The only thing a sales rep wants from the B2B marketing department is the opportunity to talk to a CEO. Ruth Stevens, a B2B consultant, says this model of business purchasing decisions is changing fast.

“Committees or buying groups consist of all kinds of people around the company – even the CEO,” Stevens explained to Publio CEO Keith Reynolds on this episode of the Publio Podcast. “But CEOs just don’t want to talk to salespeople. They want their teams to bring them good ideas and solutions that they can act on.”

These committees may include end users, technical people, specifiers, or other buying roles. Yes, the decision maker – presumably the CEO – is part of the committee, but now is not the time for the CEO to take a sales call.

“Sales reps must ally themselves with the other committee members. The rep must recruit advocates who will take ideas about their products or services to the CEO,” Stevens said. 

That’s when sales reps can start thinking about a meeting in the C-suite. Before that happens, the selling strategy must change. That’s where B2B marketers must improve their contributions to the selling process.

Stevens’ marketing career began at the Time Warner Book of the Month Club where she learned the basics of direct marketing, database, marketing, customer acquisition and customer retention. She learned B2B at ZiffDavis and IBM. 

B2B Marketers Build a Funnel Beyond the Funnel

“Job one in B2B for a marketing department is to generate sales leads. However the B2B marketing functions need to broaden their portfolio inside the firm,” Stevens noted. 

Steve Gersh calls this new approach the funnel beyond the funnel. “There’s so much more that B2B marketers can contribute. At IBM we called this approach ‘reasons to call,’” Stevens added.

Look beyond delivering the steady stream of qualified sales leads to the sales team. Think about how you can help them on the back end. The tools and capabilities at marketers’ disposal can help the sales team and account managers develop better relationships with their customers.

“It’s a classic upsell and cross-sell, but with the extra arms and legs that a data-driven marketing communications team can offer,” she said. “A salesperson can only really make so many calls a day.”

Sales reps have a list of accounts. Sometimes 10 or 20, or even hundreds. How do they call all these people? What do they say?

“Sales reps are dying to engage,” Stevens said.

Your data analytics team can find a number of reasons for sales reps to call that based on prior interactions. These conversations can lead to a new product to cross-sell. Sales reps can discuss a problem that hadn’t existed before.

“These simple, data-driven tools can really improve the efficiency of the sales relationship,” Stevens said.

It’s how your sales team can build relationships on the buying committee that can lead to the conversation with the CEO.


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