My wife and I have been watching a documentary series called America, the Story of Us. Two stories in the last episode really got my attention. The first was about Richard Warren Sears. Yep, that guy. He purchased a shipment of watches that never made it to a jeweler and then sold them at a low price to other station agents to keep time. Something I found interesting about this, I didn’t realize that trains really caused us to set up different time zones in America.

But back to Sears, he started a mail-order watch business in Minneapolis, and then ultimately moved to Chicago where he created what I considered to be the first Amazon using the paper catalog and trains to do what is done today with a website and blue trucks. He literally started the first mail-order business.

The other story I found interesting was about the Statue of Liberty. Now I always assumed that the Statue of Liberty was delivered in one piece, kind of like Gulliver was to the Lilliputians, but it was shipped in crates and had to be assembled. It sat on an island for a long time until Joseph Pulitzer, who owned the New York World Newspaper, put up a story and got over a hundred thousand dollars in donations, (a lot of money back then) to have it assembled. Was that the first GoFundMe or was that the first Ikea of the day where you had to get something shipped to you and assemble it?

The message I’m trying to get across is both of these entrepreneurs knew how to use messaging to promote their ideas. Are you doing the same? One of the biggest challenges, I think that faces businesses today, is the way that they use consumer marketing methods to get results.

Consumer Tactics In A B2B Sales World

One of the problems that I see is a lot of B2B businesses use consumer marketing tactics. They’re enamored with sales funnels. They market to everybody and hope that the funnel will filter out only serious buyers. Many use simple advertising, try to talk to anybody to try to find those quality leads. And a lot of businesses get on the technology treadmill. They market everywhere since you never know where you’re going to find buyers.

The second major problem is they focus only on lead generation. Generating new leads can help you grow a business, but the average closing rate on those, or conversions, is only about 4.1%. And that’s across multiple industries. On top of that, it can cost as much as five times to acquire a new customer as it does to retain your current ones. And only 5% retention can lead to a 95% increase in profits. Plus, happy customers tend to refer you.

The other challenge I see with B2B businesses is they tend to measure the wrong metrics. A lot of companies base their success on measuring the traffic to a website when really, that’s not real buyers. It could be bots or competition, but not people that want to buy from you. They tend to focus on new visitors and not capturing their contact information. Your whole website should be a system based on capturing email addresses and contact information.

Another thing that is the bright, shiny object of metrics is the size of an email list. I’ve worked with clients that had 10,000 names, and they were paying monthly for it. But the open rates were so small. We were able to whittle it down to 1500, who actively opened their emails. And those are the people that will eventually buy from you.

The Big Idea

To wrap your head around the big idea here, it’s about consumer marketing versus B2B marketing. Consumer marketing is very transactional. Price and convenience are the major factors that you have no control over. And people’s buying habits change rapidly. Consumers are often swayed by advertising in a way that B2B businesses aren’t. The average consumer spends about 13 seconds purchasing a brand in-store and 19 seconds online. In the B2B space, it’s more relational. Buying decisions tend to take longer and are driven by trust. B2B buying decisions are also more complex since they can affect long-term business ideas, decisions, and ultimately outcomes.

B2B Is More Complex

The B2B sales cycle takes around three to nine months on average, depending on the size of the company buying your products or services. What’s the solution to all this? You need to optimize your B2B marketing expenses. 77% of B2B buyers consider the idea of buying complex. That’s because it’s part of a long-term strategy. Those numbers are based on research at gartner.com. Generally speaking, it is more complex. Often there’s an average of seven people involved in that buying process. It really depends on the breadth of reach of the company. How big is the company? And how many people need to sign off on the decision?

Sales and marketing must work in parallel. Not in a serial way where one feeds the other. You need to align your current sales objectives to help overcome repeat objections.

When you think about B2B marketing, it’s really about your sales team. Salespeople often prefer to take orders over following leads. You have to help them nurture new and existing relationships. Arm them with information and great content. A proactive and prescriptive approach can increase purchasing ease by 86%. Utilizing relational technologies like LinkedIn helps by showing your sales team what’s in it for them. They can figure out how to make this simple and effective in growing and building relationship sales.

Finally, measuring engagement in the right places is so important. A CRM should act as a camera and take snapshots of activities. Good notes can lead to great content messaging. Track the activity of specific topics on your website and social media to spot trends. When something is getting hit more often recently, you know that that’s on the mind of your customers.

Finally, consider your website, email, and social media strategy as an ecosystem, not as three separate platforms. All of them work together to build awareness and engagement with your sales team.

Final Thoughts

This may seem like a lot of information, but if you break it down into small steps or GSD (get stuff done), you can help your sales team start to navigate the differences between cold calling and relational selling. It’s the same kind of process that Joseph Pulitzer used to finance the building of the Statue of Liberty. In 1884, he raised over a hundred thousand dollars. That’s close to $3 million today. And he did it in small batches. It was like a GoFundMe. But the people who built it risked life and limb to put that statue up. They built the core, wrapped it in copper, and it eventually turned green.

What you need to do is build your core, wrap it in copper, and watch the ideas take off, and turn your relationships into something that I’m sure you will like (which is green), money.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas, or questions about consumer marketing versus B2B marketing. Have you found the difference between B2B marketing and consumer marketing? What B2B marketing strategies have worked and what did not live up to your expectations? Do you have any ideas or other advice you could share?


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