Most corporations and FIs are, at one and the same time, both suppliers and purchasers. As the supplier of goods or services, the corporation or FI marketing team has to understand and anticipate the information sought by its clients´ procurement departments during the stages of problem identification, solution exploration, and requirements building.
As buyers, they expect the sellers to facilitate their investigations at every turn, to pre-empt their needs and to provide ideas, solutions and information in real time.
Given how complex the above stages are, navigated with little or no face-to-face input or personalized help from the potential supplier´s sales-people, it is obvious that procurement departments will tend to reward those companies and FIs which make this process easier through the quality of and the intuition developed in their digital marketing programs.
Apart from practical support regarding the goods or services, this includes making life easier for the procurement staff as they undertake and complete their research and then validate it with colleagues. The Gartner study calls this “buyer enablement”, but it really means anticipating the client´s needs and making life easier for the researchers through the various stages of the purchasing procedure.
Procurement has changed from merely buying products to acquiring solutions, meaning the CPOs are looking for more than just “things”. Procurement teams are increasingly turning to data science and analytics to inform their choices. Technically savvy procurement teams can shorten project development time by creating collaborative relationships with suppliers at the level of their digital platforms before any decisions are made.
A procurement department will develop supplier selection criteria based on collated information from its research, the quality and content of which will depend heavily on the structure of the digital marketing campaigns of the suppliers. Once a potential buyer has completed successfully the problem identification, solution exploration, and requirements building stages, he moves to what Gartner defines as the fourth stage, that of supplier selection.
Suppliers now find their whole approach to marketing has been totally overturned. The slick salesperson in a smart suit has almost gone the way of the hand-loom weaver, replaced by digital omnichannel marketing of the products or services in response to changes in procurement methods.
The other side of the coin, as procurers, both companies and FIs are turning to digitalization such that marketers and suppliers have to be present with their input at every junction.
This requires more staff or consultants on the digital end and less traditional salespeople. Investment in digital marketing has to prove itself more profitable, more successful than traditional marketing methods, which requires staff who can monitor outcomes consistently, optimize campaigns and analyze data. Suppliers also have to manage their online brand reputation which is increasingly shaped by peer reviews, online feedback and customer blogs where one negative comment can have devastating effects.
The web is a medium of non-stop, changing and ever-developing communication between buyers and sellers. Companies and FIs have a unique opportunity to turn their personal experiences, both as buyers and as sellers, into a formal of digital empathy with the needs of the Janus side of whatever activity they are digitalizing.
If the procurement department and the sales department worked together, instead of in separate divisions, they would be able to translate their respective needs into the other´s digital information supply.
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