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Selling to retailers – no-one said it would be easy

Chris Field
Chris Field

Selling tech to retailers was never easy, but now it’s as hard as it’s ever been – and it’s only going to get worse.

Pressures of digital transformation; demanding consumers; new competitors; political upheaval; the conflicting needs of multiple stakeholders; and nervousness among decision makers  all conspire to put vendors on the spot, and mess with your sales targets.

But you’ve still got to sell – so how do you adapt to this tough new environment?

For me, recognising the challenge is the key to the opportunity, and it’s one that most vendors still miss. The prescription is actually pretty simple: you need to practice two types of marketing within a single strategy.

The first is what I call big marketing – embracing tactics like PR, thought leadership content, sponsorship, trade shows and advertising. The other I call sales-based marketing – targeted marketing by account, closely collaborating with the sales team.

If you’re already doing that, how’s it working for you?

We’ve seen lots of vendors making half-hearted attempts to tick the account-based marketing box, and then wonder why they are not getting the expected results.

The problem is one that vendors share with retailers: how to identify, target and sell to prospects that no longer act predictably. The journey has to start with data – what you know and don’t know about the organisations you are trying to reach – and it’s a journey that sales and marketing need to take together around shared KPIs.

The next step is to agree the most appropriate communications channels and content through which to reach identified targets. Email, for instance, has always been the wrong way to start talking to CEOs, whilst expecting CIOs to care about operational issues is likely to fail.

The third step is to understand the prospect’s journey. As unpredictable as it may be, it is possible to create a sequence of communications and content that drives engagement, so long as you have built in as many monitoring points along the way, so that you can track progress.

It still amazes me how early on vendors give up when they get no response from a set of prospects. You need an integrated, multichannel approach to make it work – and if you can find the right strategy for selling to retailers, and the right partner to help you execute it, it’s amazing who can get in the room with.

To develop marketing and lead nurturing strategies that get you in front of retail prospects, download our new report: How Retailers Choose Technology – and How to Get Them to Choose You

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