There are many B2B sales & marketing inhibitors. One of the reasons that B2B companies fail, or don’t grow as quickly as they want to, or need to, is because of the number of different inhibitors that affect their growth. There are a number of inhibitors to great B2B sales & marketing cultures. There are external b2b sales inhibiting factors and internal b2b sales inhibiting factors.
Of course, the most important factor happening right now, in 2021, is the Covid-19 pandemic.
it is difficult to predict what will happen when the pandemic is over, because no one can really predict when it will be over. With vaccines starting to roll out in the western world, we can only hope that at least they will be effective, and help us get back to some sort of normalcy, and then we will know what is in store for us economically.
However, there is still hope for your business. You need to adjust your marketing messages and the way you market and sell. You need to ensure you have a strong VALUE PROPOSITION. You need case studies and testimonials that sell, and you also need to have a compelling offer. Without these factors, your sales could drop dramatically.
Economy – Recession
As mentioned above, there are many other external factors that can inhibit great sales and marketing in a B2B company. The second biggest external factor is a recession, especially one like we are going through now.
The last recession was about eight years ago, and we still hadn’t fully recovered fully from it when the pandemic hit. And with the pandemic, the recession we are in now will probably continue, because of the many businesses that have shut down, and will not come back or recover.
In a recession, no matter how hard or persuasive your marketing is, you cannot get some companies to buy. Usually their clients are not buying from them, and that causes a ripple effect right through the whole economy.
All B2B companies have a lot of competition. You know better than me who your fiercest competitors are, and how you can overcome their weaknesses to secure business. If you do not believe you have much competition, simply ask your clients how many different companies contacted them in the past two months.
You will constantly have competition. You need to discover who your competition is so you can overcome any objections a potential client will throw at you.
There can also be external factors that can affect certain companies or certain markets from buying at a particular time. Everyone is effected by the pandemic. However, a few years ago there was a disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company that caused the spill was BP, one of the largest oil companies in the world. You can bet that trying to sell anything to BP at that time, except a sure-proof way of cleaning up oil spills, was probably going to be a long sales cycle.
So, understand what other factors could be affecting your clients and prospects now, and bring a new and fresh perspective that can help them grow. The best way to do that is by showing the value your company can bring to them.
As we all know, governments seem to have more and more of a reach within our personal and business affairs, both through taxation and through the different laws enacted in every country or jurisdiction. In Ontario, the Canadian province I live in, for example, all companies become tax collectors for the government. We already collect GST for them with the products we provide, and Ontario companies also collect PST through the new government HST.
Sarbanes Oxley has also given many companies headaches with its new regulations. However, legal and accounting companies have reaped benefits from many of these laws, as they advise their clients on the right and wrong ways to ensure they are compliant with the new laws.
A few years ago, Canada passed the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) which can fine any individual up to a $1 million and a company up to $5 million for sending unsolicited emails. This is the toughest ant-spam legislation in any western country. In my opinion, this law is ridiculous as it punishes legitimate marketers from reaching out to companies who could really use these companies’ products and/or services. But we all must comply, even companies outside Canada selling to Canadian firms and consumers.
And when we come out of this pandemic, especially in Canada, it looks more like the federal government wants to get more involved in your business affairs through more taxation and regulations, because of the massive debt they have accumulated.
INTERNAL INHIBITING FACTORS
The internal inhibitors usually revolve around how the executives, especially the CEO, feel about marketing and sales. If the CEO has come up through a marketing and sales background, then marketing, sales and client service play a large role in how that particular company is run.
It is imperative that the executive committee, and especially the CEO, make marketing and sales the major priority of the business, in order to succeed. This is especially true in tough economic times, like we are still going through right now.
Measuring True Marketing
There are a number of B2B companies that realize marketing is a key driver of revenue. Even today, IBM allocates about 50% more money to marketing and sales, than it does to Research and Development (R&D). Microsoft also allocates a similar amount of money to marketing and sales versus R&D. Each of them allocates about 21% to 23% of revenue to marketing and sales. Apple allocates a similar number.
The real inhibitor, to the true marketing side of the B2B business, has generally been that executives know that 50% of their marketing is effective, they just don’t know what 50% it is. The sales side of the business has always been measured. Sales statistics have usually been readily available, and most sales people are generally paid on some sort of incentive, because their contribution can be measured.
However, it has been difficult to measure the contribution of the true marketing side of a B2B business. Advertising has always been difficult to measure, because it was put out to a large audience, and there were very few, if any measurements associated with it.
Sales may have gone up, in any given timeframe. But if a company had a number of marketing initiatives going on at the same time, which of course it should, it was almost impossible to discover which ads were working, and which ones weren’t.
So it has been difficult to measure true marketing in the past. That is, until now. With the advent of the Internet, and all of the tools available for analytics, you can measure your marketing right down to how each individual company buys from you. If you are not measuring some part of your marketing, you need to take advantage of the many tools available for measuring your marketing effectiveness.
Another inhibitor of great marketing in B2B companies is “turf protection.” Turf protection is when a partner or relationship manager won’t “allow” any other business units inside his accounts. He has the misguided notion that anyone else in his accounts will disrupt that account. The real thing he fears is that another business unit will take over the account, and leave him out of the profit picture for that account. There is also the reality that the relationship could be put aside for short term gain. This phenomenon is especially true with professional services firms.
There are a number of ways to overcome this anxiety. However, the best way is to have an account structure that allows for other business units to develop within an account, but under the understanding that the account belongs to the account executive or relationship manager. It must also be done with a profit and remuneration structure that is fair to everyone.
The issue here is that too many companies talk about the process they use, rather than the real differentiators. The real differentiators are the value you bring through the issues you resolve for your clients, through the solutions you put into place, and the relationships you build with each client.
The easiest way to find that differentiator is to ask your clients. I have found that most companies do not ask their clients the simple question; “Why do you do business with us?” Who can give you the best reasons you are in business, better than your clients can.
When you do ask your clients, you not only find out what differentiates your company, you also build on your value proposition. As each client tells you what is right and wrong with your products and services, you can correct and build upon those ideas.
Almost all B2B companies end up selling features, as opposed to how to resolve particular issues that a prospect client has. Many times, this comes from the way the client asks for you to help.
Your client may say I need these features for my system. If you end up selling this way, then you will never work your way up the relationship ladder. Many B2B companies are happy doing this, but it means you spend a lot of time answering RFP’s, and will never become a Strategic Business Advisor to that company. It also means that you will have plenty of competition for each feature your client is looking for.
To overcome this way of doing business, you need to start resolving issues for your client. Your client doesn’t really want a bunch of features in a product, he wants an issue resolved, so he can reach his and his company’s goals. He probably resolved that issue with a certain feature in the past. Therefore, he believes the same feature can resolve it now. By using some creative thinking, you can show him there is a better way to resolve his issues with your company’s value proposition.
Dig deep, and you will find that you can counsel your client on the best way to solve this problem. It will take more work, but it can also lead to much higher revenues in the future. However, you must also decide on the type of B2B company you are, and if you want to put in the extra work to attain these significantly higher revenues and profits.
Lack of Account Management
Most B2B companies have some sort of account management. But, many times it is a loose structure, with no apparent process or system involved. As every company needs a CEO, every major client you have, needs an account/ relationship manager. Someone has to be the main point of contact for that client to ensure the promised products and services are delivered.
A structure needs to be in place in which the account manager works with all his team members to ensure that the account plan is moving forward. There needs to be a formal process in place to ensure this happens. And the client needs to know that there is a single point of contact, for anything that client needs.
That doesn’t mean that the account manager fields every single call. It means that the account manager ensures that every call is handled, and that if the client’s senior executives want to talk to someone, they know who that is.
Without a structured account management process, on how to deal with issues, selling new products, using the right analytics, and building the right relationships, that account will falter, and soon will belong to the competition.
As you can see, there are many factors, both internally and externally that can affect the way you sell to your prospects and clients. Work extremely hard to eliminate the internal factors, and be aware of all the external factors that can change the way you market.
Contact me through my email below, and let’s have a chat about how you can increase your revenues, even through these pandemic times. There is no charge for this, and everyone I’ve ever talked to has said they had learned something from our chats.
Ian Dainty’s Email
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