What is the biggest challenge for B2B sales today?
There is a combination of things, but I think that the biggest challenge for B2B sales today is reaching Decision-Makers. The Sales Cycle in B2B sales is too long and time is money. Addressing the right people fast is very important in order to convert them from leads to sales. In today's technology-driven world, it is easier to find the right audience through the most well-known platforms. Digital technology and e-commerce are on the rise so customer loyalty and retention are essential strategic tools in every business.
Over the last years, companies have been trying to connect online and offline - do you believe this can be done also in B2B companies and which way?
Apparently, the need for communication has been in our lives for many centuries. As Claude Shannon -known as "the father of information theory"- said in 1948 “The fundamental problem of communication is that of reproducing at one point either exactly or approximately a message selected at another point.”. I believe in 360o communication practices that combine mediums and channels showing different messages to the targeted users. Multichannel campaigns converting better because the relationship between brands and consumers has fundamentally shifted in the digital age. Consumers and users either B2C or B2B consume time in the same Mediums. This is the “Hyper-Connected Consumer”. The way that companies should reach their Β2Β target audiences is with B2B logic but Β2C content. We are all humans (H2H) after all!
Marketers have a lot on their plate, so why loyalty programs are so important to have? Do you believe loyalty programs can work on B2B and if yes, what is the opportunity today?
Of course! Loyalty programs are vital in the marketing-sales department of every business. Omnichannel and multichannel programs are replacing traditional programs and more consumers expect personalization. This is why premium loyalty programs are becoming more appealing and after the rise of the AI and Chatbots, the users expect from businesses to propose fast solutions according to their needs! The biggest opportunity today is to meet customer expectations with exceptional customer experiences. So brands should invest in their loyalty programs, and find the best technological solution in a strategic way to follow up the needs of its customers.
What are the differences between B2B and B2C customers in their buying behavior?
There are many differences between B2B and B2C customers in their buying behavior across all industries. It all starts with the need for identification and the suppliers' evaluation and ends to the purchase decision and after sales support. Every step is different. The biggest difference is that this cycle is more time-consuming in the B2B environment. The common thing is that both B2B and B2C users visit the same Digital Channels and Mediums. This is something that brands should take into consideration and create strategies to benefit from and acquire new leads, sales etc.
Which challenges a marketer today has to face and which are the solutions?
One of the biggest challenges today for all marketers is proving the ROI of their marketing activities. It is very difficult to measure the ROI especially in a 360o communication environment (Digital, Social, Expo, Event, Magazines, TV etc). If you cannot provide the ROI of your activities then you cannot secure enough budget for new evolutionary actions. The solution here is Data. We live in the rise of Big Data. We have to benefit from data in our industry and improve our Strategies to become Data Driven! We must put the numbers into our everyday activities. Another challenge in Modern Marketing is Personalisation and Customer Experience. In order to be on board with these concepts, we should create strategies and invest in Customer Loyalty Programs.
Last but not least Localisation! It is very difficult and costly to create content for an international audience not only in terms of translations but also in terms of emotional language, copy, writing style, local issues etc. We must benefit from local partners and get them on board for the content creation procedures.
What means (marketing) do you believe that help increase sales and awareness in B2B?
It is a combination of things. It depends on the requirements and the strategic business goals but every business should apply 360o communication strategy in order to reach the Hyper-Connected Consumer. Digital, AI and Big Data are here to stay and help us with this marketing roadmap. We must include these tools and methodologies into our strategic growth plans. They will show us the way and help us to make the right decisions to reach our customers in different ways and mediums. In order to increase awareness and sales, we must invest in customer experience and loyalty programs in order to deep know our audiences and customers. The journey to the Digital Transformation is tough and unpredictable but here is the thing you must have in your mind: Great things never happen in your comfort zone!
Nikos Zakakis is a Digital Marketer passionate about eBusiness Strategy, Growth, Web Data, and Tech. Fully understanding the digital landscape, bridging the gap between marketing, sales, customer experience, and technology. Having great experience in digital advertising, he has been involved in large digital marketing projects, managed various Funded Development Projects (ICT4Growth and Interreg). He is also a Research Associate at the University of the Aegean and also a PhD Candidate in the field of Media and Organizational Communication, having several publications in International Refereed Journals and presentations in International Research Conferences.