The pandemic has upended the systems of many sales and marketing managers.
Unable to be in physical contact with their customers and prospects, companies have had to go digital. Many of them have also accelerated digital marketing initiatives already in place, before the crisis.
Overall, companies have shown great resilience in embracing this shift. Nevertheless, this crisis has highlighted a significant digital divide in certain areas, such as B2B sales in the electronics industry. The abrupt change in the nature of demand and the shift to virtual engagement has heavily penalized companies that are lagging behind in the current environment where digital now predominates.
In a 2019 McKinsey Global Institute publication  the authors state that “digital leaders show faster revenue growth and higher productivity than their less digitalized peers. They improve their margins three times faster than the average and are often the fastest innovators and disruptors in their industries.” Now is the time to invest in data, technology and systems, according to McKinsey  necessary to bring extraordinary know-how to an ever-changing environment.
What leaders learn from the pandemic and how they adapt their digital sales and marketing efforts will determine winners and losers in the markets they operate in. 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 triggered a tremendous acceleration  digital trends that existed before the crisis, such as online delivery volumes, telemedicine or telework.
According to the results of a Gartner study by 2025, 80% of B2B business interactions, between suppliers and buyers, will occur through digital channels. Furthermore, sales managers and other sales managers must accept that buying preferences have definitely changed and, therefore, the role of salespeople as well.
However, we have conducted studies that highlight that the electronics and semiconductor industry continues to lag behind in digital customer engagement. Results from our March 2021 survey of 180 global electronics retailers and suppliers found that the average customer engagement maturity score for this industry was just 2.4 on a scale of 5 points.
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 peers. The average overall marketing spend 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 surveyed group said they spent less than 1 % .
You have to accept that customers’ expectations have changed, and therefore invest to offer them the solutions they want and need. It is now a business imperative.
Use digital channels to get closer to customers
Consideration needs to be given to how to scale the digital journey and go-to-market strategy. Take into account that there will be fewer physical meetings and client meetings and favor virtual engagement through targeted webinars or online conferences, in order to transmit information and establish links.
For example, a company in the semiconductor sector used to organize an event for the engineering teams of its key customers that brought together 500 people. Then the company was forced to go virtual.
Thanks to the digital format, they were able to widen the audience by organizing workshops, peer-to-peer design sessions, roadmap and design presentations. This allowed this event to grow from 500 to 5000 participants – an increase of a factor of 10. It is a good illustration of the impact of digital technologies on the development of the activity.
Offer self-service services to customers wherever they are
As a Gartner webinar notes B2B buyers increasingly want to engage with suppliers through digital channels and with self-service services. This is becoming increasingly important as baby boomers retire 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 get 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 activity, content and resources from community web platforms. It then becomes important to research how to provide technical content and design support in the most appropriate form.
Means must be offered to these potential buyers, where they are, in order to better understand their demand and therefore influence their decisions. Companies must extend their free access services and supports to other areas such as specific price offers or the provision of history.
Succeed with onboarding, talent, and the right budget
To succeed, the integration of sales and marketing, the right talent and budget are essential. Companies should foster greater integration of sales and marketing at the organizational level through joint campaigns. This will require breaking the silos between marketing and sales and working together to define and refine the customer journey.
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 must turn, for their recruitment, 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 meaningful customer engagement at scale. And reallocate investments to strengthen digital marketing, digital customer experiences and roadmaps for these transformations.
The world has changed. We must not fall into the trap of going back to good old practices, thinking that a commitment to immature digital strategies is enough to develop the company. It no longer works. Now is the time to refocus roadmaps towards digital customer engagement, consolidating sales and marketing efforts to drive more targeted digital campaigns and expand market coverage. Key decisions that will determine future revenue are being made right now.
Author: Steve FlaggFounder and President of SupplyFrame
(c) Fig. Deposit photos