One of the great things about my job is talking to cleantech companies with cutting-edge technology, data-driven execution and great management.
But it’s surprising how many of those companies build legacy marketing communications into their approach for engaging customer prospects.
For an industry that’s transforming the way we power our economy, too many companies are still having the sales staff carry most of the burden for customer engagement. They’re leaning on traditional marketing efforts to supplement one-on-one sales contact.
Print ads, trade show booths and unsolicited emailed newsletters all have their place, but they interrupt what customers are doing to get their attention. And, they are doing this at a time when B2B customers are relying on search engines and educational content to make more of their purchase decision online before they will take or make seller contact. The marketing research is clear that buyers are going to greater lengths to screen out traditional marketing tools, decreasing their efficiency.
Cutting edge companies reliant on traditional marketing create the “Cleantech Marketing Paradox.”
This Paradox is good for firms like ours because it grows the pipeline of companies that are frustrated by increasing lead times, less phone contact with prospects and lots more unreturned emails. But the Paradox is not good for cleantech companies who aren’t trying to align the way they engage customers with the ways customers want to be engaged.
Here are five positive steps to solve the Cleantech Marketing Paradox:
- Survey your existing customers
Existing customers chose you for a reason, and they are sticking with you for your products and services. They’re not just your revenue stream. They’re a research asset for sales and market-intelligence. Surveying customers is a way to enhance sales contact because it’s not just another follow-up on a query that a prospect hasn't answered. It’s an opportunity for customers to talk about themselves and inform vendors on what they want from the marketplace (and what they don’t want).
- Inventory the collective experience of your sales staff
We see plenty of companies where their sales team members informally compare notes on customer objections and sales challenges they encounter. But we see a lot fewer companies that tap this collective experience by inventorying sales team intelligence in a systematic way. Marketing research combined with the systematic gathering of anecdotal sales experiences makes for a really potent stream of customer insights.
- Integrate your marketing and sales team
But those customer insights are only as good as they are used in content that customers find interesting, and that's deployed through an organized calendar. This content isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s the life blood of ongoing lead nurturing, and that’s why aligning marketing and sales is so critical toward driving success. In other words, an insightful blog post makes for a much more compelling value add to send with your sixth base touch in two months than the same, “can we jump on the phone?” email that prospects are training themselves to avoid.
- Create and maintain a feedback loop
It’s been hinted at over and over, but once again: Marketing, communications and sales are integral to each other. If you’re set up appropriately on digital platforms, your company will be able to collect prospective clients' contact information and your marketing team can track prospects’ progress through the sales funnel.
- Creating a successful feedback loop means your company will understand how to:
- Generate leads by attracting them to your products and services through an inbound marketing program;
- Track prospects through the marketing and sales journey;
- Educate prospects sooner so your sales team can focus on selling rather than educating; and
- Save overall staff time by increasing efficiencies and overall success.
We’ve helped America’s biggest IPP successfully do just this. Read about it here.