Everyone in the B2B sales and marketing world knows the winning strategies it takes to grow their business. Since we are well into 2017, it’s time to review the best practices and stick to the ones innovative enough which will make a difference to your customer approach.

Marketing

#1: AI Is the Future

Can Marketing be replaced by artificial intelligence? Well, yes. Already in 2016, AI has been driving faster decisions when it comes to e-commerce, product management and other areas of marketing. In 2017, machine learning will continue to increase its influence in content creation and curation amongst other areas. Take Netflix as an example. Its predictive analytics allow Netflix to make specific recommendations for each user. This kind of algorithm can improve suggestions, allowing us to take full advantage of our subscription.

#2: Influencers

Influence marketing isn’t something new. For the past 5-6 years, marketers are cooperating with industry influencers in order to reach the right people for their product/service. In 2017, B2B marketers and social media influencers will continue partnering, but with a twist. The goal is to focus on lead generation. They can ensure that the message gets to the right audience and your reward is going to be a better reputation and more trusted leads for your sales team to follow up.

#3: Customer Experience and Customer Loyalty

Customer is king. And we all know that bad reviews can spread like wildfire. Customer experience was, is and always will be your team’s number one priority. This year, marketers are focusing not only on “experience” but also on improving customer experience in order to raise awareness and secure loyalty. Instead of just focusing on customer centric methods, you need to provide relevant experiences to your customers across all touch points (social media, website, 1-2-1 meeting etc.) to generate stronger customer loyalty. After all, you need to sell emotions, not promotions.

Sales

#1: SME

There are 3 types of sales representative. The order taker, the salesperson and the Subject Matter Expert (SME). According to Ian Altman, contributor at Forbes.com, “the SME offers enough expertise that the customer would be willing to pay for a meeting with them. Given a choice between the salesperson and the SME, clients prefer to meet with the subject matter expert.” Since the digital era is here, embrace it. We are bombarded with information and data every single second. Whether you are on your mobile phone waiting for the bus or at work reading the morning news, tons of data are available to you to read, understand and “own” the project you are working on. Ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s just ignorance, and these days it’s inexcusable.

#2: Quality Over Quantity

The focus of each sales team should shift from volume to value. And it all starts with a clean database. The cleaner the data, the more actionable it can be. A sales rep needs to do a lot of things during the day. Track, organize, follow up. Trying to keep the database up-to-date is just the cherry on top of the cake. Nevertheless, data accuracy can help each salesperson build relationships with their potential clients, get in contact with relevant people, provide the right solution for the right people and close more deals.

#3: Personalize Everything

Technology can be a double-edged sword. As the amount of data is increasing, it’s getting easier and easier to put people in the same bucket and leave 1-to-1 approach aside. The challenge here is to be eager and experienced enough to start a personalized relationship with your prospects as a B2B sales leader. Not doing so will not only undermine your efforts to “seal the deal” but will make your prospects feel less important. As I said above, the customer is king.

Word to the wise: No matter how many tips and tricks you might read on how to improve your sales or marketing approach, there is only one factor that needs to be implemented in all companies: sales and marketing need to work together. Encourage collaborations with having regular meetings and creating standard processes and mutual benefits. Just like Peter Drucker says: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

For more insights on B2B sales and marketing strategies, join the Chemicals Sales and Marketing Toolbox in Berlin in November.