Can Industrial and B2B Marketers Learn Creative Problem Solving from Fifth Graders?

To be successful in industrial and B2B marketing, one has to engage with prospects and customers in a meaningful manner. Consultative selling is one of the recommended ways and that requires us to sharpen our listening and creative problem solving skills.

That’s great, if you are a natural born consultant but for the rest of us, we have to learn and master these skills. That is why the headline “The Creativity Crisis” in a recent article from Newsweek caught my attention.

According to the article, the Creativity Quotient (CQ) among American children has been in a steady decline since the early nineties. Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990.

Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

Many other media outlets have reported the same creativity crisis in America. What are consequences of this creativity decline to the business world? Read more

Translate Features into Benefits if You Want Your Marketing Content to Engage and Sell

Marketing 101 teaches you “Customers buy benefits and not product features.” I’m not disputing that nor am I making a new revelation. What I do want to talk about here is the how and not the why of you should translate your features into tangible benefits if you want your marketing content to engage with prospects and convert them into customers.

It was Charles Revson (the pioneering cosmetics industry executive who created and managed Revlon Cosmetics through five decades) who clearly understood and practiced this marketing principle when he said, “In the factory we make cosmetics; in the drugstore we sell hope.”

Another often-quoted marketing lesson is from Theodore Levitt who once told his M.B.A. students at Harvard: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.”

Features Tell, Benefits Sell

It would seem that all a B2B or industrial marketer has to do is write benefits laden copy and magically prospects would become customers. However, it is not so easy to translate features into benefits that really engage and speak directly to your target audience.

I have come across two tools for helping you dig deeper and create marketing content that focuses on benefits over features. Read more

What Not To Do For Better B2B Customer Relationships

Building a trusting relationship in complex industrial sales is hard enough without things being messed up even more because your sales reps fail to do the basics. It helps a great deal if you first learn what turns off your B2B customers in order to avoid making simple mistakes that can damage a customer relationship.

There is a big difference between what B2B customers say they want and what really drives their purchasing decision. Buyers of technical products and services do look to vendors for providing relevant information for solving their problems. Even though B2B customers consider product features and price very important, what they are really looking for is a remarkable sales experience. Read more

B2B Websites: To Publish Prices, Or Not To Publish…That Is The Question

Do you show prices on your B2B website? Have you struggled to answer that question? You are not alone, most business purchases, especially industrial products don’t lend themselves to a simple Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). It becomes even more complicated if you sell through channel partners and there are different pricing structures in place.

This is not a new problem; business marketers have been debating the pros and cons of publishing prices on their websites for several years now. I found a series of blog posts on pricing on your website at Dave Jung’s B2B Blog, some of those articles date back to 2006.

Why do we need prices on B2B websites?

There have been many studies done over the years that indicate that price information is the very reason why most B2B buyers visit a vendor’s website. Read more

Survey Finds Growth in Pipelines and Sales Cycles for B2B Lead Generation

I recently read a news release put out by Infogroup on their SalesPulse Survey of B2B sales professionals conducted jointly with OneSource, an Infogroup company. Some of the findings match what I am hearing from my industrial clients and one really surprising result.

The top findings I got out of the release were:

  1. 47% of the sales professionals reported a slight increase in the size of their B2B pipelines this year as compared to last year. However, the sales cycles have also become longer, making it much harder to close deals.

    This agrees with what I am hearing from my engineering and industrial clients, they are seeing a lot more activity but the average sales cycle has grown by an additional 90 ~ 120 days. Because of longer sales cycles, more promising opportunities are being lost since business conditions change at the other end and projects are put on hold indefinitely or being eliminated.

  2. Read more

Using Content to Move Prospects Forward in the Sales Cycle

We often think of online content as the text on a web or blog page. The focus there is to optimize it for keywords or phrases for people to find your website when searching for relevant terms. That however is only part of the solution because if your content doesn’t engage the visitor s/he won’t take a desired action to move forward in the sales cycle.

Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, Inc. said it best when she wrote, “Passive reading of your content is not going to help online marketing initiatives shorten buying cycles or increase customer acquisition and revenues.”

Your online content needs to play a much more active role in moving site visitors along in his/her buy decision. According to Bob Carrigan, CEO of International Data Group, “It [content] fulfills the promise of the Web, which is relationship marketing.”

Using content or Inbound Marketing, you are able to make that key connection with your prospects by delivering specific content needed in order to make an informed decision. Read more

The Distribution Trap – How Innovations Become Commodities

I read an eye-opening article by Andrew R. Thomas, PhD Assistant Professor of International Business, University of Akron and the Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Transportation Security. He has outlined what is wrong with the theory of mass marketing.

For decades, business and management gurus have preached that manufacturers should focus on core competencies and innovate to remain competitive in a global market. Non-core functions such as sales and distribution should be outsourced.

That business model works for a while but in the long-term, it fails badly. Why? Because it is the mega-distributors that dictate terms and reduce the value of the manufacture’s innovations into commodity products. Dr. Thomas calls this “The Distribution Trap.” Read more

Have You Heard of Sales 2.0?

While I was researching sales and marketing automation solutions, I came across several videos that were talking about Sales 2.0. I found them on allbusiness.com.

It is true that they are referring to the current trend of using social media but in ways that are fundamentally different from the traditional sales process. I found the videos very informative and learned something new. You may find them interesting too. Read more