In the B2B industry, generally speaking, marketing is responsible for leads and sales is responsible for closing deals. B2C companies, on the other hand, are traditionally more transactional, meaning that marketing often closes deals (especially in the online retail world). In the B2C realm, it’s very obvious who marketing’s real customer is: the people swiping their credit cards.
In B2B, this isn’t entirely the case. In most scenarios, there is more than one person involved in the buying cycle — not to mention the months of follow-ups, RFPs, demos, and marketing communications before a check finally comes in the door. Traditionally, B2B marketers aren’t a part of the sales process, so when a deal closes, sales gets credit for closing it while marketing struggles to justify how they played a part in the deal. It can be frustrating for marketers when they don’t get any credit for deals that close after months and months of work, even when the leads are marketing-generated. It’s a hard pill to swallow, and frankly, quite detrimental for marketing departments that are expected to turn leads into dollars with the snap of their fingers.
The solution? B2B marketers need to revise their way of thinking. Instead of focusing solely on their “customers” in the traditional sense of the word, it’s time for marketers to start thinking of their customers in two separate sets: the end customer, and their sales team. Let’s take a quick look at each.
Marketing’s first customer is sales, the ones talking to your end customers on a daily basis. Your sales reps have needs that require marketing support in the “pre-sales” stages, including generating leads, creating website content, furthering your thought leadership in the industry, or coming up with marketing collateral. Without any of these efforts on the part of your marketing team, sales reps would have fewer leads to contact, and no content to serve as touch points with their buyers. This is why product marketing and content marketing play such a large role in most mature B2B organizations.
Marketing’s second customer is the end user. Marketing is at least partly responsible for making sure the end user is happy and engaged. This involves creating content like infographics, white papers, webinars, and PR/AR media promotions, as well as having a social media presence, syndicating content, hosting and attending events, creating customer stories, and more. The end customer needs to feel like the company is real, the product is real, and most importantly, the people are real. Would you still buy from a company if their content was always irrelevant or unhelpful, or if they didn’t have a coherent brand message? Chances are, probably not — and that’s where marketing comes in.
Both of these types of customers are equally important for marketing. If you focus solely on your end customers, you will likely have problems internally. The same goes for focusing entirely on your sales team. Remember, if sales numbers are going up, marketing value automatically goes up with it.
Want more information on marketing to your customers? Check out our free white paper, 20 Tips for the Customer-Centric Marketer.