Can the CMO save outbound B2B sales?

4th May 2023

We hosted two global roundtables to find out. Here are the top takeaways.


Buying is hard. Selling is harder!

Today’s B2B buyer is overwhelmed with choice. There are so many vendors, putting out so much similar content, it can be hard to know what’s relevant or where to get started. Which often leads to purchasing paralysis. How can B2B sellers overcome this?

A new approach to sales

Research shows that buyers still value a human conversation. But this is more to validate their own decisions and research, rather than to be sold to with a product demo. Marketing has an important role here – to support sales teams with research, profiling, campaign strategy and insights, so they can have better conversations.

The big flip to inbound

There’s a big increase in leads being attributed to paid search and SEO compared to outbound.

A website that clearly provides the info buyers are looking for is pure gold. Especially if it’s supported by easy ways to engage and get in touch.

“We’re finding it can take up to 500 outreach activities to get a single appointment. So we have to be smarter, more concise, and much clearer about our value proposition.”

Rethinking roles

What does this evolution of outbound mean for the sales and marketing relationship?

Marketers are focusing more on effective inbound strategies to generate and nurture leads, as buyers self-navigate their path to purchase

  • SDRs and EAs are thinking more about closing and converting these opportunities – or landing and expanding

  • BDRs are looking in different places to generate interest, such as resurrecting previous inbound leads or contacting previous buyers

Transparent pricing works

Buyers are disengaging from suppliers who don’t publish a price list or, at the very least, indicative pricing. So, it’s now possible to get a good cost estimate of most offerings through online research, even for something complex like a CRM.

“People want honesty and transparency from salespeople – nobody takes an 80% discount seriously any more.”

Enable sales with tools, tech and training

Marketing has a clear role to play in supporting sales, and there are many tools, technologies and training approaches out there that can drive real results.

For example, the use of machine-learning intent tools can identify accounts that are ready to engage, which can help BDRs do more effective outreach. And psychological training on how to interact and converse with prospects can turn those interactions into sales.

What about the COVID effect?

The pandemic has changed outbound in many ways. Flexible and hybrid working means that people are harder to reach by phone than ever. Whether via email or LinkedIn, sales teams need to focus on quality over quantity – only sending highly personalised messages that relevant to the prospect. This requires research, which marketing can use to provide added support.

The need to be seen

You need to know your audience and what resonates with them, to find the right balance of techniques and tools. For example, it might take a mix of social ads, nurture comms and third-party endorsement before they’ll take an initial meeting. Or they might be a buyer who prefers to engage through events and communities.

“You simply must adopt a multi-touch approach. In a sea of competing vendors, you have to be seen multiple times – with a clear and consistent message – before buyers will notice.”

So, can the CMO save outbound sales?

Yes! As we’ve seen, outbound is evolving quickly and marketing has an important role in enabling salespeople to adapt and thrive. For example:

Marketers are great at understanding buyer personas in order to tailor content effectively, so why not do the same for sales colleagues? Equipping SDRs, BDRs and AEs with relevant tools, techniques and insights for their specific activities will help them work more effectively.

Doing this repeatedly, and reinforcing proven strategies, is key. Marketing can take a lead on educating sales about what works best at different stages of the buyer journey. It’s all about enablement.

What do you think?

We’d like to thank all of those in the CMO Crowd who contributed to these two lively discussions.

The overall consensus was that CMOs have an opportunity to work closely with their sales counterparts on more integrated outbound motions – the shape of which must reflect the huge technological and behavioural changes we’re seeing across the B2B space.

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