your team used marketing strategies to increase sales and hit its sales goals?

If the answer is “no,” don’t worry. Your business isn’t the only one facing this challenge.

For many B2B companies, corporate sales goals are becoming more aggressive and getting harder to hit.

Martin Lines, the Vice President of Beverages Category Marketing at Nestlé Professional North America says, “We are constantly challenged – as a sales organization, as a marketing organization and as a leadership team – to continuously raise the bar and exceed sales and business goals.”

“We are constantly challenged – as a sales organization, as a marketing organization and as a leadership team – to continuously raise the bar and exceed sales and business goals.”

So, what prevents marketing and sales teams from hitting their numbers at the beginning of the year? There are four reasons I hear about most along with the marketing strategies that can help you overcome them and increase sales.

1. Lack of Marketing and Sales Alignment

Many companies still operate with a separation of marketing and sales. The marketing team focuses on lead generation and captures a large quantity. It then passes those leads on to the sales team, which is expected to convert the leads into customers.

What we’re hearing from clients? It’s not working.

The truth is, 92% of organizations have below-average conversion rates within the sales funnel due to marketing and sales friction (Source).

Marketing complains that the sales team isn’t converting the leads they’re passing through the pipeline. Sales insists that the leads aren’t viable or able to be converted.

59% of marketers say they provide salespeople with their best-quality leads, while salespeople rank marketing-sourced leads last (Source).

This is a classic case of inadequate marketing and sales alignment.

What Can You Do Right Now?

Schedule an immediate integration session with your marketing and sales teams to align on goals. Marketing needs to understand sales, sales needs to understand marketing, and we all need to understand our customers.

B2B marketers need lead generation to focus on capturing the highest opportunity to convert in the sales funnel. You can do this through marketing tactics such as advanced targeting and target audience validation.

By concentrating on lead quality rather than quantity, it will make it faster and easier for sales to convert those leads into customers. This is especially important when you’re trying to make up for a slow start to the year.

When the marketing and sales teams are aligned and work cohesively, you can identify opportunities, increase quality lead generation and close sales much faster.

2. Changing Marketplace

Another reason companies fall short of first-half sales goals is an unforeseen change in the market. Disrupting factors can include anything from technology advances and buyer expectations to supply chain efficiency and pricing. Whatever the case may be, market variations can negatively impact your B2B business, so you should always take them into consideration.

Barry Campbell, Vice President of North American Marketing, shares an example of a market change that impacted the Aquatherm business. “We’ve seen the prices of competing products drop, putting ours at a competitive disadvantage until we could properly adjust our prices.”

Distributors and wholesalers are often on the front lines of a changing marketplace in B2B industries. Since they meet with customers on a regular basis, distributors and wholesalers are often first to identify a change in the market. This means they can be some of your biggest allies and an extremely valuable sales resource.

What Can You Do Right Now?

Tap into front-line knowledge from distributors and wholesalers. They are often the first to recognize a problem in the market.

Since 70% of purchasing decisions are made to solve a specific problem (Source), it’s important to identify what problem your prospects face as soon as possible.

Activities like stakeholder interviews, customer surveys, competitor overviews and your own analytics can also help you understand the unmet needs of prospects. Plus, they’ll help you determine which products or services you should be promoting to fill that gap.

With a changing marketplace, it’s more important than ever to deliver value-based marketing messages to jump-start leads and sales.

With a changing marketplace, it’s more important than ever to deliver value-based marketing messages to jump-start leads and sales.

3. Lead Conversion Barriers

Here’s a disturbing fact: 79% of all marketing leads are never converted to sales (Source). Lead conversion failure is a huge reason many companies fail to hit sales targets at the beginning of the year.

Oftentimes lead conversion failure is due to an overcomplicated sales process. That is especially true for B2B companies which often have complex sales cycles and multiple decision makers. But there’s hope. Because suppliers that make B2B buying easy are 62% more likely to win a sale (Source).

Another hurdle? Sometimes the marketing and sales teams just don’t put enough focus on prospects’ needs. Believe it or not, a staggering 65% of customers disappear simply because of indifference (Source).

What Can You Do Right Now?

Identify what information and content prospects need to convert. Then guide your prospects through every step of the buyer journey. After all, prospects are looking for direction. In fact, 95% of buyers choose a vendor that provides content to navigate each stage of the buying process (Source).

But don’t think that just one blog post or white paper will do. 82% of customers view five or more content marketing pieces that address their issues from the winning vendor before making a purchase (Source). Plus, addressing three to four buyer problems correlates with the highest likelihood of advancing the prospect further down the sales pipeline (Source).

It’s important to deliver content marketing that provides relevant information, addresses pain points and guides prospects through the buyer journey. By removing barriers, you can accelerate longer B2B sales cycles and convert leads faster.

4. Losing a Big Customer

Sometimes it’s unforeseeable and unavoidable – sometimes it’s not. Either way, losing an important customer can have a big impact on sales.

The problem here is often twofold.

First, many companies focus all of their energy on customer retention and maintaining their current customers. So, if they unexpectedly lose a large client, they have no leads in their sales pipeline. This is a huge risk. Since B2B sales cycles often last several months (or even longer), it may take significant time to find a new customer to fill original sales goals.

Second, the problem is sometimes the reverse. B2B companies focus so much effort on lead generation that they neglect lead nurturing and customer retention. This is demonstrated by the fact that just 29% of B2B clients are considered fully engaged (Source).

What Can You Do Right Now?

Create a balanced plan with marketing strategies that focus on lead generation, lead conversion and customer retention.

Make sure your marketing plan continuously feeds quality leads into the top of the sales funnel. This way, you can more quickly move prospects through the sales pipeline and convert leads into customers.

Bill Dominick, Regional Sales Manager at The Lubrizol Corporation, says “We lost a customer that was a significant portion of our region’s sales. What we learned was that we needed to be actively identifying customers that were ready to partner with us.”

Make sure you also have customer retention and growth programs in place. After all, the average mid-sized B2B company receives 30% of its revenue from existing customers (Source).

Additionally, existing customers may offer growth opportunities through up-selling and cross-selling. That’s because the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is 60% to 70%, compared to 5% to 20% for a new one (Source).

Lubrizol’s Bill Dominick, also believes that approaching customer retention the same way marketers always have isn’t enough. He says, “Successful businesses need to aggressively protect and defend current business.”

Putting It All Together

Whether your company is facing a lack of marketing and sales alignment, a changing marketplace,  lead conversion barriers, a big customer loss or something altogether different, it’s not too late to get back on track. Follow the b2b marketing strategies above to improve lead generation and quickly drive prospects through the sales pipeline to final purchase by demonstrating the value of doing business with your company.

With 20+ years of experience in digital marketing and account services, Kip leads a diverse team built to develop strategies for successful marketing and brand-building for clients.

Kip Botirius, CEO

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