Um, what exactly do you mean by “funnel”?

When I first started at LookBookHQ, I thought that my previous experience as a B2C marketer par excellence would make my transition to the world of B2B marketing pretty easy. I mean, how different could it be? Marketing is marketing, right? Now that I’ve been here a year and a half already (time flies when you’re having fun), I can say that I was dead wrong. I’m really just starting to feel comfortable with my knowledge of the B2B space. If you too are new to B2B or are looking to transition from a B2C sales and marketing role to a career in B2B, here are three key differences between B2C and B2B that kind of blew my mind:

1. The sales funnel is real and someone will mention it AT LEAST once a day
Um, ok, what exactly do you mean by “funnel”? Oh, I’d heard of this mystical funnel before, but in B2C marketing, you never hear all that much talk about it. I mean, for all but the largest consumer purchases (e.g. a new house or car, or that trip of a lifetime), the consideration process isn’t particularly long or grueling, and you certainly don’t have whole teams of people helping you decide what to purchase!

At first, I thought the funnel was something I didn’t really get because I don’t have a business degree (Side note: never let anyone tell you your English degree is useless; it’ll help you apply your critical thinking and research skills to learn new things like what a sales funnel is!). But since B2C marketing isn’t all that dependent on KPIs or ROI (two other new terms in my lexicon since I started in B2B), and doesn’t really have buyer personas and a lengthy sales cycle to contend with, you never really hear about how your efforts impact sales revenue in a measurable, “show me the money” kind of way.

2. Your MarTech stack can (and will!) consist of tools beyond just Constant Contact or Mail Chimp
I thought I was pretty up on my marketing technology when I started at LookBookHQ. In my former life in B2C, I’d sent out regular email campaigns through Constant Contact and was sure I knew the ins and outs of email marketing. Then everyone started throwing around product names I’d never heard before: Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, Vidyard, BlueKai, and on and on. They also used words like nurturing a lot. In B2B, marketing and sales use a lot of the same technologies – tools that give everyone insight into what marketing is doing, how their activities affect sales and vice versa. This one especially got to me: I could not fathom sales even coming near our B2C marketing tools, but in B2B, more often than not, I go to marketing when I have a Salesforce question because they’re the nerds who are most in the know about how all this stuff works.

3. Sales and Marketing can (and should) be BFFs
I’m sorry if this sounds a little cheesy, but at LookBookHQ, sales and marketing really are BFFs (our VP of Marketing likes to refer to this as “smarketing”). This one really knocked me over. I mean, of course, I had sat through my share of sales and marketing meetings in my life as a B2C marketer, but the departments were never as intertwined as ours, and they were worse off for it.

As in any friendship, open communication is important (and clearly defined roles and responsibilities to make sure things get done and done right). Without that crazy tight synergy and collaboration, your sales and marketing teams simply won’t be rowing in the same direction as efficiently as they could be. Similarly, marketing can learn a lot from sales about what qualified demand really means, who to target and how to make sure they’re speaking the same language as their customers. Everyone in a company benefits from sales and marketing hanging out, going to the movies together and knowing what each other takes in their coffee.

Summing up
I am still learning so much every day about the B2B marketing landscape. It’s been a real eye opener and a fun and rewarding challenge. Unlike B2C, B2B purchases are carefully considered and involve many different people in the selection process. And because these big B2B purchases are relatively infrequent and the stakes are high, the people involved look to me and others on my team for guidance. That’s where marketing content comes in – lots of content – to educate and inform B2B buyers. One of the things that has really helped me to help my clients make what is likely one of the most important decisions of their career is having such a great in-house marketing team to show me how it’s supposed to be done.