In his “Operation Manual for Spaceship Earth” written in the moon-trotting days of 1969, Richard Buckminster Fuller made a minor observation that has built up the modern world around us,
“Technology [is] going from wire to wireless, from track to trackless, from pipe to pipeless, and from visible structural muscle to the invisible chemical element strengths of metallic alloys and electro-magnetics.”
B2B sales today can feel just as ethereal. It seems like marketers have been working to reconcile the physical and digital realms ever since. Modern B2B sales, is that at its heart, digital means for touching real-life people.
But each world now spills into the other, the speed inherent in digital communication demands our sales processes quicken and the tailor-made options common in our physical world require us to hyper-personalize our virtual interactions.
Add to this, the new and growing realities we call the cloud, Big Data and social media to the mix — and the best of us become keenly aware that we must quickly observe, decide, and act in order to leverage our way to success.
The following are some of those B2B sales trends to leverage for your success.
1. Advanced Behavioral Targeting
The “2019 Digital Trends Report” from Adobe and Econsultancy.com, which surveyed over 12,000 marketing and advertising professionals, found the ability to use “data-driven marketing that focuses on the individual” to be the most exciting opportunity for their organizations. This makes sense considering how B2B marketing and sales has operated in the past.
When you think about traditional marketing until this point in time, it has often relied on a Spray-N-Pray approach.
Marketing’s traditional approach has been to blast various types of media (snail mail, advertisements, email) to unsuspecting strangers we think we know something about and wait to see what happens. And if nothing happens quick — we start praying (and justifying) until something does.
Behavioral marketing seeks to improve the effectiveness of marketing by going off of what people actually do versus what we figure they’ll do. This trend is going to be driven by that ominous sounding term “Big Data.”
Among other things, Big Data allows us to grasp “buyer intent,” or as Leadspace describes in its whitepaper, 5 Things You Need To Know About Intent Data:
“Behavioral information collected about a person’s online activities which indicate a level of intent to buy a particular product or service”
The promise of such abilities includes:
- Better automation of the marketing process: reaching out to buyers who have attained certain scores that build as a result of varied usage across mobile websites, social video, and chatbots, for example.
- Optimized sales process: the ability to prioritize specific B2B leads based on metrics like content consumed, pages visited, etc. This improves sales efficiency through time saved previously spent reviewing things the potential customer has already checked out or is not yet ready for.
- More relevant advertising: instead of paying for ads based on what people search, you can choose to display ads based on behavioral indicators of what matters to them.
2. Personalized 1:1 Video
As Matt Bowman, a Forbes’ Council Member notes in his Forbes’ story Video Marketing: The Future of Content Marketing, video has proven its ability to convert visitors into leads and leads into buyers. His key findings include:
- “Adding a video to marketing emails can boost click-through rates by 200-300%.”
- “Embedding videos in landing pages can increase conversion rates by 80%.”
- “90% of customers report that product videos help them make purchasing decisions.”
And while it’s been common to acknowledge the power of video in these more tried or typical places, video is just now gathering attention in the B2B sales space.
In its “2019 Video In Business Benchmark Report,” business video platform Vidyard reported that “on average, 52% of [business] viewers watch a video all the way through, regardless of the video’s length.”
That said, Vidyard also found that the average length of business videos have continued to shrink each year, from 13.14 minutes in 2016 to about 4 minutes 2 years later. This trend, they suggest, shows the increased use of personalized 1:1 video over more traditional corporate videos.
The Greatest Benefit of Personalized Video Is Implied Consent
One of the most practical ways to make use of personalized 1:1 video is through B2B social selling done via LinkedIn messaging. And one of the biggest revelations of this video-powered messaging is the ability to introduce implied consent.
Similar to how behavioral targeting allows marketers and sales professionals to engage with leads only when they have shown a certain interest, with personalized video tools such as those available at loom.com, you can receive notifications when a lead engages with your video.
Straying from the traditional Spray-N-Pray model, you can follow-up only with those leads who have engaged your video.This signals implied consent to continue the conversation.
3. Real-Time Sales
In its “Beginner’s Guide To Real-Time Sales,” communication app company Intercom brings new awareness to the old adage, “Time Kills Deals”:
“In sales and marketing, there’s a truism you can’t escape: speed is everything. The fate of your business depends on how quickly you can turn promising leads on your website into paying customers.”
You have likely experienced this yourself: being initially interested in making a purchase with Company A, only to choose Company B, that made up for any weaknesses with faster response times and more complete information.
The B2B sales community has taken notice, as made evident by the rapid growth of conversational marketing platform Drift that launched just a few years ago with $15 million in initial funding.
And more recently, the competitive hyper-personalized marketing platform Folloze has raised $11 million in initial funding, with its CEO Etai Beck noting that “The B2B buying process has changed dramatically in recent years, from the traditional funnel-based perspective to a customer-led, real-time journey and high-value experience.”
A quiet nod to Rober Buckminster Fuller’s quote on the visible becoming invisible, where B2B sales of the past might have relied on presenting value at the time of physical delivery, our current B2B sales reality invites us to deliver quality and high-value not through tangible products and results but the less visible personalized experience.
Jean-Marc Saint Laurent is the Founder of Saint313, a B2B Lead Generation Consulting firm helping companies get on the phone with future clients using LinkedIn.
Learn how Dynamic Signal increased conversions by 20% via target, personalized account-based marketing programs, with Leadspace — read the case study: