meta karagianniMeta Karagianni, research director at SiriusDecicions, has been talking to numerous EMEA CMOs about the change of B2B buying behaviour. As we know, these are exciting times but there is also a lot of change. Speaking from extensive research Ms. Karagianni has defined the top challenges for CMOs.

“CMOs realise the role of marketing is changing and they need to start engaging earlier on in the buying cycle. Buying behaviour is far more digital. We estimate that as much as 67% of the buying journey is digital today. So CMOs see it as a major challenge but also as a major opportunity to really know where the buyer is and what he wants and needs from a potential supplier.”

It sounds simple enough. Find out where your buyers are and what they want from you. The harsh reality is, that it is much more difficult than that.

Karagianni: “We need to start thinking about the buyers first. This is one of the key elements of best-in-class B2B companies. We need to stop thinking about selling and we need to start thinking about buying. We need to start thinking about how our buyers want to engage and how suppliers should align sales and marketing around that. We need to align sales and marketing to the buying journey.”

In her research, Ms. Karagianni has distinguished different sorts of companies. Obviously we want to know what sets best-in-class organisations apart from the poorer performing companies. If you look at effectiveness we should take a page from the best-in-class companies’ books. An ‘average’ organisation needs about 15 to 16 leads to close a deal whereas a ‘best-in-class’ organisation needs only 7.   So what is the key to success we asked Meta Karagianni.

Best-in-class companies focus on the buyer

“The buyer is at the heart of what they do. These companies do more than just create leads. They care about the leads. They not only source leads, they influence them. Furthermore, best-in-class companies think about programs. They make different plans for different levels of sales people. They develop programs to align with the buyer journey. They offer tools to accelerate leads and to help sales people. We see marketing moving from the top of the funnel to the later stages of the pipeline.”

Align with your customers and buyers

So summarizing, the need to drive sales and marketing alignment is not new but -to make it a true success we need to start with an ‘out-in’ approach, align with our customers and buyers and then internally implement strategies and processes that will enable us to drive a deeper and stronger integration between sales and marketing and become one of the best-in-class companies.

Meta Karagianni will be presenting at the B2B Marketing Forum in Amsterdam on March 14th.