March 13, 2012

How social business will transform B2B Sales & Marketing

BigStockPhoto image by kentoh

B2B must evolve to meet clients’ changing needs

Christopher RollysonClient work for B2B and B2C organizations has me reviewing thousands of conversations in social venues every month, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that much of Sales and Marketing as we know them is significantly out of alignment with B2B clients. They are much smarter now and want a new style of relationship with their business partners (erstwhile “vendors,” “providers”). Social business is permeating client networks throughout the economy and changing client behavior and expectations.

This has created a rare opportunity for B2B sales and marketing people who understand and respond ahead of the market. Here I’ll do a deeper dive into how legacy Sales and Marketing functions will evolve, using social business as a lever.

Reexamining B2B Sales and Marketing

Marketing assumes it’s not economically feasible to have large-scale one-on-one client conversations. Sales assumes it must rely on one-on-one prospecting to drive value. Both assumptions are increasingly false.

Two examples of misalignment: One of Marketing’s underlying assumptions is that it is not economically feasible to have large-scale one-on-one client conversations, so marketing must achieve scale through secondary research (and remain isolated from the client). One of Sales’ key assumptions is that it must rely on primary one-on-one prospect/client/customer communications to drive value. Both of these are increasingly false, so I’ll drill down on them before offering practical recommendations for how Sales And Marketing can explore social business at a new level.

As head of marketing for several B2B firms with direct sales forces since the 1980s, I have worked with my fellow execs in Sales, Operations, Finance & IT to drive the top line. As a management consultant, I have advised clients in adopting numerous disruptive technologies that have confronted enterprise functions with change. These experiences lead me to believe that social business will transform B2B Sales And Marketing during the next 5-10 years. Moreover, organizations that begin the transformation process earlier will profit at the expense of laggards because social business will improve enterprises’ communications and collaborations with clients by an order of magnitude. Continue reading