The world of B2B commerce is more complex than ever before. With multiple stakeholders, more competition and shrinking corporate budgets, the modern-day enterprise sales process has become increasingly challenging.
Meanwhile, the rapid onset of remote work paired with advances in technology have led to more introductory client meetings online and an influx of available data, making it harder to stay focused on the overarching mission.
It’s time for organizations to hit the reset button and consider how their teams, systems and go-to-market approach can adapt to win in this new playing field.
Connecting the dots
For marketing and sales, the answer lies in creating a strengthened and refined alignment to drive long-term success.
Sullivan’s Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, Nicole Ferry, sat down with Templafy’s Director of Business Development and Partnerships, Peter Tuborgh, to offer insights into how both teams can work together to add practical value to the sales cycle.
1. Be clear on your value proposition
Companies can often get caught up in an arms race where they’re quick to promote the latest products and services but fail to connect them to the value of the overall relationship.
Without an overarching message that’s clear and easy to understand, organizations will struggle to cut through the noise in a busy marketplace.
“It’s important to make sure that salespeople understand how to talk about the company’s mission and brand differentiation. That conversation helps to pull apart from competitors, establish expectations of the relationship, and sets the foundation for tailoring specific benefits to the prospect,” explained Nicole.
“You have to establish the story and the future vision that you can drive with the customer before you get into the specifics,” added Peter. “Many buyers come in with the expectation of seeing a demo, but you have to take the client away from that.”
Education on the mission and the brand is therefore critical in enabling everyone in the sales org to have the right client conversations. For marketing, this means involving sales early on and working together to share valuable knowledge and expertise.
Once the value proposition is clear to the sales team, it’s important to make sure it’s reflected in the best way possible throughout the content they take to market.
2. Keep content on point
Content plays a huge role in facilitating and enabling value-driven conversations, but without the right tools and resources, organizations can lose focus on what to use and when.
Underpinning every B2B buyer journey are sales documents. From pitch decks and RFPs to one-pagers, they are foundational to every deal.
It’s important that these documents convey the value proposition (making the benefits of the company or service clear to the buyer) and that the content is tailored toward the end customer, aligning their business objectives to your value proposition effectively.
“Every buyer has so many things to think about, so when we think about content, it needs to resonate with where the buyer is in the process,” explained Peter.
Getting the timing right is key to driving the sales process, and for one of Sullivan’s clients, that meant reshaping their approach to sales material.
“It’s important to create the right communications to the right customers at the right time, and that can look different depending on the company and who its customers are,” added Nicole.
“For one of our clients, its salespeople didn’t see the value of a typical capabilities presentation. So instead, we created a follow-up deck to send after an initial conversation that enabled them to customize the output to the conversation.”
Tools like document automation are ideal for making this customization easier. In the above example, the investment managers use Templafy to customize their follow-up material based on the customer conversations they have — adding in the right portfolio examples, team bios and data that builds upon their sales conversations.
3. Create more space for collaboration
Marketers tend to plan campaigns and initiatives weeks or months ahead, whereas sales teams can be more reactive in their approach. Getting both teams better aligned is key.
“When we [Sullivan] start working with organizations it can feel at first like we’re doing a bit of couples therapy to bring sales, marketing and sometimes product teams back together. More frequent, institutionalized touchpoints need to be established,” said Nicole.
“Aligning upfront on where we want to play and how we want to take that to market is fundamental for the relationship to thrive,” continued Peter. If it’s not, there’s a danger that both teams may deviate from the company plan.”
Creating more regular touchpoints is great, but it’s only half the battle. Keeping the relationship focused and results-orientated in the long term is often where the challenge lies. To do that, organizations should prioritize the tools that free up headspace to make this happen.
Given the manual and repetitive work that goes into sales documents, it makes sense to start with these.
Document automation is already revolutionizing the way organizations think about content and workflows, and it’s freeing up time and energy to focus on the human side of B2B commerce.
As we go into 2023 and beyond, the B2B organizations that succeed will be the ones that understand their value proposition, communicate it in the best way possible and use the right tools to support the way they work.
This is the second in a two-part series in collaboration with Sullivan, a brand engagement firm based in New York. Check out the first blog on how branding can empower B2B sales.