The rapid expansion of IoT and Industry 4.0 Solutions has created exciting opportunities for B2B companies to develop nontraditional business models that address new and previously untouched markets. Although this paradigm shift presents many great opportunities for growth, sales and marketing leaders are experiencing significant challenges in implementing strategies to effectively drive the sale of IoT-based solutions.
In part 2 of this blog series, I will focus on concepts 2 and 3 of the 6 keys to success for creating winning IoT sales and marketing strategies. If you missed part 1 of the series, check back on our blog page to catch up.
Concept 3 - Utilization of Data in Marketing and Sales Strategy
The ability to collect, analyze, and take action on device data is the core customer value of IoT solutions in the industrial marketplace. To properly execute a successful IoT sales and marketing strategy, the same concept must be applied. The growing significance of marketing analytics in overall strategy is validated by data from the 2018 CMO Survey, which reports a projected 218% increase in spending on marketing analytics over the next 3 years (CMO survey).
There are many things to consider when developing data strategies for B2B marketing and sales. Additionally, there are literally thousands of systems and software platforms available to help companies collect, analyze, and take action on their data. Before diving into the tactical applications, organizations must first develop a roadmap for data utilization aligned to each stage in the sales cycle.
The following are key areas where data can be applied to marketing and sales for IoT solutions:
Customer segmentation and market data - Aggregating current and potential customers into specific segments, and analyzing the needs and challenges of each, will assist in creating customized marketing messaging and communication channels.
Account sales history and product gap information - This will allow companies to determine how they can customize their marketing and sales approach for existing accounts.
Lead generation data and new customer prospect lists - IoT opportunities will likely exist in segments outside of the traditional business model so creating ways to capture and take action on data from leads, purchased target lists, or other customer information is paramount.
Individual contact data for prospective buyers within an account - Utilizing this information will allow companies to further refine their messaging and approach based upon the specific buyer personas that the sales team will be engaging with.
Customer engagement data - This is a broad category and should include any inbound or outbound customer touch-points, including ones from email campaigns, social media, and sales.
Sales touch-points have historically been the most difficult to effectively measure and most organizations have little idea about what narrative is actually occurring at the sales level, beyond basic opportunity data logged into CRM. Even more difficult to measure is the utilization and engagement of marketing material with end-customers during the sales cycle. Collecting, analyzing, and taking action on sales engagement data is a new concept for most B2B companies but managing this process more effectively can significantly improve the conversion rate of complex solutions in the pipeline.
To reinforce why it’s important to measure these touch-points, let’s take a look at some macro-trends in marketing budgets. Recent data reported in the 2018 CMO Survey indicates that B2B companies are allocating as much as 5.4% of total revenue to their marketing budgets (CMO Survey). With content and multimedia asset creation continuing to consume a higher percentage of overall marketing budgets, large B2B firms are now spending millions on content creation each year, with little ability to measure the effectiveness or sales/customer engagement of that content further down the sales funnel.
As spending continues to rise on content creation there is a need to measure the effectiveness of investments. Systems need to be in place to help capture, analyze, and take action on the data points that are being collected about customers and their buying journey. Data collection is paramount to successfully understanding how to tailor your marketing and sales messages to the needs of your customers.
Concept 4 - Supporting Systems (MarTech)
Once the data has been collected, it’s necessary to have systems in place to help manage the data, and the entire sales and marketing process. There are over 7,000 different MarTech platforms available, but there are three core systems that will assist you in maximizing your ROI on IoT sales and marketing activities. Those are:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Marketing Automation (MA)
- Sales Enablement (SE)
First, at the center of any tech stack is a CRM and it is the core foundation of MarTech for B2B sales and marketing organizations. CRM is no longer a tool that’s simply “nice to have”, it has become a critical backbone to enabling effective sales and marketing strategies.
If you aren't using a CRM currently, that should be the first place to start in building your tech stack. There are plentiful resources online that cover the implications and needs for using CRM in B2B so I will spare going into any additional detail. In short - if you don't have a CRM, you are already significantly behind the B2B industry leaders.
Next up is marketing automation software. This platform is seeing exponential growth within the B2B sector. MA allows companies to significantly improve their marketing lead generation, lead nurturing, and lead scoring activities. Because this system manages all customer touchpoints prior to sales team involvement, it is key to engaging customers early in the buying cycle. It's one of the most important systems in terms of creating scale for your marketing activities. Here are some quick stats supporting the need for marketing automation to manage the customer journey:
- Most B2B buyers perform 8-12 online searches before interacting with a vendor’s website and are already 57% of the way through the buying process before the first meeting with a representative (Bluecorona).
- 67% of purchases for multiple industrial manufacturing and pack-and-ship industries were influenced by digital (Bluecorona).
- 80% of marketing automation users see an increase in number of leads and 77% report higher conversion rates (Demand Gen Report).
Marketing automation takes the intelligence gathered from a CRM and allows marketing teams to create meaningful, automated action to help manage the buying journey. The most common applications for automation are executing customized email campaigns, website lead generation, social media management, and hosting custom landing pages to pull leads into the funnel. Marketing automation is a powerful system that can help bridge alignment between marketing and sales by adding significant value to both groups.
The third core system is sales enablement, a powerful new platform that is quickly evolving within leading B2B companies. Sales enablement (SE) is the process of providing sales organizations with information, content, and tools that help salespeople sell more effectively. The aim is to provide salespeople with what they need to successfully engage the buyer at every stage throughout the buying process. When properly implemented, sales enablement allows a large number of salespeople to achieve quota in a scalable, predictable, and repeatable fashion (B2B Sales Enablement). Being one of the newest growth areas of the MarTech landscape, there are many viable systems available to help organizations achieve their sales enablement goals.
So, how does sales enablement work? The best sales enablement systems allow marketing to maintain an up-to-date repository of content that is directly available to sales representatives (on any device) so that they have access to use sales support content when and where they need it. Sales enablement also provides the ability to customize and tailor content for each customer interaction by using data from CRM and marketing automation. For example, a good SE system should be able to link to a CRM, import relevant information on customer meeting schedules, the customer’s industry, the contact’s job title, prior sales history, product mix information, and other segmentation information in order to automatically customize the information that is to be presented during the sales call. Since SE platforms are directly connected to the sales team, and informed from other supporting systems, they are quickly becoming the most powerful way to help marketing and sales collaborate to effectively lead customers through complex sales cycles, as is the case for IoT and Industry 4.0 solutions.
Sales enablement also continues to provide a data feedback loop to the sales user and the organization by collecting a variety of customer engagement data points about sales meetings and content sharing. Using sales enablement to prepare, present, and share content with customers allows sales and marketing leaders to visualize a wealth of data about the sales cycle, such as what steps sales users took to prepare for their meeting, what content was presented during the customer meeting, and most importantly, how customers interacted with content that was shared. Those metrics include data points on which shared content emails were opened, what content was viewed, how long content was viewed, and how many subsequent engagements occurred over time.
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