Christine Crandell is President of New Business Strategies. A 25-year B2B expert in market strategy, driving demand, and building successful, profitable organizations, she is also the creator of the Sellers Compass™ Methodology.  Christine can be reached at @chriscrandell.

Q: As customer experience, which you call customer alignment, converges with sales and marketing, businesses are being tasked not only with creating brand awareness and generating leads, but also nurturing those leads by providing information that encourages conversion and delivers relevant content. SMBs face unique challenges in this convergence. How can they approach it most effectively?

A: SMBs have two advantages over larger organizations:

  1. Agility, and
  2. Closeness to the customer.

SMBs can out-compete large brands by really knowing their customers. Because, again, the customer is calling the shots. The most effective approach for SMBs is to first document the buyer’s journey, and use the journey to define demand generation and nurture campaigns, as well as post-purchase customer engagement campaigns.

That journey, that effort of understanding intimately what the buyer does and all of their emotion, really enables SMBs to anchor their routine touch points to the journey. Calls to action should be anchored to toll gates, which are internal process points that buyers need to go through. Nine times out of 10 tollgates have nothing to do with the vendor, but have everything to do with the buyer’s purchase process. If SMBs do that, we’ve seen they can increase the productivity of their campaigns by 300%.

Q: Businesses don’t make buying decisions, people do. How can marketing automation be used to focus on the person at the end of the B2B sale?

A: Again, know what your buyer’s going to do. And the other thing that’s very important is consistency in behavior and message. That can be challenging for a small organization; you’ve got lots of people and not a lot of time, so marketing automation becomes this great mechanism to enable consistency. The other piece is post-purchase. Marketing automation is not just for acquisition; it is a prime driver for that renewal customer, for that repeat purchase. If SMB focus on the engaging their customers the way they want to be interacted with, these smaller companies can out compete their larger competitors. It’s really just that simple.

Q: Content marketing too often fails to engage the customer, presenting the same information repeatedly, in the same way, to everyone. Can you explain how your Sellers Compass methodology addresses this, in an effort to define, implement and measure best practices that find and fix experiences and interaction points that impact customer alignment?

A: Content drives me crazy. The current thought by marketers is that they have to produce every possible piece of content across every possible conceivable channel. And actually, less is more. Content is like being on a raft in an ocean: water everywhere, and very little of it you can actually drink. All this content, most of which is not relevant or what the buyer seeks, is turning the buyer off.

The Sellers’ Compass focuses on the experience defined by the buyer. I don’t care what sellers think, it’s not relevant. The only thing that is relevant, the only thing that the marketer should care about is what the buyer thinks and what the buyer does, when and where. We help sellers understand how to align to the buyers’ journey and pinpoint how they can improve their marketing through a very visual gap analysis. It becomes a catalyst for innovating the customer’s experience, so that it becomes your biggest brand of differentiators. Content is this great leveling factor, but you got to know what you’re doing.

You can follow Christine Crandell at @chriscrandell

Thank you, Christine!