Death of a salesman

Victoria Clarke in a recent B2B Magazine article asked the question does digitalisation and marketing automation spell the end of the traditional sales role. . It is increasingly the norm for the B2C sector but an immediate reaction is that it will be different for B2B. But will it?

With smaller ticket B2B items the shift has already occurred some years ago, you may not have noticed it but in revolutionised the sales team set up for businesses such as stationery suppliers. Now there is very real evidence that it is occurring for major ticket items such as IT as well. Let’s look at Government IT procurement where contracts can be measured in hundreds of millions. More and more Government IT procurement is taking place through the G-Cloud, an online market place with a single framework agreement.

Rather than a single supplier creating a bespoke solution that takes months if not years to implement, Government now buys off the shelf already proven packages from multiple vendors to build their solution in weeks – without a sales person in site. In such scenarios this means an increasingly important role for marketing with a shift in the ongoing client responsibility from the sales team to the key account management team.

So the real question isn’t is the sales team role changing in B2B, but just how quickly and how far it will change.


Google top 10s for 2013

2013 has been an odd year. It started with economic disaster forecasted by many, but has ended more upbeat than almost any of us expected. But for a real snapshot of 2013, there is no better place to look than Google's "Top 10 searches of 2013" summary. People, film, travel destinations, its all there but CMFG's favourite for putting your finger on the zeitgeist is the "What is..." Top 10. In 2013 it looked like this:

  1. What is twerking?
  2. What is my IP?
  3. What is yolo?
  4. What is a prime number
  5. What is illuminati?
  6. What is my car worth?
  7. What is spooning?
  8. What is global warming?
  9. What is Zumba?
  10. What is the meaning of life?

From the temporary to the timeless, something for everyone. CMFG wishes all its partners and clients a very happy Christmas.


The recession had ended!

WPP until recently the world's largest agency group (and almost certainly to overtake the recent Omnicom - Publicis merged entity once the client fall-out is complete) announced a 19% increase in first half year profits. Profits increase of that scale imply a genuine and sustained uplift in marketing spend, not just in the UK but globally. Marketing services are normally the first budget to be ciut and the first to return, so can we now cofidently say we have passed the worst of the recession. Talking to CMFG's clients it certtainly seems that way.


Does fear drive B2B purchasing?

Not many in the B2B work believe that the buying process is made up of a series of logical linear decisions (though surprisingly some still do). The fact that emotion plays a key role if not the key role in decision making is widely researched and accepted, though often this seems to be forgotten when looking at communication to customers and prospects at most stages.

But when we talk about emotion in buying what do we actually mean? Research by “The BuyerSphere Project by identified one emotion that has a far great impact than any other – FEAR. At CMFG Marketing we see this fear working in a number of ways, fear that they are putting their job or promotion at risk if they make the wrong decision. Fear that they don’t know how to assess the correct buying criteria and fear that they know less than the person who is looking to sell to them.

Depending on personality types these fears can manifest themselves in many different ways and most sales people will be able to give you vivid examples of how they impact on face to face situations. Its marketing’s role to reduce those fears before sales teams even get close to the prospects and the best way to do that is through providing information. Lots of it, through multiple channels, at various levels of complexity and obtainable by the prospects when they want it.


Sales & marketing alignment

A recent Hubspot blog highlighted the extent of the non-alignment between sales & marketing efforts:

According to a Corporate Executive Board study, 87% of the terms Sales and Marketing use to describe each other are negative. Sales calls Marketing arts-and-crafts and irrelevant, and Marketing calls Sales simple-minded and incompetent. Don't you think it's high time we stopped all this childish name-calling?

Now CMFG is made up of marketing specialists but even we have to put our hands up and say often in the companies we work for, it is as much the marketing team not understanding the selling process as the sales team not understanding the buying process.

Huthwaite shows us though that the selling process and the buying process are essentially the same thing, so if both sides are doing the job properly, then everything should be aligned, but they rarely are. The answer is a clear Service level Agreement SLA between the two teams that bring together the long and short term objectives of both parties. More importantly it ensures the hard stuff is done right by both sides because it is agreed in advance. Sales follows up on the leads provided diligently and marketing is clear and transparent the extent to which those leads are “warm” Shared hard objectives at the top is often the best way to kick this off.