B2B Articles - August 10, 2021
By Lauren Lyons, Market Analyst and Research Writer
As markets, industries, and demographics shift, keeping up with changing buyer needs can feel challenging. Ironpaper’s latest survey of 180 B2B decision-makers found that when asked what changes are impacting their ability to generate revenue, 52.8% of marketers and 36.7% of salespeople reported that buyers are evolving, forcing companies to change how they communicate.
Keeping up with changing buyer needs means keeping up with their pain points, and this can be a big obstacle for businesses as they struggle to understand what these are.
During COVID, many companies were forced into a digital playing field, causing changes for both buyers and sellers. Sales and marketing strategies had to be rethought to traverse the digital landscape and bridge a gap to the buyer.
Prior to the pandemic, 84.4% of companies relied on in-person events to drive demand. But when the pandemic hit, those opportunities were canceled, leaving companies wondering how to best connect with customers, create brand awareness, and grow qualified leads.
When asked about reallocating significant portions of in-person event budgets in 2021:
43.4% said digital marketing (inbound, demand generation, website, social SEO, email)
34.9% said online advertising (social media ads, PPC, Google ads)
25% said creating content (webinars, video, eBooks, blogs)
32.9% said marketing technology like automation tools, chatbots, analytics
These approaches emphasize messaging and communication with buyers. When trade shows and other in-person events are canceled, sales and marketing teams must align to generate successful leads with account-based marketing and content. Brands need to rebuild trust with consumers, and this requires marketing and sales to engage better - together - with prospects in a virtual environment.
The increasing need to respond quickly and appropriately to changing buyer demands can feel challenging to marketing and sales. How do teams approach it? By being aware of and understanding buyers’ pain points.
40.6% of decision-makers reported that effective one-to-one outreach creates the most success in their qualified lead generation, while 37.6% emphasized speaking to buyer challenges in their messaging. In an uncertain landscape, sales and marketing teams not only need to stay up to date with the market forces and challenges that their prospects are experiencing, but they need to take these challenges and use them in their personal outreach to connect with prospects. Large and small organizations are seeing that it requires more than just competitively pricing products and services. It’s tapping into the knowledge of what buyers really need and how companies can help them. This is especially important at the top of the sales funnel.
Empowered with technology, customers have more choices than ever, and they are armed with data, reviews, and knowledge about a company before having an initial sales call. This drives the importance of messaging. Buyers need to know that companies understand them and are in tune with the industry's market dynamics and market forces.
How can sales and marketing teams stay in the know? They can gain a deeper understanding of their buyers by:
Staying up to date on industry trends with articles, research, and webinars
Use LinkedIn to follow relevant subject matter experts in the industry
Follow group pages on social media to discover key data points and market challenges
Find out which companies and industries are hiring and why
When asked if their business generates enough qualified leads to fill the sales pipeline and reach goals, 56.1% reported that they do. There can be a wealth of data at a company’s fingertips, yet a disconnect in actually generating qualified leads. Marketing and sales teams can gain a competitive advantage by using buyer pain points to open avenues of communication with prospects.
Companies build trust with buyers by treating them and their unique pain points with care. One of the best approaches is staying up to date with market forces and then using these pain points in content to engage with prospects. Be receptive to what’s happening in industries and markets, how clients think, and how they prioritize goals and needs. Businesses need to truly understand their prospects and use that information in messaging in order to drive more qualified leads, particularly through the middle of the funnel in a long sales cycle.
When asked about the most common reasons prospects drop out of the sales pipeline:
22.2% reported they couldn’t keep leads engaged through a long sales cycle
25% said the sales team doesn’t have the right approach to close deals
At times it can feel like a struggle to effectively reach out, particularly when leads have become inactive. But a shift in industries and markets presents an exciting opportunity to use key points in creating two-way communication between sales and buyers. What may seem like a barrier or an obstacle can actually be an inspiring opportunity.
Sales and marketing can turn market data into actionable insights. This improves the ability to engage with prospects directly and showcases companies as a partner for knowledge in understanding critical buyer challenges.
When key decision-makers were asked about their single biggest challenge with nurturing leads:
21.11% said understanding buyer motivations
20% said re-engaging inactive leads
20% said using content effectively throughout the buyer’s journey
15.56% said market and sales misalignment
When making big purchase decisions, particularly in a long sales cycle, buyers interact with multiple sales teams. Engaging with buyers and integrating their pain points more closely into messaging presents key opportunities for sales to have communication and trust with decision-makers. By understanding, integrating, and continually staying aware of pain points, businesses learn what customers need and how they can provide innovative solutions to continue relationships with them throughout the sales funnel.
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