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B2B Marketing And Sales Strategies In The Digital Age

Digitization has fundamentally changed the marketing and sales strategies of B2C (business-to-consumer) companies. While electronic goods or clothing used to be bought personally in specialty stores, the sales process and thus also the sales strategies have now shifted towards the online market. The same applies to the company’s marketing activities. Offline advertising spaces such as print ads are becoming increasingly unpopular. In the online world, on the other hand, the customer is made aware of the provider’s current offers through dynamic banners or search engine ads (SEA).

Published

08 June 2021

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As is so often the case, the B2B (business-to-business) sector follows the B2C trends with some delay. B2B online marketing is therefore one of the most discussed marketing strategies in 2021. It has been shown that digitization does not stop at B2B companies either. For this, there are various implications with regard to the marketing and sales strategies.

Marketing and sales concepts before digitization

Traditionally, most B2B companies’ strategic marketing efforts have primarily targeted the domestic market. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular lacked the resources (personnel, budget, know-how) for an international marketing strategy. So far, this has given them little chance of marketing and selling their products worldwide. This was mainly reserved for large international corporations. However, SMEs should use opportunities to acquire new customers on the Internet that go beyond traditional marketing methods.

The classic B2B marketing strategy included placing advertisements in specialist magazines and product catalogs, appearing at trade fairs and direct marketing, for example through cold calling by telephone. This type of marketing is called outbound marketing because the company initiates the interaction with the customer directly. This implies that potential buyers act passively and are reached by the so-called push marketing methods and guided through to the purchase. In reality, however, this marketing and sales concept is not particularly effective as it also reaches a large number of uninterested people. High scatter losses from these activities lead to high costs. In order to develop an efficient marketing and sales strategy, one must first of all look at the addressees, the B2B buyers.

Change in the B2B purchasing process due to digitization

While buyers used to rely mainly on traditional information materials such as specialist magazines, 98% now use the Internet to search for suitable suppliers. This makes the Internet the most important source of information for business-to-business buyers today. Search engines in particular offer buyers the opportunity to compare product features as well as the price and delivery conditions of the required products from different suppliers without much effort. So it has been shown that digitization has fundamentally changed the B2B purchasing process.

Implications for the strategic alignment of marketing and sales

Accordingly, B2B companies have to adapt their marketing and sales strategies. It is of essential importance to be visible in the purchasing process and thus to be found. According to a study by “Messe Interaktiv”, after extensive online research, only two to three companies make it into the pre-selection of buyers and thus get the chance to submit an offer. The development of online marketing strategies has become essential in 2021. According to the IGH Köln, B2B online procurement has grown by an average of 15% since 2012. B2B brands without an online shop or marketplace strategies lose access to the markets and buyers for their products. A study shows that SMEs that are classified as leaders in the online sector have more international customers than latecomers.

New opportunities for SMEs with the right online strategy

B2B companies that can demonstrate an online strategy for marketing and selling their products enjoy a sustainable competitive advantage, especially with regard to international customer acquisition. This does not only apply to resource-rich companies, because thanks to digitization, advertising your own products has become cheaper and more efficient than ever before. With online marketing, companies are reached that are already in some form interested in the subject of the seller. Be it a blog article or a search term on Google. New markets in particular can be opened up in this way at low cost. How can you also gain this strategic advantage and digitize your marketing?

The key word in any online marketing and sales strategy is what is known as inbound marketing. This marketing channel should be an important part of your 2021 marketing mix. Various methods and concepts of inbound marketing are presented in more detail below. In contrast to the outbound marketing already explained above,

the customer is reached directly by the supplier in the search process. This happens, for example, through a good ranking of your own website or the placement of your own products on corresponding B2B trading platforms or B2B portals, which are usually well placed in the organic search results. This means that the customer finds the seller, not the other way around. This increases the return on investment (ROI) of a marketing campaign dramatically. In addition, the sales department saves the first step in the sales process, because cold calling is no longer necessary. Latest studies show that two-thirds of the buying process is completed before the customer contacts the buyer. Align your marketing and sales concept accordingly.

Inbound marketing methods should be part of every B2B marketing and sales strategy

The following methods are part of a successful inbound marketing strategy or a B2B marketing concept:

  • Website optimization
  • B2B trade portals
  • Social media
  • Search engine marketing (SEM)
  • Content marketing

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