Customer-obsessed marketing

A Healthy Future Welcomes Consultative B2B Sellers

Caroline Robertson
Vice President, Research Director
May 23, 2017

 

Mark Twain unknowingly echoed the state of today’s B2B sellers when he said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” As Mary Shea writes in her newest report, “B2B Consultant Sellers Reign In The 21st Century,” it’s a selective sickness that ails today’s sales professionals. Those at greatest risk of the displacement as we described in another recent Forrester report, “Death Of A (B2B) Salesman: Two Years Later,” are those high-volume, low-value transactional sellers who suffer listless interest from self-educated buyers who are purchasing online at an increasing pace. But for customers who are uncertain about solutions that best suit their needs or ones with complex challenges, there remains healthy growth for sellers who possess the right attributes and who adopt the rigor of a new regimen.

Almost 50% of the sales and marketing leaders who participated in a recent Forrester survey rate themselves as weak (or very weak) in presenting themselves as one team to senior leadership. Unsurprisingly, our B2B marketing team frequently advises clients about how complementary marketing and sales activities blur role definitions but clarify codependence. Nonetheless, we’re seeing progress because the majority of organizations report that sales and marketing are well aligned on segmentation and specific account targets. They also similarly define prospect and lead qualification criteria as well as targets for revenue goals.

So whether you consider yourself weak or strong on these issues, I have no doubt that you feel like you could do more to improve sales effectiveness. How should sales and marketing push forward to success? For some, it may be “Advocating For Bespoke Content For Sellers” as Steven Wright recommends in his recent blog post. For others, account-based marketing (which we’ve covered in numerous reports and blogs) may be the tipping point. And for some, it may mean significant reorganization to accommodate the new world of consultative, technology-driven sales (and more on that from the B2B team soon).

Classically, all depends on the maturity of your business, current sellers’ skills, and the ability to align around prioritized leads and accounts. What Forrester stands firmly behind, however, is that B2B sellers will continue to play a strong role in helping organizations pivot to customer obsession. I close with another classic Twain quote, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” So . . . let us help you figure out how best to get started. But only after you’ve read Mary’s report, of course!

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