Ash Parikh, Chief Marketing Officer: Druva
Post-December 2019, the B2B SaaS go-to-market (GTM) strategy was disrupted forever. As Covid-19 spread over the last two years and macroeconomic conditions continued to evolve—resulting in heightened market volatility—buying behavior has become increasingly difficult to predict, complex and nuanced. Nothing is the same as it was before.
What do I mean by that? To understand how things have changed over the last couple of years, it is important to take a hard look at how we went to market pre-2020. The star of the show was the vendor’s sales team. They had all the answers—product knowledge, industry updates, competitive comparisons, customer stories and, most importantly, the undivided attention of the customer.
But, post-pandemic, the one thing that disrupted this lazily meandering stalemate was that in-person meetings virtually disappeared. The customer had to become more self-reliant overnight, while the vendor’s sales team found an all-too-familiar rug pulled out from under their feet. I found that the customer did all the pre-work—the vendor capability and viability comparisons, competitive research and back-channel checks with peers, industry analysts and partners. In many cases, they also had a deep understanding of pricing across vendors.
The customer had found utopia at last—the state of mind in which they are in complete control. They were independent, thanks in great part to the internet, and were no longer reliant on vendor-massaged information that was presented to them. It was a free world now. They were free to compare, choose, engage, renew or disengage with the power of information at their fingertips. B2B SaaS vendors had to adapt.
It’s A Digital-First World: 10 Factors To Consider To Help You Succeed
Given this seismic shift in buying behavior, there is a list of things a vendor’s marketing team needs to keep in mind if it has any plans of succeeding on all-new terrain. I believe it’s going to take a data-driven, consultative, patient and selfless approach to engage the customer now. No longer can a marketer sit back and play the law-of-averages game. Any campaign should be digital-first and intelligent to hit the mark. Here are 10 points to consider for doing so:
1. According to Statista, 293.6 billion emails were sent and received per day worldwide in 2019. Customers generally respond better to personalized and targeted outreach versus generic outreach that simply finds its way into the junk folder.
2. Cold calling is dead. We just don’t pick up our phones anymore for unrecognized numbers. We may not even have a landline anymore. I believe the only way forward is intelligent targeting with intent and propensity data.
3. The buyer’s journey is now even more fluid. Vendors must meet them where they go. In my experience, it is taking many more touches across many more channels to warm up or accelerate a customer and engage them.
4. Webinars and virtual events are a dime a dozen. Without crisp messages that resonate, great speakers that are hard to access, relevant and meaningful offers, and informed follow-up, customers may not turn up.
5. In the not-so-distant past, the vendor’s sales team was the customer’s source of information. Now, I’ve found that customers are doing deep and competitive research long before engaging a vendor’s sales team.
6. While some may still believe that the best connections are made on the golf course, vendor websites are quickly becoming a B2B SaaS company’s key sales conduit, as customers are becoming increasingly digital.
7. Customers can now do deep vendor and competitive research themselves. Crowd-sourced peer review sites, consultations with industry analysts and recommendations from partners often take place well in advance of purchase.
8. Sales development organizations need modern restructuring. They should have a focus on outbound prospecting as well as inbound education. A one-size-fits-all “hybrid” approach just may not cut it anymore.
9. It’s no longer about staid and stodgy online content. Conversational marketing is a modern way of communicating that allows customers to be “engaged in a discussion” versus “talked to.”
10. And, finally, it’s about respecting the customer and their space to make the right decision. Vendors that don’t make it their company’s goal to help, educate and stand by versus push relentlessly will likely be ghosted with “radio silence.”
This once-in-a-generation disruption is not just a disruption of sales or marketing. The entire end-to-end go-to-market strategy has been disrupted forever, which affects anyone in the business of selling—and in B2B SaaS organizations, this typically translates to the entire company. As Gartner says, “The Future of Sales is the permanent transformation of organizations’ sales strategies, processes and allocation of resources, moving from a seller-centric to a buyer-centric orientation and moving from analog sales processes to hyper-automated, digital-first engagement with customers.”