The 8 Major Surprises For Marketers Who Have Never Done Enterprise Marketing

by Franco De Bonisin General Marketing 0 Comment(s)

Marketing & selling to enterprise-level clients is not like any other marketing. If you’ve never done it, you’re in for a big surprise. In fact you’re in for at least 8 surprises as outlined below (in no particular order apart from how stuff falls out of my brain):


Surprise 1 – It Takes Sooooooo Long!

In B2C or even B2B with smaller businesses, the decision-making process is anything from a few hours to a few weeks. In a corporate/enterprise setting multiply that by 10. The larger the investment and the more complex the implementation, the longer it will take. But you can easily expect decision-making to take more than 3 months.

What It Means For Your Enterprise Marketing:
You need to plan around ROI happening more than a quarter after your initial spend. If you don’t have deep-pockets then be very practical and pragmatic and choose your spend wisely, If you do have deep pockets then make sure all stakeholders understand that what you spend today won’t bear fruit for a long time.


Surprise 2 – Meeting After Meeting After Meeting After Meeting…Ad Infinitum

This is not strictly a marketing problem, but it has a bearing on the quality of the leads you deliver to the sales team. It could take 3 or 4 meetings for the sales team to figure out that this is not the red-hot lead they were expecting. They’ll then come back to you, the marketer, complaining about it.

This is a sensitive problem to deal with, as on the one hand the sales people want leads and lots of them, but on the other hand they only really want quality leads. Even if it is a quality lead, there are still LOTS of meetings before a deal is done and that all means more time! (See surprise 1)

What It Means For Your Enterprise Marketing:
You need to make use of the tools at hand to make the job of categorising leads easier.  Marketing Automation tools, like Marketo, allow you to assign values and weightings to certain touch-points in the buying process. So for example, someone who clicks on an email link to visit the product page then reads a case study and then downloads a whitepaper, has more ‘value’ and is ‘hotter’ as a lead than someone who just clicked the email link.

You also need to use tools like SalesForce to track the feedback from the sales people and clients themselves and also make sure that they understand how to recycle leads back to prospects so they can be re-targeted.

It is noteworthy that Marketo themselves indicated during a webinar that in excess of 50% of the leads that turn into customers have been recycled at least once. This means that far from  lead generation activities and the sales activities being separate silos, the reality is that the two should work in unison, bound together by the marketing automation and CRM tools, to refine leads into prospects and finally into customers.


Surprise 3 – So Many People Involved

If you’ve only ever dealt with individuals or small businesses, this is one surprise that will shock you. So many people will be involved in the buying process. From sales and marketing to IT and finance, multiple people from each department will get involved, ask lots of questions and have their say. At any stage, any one of them could derail the whole thing and months of work could disappear.

What It Means For Your Enterprise Marketing:
When dealing with Enterprise, there is no single, catch-all message. As a marketer you will need to understand what makes each stake-holder tick and what will get them excited and then sell those specific benefits. FORGET THE FEATURES! If you’re a half-decent marketer you’ll already know this, but it’s worth reiterating. Bad marketers sell features, good marketers sell the benefits.

So you do your research on your customer and so (just an example), the benefits to the sales and marketing team might be faster and more efficient lead generation, while for the finance team it’s lower yearly costs than their current system and for the IT team it’s zero install and 24/7 support.

You also need to have all these differing messages in multiple forms. The sales and marketing team will need glossy and easy to understand materials and perhaps webinars on how to get the most from the system. The finance team will need financial breakdowns of how the savings are achieved and case studies on similar organisations that have saved money using the system, while the IT team will need whitepapers and guides on how the system works and how it can be integrated with existing systems.

Make no mistake, this is ALL marketing. Even a whitepaper should at least have marketing oversight to ensure it meets brand and message guidelines.


Surprise 4 – The Customer Is Not The Customer And Your Sales Person May Not Be The Sales Person 

The last surprise touched on this, but just because you’re dealing with the IT or sales manager as a first point of contact, it doesn’t mean they are the ‘customer’. The real customer may be the person who signs the contract, but never uses the system or it might be the junior who you never meet but will use the system all day every day. Equally, although your sales person might make the call and talk to the point of contact in the company, it may be that the junior person has to ‘sell’ your system and justify to his/her boss and the boss will have to sell it to their boss, etc.

What It Means For Your Enterprise Marketing:
Just as before, you need to have all your messaging for all the possible stakeholders ready and in a format that best suits their needs. But more importantly you must make sure that is easily accessible and in plain view to whoever needs it. That means you need to work with your web team to have all the resources (leaflets, spec sheets, presentations, whitepapers, case studies, infographics,  pre-recorded webinars, etc.) available in one place. If there is sensitivity around security and confidentiality then put it in a password protected login that can be given to prospects once they have been identified as ‘hot’.


Surprise 5 – Hidden Politics and Agendas

The Enterprise prospect might have the most dated and worst system in the history of humankind and using your system might be a no-brainer; except for the fact that the IT manager loves it and sees no need to change it and his son works for the company that provides the old one. Never mind that, you might come to realise that the finance director doesn’t really like the sales director, who stood in the way of something the finance director needed and so stopping the sale of your system is just sweet revenge.

What It Means For Your Enterprise Marketing:
This is really not that easy to deal with, but having your house in order with regard to points 4 & 5 will help as these ‘personal’ objections can be overcome with facts and benefits.

However, we come back to the marketing automation and CRM element because if you do hit an immovable barrier, it needs to be tracked. Also remember that people move jobs and structures change, so the barrier could disappear tomorrow, freeing up the opportunity again.


Surprise 6 – So Needy!

Because your main contact is dealing with so many people within their organisation and is being asked to jump through many hoops to justify the investment, they will do the same to your sales team, who in turn will (should) come back to you. I say ‘should’ because often they don’t and try to provide information in a cobbled together document or presentation that really looks awful. Because it’s never seen by the marketing team, it also can’t be integrated in the overall marketing pack for that customer segment and shared with lots of other people. That means a long-term missed opportunity and lots of people duplicating work only to deliver poor content.

What It Means For Your Enterprise Marketing:
You need to make sure that you ‘own’ the creation of anything that remotely resembles a marketing piece. If you’re a start-up targeting enterprise, you might not have that luxury and in this case at least have oversight so that you know it exists and can control how it’s presented.

Also be ready to listen and adopt the prospect’s needs. If they say they need a presentation, which is basically the same as another one you gave them but has more/less/slightly different content in it, then make it happen.


Surprise 7 – Shifting Landscape

Unfortunately, because the decision-making process takes so long, you can often find that the prospect’s needs change along the way. A key benefit that was critical to them before may now no longer be important and suddenly something that you thought so minor as to not be important is now the key thing they need.


What It Means For Your Enterprise Marketing:

Be ready and be adaptable. That means that you need to have access to all original source files so that you can quickly and easily tweak the messaging to suit. On a practical side, it also means that although you might save a few hundred/thousand Dollars/Euro on having leaflets printed in bulk, perhaps you shouldn’t.

Just print what you think you’ll use in a reasonable time-frame as you might need to reprint sooner than you think.

You also need to establish this feedback-loop and the best way to achieve this is to listen to your sales team and actively engage with them through regular sales review meetings.


Surprise 8 – It’s a lot harder to calculate CPL (Cost-Per-Lead) and CPA (Cost-Per Acquisition)

This one fell out of my head last, but it’s probably the thing that will frustrate a marketer the most. In this modern digital marketing age we have become accustomed to being able to tell our bosses that a click costs X and an enquiry costs Y and ultimately the acquisition cost Z. As highlighted in the very first point, it’s just not that simple with Enterprise marketing. It can be done, but it’s not as immediate and involves joining a lot of dots.

Imagine a scenario where you do tradeshows and use print materials, email campaigns, social, PPC, and display. How can you track the effectiveness of each piece within the whole marketing effort and spend?

What It Means For Your Enterprise Marketing:

You need to find a way to tie all this together so that you can track the ROI per customer. This can be done by combining various approaches:

  • Create unique landing pages for different activities
  • Use PURLs for different prospects
  • Track IP address to identify when someone from a specific company visits your site (you won’t know exactly who it is, but if you emailed Bob and then get a visit from Bob’s company then it’s likely to be Bob).
  • Use marketing automation tools to assign specific cost per prospect/lead to each activity and calculate ROI

 By doing just this small list of things you can track how every customer engaged with every activity and that can translate to calculating overall ROI.



Ultimately, Enterprise marketing involves all the same components of marketing to other sectors and customer types. It is just delivered in different measures and mixes. If you’re a good marketer then you will have no issues, just take your time, get to know the customers/sectors and remember to test and measure constantly.

Finally, never forget that your key customer is the sales team. Empower them and make their job easier and you are more than halfway there!


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