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The future of high-tech B2B sales is digital. A study by Adobe forecasts that more than half of high-tech B2B sales will come from digital by 2020.
It’s no secret that the technology buying cycle has changed dramatically in recent years. In a high tech world full of so much choice it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out from the competition and be heard above the noise.
Last year, a study asked high-tech marketers to rate the intensity of competition on a scale of 1 to 10. Sixty percent responded with an eight or higher.
So how are modern-day tech marketers keeping ahead of these fast-paced changes and reflecting them in the way they market their solutions and products, and what does this mean for the tech companies themselves?
Firstly, it’s important to understand who you’re selling to and their motivations for buying. Millennials have significant influence and buying power, and recent stats show that at least ⅓ of millennials currently have buying power on enterprise technology purchases.
Despite the common assumptions that millennials rely on mobile, social and digital channels to make these decisions, a recent study that polled three generations with technology buying power and found that they rely on similar sources to their generational predecessors when making a decision. This included assessing a problem, researching the best solution to solve it and creating a shortlist.
Although obvious differences, one thing remained the same; the need for personal interactions and engagement when making an important technology buying business decision.
In my role I attend a number of technology industry events each year and whilst some of our clients seem to be reducing their reliance on events for sales-ready leads, it’s clear they have their place in the marketing mix. However, they should not be the only route to market and should be used in conjunction with your digital outreach.
Digital-first – what’s changed?
B2B digital leaders drive five times more revenue growth than their peers.
Increasingly sales teams operating in the technology sector seem to be adopting a digital-first approach, meaning they are moving away from the traditional methods like cold calling. The modern tech customers will be using social and digital channels so it’s imperative that as a marketer, you are too.
Whereas before you might wait for your customers to realise their problems and then contact you to understand if you can solve them, tech marketers need to be reaching out to their potential audience to start building a relationship with them and educating them as a solution to their problem. B2B tech buyers will be doing a huge amount of research themselves, this could include but not limited to, relevant content, B2B reviews, online forums like Reddit and Spiceworks, webinars and social platforms to get a feel for the solution and what working with that particular vendor might look like.
The use of data to inform marketing, planning and decision making was named the top digital capability and drove investment strategies for high-tech B2B in 2016.
Marketers need to be aware that their customers are expecting highly targeted messages, which can only be driven by a highly targeted data-driven marketing strategy.
Marketers are now expected to include Search Engine Marketing, Account-Based Marketing as well as other digital channels into their strategy. Data has been used heavily in the last few years to inform sales and marketing teams and help shape the business strategy moving forward, this is only set to increase and continue.
Customer experience is key
A majority of high-tech companies said customer experiences and becoming experience-led was their No. 1 priority in 2017.
So what is Digital Transformation?
Digital Transformation is about changing the way a business interacts with its customers whilst ensuring they provide a consistent experience each time. A study at MIT found that companies that had adopted digital transformation are 26% more profitable.
Digital Transformation is becoming increasingly important to the customer experience, particularly within tech companies. The integration of digital technology into all areas of the business means that companies are creating highly engaged customers.
Having a joined-up customer experience across multiple channels provides you with a highly engaged customer, and highly engaged customers according to Rosetta, buy 90% more frequently, spend 60% more per purchase, and have 3x the annual value compared to the average customer.
A number of companies that we’ve been speaking to are already making the shift from offline traditional strategies to modern digital strategies aimed at improving customer experience.
In a study by the State of Digital Business Report, it showed that 55% of businesses believe they have less than a year to change their business model and fully adopt digital transformation before they start to suffer financially and lose market share.
Digital Transformation is already BIG within technology, and it’s clear it’s set to grow.
The power of LinkedIn as a sales tool
Last month I wrote an article looking at the importance of LinkedIn and how this platform has become one of the most potent marketing tools for B2B marketers, I’ve included a few of the more salient parts of the article below.
According to LinkedIn, the site has 500 million members, 61 million senior-level influencers, and 40 million decision-makers. So these are not low-level users – these are influential decision-makers and the exact type of decision-maker that you would want to reach with your B2B marketing campaigns.
According to some recent Hubspot statistics, LinkedIn is 227% more effective at B2B lead generation than Facebook or Twitter.
As already mentioned above when looking at the demographics of the LinkedIn database, it’s pretty obvious why – LinkedIn users are high-level decision-makers.
- 91% of executives rated LinkedIn as their number one choice for professionally relevant content
- 49% of B2B buyers research vendors by looking at their LinkedIn profiles and 44% have actually found potential vendors by looking at shared connections on LinkedIn
- 59% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn generates leads for their business, and 38% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is generating revenue for them
What B2B marketers need to remember is that LinkedIn should be used for networking and connecting with professionals who are relevant to your business and campaigns, not for spamming or sending out too many InMails. It’s important to take the time to develop a LinkedIn marketing strategy that makes sense for your business before steaming ahead. When done properly, LinkedIn can produce great results.
You can read the full article here.
The importance of search
These days search marketing should not be a ‘nice to have’ for tech marketers, it really must have a place in your digital strategy.
Search is one of the best ways to drive traffic and customers to your website, it allows you to be very granular with your targeting as well as giving you an idea of how visitors are interacting with your site and the different pages you’re driving them to.
It may be that your competitors are ranking higher than you in terms of organic listings and not delivering traffic, PPC can give you an advantage over your competitors. By paying, you can push yourself to the top of the page above the organic listings.
We’ve worked extensively in the enterprise B2B technology sector and search has played a pivotal part in the digital strategy, whether the goals are to increase the number of enterprise leads, brand awareness or simply ROI, search has often been the main driving force.
If you’re interested to learn how we have increased a tech client’s enterprise leads by 48% you can read the case study here.
So what does the future hold for the modern-day tech buyer?
We are entering into a new kind of digital world from hybrid cloud, AI and machine learning and it’s nearly impossible to stay ahead of the changing trends and technologies. Robots have started to replace humans in factories, driverless cars are becoming a reality and WiFi-enabled Barbie now talks to children using speech-recognition.
In a modern world with so much choice of technology at our fingertips, tech marketers need to be using every channel in their arsenal to stay ahead of their competitors. They need to be reaching and engaging their audience before they even realise they have a problem and position themselves as a solution to that problem. With so many channels and digital ways of reaching your target audience and actually being able to engage them passively, this shouldn’t be a problem.
If you’re struggling with your strategy, then feel free to contact the team here at Digital Clarity who would be delighted to help.
State of Digital Business Report,