B2B Sales and Marketing Automation

Marketing B2B sales and marketing automation: how two central company functions contribute to success in marketing

Published on 05.10.2020, Prof. Dr. Marc K. Peter

In the past, motivated and well-trained sales staff were enough to ensure successful sales processes in the B2B environment. Today, marketing automation combined with content marketing and the new challenger model can help design this sales work more efficiently.

Sales work in the business-to-business (B2B) environment requires lots of planning and preparation from companies. This includes:

  • All products are documented along with their benefits and prices, and sales documentation (e.g. brochures, factsheets and landing pages) is available.
  • A documented sales process shows the steps for a successful sale, from lead identification to customer support after the first sale.
  • In the best case scenario, this sales process is supported by marketing while internal software solutions (e.g. CRM and ERP) mirror the process.
  • And of course, every company needs motivated and well-trained sales staff to maintain customer relations.

Sales techniques that support sales work have been developed and promoted since the 1950s. In the 1990s, for example, it was the SPIN approach (situation, problem, implications, needs payoff), followed in around the year 2000 by the “solution sale” (selling holistic solutions).

The challenger model

Adamson & Dixon published their bestseller on the challenger model in 2003. They argue that building customer relationships is the least effective strategy for closing a sale. Taking control and showing potential customers how they can solve their problem is much more important. Challenge the sales staff: they question assumptions, bring new ideas to the table, are innovative and can add value to the business.

The link to content marketing and marketing automation

Challenger sales staff can only be successful if they have valuable content suitable for the target group. This includes presentations and white papers with statistics, customer case studies, e-books, videos, infographics and blog posts. The content of this marketing documentation must directly support “challenger” sales. This need for good content shows how, in this model, the marketing and sales teams have to work closely with one another and align themselves to the sales process.

Marketing automation also gives companies a platform which automates the well-known sales funnel (the mechanism which analyses the process from receiving a lead through to gaining a customer) in many areas. This allows challenger marketing documents to be advertised on social media, via e-mails and on landing pages, creating leads that can be further processed through marketing automation and passed onto Sales together with important customer information. The entire process is fully automated, e.g. as a task in the calendar of the field service employee who covers the potential customer’s target area.

How is the process implemented?

The ten project steps to implement marketing automation include (Peter, 2018):

  1. Strategic objectives of marketing automation in the field of B2B sales
  2. The sales process/customer journey
  3. Definition of the automated processes
  4. Data management, segmentation and CRM
  5. The lead and customer rating model
  6. The content marketing strategy
  7. Choice of which channels to use (online and offline)
  8. Dashboards/activities for analysis and monitoring
  9. Definition of the required infrastructure and processes
  10. Selection of the project teams, roles, schedules and budgets

This is how the challenger model, content marketing and marketing automation come together and shape sales work much more efficiently. I wish you every success in implementing the model!

(Marc K. Peter, www.kmu-transformation.ch)

Unfortunately, Connecta cannot be held as planned. Prof. Dr. Marc K. Peter would have been one of the 80 speakers. An alternative programme is available through Connecta TV, Doc and Talk – find out more at: www.swisspost.ch/connecta

  • Matthew Dixon & Brent Adamson (2013): The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation. London: Penguin Business.
  • Marc K. Peter (2018): The 10 Project Steps of Marketing Automation Initiatives. Olten: FHNW School of Business. Téléchargement: www.marketing-automation-project.netTarget not accessible

Prof. Dr. Marc K. Peter

Prof. Dr Marc K. Peter has led marketing and sales teams for eBay, PostFinance, E*TRADE and LexisNexis as well as introducing new technologies. Today, he is a professor at the FHNW School of Business in Olten and leads the Competence Center for Digital Transformation.

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