The pandemic has shaken the systems of many sales and marketing managers.
Unable to be in physical contact with their clients and potential clients, companies had to switch digitally. Many of them have also accelerated digital marketing initiatives that already existed before the crisis.
Overall, the companies have shown great resilience in accepting this change. However, this crisis has highlighted a significant digital divide in certain areas, such as B2B sales in the electronics industry. The sudden change in the nature of demand and the transition to virtual engagement has severely punished companies that are lagging behind in the current environment in which digital is now prevalent.
In the 2019 McKinsey Global Institute publication  the authors state that “digital leaders show faster revenue growth and higher productivity than their less digitized counterparts. They improve their margins three times faster than average and are often the fastest innovators and disruptors in their industries. ” Now is the time to invest in data, technology and systems, McKinsey said  necessary to bring outstanding know-how to an ever-changing environment.
What leaders learn from the pandemic and how they adjust their digital sales and marketing efforts will determine the winners and losers in the markets in which they operate. Here are some steps sales and marketing managers could take to solve this equation:
Invest in ways to meet changing customer expectations
The pandemic has caused tremendous acceleration  digital trends that existed before the crisis, such as the volume of online delivery, telemedicine or telecommuting.
According to the results of Gartner’s study , by 2025, 80% of B2B business interactions, between suppliers and customers, will take place through digital channels. Furthermore, sales managers and other sales managers must accept that purchasing preferences have definitely changed, and thus the role of salespeople.
However, we have conducted studies that emphasize that the electronics and semiconductor industry is still lagging behind in engaging digital customers. The results of our March 2021 survey of 180 global electronics retailers and suppliers found that the average maturity rating of customer engagement for this industry was only 2.4 on a 5-point scale.
This immaturity is partly due to a lack of investment. The industry spends significantly less on marketing – as a percentage of total revenue – than its B2B counterparts. The average total marketing consumption in the manufacturing industry is 14% of sales. But 85% of electronic component and semiconductor companies said they spent less than 3% of their revenue on marketing, and almost a third (32%) of the group surveyed said they spent less than 1% .
You need to accept that customer expectations have changed, and therefore invest to offer them the solutions they want and need. Now it is a business imperative.
Use digital channels to get closer to customers
It is necessary to consider how to increase the digital journey and the strategy of entering the market. Keep in mind that there will be fewer physical meetings and meetings with clients, and favor virtual engagement through targeted webinars or online conferences, in order to convey information and establish connections.
For example, a company in the semiconductor sector organized an event for the engineering teams of its key customers that brought together 500 people. At that time, the company was forced to go virtually.
Thanks to the digital format, they managed to expand the audience by organizing workshops, peer-to-peer design sessions, roadmaps and design presentations. This allowed this event to grow from 500 to 5,000 participants – an increase of a factor of 10. This is a good illustration of the impact of digital technologies on activity development.
Offer free access to customers wherever they are
As noted by the Gartner webinar , B2B customers increasingly want to communicate with suppliers through digital channels and self-service. This is becoming increasingly important as baby boomers retreat and are replaced by millennials in decision-making positions. .
Take, for example, design engineers who need 2D and 3D models, reference drawings, or other technical content. They won’t necessarily come to your website to download them. From there, it must be understood that it is no longer enough to optimize and measure the activity of your website.
Engineering teams often use, in their new product design activities, content and resources from community web platforms. It then becomes important to explore how to provide technical content and design support in the most appropriate form.
These potential buyers, where they are located, must be offered the means to better understand their demand and therefore influence their decisions. Companies need to expand their free access and support services to other areas such as special pricing offers or providing history.
Achieve success with involvement, talent and the right budget
To succeed, you need to integrate sales and marketing, real talent and budget. Companies should encourage greater integration of sales and marketing at the organizational level through joint campaigns. This will require breaking the silo between marketing and sales and working together to define and refine the customer’s path.
You also need to surround yourself with talent to develop digital customer engagement. The best talent to drive the changes needed in the electronics sector – and, more broadly, in the manufacturing industry – comes from outside. Companies need to turn, for their employment, to profiles from e-commerce or mass consumption.
Business leaders should engage in conversations with senior team members about the importance of digital transformation and significant customer engagement on a large scale. And reallocate investments to strengthen digital marketing, digital customer experiences, and plans for these transformations.
The world has changed. We must not fall into the trap of returning to good old practices, thinking that a commitment to immature digital strategies is enough to develop a company. It doesn’t work anymore. Now is the time to shift roadmaps toward digital customer engagement, consolidate sales and marketing efforts to launch more targeted digital campaigns, and expand market coverage. The key decisions that will determine future revenues are made right now.
Author: Steve Flaggfounder and president of SupplyFrame
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