There’s a lot of noise around technology is disrupting the world of B2B marketing and sales and that soon traditional approaches are something from the past.
As Internet and and technology are changing and molding all walks of life and business – look at Uber, AirBnB, Amazon or Alibba some “experts” think there will be a massive change in the B2B marketing and sales that will be mostly done via those new channels due to their lower cost and massive potential on reaching out to customers.
Others a bit more conservative say, B2B sales cycles and product cycles are much longer than B2C and therefore no such huge impact will occur, rather remaining as is, maybe using optimization processes but keeping the basic foundations on how they operate.
Fact is, No one knows, one or the other are pure educated guesses.
Based on some trends and statistics we might have the feeling that indeed technology is also changing at fast pace the current landscape, but there is nothing that can be used with accuracy to predict what the future will bring. This is scientifically proved and applies to Marketing, sales or any other thing in life.
“yeah but technology and trends have enhanced new way for marketing en unveiled new routes to sales”….yes it’s true. But where will that new way lead to? To somewhere you know?
Trends might be very tricky, as in the end, trends aren’t the way paved ahead, trends are what brings “disruption”. We’ve seen it in the past and we’ll keep seeing it in the future. But will there be a disruption in the Marketing and sales world or just a shift and usage of new tools? will Marketing and sales people lose their jobs to automated campaigns or automated sales?
Reality is, they did already, at some extension. question is, will this shift go on until both end up with automation or residual “old model” teams?
There’s another group of people counter arguing “B2B has a longer sales cycle” Yes it does but let’s be honest, today most of my work as a sales person is done using remote tools (email, phone, telecoms, cloud systems, video calls with my customers on the other side of Europe etc. etc.). Same for marketing. Take technology away and most companies wouldn’t know what to do to promote their goods and services.
So what is the future of marketing and sales in B2B?
An activity that will go on using different tools and systems, most likely quite different than it is today, but there’s one common denominator: people will still be there, in one side and the other of the equation.
In the B2C world I surely the train goes on a much faster pace and with much less stops and that’s almost a revolution how our lives used to be some 10 or 15 years ago and how we live today. Everything is at the distance of our fingers and eyes. We just don’t want to bother to step out of our houses or offices go to a store and have the hurdle to look, chose and “waste” time to buy whatever it is, from a simple meal, order a taxi or rent a house. But we don’t care either on who’s behind all that or there’s no need of “expertise”, there’s no loyalty and there’s no time to waste chatting with the eventual sales folk of the counter.
B2B is based in completely different foundations:
There’s a fundamental need of interaction and exchange at various levels, beneficial for both customer and supplier. Product and market expertise. Accurate market feedback. Knowledge and vision of the segment. A need of interaction with someone who can provide you more, much more, than a price and that no report or publication could replace.
B2B uses many indexes and reports across a wide variety of markets and segments. Very often those are not taken as “a given fact but the starting point for discussions between buyers and sellers.
B2B customers who have the chance to use any sort of “e-commerce” platforms – yes they also exists on the B2B world – often say: “I can use the platform but I need to talk to a sales person to understand the background, the outlook and discuss options and negotiate prices, as that’s also the base of B2B: Negotiation, expertise, solutions, alternatives, advice, support and understanding customers specific needs and realities.
The below bow shows on a nutshell what items are likely to be affected to technology (Routine items mostly with low financial impact and supply risks). Problem with that pictogram is, every single business relation will have its own. We can’t define which goods, products or services will be more impacted by technology on their sales and marketing departments.
Surely there are certain items or services that can be done or acquired with much more usage of technology and almost none human interaction: Items that are easy to find, not important to your company and where quality or service is quite standard.
In this case the supplier is a vendor, like a vending machine – I need 100 pens, take 10 Dollars – that’s it, don’t waste my time. If that’s an item that has almost no impact and relevance for your business why should you deploy resources on that activity? automate it. The below table shows what kind of items
Would you have the same approach with feed stocks, raw materials, products or materials that are crucial to your production or to business? The higher relevance for your business of any item, good or service, the more I wouldn’t