Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Economic-Focused Buyer Drives Need for New B2B Sales and Marketing Strategies for 2012

Frugalnomics makes it harder to connect, engage and sell without the right content and tools
 
Alinean, the leading creator of interactive content marketing and diagnostic sales tools for business to business (B2B) solutions, today announced its annual sales and marketing predictions for 2012 with serious implications. The much-sought economic relief in 2011 never arrived, setting the stage for a budget constrained, frugal 2012. This condition, termed Frugalnomics, means that buyers are overloaded and forced to do-more-with-less, uncertain about their budgets, and required to financially justify new investments. As a result, sales and marketing must quickly evolve engagement techniques to meet economic-focused buyer demands.

"Frugalnomics defines 2012, with buyers requiring that each investment deliver tangible bottom-line impact, superior ROI, and faster payback," according to Tom Pisello, the ROI Guy and Chairman / Founder of Alinean. "Successful B2B sales and marketing groups recognize the continued buyer's woes, implementing improved content strategies and tools to help facilitate purchase decisions and help buyers overcome these challenges."

Alinean predicts that the following five challenges will dominate buyers in 2012, with specific recommendations on how B2B solution providers can best capitalize on each opportunity:

1) Overload is Epic - Forced to "do more with less," buyers are currently consumed with maintaining and supporting on-going operations, which gives them less budget than ever to address issues and research potential solutions. At the same time, vendors are inundating buyers with irrelevant campaigns, with the average buyer receiving upwards of 15 sales calls per day and 200 marketing related emails from solution providers each week.

Advice: Position solutions to specifically help alleviate on-going operations costs, helping buyers shift spending to more innovative investments. At the same time, don't add to the overload with irrelevant cold calls and marketing messages. Instead implement better targeting, align content to facilitate the buyer's journey, and improve content relevance with intelligent and interactive personalization.

2) Budget Uncertainty Grows – The majority of buyers are allocating the same, or even less to new projects than in 2011, and of the meager new project allocations, only one in every four dollars is being pre-allocated at the beginning of the year. Buyers are in a wait-and-see mode about the economy, allocating on-the-fly for projects that are identified, prioritized, and justified based on needs.

Advice: Since allocations are not preordained, there is an opportunity to be provocative, proactively convincing a buyer that:
  • The status-quo won't do, and that there is a "cost of doing nothing"
  • A need for change exists, and the proposed project can help solve the issue and should be a priority
  • If the project is implemented, it could deliver tangible bottom-line impact, significant ROI and fast payback
3) Discount Demands Increase – With less budget allocation available to each project, initial purchase price dominates the decision-making process for over 64% of B2B buyers.

Advice: Discounts can be used to win business, and low-price providers will have an inherent advantage. However, most B2B providers are not discount-focused, and will have to defend higher purchase prices, best accomplished by using:
  • Total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis to quantify how much it costs to own the asset or service over multiple years vs. just initial purchase price
  • Benefit analysis to prove the incremental business value of proposed solutions
4) Skepticism Reigns – Buyers are taking more time to make each decision and are using a wider variety of sources to help drive decisions compared to just 12 months ago. And while vendor content is one of the key sources being used in this lengthened decision making process, buyers are three times more likely to trust content from peers and industry analysts.

Advice: Instead of just providing vendor generated content, sales and marketing should leverage content developed / contributed by industry pundits, research analysts and peers. As well, adding social sharing capabilities to all content can help, making it easier for buyers to share, comment, discuss, and even contribute to the content.

5) Economic Justification Required – Each proposed solution is subject to more financial scrutiny by senior executives, raising the level of financial justification required. Formal business cases are now a requirement for over 90% of purchases.

Advice: Buyers need help preparing financial justification for planned purchases, and vendors need to provide tools to help quantify investment requirements, savings and business benefits, return on investment and payback in order to win the business.

To help B2B solution providers understand the research behind these challenges, and implement best practices to address these opportunities, Alinean has created the Fight Frugalnomics™ Resource Center at: http://www.fightfrugalnomics.com.

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