Scott Osborne, CEO of Total Synergy, recognised in 2012 that B2B technology buyer behaviour was changing. It wasn’t exactly an epiphany, the changing landscape evolved over the course of a few years until it was very clear: the way in which his company was interacting with its customers and potential leads was becoming less effective.
It was a busy time for Total Synergy. The business was navigating major change on two fronts – the new buyer behaviour and the shift in focus to cloud technology were challenges the team embraced in parallel. In 2011 they developed a new cloud hybrid solution for their primary market – the architecture, engineering and construction design industry (AEC) – and decided to support this investment with a new sales and marketing process aligned with the B2B buyers journey. A move that has led to some stunning results.
The drive for change
The impetus to rethink the sales and marketing team and process was based on some key insights.
The first was a realisation that some of the traditional sales tactics - such as cold calling and relentless follow-up of leads – was in direct conflict with the internal culture built on great customer outcomes. Scott Osborne notes: “Our culture and buyer culture were totally misaligned – it seemed like everything we did, such as cold calling and chasing up prospects, grated on our buyers”.
It became clear that every sales and marketing interaction with clients or prospects must be reviewed from the customer’s perspective and with their needs in mind.
The second key insight was that Total Synergy was engaging with prospects too late in their buyer’s journey. Scott Osborne realised that “Customers are now arming themselves with product knowledge before speaking to a sales person and don’t want a hard sale. They want to speak to people they trust, such as those who provide them with insightful and relevant information at each stage of their buying journey”.
Transforming the business development process
To help ensure that customer centricity became the DNA of the business, Total Synergy made a bold decision – they flipped their marketing and sales dynamic on its head.
One of the most dramatic changes was moving from four sales people and one marketer, to four marketers and one sales person. In addition, the sales approach was transformed from using old fashioned tactics to a focus on building customer relationships, sharing deep product knowledge and providing each customer with relevant information that helps, not sells.
With the customer now the driving force behind all interaction, it followed that everyone in the business must be involved in helping to define this new customer experience. In other words, everyone now had a role to play in the marketing process: including gathering customer insight and contributing to content ideas that supported the relevant, consistent conversations with their prospects, no matter where they were in the buyer’s journey.
Scott recommends “be the customer in the room for everything you do”, and it is truly pertinent advice. The Total Synergy experience shows that any business that considers itself to be customer centric needs to focus on sharing information that helps its audience solve problems and do their job better – and not simply talk about its products and past wins.
Scott and Total Synergy have seen some enviable results from their sales and marketing transformation. Here are some highlights:
- Over two years, Total Synergy have doubled their new business revenue, reduced annual churn to under 1% and generated deeper content for greater relationships with clients.
- By engaging with prospects earlier in the buyers’ journey (through relevant, consistent content) the average sales cycle has changed from 180 days to 40.
- Creating thought-leading, insightful and valuable content became a key vehicle in generating leads and in nurturing prospects until they are ready to buy.
- The whole business is engaged in ensuring a positive customer experience for its clients – and hence all have a role to play in the new marketing process.
Heading down the same path? Scott Osborne has four key recommendations for any business considering a similar shift in its sales and marketing process:
- Create quality objective content
- Commit and invest in a higher marketing focus
- Ensure you are engaging with customers earlier in the buying cycle
- Have some fun with it!
We’d like to add one more – if you don’t have an in-house content marketing team or they need some advice on formulating a new strategy do give us a call.
Our Content-as-a-Service module fits seamlessly onto your business, ensuring you place providing relevant and interesting content to your buyers at the centre. We specialise in working with technology companies and we’d love to help.
View Total Synergy's video below:
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