Digital is a game-changer in B2B marketing and sales. Studies show that B2B digital leaders generate 3.5 percent more revenue growth and are more profitable than others in their field. As more B2B marketing and sales teams accelerate digital, it is changing the way they find and cultivate relationships with prospects. More B2B marketing and sales teams are leveraging digital technologies to deliver more personalized and seamless experiences to customers across platforms and devices. Here we’ll uncover some of the most exciting digital enablers and trends that are catching on.
Emerging trends: Social selling, Personalization, and Gamification
Research shows that 84% of C-level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions. This is driving an increasing number of B2B firms to pursue and connect with potential leads via platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.
For instance, Adobe and Maersk use LinkedIn to connect with prospects and drive traffic to their websites. Built-in features such as LinkedIn’s Slideshare and Facebook Messenger’s video-calling makes connecting with high-quality leads easier and cost-effective.
Social media ads are gaining ground as they allow marketers to send more targeted messages to relevant prospects at the right time. Recent advances in social media advertising allow marketers to create highly precise and conversion-driven ads using predictive behavioral models. In fact, about 53% of B2B sales organizations believe that predictive analytics can alleviate the complex nature of B2B sales.
Gamification in sales is another trend picking up in the B2B realm. Firms such as Cisco and LiveOps use gamification programs to motivate sales teams and imbibe behaviors that help improve business performance. Lawley Insurance gamified its sales pipeline clean-up by assigning points for accomplishments such as logging in prospect phone calls and updating closure dates.
Nascent trends: AI and Hyper-segmentation
Studies show that sales reps spend only one-third of their day engaging with prospects, leaving little room to build customer relationships. To help them focus better on their bottom line, AI-integrated tools or sales robots are being employed to manage time-consuming and repetitive tasks.
AI is helping B2B marketers to capture more leads, monitor, and respond to their needs better based on past behavioral data. Depending on the type of content prospects have consumed in the past, marketers can identify where they are in the sales funnel and communicate relevant messages.
AI-based chatbots are already on several websites, answering questions about products and services. For instance, Hubspot has perfectly integrated chatbots with its website and Facebook Messenger to capture leads and provide relevant product information using automation.
With every ad campaign, marketers are fixating on micro-targeting to reap high-quality leads. Drawing insights from subsequent results are nudging them on to build hyper-segmented buyer personas sharing the same interests and behaviors. This practice is picking up pace as it not only helps them craft razor-sharp marketing communication but also guides and influences prospect decisions.
Futuristic trends: Virtual Reality
Most B2B sales decisions involve multiple stakeholders. And closures can be catalyzed when each of them is exposed to the same reality of the offering. This is what virtual reality is making possible. Through interactive experiences packed with almost-real graphics in a 3D environment, VR tools are helping prospects make more confident decisions. For marketers it will be a sales enabler that sets them apart and a cost-effective approach in captivating audiences. In 2017, Dell EMC leveraged a VR tool to explain how data centers are becoming more integrated to support the growth requirements of highly scalable applications and data repositories. This demonstration resulted in a deeper understanding of the company’s differentiated value propositions.
Given the age of personalization we live in, it is expected that B2B firms may pull the plug on their broadcast advertising budgets. This exodus from TV and other forms of mass media have been fueled by OTT and its growing consumption. For B2B marketers, this will mean better customization of ads basis the viewer’s interests and preferences, thus reaping a higher ROI.