Relationship building is a critical process in certain types of B2B sales cycles involving personal interactions and rapport before the prospect is near the buying phase. The high cost and infrequency of purchases require a level of trust and friendship to be established between seller and buyer. Note I did not say “between sales and the buyer”.
Traditionally, the sales department was responsible for developing relationships with prospects as they moved through the stages of the buying process. Marketing was traditionally only responsible for identifying which prospects sales should build relationships with. However, the time and dollar cost for sales to build and strengthen relationships were often too much to be able to see every lead to the end. The solution for this involves marketing accepting the responsibility for developing relationships.
Using marketing automation tools like ActiveConversion, marketing not only identifies prospects and leads but nurtures those prospects until they are sales ready. Automated email marketing campaigns, periodic offers, and resources such as videos or case studies build a stronger buy-in. As the company begins to build their credibility as experts in their field, prospects authenticate them more and finally move closer towards a sales-ready state. Using marketing automation, marketing passes only leads that are close to sales-ready state and are open to a purchase negotiation.
If marketing assumes the task of building relationships, there can be many benefits. Immediately, sales would have more time and resources to close B2B sales leads that are ready. The reduction in energy used to nurture leads who are not sales ready saves the parent company a large amount of overhead. As well, marketing has the resources and expertise to execute cohesive long-term campaigns to deliver a message over multiple communications.
Establishing a relationship between marketing and the buyer is more effective and cost efficient than a sales representative chasing after a lead too early in the sales cycle when in fact the lead is still researching.
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About Fred Yee
Fred Yee is the founder and CEO of ActiveConversion, a company specializing in industrial online marketing, marketing automation, and demand generation. His work with ActiveConversion has helped hundreds of businesses succeed online and expand internationally. Fred was voted by the SLMA as one of the Top 50 Most Influential in Sales Lead Management for two consecutive years, and continues to gain recognition for his work in online marketing.