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Integrating marketing strategy with predicting the procurement process : Simon Lawrence, Uncommon Knowledge

by on January 28, 2014 in Business, Lead story, Nuggets, Research

Simon Lawrence, founder of data, insight and solutions consultancy Uncommon Knowledge,  summarises why and how businesses should integrate marketing strategy with predicting the procurement process.

Ten years ago, we were delighted when B2B marketers started to move away from the use of disposable cold lists with no prospect nurturing programme. Today, we are glad to say that there is general recognition that data deserves more respect: it should be cleaned, managed and communicated with judiciously to build a relationship and rapport.

So we reached a stage where our clients were able to profile their customers and prospects, and talk to the best prospects with an appropriate offer. More recently, we saw that marketing automation tools promised tailored and personalised marketing communications on a one-to-one basis, with the aim of moving customers along the sales funnel effectively and efficiently. We like marketing automation; it takes the effort away and ensures greater measurability of marketing investment and ROI.

The fundamental problem with all outbound marketing and sales activity is that if your funnel doesn’t reflect the customer procurement process, marketing – whether automated or not – is misaligned and likely to hit at the wrong time, to the wrong person.

According to a Corporate Excellence Board study, as much as 60% of the decision process occurs before the potential customer speaks directly with sales, meaning that the information available to them prior to this direct contact is vital in their decision making process.

What happens when the marketing process and procurement process are misaligned?

By sending a communication extolling the features of your product to a finance manager, or explaining the remarkable economies that can be made to the IT manager, or by simply communicating at the wrong time, you are wasting money and ensuring that the specific contacts are becoming resistant to your company name and emails. The table below shows that by sending specific communications randomly among the stakeholders, fewer than half of your communications are likely to resonate – even assuming that the prospect company has a real and current need.

What is the procurement process?

There is no one answer to this question. The procurement process for a company varies based on the size of the project and budget, the number of stakeholders, relative importance of the project to the business, and the size and structure of the entire company.

Predicting procurement and reacting to it

The procurement process can be predicted using a number of known and ascertained pieces of information including company size, sector and the contacts you have there, the department requiring the product, what the product is and how much it will cost. At Uncommon Knowledge we have a proprietary tool which can flag your prospect data with known and predicted facts about the company, department and contact procurement process, and the type of communication most likely to resonate.  The tool will suggest the most suitable marketing strategy to align with the likely procurement stages, to ensure that any marketing – automated or not – resonates and is effective. The outcome is – for each of your qualified leads – a guide to what message your communication should contain, the tone of the communication, and in which order they should be expressed.

We are all too often shrouded in a fog of ‘can’t’ and ‘impossible’ when it comes to predicting and influencing business behaviour but education is the most dangerous weapon in the procurement process.   We no longer have to bat with our eyes closed: we have at our disposal a wealth of intelligence which harnesses understanding of both the company and the people within it. As with the way of customer data, the window for competitive advantage is small.  Expectations on both sides of the process are growing and before long this insight will be deemed deplorable to ignore.

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