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June 26, 2024

Simon Cowart


VP of Growth

Over the course of the last five years, we’ve seen extraordinary change in the effort to reach B2B buyers as it has become both more streamlined and more challenging. According to Forrester, budgets are tighter and more focused on digital-first approaches, and as notes, the sense of fragility of our macro-economic environment did not disappear when we took off our face masks.

As B2B growth leaders, reaching these segments in highly targeted ways is core to most of our businesses’ future growth, so it’s critical we closely monitor trends and changes to how we approach our buyers, how they are engaging with the marketplace, and what we can do to move the needle. What worked today won’t necessarily work tomorrow, and data and adaptation will determine the outcome. Below are three ways to build modern partnerships with today’s B2B buyer.

#1: Be human

The modern landscape has shifted, it sounds trite but it’s absolutely the context of our lives as B2B growth leaders building modern business relationships. Let’s start with the obvious: A global pandemic has changed the face of every business and driven the enormous rise in hybrid work and sales models. There is no more inside sales vs. outside sales, you need to artfully build relationships through remote and in-person touches. To do this effectively with today’s B2B buyer, occasionally break the veil to remind prospects that your brand is backed by humans desiring a real relationship and a meaningful partnership with them.

This can be as simple as picking up the phone and calling someone on occasion, as opposed to an organized zoom. Perhaps your sales contact prefers text to email for more timely needs? Beyond direct sales, use your brand’s thought leaders often and in big ways in order to give a real face and voice to your subject matter and your products. Bottom line - push beyond the camera at the top of your screen and you’ll be able to build a more real, human, relationship and even trust.

#2: Harness AI

We’ve seen the rise of generative AI and large language models (LLM) that are reducing the time investment required to do complex sales outreach at scale, allowing personalization and more meaningful exchanges in less time. There are a lot of industries that can wax poetic on the rise of generative AI and how it will change their industry in 10 years, but within the B2B sales game, the impacts on research time, prospecting, and personalization are already dramatically changing what is possible to accomplish during your sales team’s working hours.

Marketing teams can do a deep dive on a new sector and learn key language within moments. Sales leaders can prospect 20 companies with clear parameters for size and revenue, and then generate content to speak to specific needs of those roles in a few seconds. (This article, however, is written by a person.) There are risks, however, most notably that your AI-researched, written and prospected outreach will meet an equally capable AI filter for your buyer. My advice in this era is to question what you know and watch your metrics like a hawk. If we’ve learned anything from the rise of AI-generated search results in the last few months, it’s that your performance can change on a dime and those operating on autopilot will fail to meet their targets.

#3: Be precise & personalized

In 2019, account-based marketing (ABM) tactics, was in their infancy. A short 5 years later, we have entered an era where you are selling to an increasingly specific individual buyer, not a brand or a sector. There are a few factors that are driving this shift, but two in particular are: 1) research and specificity in sales targeting is simply cheaper and faster today, and 2) the need for everyone in the tech sector to drive revenue in a compressed economic environment has dramatically risen.

Because of these factors the smartest B2B sellers have already become laser-focused on ABM tactics that meet the buyer at their point of need, identifying intent and stage of search, then meeting them with the tools and materials they require to make a decision. Essential investments in technology such as ZoomInfo or Apollo will make these approaches more sustainable, but also consider to what depth and specificity your thought leadership content, case studies, landing pages and more should have. Are you speaking to a person you understand, with goals that you comprehend? If not, you’re probably not well situated against competitors to win in a head-to-head matchup.

All of these trends create a picture of a B2B sales and marketing environment becoming smarter and requiring a more creative and targeted approach - changes that are driven and empowered by shifts in technology. The adoption of AI tools to simplify targeting, research and content have fundamentally changed how quickly sales cycles can move. What these evolutions really mean is that the pace of change in sales and marketing, is going to change dramatically. Optimization on both the sender and receiver side of the equation will be automated and what worked today very well may drop off tomorrow (ask any search marketer in 2024).

To learn more, download Alloy’s 2022 Marketing Data Report: The State of the Modern Customer Journey. By downloading today, you’ll be on the list to receive the upcoming 2024 State of the Modern Customer Journey, too.