The value of B2B marketing is different from marketing at B2C companies. It is less about branding and more about performance. B2B organizations typically engage in long, complex sales cycles for considered purchases with a buying group of 4-10 members. This creates an environment for B2B marketing teams that is focused on supporting those sales cycles.
There are lots of things B2B marketers do to drive value by bringing prospects to the organization, but can they do more?
And I don’t mean can they generate more leads? Even if they do that, that increased volume is not the best way to improve ultimate results.
They should generate better quality leads.
Value of Quality Leads
In a 2021 Gartner survey of digital marketing leaders (both B2B and B2C), the leading objective was increasing lead quality. Lead quality has cumulative effects throughout the entire revenue lifecycle. The tension between quality and quantity exists in many parts of B2B organizations, especially ones with aggressive growth targets.
When an organization focuses on improving the quality of leads, it turns the traditional funnel metrics on their head. The raw number of leads goes down as quality goes up. But the conversion rates potentially go up across the whole process. These buyers are a better fit for the vendor’s products or solutions. And that means more closed deals. That definitely shows the sales team the value of B2B marketing.
And the best way to improve lead quality is through marketing and sales alignment.
Value of Alignment
Marketing teams have a broad level of knowledge based on market understanding, development of personas and availability of quantitative data. That would be both first-party and third-party data. Sales brings a more granular awareness of buyers’ challenges, especially their mission-critical priorities.
The combination of these two unique points of view lets organizations fine tune their audiences by creating a common lead qualification definition. This means that both marketing and sales teams are talking to the same prospects. Marketing can generate inbound leads from this audience, as well as provide air cover to those that sales will be prospecting.
While we are on the topic of marketing and sales communicating with buyers, this collaboration can ensure that they are saying the same thing. We’ve seen that buyers spend 15% of the buying cycle struggling to reconcile information sources. Usually that is between vendors, but if marketing and sales teams from the same vendor are putting out different messages, that only increases the time spent trying make sense of the messages.
Then there’s an account-based strategy.
Value of Account-Based Strategy
As seen in the survey results above, the second priority of digital marketing leaders is to drive increased sales among identified leads. With 38% of leaders supporting identified leads, that’s a shift in the way marketing and sales collaborate. The graphic below shows the difference between MQL-based marketing and account-based. Rather than a very distinct hand-off to sales once marketing qualifies a lead, both functions collaborate through out the process in ABM.
ABM often starts with marketing and sales bringing their perspectives to the development of an ideal customer profile. This collaborative process uses qualitative and quantitative data to identify an organization’s best customers according to fit, value and strategic importance. Using the common attributes of these customers, marketing and sales create a target account list based on look-alike modeling. Marketers can segment these accounts into tiers for campaigns, while sales starts prospecting.
Technology and data support these orchestrated processes as the buying groups are viewed as part of a single account, rather than uncollected individuals.
Traditionally, B2B organizations have been sales-driven, with marketing playing a supporting role in the revenue life cycle. With the ongoing shift to digital dominance, marketing-led collaboration and ABM efforts demonstrates the value of B2B marketing.
This post originally appeared on the Gartner Blog Network.