This isn’t exactly a list of predictions. Maybe it’s a wish list. In either case, here’s hoping that at least some of the 11 trends below are realized in B2B sales & marketing this year to help more companies accelerate their success.
11. B2B marketers will slowly get better at managing the full prospect pipeline, and operationalizing a pipeline discipline around how they generate and manage leads, as well as how they track their own success.
10. Marketers will increase the use of trial offers and “impulse buys” as a means of engaging prospects early in the sales process, and treating a superficial or entry product/service engagement as a lead.
9. Direct mail will make a comeback. The Realtors and credit card companies have retreated, and effective direct mail (for the right products) will once again take an active place in the marketing mix.
8. Partnering will increase, as companies look to work with complementary product and service providers to increase awareness, interest and penetration.
7. Bundling will increase as marketers get smarter about pre-packaging products and services based on customer needs and problem-solving opportunities.
6. Appointment-setting services will grow significantly, as more companies experiment with inside sales and early-pipeline lead generation beyond their own walls and with a higher-touch than tradition marketing-driven lead generation.
4. Video usage among B2B companies will increase, with far more value-added content and fewer boring demos.
3. Mobile usage will increase, but B2B marketers will struggle to balance between advertising and value. Event-based mobile marketing will lead the charge for B2B.
2. Marketers will get smarter and better at creating content that engages and drives action among their prospective customers, especially early in the buying process.
1. Social selling will be the buzzword (or phrase) of the year, as B2B sales and marketing professionals alike jostle to find qualified leads from across the social Web.