As I reflect on the year, two central themes have consumed the minds of successful B2B leaders – the transformation of the buying committee and the role of alignment in go-to-market teams.
The few leaders prioritizing these two ideas have thrived, but many more struggle. So, in the spirit of the season, I’ve decided to document, once and for all, the reasons why these two areas need to be considered in your 2024 GTM strategy.
Grievance #1: Put Your Measurement Where Your Mouth Is
Some B2B leaders talk a big game, but when measuring outcomes, they’re stuck in the past and measuring the old way.
Change is constant in our industry; we cannot stop it. However, many B2B leaders focus on metrics that measure the past instead of embracing the new data available. Here are some facts about our current B2B market and what is changing.
1. The B2B Buyers Today are Younger.
According to a Forrester poll from February 2023, 64% of today’s business buyers are millennials or Gen Zers – and that number rose throughout the year.
” Millennials and Gen Z constitute 64% of business buyers today and rising.”
– Forrester Research.
So, what does that mean for you? According to Gartner, Millennials are 2.2x more skeptical of sales rep claims, and 44% prefer no sales rep interactions. That’s vastly different than what the inbound landscape looked like 5 or even 2 years ago. And it means that buyers are not revealing themselves until much later in the purchasing process, giving your sales team much less time for traditional selling.
So how can you influence that buyer before they reach out?
A cohesive marketing program that is in sync with what your sellers would normally say – allowing the buyer to educate themselves before they even raise their hand.
And that trust piece?
Like consumers want to rely on reviews before making a big purchase, B2B buyers need to know that other companies like theirs have made the leap and implemented your solution successfully. Social proof has always been a deal-breaker, but as we see the buying journey go more digital, it will be a cornerstone of how buyers choose, and you must be ready for it.
2. Buyers Do Not Want to Fill Out Forms. And They Don’t Need To.
According to LinkedIn, 81% of B2B buyers avoid forms and will not fill them out to further the generational changes.
And of the 19% that do fill out forms? Data shows that almost half of them submit fake information – especially if the buyer is a Millennial. What does that mean for you? At best, 10% of your buyer group engages with forms.
And yes, this is where most of our lead generation originated in old times. The old times we are talking about is 2-4 years ago.
In the last year, we have seen a significant decrease in responses to content form fills from sources like email, LinkedIn, and other content syndication sources. Content leads used to turn into a qualified sales conversation, but today, they’re merely cold outbound emails based on a single signal from a buyer.
3. Leads Aren’t What They Used To Be
And what about leads from paid search? It really depends on your market. If you are a genuine B2B enterprise company, sorting through all the unqualified leads you get from a Google Ads campaign, more likely than not, pushes your customer acquisition costs (CACs) way up since the platform can’t filter based on your ideal customer profile (ICP).
Leads are few and far between today, and sales outbound is harder than ever because sales is no longer at the wheel – the buyer is.
So yes, the answer is your cheese has moved.
Gone are the days of waiting on inbound qualified leads. If you are only measuring marketing success on leads and you are in enterprise B2B sales, then you are dancing with the ghost of Christmas past.
You must start measuring differently, or you won’t even get a subscription to the Jelly of the Month club next year.
Grievance #2: Sales & Marketing Continue to Bicker
Sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned. “That is a sales generated lead”. “Those are marketing leads.” Where are the opportunities?
Alignment is the understanding that we live in a multi-touch omnichannel world today. Our customer follows their discovery path of learning across the “web “and the “people” sphere of influence and education.
Tradeshows, conversations with peers, web searches, and white papers (more often not ours but Forester, Gartner and other industry-specific pundits) are all steps in the prospect’s engagement with information to help them form decisions.
The complexity of this buying process turns what we know of straight-line attribution on its head. It’s not enough to look at a single data point because no one data point pulls all the weight.
You will need more than one lead to save your pipeline. That email you’re drafting, or the phone call you’re about to make isn’t going to convert on the spot. Discard your reporting of days past and realize that it takes more than marketing or sales to get the job done.
How about working together for real, not just pretending because a board member said it or even because we gave you the statistics that prove it?
By the way, here are just some of those stats:
Sales & Marketing Alignment Statistics:
- Sales teams prioritizing alignment with marketing are 3x more likely to hit net new customer targets. (Gartner)
- Companies with strong alignment between sales and marketing achieve a 20% annual growth rate. (Aberdeen Research Group)
- Sellers don’t use 65% of content created by B2B marketers. (Forrester)
- Aligning sales and marketing results in 36% higher customer retention. (Act-On)
- Organizations that prioritize sales and marketing alignment save 30%. (Act-On)
It’s time to make a concerted effort to understand how your prospect actually buys and buy in yourself. And adjust how you market and sell accordingly.
It is no longer a linear handoff from a marketing lead to sales but a team effort to produce results.
It is, wait for it, both teams working together as one.
I belabor the point, but if you are so self-righteous to think that just sales or marketing produced an actual sale themselves with no outside influences from other content or other people, you are hopelessly lost in your egotistical ignorance. (My team was going to politicalize that statement but decided it was healthy to let it all out if you made it this far in the post.)
Feats of Strength
In honor of learnings from 2023, we will be foregoing the Feats of Strength this Festivus and, instead, encourage our go-to-market teams to prioritize working together, not fighting, for the new year. As with all traditions, there is a time to learn and grow – especially if you’re still operating your B2B strategy like it’s the 90s.
If you’re ready to break free of the past and embrace the holistic future of B2B growth, talk to us.