The pandemic has shaken up everything we thought we knew about the B2B world. If you were following our blog last year, we gave 21 Sales and Marketing Trends to Focus on in 2021. If you’ve already implemented these best practices, you’re ahead of the game. If you’re here to see what’s in store for 2022, we’ve got you covered.
B2B lead generation continues to evolve as we see a hybrid of remote work and in-office operations moving the sales machine for many organizations across the globe. Fortunately, with some creative thinking and strategy, getting in front of prospects and customers can feel more organic now than ever. So, say goodbye to pushy sales tactics and traditional marketing practices. Instead, it’s time to put honest communication at the forefront of all you do in 2022.
It’s no secret that supply chain issues have rattled product availability and hindered B2B lead generation efforts. According to a 2021 Interos and VansonBourne study, “Supply chain disruptions are an economic hardship, costing organizations around the world an average of 184 million U.S. dollars per year.” Considering this, it pays to thoroughly understand your sales cycle and what it takes to fill your pipeline proactively.
If you typically have a shorter sales cycle, it may be worth taking a closer look to understand how short-term adjustments can yield long-term results. The best way to do this is to put your prospects and customers in the driver’s seat. Think about their needs on a more personal level, the relationship you want to have with them, and the end goal of what their business means to you.
In sales, it’s easy to be short-sighted, but in 2022, operating with transparency can help establish a mutual trust that fills your pipeline with more respected, authentic business and a strong foundation. The days of being reactive are long gone. Instead of “always be closing,” think, “always be planning.” At Concept Services, we say, “It’s not about closing the sale today; it’s building the pipeline for tomorrow.” So, educate your audience, be honest about delivery expectations, and think about the long-term gains that operating at this level can bring.
While the pandemic has certainly kept us on our toes with ebbs and flows, one thing is for sure; many B2B and B2C companies were able to capitalize on newfound vertical markets. Think about masks, for example. There has been a mass shortage of PPE items since the beginning of COVID-19. Masks went from everyday use in the healthcare industry to flying off the shelves to many making their own to keep up with supply and demand. According to MarketWatch, “U.S. Disposable Face Mask Market to surpass USD 19.5 Billion by 2030 from USD 9.18 billion in 2019 in terms of value growing at a CAGR of 59.5% throughout the forecast period, i.e., 2020-30.” Then, the need for children’s sized masks in large quantities. Another vertical segment was born with immediate mass appeal!
Remember the early days of the pandemic when Zoom’s infrastructure wasn’t ready for an influx of virtual meetings? What about the increased need for more bandwidth and data security overall because all the new devices connected to resume “office as usual”? The desire for more exercise because of at-home work? Hello, Peloton boom! The addition of virtual homeschooling? More needs for online grocery ordering? Shall we mention the toilet paper shortage? We’ll leave that one there.
These segments created a “survival mode” approach to supply and demand. Everyone was scrambling to understand this new normal, and we were at the mercy of learning as we went at lightning speed. Lead generation took a backseat because circumstance was driving sales. Expertise? Forget about it. There weren’t any processes in place. There weren’t any systems to follow. All the lessons learned were in real-time. While this can be exhilarating, it doesn’t lend well to a structure for long-term stability. 2022 is the time to take what we’ve learned and apply it to the future for a concerted lead gen approach.
Lead generation has always been heavily relationship-based, but in 2022 you cannot let this critical piece fall by the wayside. Gone are the days of fear-based sales tactics, and here are the times of leveraging good old-fashioned customer service and follow-up. Think of it as a quality over quantity approach. If your communication feels like it’s for the masses, chances are, it will be received that way. So, soften your strategy and think about making more impactful progress with a smaller number of leads.
In 2022, you’ll want to rely on caring as a lead generation strategy. With the supply chain being so disjointed, communication is critical and trust is lacking. Keep your customers in the loop if product inventory is hard to come by. Sending updates, checking in, and being a resource goes a long way in the customer journey. It’s time to lengthen the sales cycle and nurture your leads with the kind of effort that money can’t buy. The sale should always come secondary in this lead generation strategy. If things feel a bit slower than normal, that’s because people are being a little more cautious when it comes to spending money. When it’s time to buy, this approach makes sure you will be top of mind.
Check out these top marketing predictions from Gartner, a technology research company based in Stamford, CT. Did you make it to the prediction called Before You Click “Buy”…? Pretty amazing that one in five B2B companies will use AI or machine learning by 2025 to proactively slow down their customers’ journeys. Did you realize that kind of predictability and control was on the horizon? Connecting your customers with sales reps during online purchasing interactions will lead to more informed purchase decisions and less buyer’s remorse. Sounds like a win-win!
Making solid use of your slow times can propel your business and lead generation efforts forward in ways that yield significant results in the future. Be willing to sacrifice the short-term wins for long-term loyalty. You want to nurture leads that ultimately become customers and advocates for your business.
There is a lot of tribal knowledge leaving the workforce, so where do you turn when things get shaken up? The threat of losing some of your best sales talent can be scary, but how do you remain optimistic? First, remember that no lead generation program is flawless, and no sales process is without room for improvement. It is a reciprocal cycle of meeting, engaging, and delighting your best prospects and customers. It’s time to flip your script and look at these changes as learning opportunities. Instead of asking, “what am I losing?” Instead, ask, “what am I gaining?”
When top salespeople leave, it’s a good time to think about the parts of your strategy that aren’t working well. Where can your lead generation strategy get revamped? What could be working better? What has been working great? As previous workers leave the workforce, so does the old way of doing things. Now is the time to streamline and hire the right people to drive out your new strategy.
Don’t forget, lead generation in 2022 will focus on relationships, communication, and level setting with a lighter focus on product knowledge and sales quotas.
At the end of the day, ROI moves the needle. The best way to help ensure ROI for your lead generation efforts is to develop a quarterly marketing plan and measure your ongoing progress. By choosing meaningful KPIs on a quarter-over-quarter basis, you can establish priority tactics, better understand your sales cycle, and adjust your strategy as your lead generation efforts evolve throughout 2022.
When you have a documented strategy to follow, you’re more likely to set goals, work toward those goals, measure progress against those goals, and make impactful choices because you have a north star that is guiding your efforts in meaningful ways.
As you mold your lead generation efforts in 2022, remember that ROI extends far beyond hard numbers and vanity metrics in today's marketing world. You can also measure success by gauging awareness, nurturing relationships, and getting back to the basics of customer service as a strategy.