The Shifting Landscape of B-to-B
In B-to-B marketing, there are essentially five promotional channels: inbound sales, outbound sales, outside sales, Web and catalog/mail.
Given today’s marketplace, I thought it might be useful to talk about some of the bigger changes I see happening in each channel.
1. Inbound sales. The days of having “order takers” are long gone. Today's successful companies cross-sell, upsell, retain and add value to each inbound customer experience. Try hiring more talented, sales-oriented (i.e., more expensive) reps for your call center, and measure performance statistics by inbound sales rep.
2. Outbound sales. Form a team of inside sales reps to make outbound calls to retain existing business and penetrate sites with high potential. Start by calling best customers, new sites with high potential and lapsed customers of higher value. As your reps grow and gain more experience, assign them to industry or geographical territories, and specialty product areas. If you have regional distribution centers, consider placing teams of inside sales reps at each location.
3. Outside sales. In heavily populated areas with high concentrations of customers, face-to-face meetings with sales reps can further cement profitable relationships and gain higher value orders and/or contract sales.
4. Web. B-to-B marketers continue to invest heavily in second-generation, fully integrated e-commerce solutions that are designed to drive search engine optimization and organic new customer acquisition, increase conversion, and retain online shoppers. These new systems also drive dynamic, triggered and promotional e-mails; facilitate social marketing; and fully integrate with the feature-rich order management/enterprise resource planning systems of most companies.
5. Catalog. B-to-B marketers know they must maintain circulation and frequency of contact. However, many mail smaller catalogs, fliers or postcards designed to drive their online buyers back to their PCs. The resulting savings often are invested in new Web technologies. Offline buyers should continue receiving the full-line catalog.
Terence Jukes is president of Ability Commerce, a 140-person firm that designs, builds and runs e-commerce and related marketing programs for catalog companies. He can be reached at TerryJ@AbilityCommerce.com.