We asked fellow marketing and sales leaders from across the business-to-business (B2B) world what will go into planning their marketing strategy and tactics for 2022. Some of their answers surprised us.
Respondents shared insights beyond strategy and tactics. Ultimately, going forward, marketing is and will continue to be about connections with people. No matter their industry, department or role within their business, some clear themes arose when we asked how these executives are planning to market in the future.
Focus on Developing Real Relationships with Connections
“Caring about your connections and knowing something about them makes the experience of B2B work much more enjoyable (hopefully for both parties),” says Chris Bowman, MBA, Director of Sales at Wainbee Limited. “I believe that changing your frame of mind is key to successful lead generation. If you reach out to people in a caring fashion, and I mean truly caring, you will connect on a much deeper level. They will likely reciprocate your kindness in kind. If there is an opportunity there, they will share openly. If there is no opportunity, so mote it be. Stay connected and care about them and they will likely remember you and point you to a door that will lead to another possible opportunity.”
He adds, "Give yourself permission to have fun with digging up leads. Every salesperson hates "Cold Calling"! Why?!?!? Is it the rejection? Is it the anticipation of rejection? Or is it the fear of success, knowing that the call is going to lead to a conversation... to a connection (see above) and you are going to care about someone?!?! Whatever the reason is... change your mind to make it fun! At the end of the day we are all people... so why not enjoy your interactions with them.”
Humanize Your Interactions
David Johnson, Director, Business Development, Solutions at MAG Aerospace, agrees that building relationships is “a door opener in my opinion.” With a background in technology and systems in aerospace, he adds “... my approach is about relationships and building on those. I don't use software tools to generate leads with the exception of posting company capabilities on social media. This has had limited success. Our organization has limited abilities to influence clients, as we are generally focused on responding to government RFP's etc.”
Try New Things
The last few years have been everything but routine for companies around the world. "With everything going on we are trying hard to control the controllable and manage the uncontrollable,” says Randy Ballard, Global Vice President of Sales at Briggs & Stratton.
“Labor shortages. Trying new things to attract and retain talent. Boosted safety stocks to assist with a strained supply chain/logistics issues."
Every aspect of every business has been affected by the realities of the ongoing pandemic. By being open to new ideas and trying new things, companies will continue to move forward and thrive.
Expect and Plan for Changes to Live Events
Businesses around the globe have has almost two years to focus on improving their live event presence.
“From what we have seen, the amount of funding that has gone into live events has skyrocketed,” says Wendell Peterson, VP at Freudenberg Battery Power Systems & XALT Energy. “We exhibited at our first live tradeshow since COVID just a few weeks back and some of the booths/displays were stunning - just a huge leap above in terms of design, lighting, displays, etc… Honestly, this caught us off guard.”
What will he do to showcase his organization going forward? “In order to attract prospects at our next event, I am going to have to triple the amount of funds we would have spent at such a show only 18-24 months ago. So my advice would be not to get caught flat-footed by your competition when you get back to participating in live events.”
Really Understanding Your Customer is Still Important
“I'm very fresh in my current sales role, but I do have many years of technical experience, that allows me to well understand customers' need, and also think from customers' perspective, to identify their pain, and provide solutions to fix it," says Boming Zhu, Director of Business Development at Harmontronics Automation.
“Sympathy is the key here, not just having the desire to understand the customer, but also to have the capability to understand. Secondly, I'd say diligence, that means a lot of things. Do you spend enough time to research your customer, to understand their true need, to get back to them quick enough, to follow up every single piece of request you have required..."
Share Your Expertise Across Various Platforms
Bill Pollock, Director of Rochester Operations at Re:Build Optimation Technology, LLC, thinks “LinkedIn is a great networking platform. If part of your goal of being active on LinkedIn is to get sales tips most of the people you meet won’t bring sales tips with them. In fact, most of them view you as the sales prospect.”
He adds, “If you want the right people to find you then you need to create subject matter content and post it. If someone has a problem or a need and your profile and posts present a solution, they may reach out to you for help. Closing on an inbound lead is ten times easier than reaching out with a cold call. Your posts should go beyond LinkedIn. Building content on your website, YouTube and other sites is all part of the power of building your marketing social media success.”
Continue Qualifying Leads for Sales Followup
“When it comes to lead generation, my suggestion is to have a role in your sales organization that does the upfront surveying of potential customers to not just generate leads but what I would call qualified leads,” says Doug Howse, Sales Director at SEMPERIT AG.
“The idea is rather than add more salespeople, make your salespeople more effective. Utilizing an inside salesperson specifically trained to do the “buffalo hunting” will not only generate more leads, they will be a better quality lead. This of course will make your outside sales team much more effective with their time management and closing percentages.”
Mezzanine Growth’s Advice
Our own Director of Marketing, Ross Nepean, has more suggestions to engage and connect with customers and prospects.
"Clearly the movement on LinkedIn is away from just a corporate presence with 'corporate speak' posts," he says. "Just like in the offline world, people are drawn to engage with people that demonstrate authentic and “real” conversations. Take a stand on an issue and avoid the vanilla."
He adds, "We also make sure to tag people in posts who will add to the commentary with their own insights, experiences, and ideas. The result has been thought-provoking discussions that have also resulted in significantly increasing the reach and views of Mezzanine’s posts."
Need more insights on B2B marketing? The team at Mezzanine Growth has marketing and lead generation ideas and experience for you to draw on. Get in touch today to see how we can use that expertise to help you generate more leads and grow your business.