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Customer Relations: Bringing power back to Marketing during the B2B buying process

October 18th, 2011
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“Marketing is broken…”

In an event packed with quotable, Tweetable comments from marketing experts, the above, from Kristin Zhivago’s keynote, “The Buyer’s Funnel and Your Political Power: Joined at the Hip,” may have been my favorite sound byte from the East Coast swing of B2B Summit 2011.

(Though I also loved her idea of “drinking from the fire hose of truth,” but I digress…)

According to Zhivago, customers’ wants and needs are unknown, and as such, Marketing is making assumptions on how to market to different segments. We’re expected to communicate with customers, but are often removed from the conversation by Sales. Essentially, the customer relationship is regularly outsourced to Sales, relinquishing control of our most crucial job function. Think about it, if your CEO asked, “What does the customer want?” would she ask you or someone in Sales?

And the answer to that question has never been more crucial. Thanks to the continually growing importance of easily accessible information on the Internet to buyer decisions, customers have been forced into a position of power, and are more in charge of the buying process than ever before, leaving companies to struggle with this shift in power.

More than 80% of customer questions are answered before talking to a salesperson. Their information needs are being met by other customers, not company authorities.

In short, if you can’t answer customers’ questions both internally and with your marketing, you’re abandoning your position of authority in your organization and undercutting all of your marketing efforts.

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