Faster than a speeding email! More powerful than a search engine! Able to leap the competition in a single inbound! Look up into the cloud! It’s a run of B2B marketing automation and sales intelligence platforms that are enabling industrial marketing and sales professionals to see more, know more, and convert more business than ever before!
Industrial marketing and sales superheroes are now using powers ranging from real-time “X-ray-vision-like” lead monitoring and buyer scoring to “psychic” abilities that predict buying intent and timing, enabling them to influence the buyer’s journey at all phases of the industrial buying process.
With the rise of these titans, many a mere marketing mortal out there may already be feeling outmatched by competitors demonstrating inexplicable powers of ultra-visibility, omnipresence, and mind-reading. But there’s no need to fear! Read on to receive the radioactive medicine that coulf transform you into a superhero capable of saving the day.
The New Industrial Buying Process
Before diving deeper, some words of caution. As a good, but very evil, friend once told me: “The technological side of marketing and selling is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural.” Those who wish to follow the path must first seek to understand the nature of a new industrial buying process and the forces at play in each phase.
Today, many organizations believe that the industrial buying process starts with needs awareness followed by research, consideration, comparison, and procurement. Arguably, such a view of the industrial buying process falls woefully short in that it does not take into account the fact that, in today’s digital age, no distinct “before” and “beyond” phases exist.
To illustrate this point, let’s look at search engine rankings. Many industrials are just now beginning to focus on SEO to capture buyers engaged in both the needs awareness and research phases of the industrial buying process. A few superhuman steps ahead of them, progressive industrial marketers are using programmatic media, marketing automation, lead intelligence, and social media engagement tools to laser-target buyers, stimulate interest, and generate top-of-mind presence and buzz before the formal buying process — signaled by search interest and intent — even starts. And to great effect. These mind tricks (tools) are able influence buyers before they enter the buying process, bypassing search almost entirely.
Don’t Underestimate Omnipresence
Intercepting ideal prospective industrial buyers and stimulating their interest when they are not yet in the market is perhaps the most important work progressive marketers are undertaking today. This preemptive marketing manifests as almost omnipresent calls-to-action on owned and curated channels, and even platforms shared with competitors.
So how are they doing this? To start, industrial brands are increasingly leveraging tools ranging from the simple Sniply, which give marketers the ability to overlay calls-to-action buttons across social networks, to programmatic advertising and content distribution platforms like Rocketfuel.
Programmatic, behavioral, and contextual advertising platforms allow marketers to use audience insights and technology to tailor messages to a particular individual, at a particular moment, in a specific context. In essence, they use technology and algorithms to select placement options across thousands of digital media outlets, including online desktop, mobile, and social media; television; print; radio; and out of home (OOH) outlets.
Using this power of omnipresence, super marketers could “sense” when an industrial buyer searches for a Baldor premium efficient motor on a site like MotionIndustries.com, later serving up a Motion Industries ad for a Baldor Motor when that same prospect visits Facebook.
The Incredible Shrinking Link
Simple online link shortening applications are also being used to build awareness ahead of and throughout the buying process. One great example is Sniply, an application that allows you to swap and share an original link for a shortened link while adding an embedded custom message. This is particularly useful if you’re selling a product or service and want to include a call to action when you share content.
For example: TydenBrooks, a manufacturer of security products, sells shipping container security seals on their website. Their marketing team just found a relevant article on Forbes.com related to shipping container security threats and decided they want to share it with their customers. They can use Sniply to personalize the article and attach a link to the shipping container security seal page on their online catalog. They can also share that link with their followers on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in order to drive them back to their online catalog.
Man and Machine
Thanks to the incredible amount of information available online, a buyer can be as far as 67% of the way through their decision making process before making contact with sales, depending on the product or nature of the technical service being sourced.
Responding to this fact, progressive industrial marketers are using lead intelligence and marketing automation tools to intervene with buyers way before they connect with sales, increasing the sales team’s chances for success. Their secret weapon? Marketing automation platforms, which spin up workflows to keep leads engaged and score them so that sales team members can be alerted when a lead becomes “hot.”
Like magic, platforms such as Act-On, HubSpot, and Marketo can automatically deliver web pages that elaborate on what a potential buyer looked at during previous visits to your website. They can also deliver emails that respond to the content a lead consumes. With the right content and forms for segmentation, they can even, to a certain extent, handle a certain amount of technical follow up.
Every Hero Needs a Sidekick
As the sales process plays out, tools like Sidekick allow sales teams to monitor customer activity in real time, including email opens and engagement. When calling in response to an email-opened alert from Sidekick, be prepared to hear: “Hey, you must be reading my mind! I was just looking at your proposal!”
The Amazing, Ever-Present Content
Procurement is a critical phase due to the fact that supplier credibility factors such as quality, expertise, and the ability to deliver come into play, not to mention pricing and reputation. In other words, as a buying decision is being made, marketers and sellers are still very actively “working the sale.”
During this critical phase, an evolved content strategy, coupled with ongoing nurturing emails, can foster a strong sense of subject matter expertise, making it clear who is the most engaged and progressive supplier. Leveraging strategies and tools that cumulatively keep your business top of mind while sharing your expertise will increase your chances of success and can help you justify a premium price for your solutions.
Heroes Are Made, Not Born
One of the biggest mistakes industrial marketing and sales teams make these days is to stop selling and marketing to buyers beyond the sale. If you’ve paid good money for marketing, advertising, sales, technology and other cost of goods to get a qualified lead, you should never stop marketing to them. If you don’t make the sale the first time, get back up and hit them with something else. Fight not just to win the first time, but to win all future battles.
At the end of the day, if you do your job correctly and have the right tools in hand, you’ll stimulate the interest of buyers who meets your ideal customer profile wherever they are in their journey — even if they are engaged in multiple phases at once. While you’ll no doubt have your share of wins, losses, and stalls, if you start to think of yourself as a superhero and use these tools to turn yourself into one, you’ll ultimately emerge victorious.
But remember: With great power comes great responsibility.