How to Move from Inside-Out to Outside-In Marketing

As we discussed in part 3 of this series, even the largest and oldest companies are facing a new B2B selling environment where “old school” marketing and sales just doesn’t work anymore. Instead of talking TO your prospects, you need to listen to what they want. Instead of hitting leads with more disjointed messages, you need to deliver the right information at the right time in the right channel. Continuing to sell from the Inside-Out won’t work. Brands must learn to sell from the Outside-In.

What happens to companies that resist change? Let’s take a look:

In CXP Lessons 1-3 we looked at an unfortunate company called Acme. They were industry leaders but are now seeing competitors eating away at the prospect and customer bases. Why? Acme has failed to deliver the experiences that customers now require. Instead of delivering relevant information at the appropriate time, Acme blitzes prospects with unrelated emails and poorly-timed sales calls. They fail to understand customer buying needs, instead walking them through traditional funnel stages. At Acme, it’s about what they want to sell and when, not what the customer needs.

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If Acme’s story sounds familiar, it’s because we all regularly engage with companies that have out-moded customer experience (CXP) models and out-of-date marketing tactics. They haven’t figured out how to get with the CXP program! The good news is – many companies have successfully transformed. The bad news – it’s a big job. But consider the cost to your company’s future if your approach to CXP doesn’t change from Inside-Out to Outside-In thinking.

As the global marketplace changes, many companies are recognizing the need to evolve not just their marketing tactics, but the many ways they interact with prospects and customers. What used to work for them is no longer effective as competitors employ newer tools and techniques to nurture, sell and serve clients. Systems, data, and processes must be integrated in order to enable a Revenue Marketing model that is based on continuous, personalized communication.

But lip-service doesn’t make it so. Real changes are required to get to Revenue Marketing and the optimal Customer Experience. Executives must clearly communicate the CXP vision, functional silos must be bridged, systems must be integrated, and data must be used in the service of customer engagement.

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Focusing on the customer’s experience versus your standard procedures will evolve your customer relationships to a new level. As you move towards Revenue Marketing, your customers will experience fewer disjointed communications, more relevant and timely information, and offers that enable their own growth and revenue. They will purchase, buy more, renew, and even advocate. You’ll see breakeven, profitability and maximum life-time value.

If your marketplace is changing without you, it’s time to commit to CXP. As in all of life, profitable long-term relationships require personal two-way communication and commitment.

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When Your Buying Stages Don’t Match Your Customers’ Needs

As we discussed in part 2 of this series, even the largest and oldest companies are facing a new B2B selling environment where “old school” marketing and sales just isn’t as effective. Companies that talk TO their prospects instead of listening and working WITH them are starting to lose out.

Large B2B corporations are often filled with silos. Corporate marketing, product marketing, sales development, field sales and other groups may all be talking TO prospects and customers without regard for the overall conversation. A lot of disjointed noise doesn’t make for a great customer experience, and prospects are screening it out.

One of the outcomes can be loss of pipeline. Companies that still think in terms of sales funnels are surprised when the expected opportunities don’t fall out the bottom. Often their response is to push Marketing to pour more leads into the top.

What happens when the funnel starts failing? Let’s take a look:

Company X – let’s call them Acme – has always focused its marketing and sales efforts around “the funnel.” They see the world in terms of Marketing Leads, Sales Leads, Opportunities and Customers. Of course, Sales doesn’t always value Marketing Leads, and Marketing efforts aren’t always in tune with what Sales is trying to sell. But the execs look at the funnel metrics religiously to see how many leads are making it through. Recently the velocity has slowed, and more leads are falling to the floor. Naturally, Marketing is pressured to make it rain and big campaigns are planned. But like many companies, Acme doesn’t have a way to measure effectiveness. Funnel results are their metric. How can they match their efforts and metrics to customer needs instead?

If Acme’s story sounds familiar, it’s because we all regularly engage with companies that have outmoded customer engagement models. Instead of considering prospect needs, they toss leads into an artificial funnel or buying stage path and see what comes out the other side. These companies don’t realize that more isn’t always better. As customers, we’d all like to see fewer but more relevant emails and no obvious break in the conversation when Marketing hands off to Sales.

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This scenario often occurs in mature companies struggling to evolve as their market changes. Tactics that used to work for them are showing signs of age. Newer technologies and tools are giving their competitors better ways to nurture and sell clients. They know they must integrate systems, data, and processes in order to enable a Revenue Marketing model based on continuous communication (an infinite loop). But their funnel approach is familiar and change is hard.

Companies like Acme must refocus their efforts on the long-term versus the immediate sales need. Instead of spraying emails, Marketing learns to nurture prospects with stage-appropriate offers based on their interactions – the right message at the right time in the right format and channel. Likewise, Sales learns to engage at the right time, tailoring their approach based on activity history. Campaigns feature cross-functional plays and all customer touchpoints become orchestrated.

If your prospects are not fitting into your funnel, consider changing your model. As you move away from one-sized-fits-all marketing towards personalized messages, your customers will experience fewer disjointed communications, more relevant and timely information, and offers that enable their own growth and revenue. They will purchase, buy more, renew, and even advocate. You’ll see more opportunities, greater profitability and maximum life-time value.

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Does Your Company Understand That It’s Not All About You?

As we discussed in part 1 of this series, much of today’s B2B selling cycle happens online without human interaction. When done right, the brand delivers a clearly-defined experience driven in large part by the customer’s previous digital behavior. The customer experience may feel self-driven but is actually tailored based on data insights that the brand has gathered.

But this tailored experience doesn’t always start smoothly or proceed logically. Sometime the brand has not reached that level of marketing sophistication and sometimes the digital relationship is just too new for the brand to have much data to go on. But more often, the brand just doesn’t realize it’s not all about them anymore. It’s about the customer, dummy!

At the beginning of the journey, brands and their potential customers must get to know each other and learn how to design a win-win relationship. If the brand is talking about themselves rather than listening to customer requirements, the relationship is likely going nowhere.

What happens when a customer relationship develops poorly? Let’s take a look:

Company X – let’s call them Acme – has been marketing and selling the same way for a long time, and it’s been working well. They are the 800-pound gorilla in their space. Half of their customers are legacy, and net-new business comes from referrals and brand-building activities like events. Life was good until competitors built disruptive platforms and started delivering highly-touch service. Now Acme’s Sales team are losing deals and they are pressing Marketing for more and better leads. Marketing feels that Sales is too old-school and mishandles the leads. Finger pointing and blame-throwing ensue and customer requirements get lost in the mix.

If Acme’s story sounds familiar, it’s because we all regularly engage with companies that have gotten too comfortable as leaders in their industries. Think Telecom and Transportation. The Baby Bells were dominant until disruptors like mobile networks, Skype, and chat came along. Transportation modes from airlines to taxis had it good until WebEx, Uber and the like. We could list many examples, but the lesson is clear – no industry leader is safe from disruption. This is tough news for brands that have never had to build win-win customer relationships or design customer experiences that anticipate prospects’ next needs.

Even the biggest brands would be well served to take a fresh look around. They’ll find that prospects and customers no longer want to be talked AT – they want to be worked WITH. Consider the downsides when the buying journey doesn’t align with the prospect’s requirements. The prospect may be leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs but still not being seen. Why would they stick around?

Getting customer-focused can be enormously difficult. It means integrating systems, data, and processes in order to enable customer-focused campaigns. Instead of spraying emails, Marketing must learn to nurture prospects with stage-appropriate offers based on their interactions – the right message at the right time in the right format and channel. Sales must learn to pick up the conversation and engage at the right time, tailoring their approach based on activity history. All customer touchpoints become orchestrated. TPG calls this evolution The Revenue Marketing Journey.

Focusing on the customer’s experience versus “the way we’ve always done it” will evolve your customer relationships to a new level. As your company moves from tactical to modern marketing, your customers will experience fewer disjointed communications, more relevant and timely information, and offers that enable their own growth and revenue. They will purchase, buy more, renew, and even advocate… a win-win relationship. If your prospects are saying that “it’s not all about you” anymore, consider adapting to their needs. Evolution is not just an advantage, it’s a requirement.

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