explosionLast night I read an article from the Harvard Business Review called What Salespeople Need to Know About the New B2B Landscape. The authors talk about the implications of the latest B2B research from Gartner, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. The research offers up a new way of looking at the activities traditionally associated with the B2B sales funnel and provides insight into the most influential B2B marketing activities. Understanding these principles is critical for effective selling in the current B2B market.

I spent part of today sending this article out to my current and former B2B clients. The research cited is also an excellent resource for anyone doing marketing planning for a B2B company. It provides a great perspective on how B2B selling and marketing is evolving to accommodate the new digital reality, and reinforces things I’ve been telling my clients for years.

There are a few findings from the research that really stand out to me regarding effective marketing tactics:
1. B2B salespeople continue to be the most important marketing tactic in a company’s arsenal. Despite the digitization of the marketing world, there is still nothing [yet] that supersedes the human touch.

2. Social media for B2B is the least influential marketing tactic. Most of my clients are operating with limited personnel and budgets and they need to focus on key priorities not nice-to-do tactics. Because of this, I regularly tell my B2B clients that social is generally the last thing they should spend their time on (LinkedIn excepted) unless they are using it for recruiting purposes.

There were some surprises too:
1. White papers are more influential than sales presentations. I am still getting my head around this one, but I am already having conversations with one of my clients about writing a thoughtful, credible white paper in the near future.

2. Collateral is still a relevant marketing tactic. While I am not a fan of collateral, I recognize that it does still have a place in this world. My goal is that my clients print up as little of it as possible – we’ve all seen way too many dusty, almost full boxes of outdated printed collateral sitting by the recycling bin.