Kevin O’Regan, Senior Vice President EMEA at Seismic, explains why businesses need to implement new tools and processes that go beyond ‘static’ training programmes and deliver dynamic learning, for long-term growth and success…
Business continuity and long-term growth are top priorities for every B2B business. This is especially true as industries around the world continue to identify ways to reinvigorate their marketing efforts and sales pipelines following the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, today’s commercial environment isn’t easy for B2B marketers. In fact, it’s tougher than ever. Competition is rife across digital channels, there’s a plethora of decision makers to engage and ever more shifts in buyer behaviours and preferences to contend with. These factors present challenges when it comes to delivering on growth strategies, with the measurement of marketing performance being particularly difficult in a fast-moving and complex environment.
According to Forrester, 63 percent of B2B purchases have more than four people involved – compared to just 47 percent in 2017 – and they can include different buyer roles from multiple departments. What’s more, Gartner research suggests that B2B buyers spend the biggest proportion of their time researching independently online (27 percent), highlighting the importance of marketing content that engages buyers and pushes them through the sales cycle.
Marketing performance has therefore become critical for B2B business success, where a combination of data and continuous learning helps improve engagement with prospective customers in the hybrid selling world. It’s a matter of ensuring that go-to-market (GTM) teams get the support needed to navigate the market’s growing complexities and drive long-term success
Next-level coaching and training
One important aspect of driving sales and marketing performance is ongoing development. The best GTM teams are continuously learning and growing, which is why they consistently drive buyer engagement, win deals and create loyal customers. Coaching and training are therefore key pillars of long-term business success.
From the sales perspective, training ensures that every seller has the skills and techniques they need to contribute to the team and be successful. Coaching takes things one step further by empowering sellers through customised guidance and feedback, providing an ongoing opportunity to improve specific skills. And it can have a significant impact on business success, as sales teams that receive dedicated performance coaching see 17 percent higher revenue growth over those that don’t.
However, giving sellers the right level of training and coaching has become more difficult as organisations have transitioned to remote working and digital-first sales. So, how can businesses foster a culture of continuous improvement and ensure that their sellers have the skills to sell in today’s B2B environment?
The training process starts right when a new salesperson is hired. Digital platforms that provide interactive lessons along with embedded practice sessions based on real-world scenarios can accelerate the onboarding process and empower sellers to start adding value sooner. Optimised playbooks and job-specific situational training can bring new sellers up to speed in weeks instead of months, while also increasing their knowledge retention so that they can start selling faster.
There is also significant value in providing sales teams with ongoing guidance and coaching. This is what will help sellers to stay relevant and make an impact with prospective customers, delivering the truly engaging and differentiated experiences that B2B buyers now expect.
Providing continuous support through in-the-moment and on-the-job coaching feeds them with the necessary intelligence to drive business growth. Intelligent platforms that identify opportunities for individualised skill development and then deliver personalised coaching at scale are extremely powerful tools as sellers attempt to navigate a virtual selling world. They can deliver just-in-time recommendations on what to do, say and show at specific stages of the sales cycle – realising the potential of truly dynamic learning.
While this type of coaching and training is primarily directed towards sales teams, it’s data that can truly transform end-to-end GTM operations and drive performance marketing effectiveness. Data-driven platforms that measure the impact of marketing’s work can deliver valuable strategic insights – in turn empowering B2B marketers to deliver content that resonates and orchestrate campaigns that drive buyers to act.
Using engagement analytics to track the content that is most popular with buyers is the most obvious example. When marketers have visibility into the content that resonates with buyers, they can scale best practices and prioritise content that has been proven effective. This boosts marketing outcomes as the content being promoted will have been optimised for specific audiences.
Taking this one step further, content engagement data can be combined with CRM data to provide visibility into how content influences sales opportunities and deals closed. With insights into how buyers engage with content, GTM teams can personalise future interactions and tailor marketing campaigns based on what prospects in a certain industry most care about.
At a broader level, data can also be used to align sales and marketing teams. A massive 90 percent of sales and marketing professionals point to a number of disconnects across strategy, process, content and culture that hold back GTM efforts. Businesses can use technology and data to bridge this gap, using the data captured from digital interactions at every stage of the sales cycle to create an aligned GTM strategy based on what has been proven to aid performance.
Ultimately, GTM teams are facing a significant challenge when it comes to standing out and driving business growth in a crowded B2B marketplace. By leveraging the power of digital platforms to coach their teams and generate valuable insights, businesses will be better positioned to supercharge their marketing operations and performance, and realise their growth ambitions in the new normal.