Everyone is enamored with the Internet of Things (IoT) as a way to automate parts of the selling process. Vastly increased up-time, just-in-time restocking of consumables, and use-based up-selling and cross-selling are just three areas that promise to allow salespeople to shift from responding to customers’ day-to-day needs and move into a more strategic relationship focusing on really important parts of the sale.
These will be big changes. And, if you’re in marketing, don’t think you can hunch down behind your desk and avoid them. The data sales generates should be shared and used by marketing, too – and if you think the changes to sales will be profound, you should see what will happen to marketing.

Marketers say they want to know their customers and their contacts as intimately as possible. Be careful what you wish for – the IoT is going to give you more data than you ever expected. You’re mission is to figure out how to use the data to set sales up to win. You can do it – if you can be creative in how you use the IoT.

Here are three ways that promise to radically change how you work as the IoT becomes a part of our daily business lives:

Real-time Use Data

Marketing has played a somewhat secondary role in the process of up-selling. Some companies have realized the importance of continuing to market to current customers, thus growing sales. Some use lead scoring systems to translate customer activities into scores that suggest it’s a great time for a sales rep to make a call to a certain customer, keying on expressions of interest. This is great. IoT takes this up a notch; it’s still based on customer activity, but now it can consider the activity the customer engages in while using your products.

For example, if you sell copying solutions, a customer might have a single machine. With the IoT, you can see how it’s used. Is it used two hours out of the day every day, or is it in action all day during quarter ends? These are signals that the customer might need a new machine – and it’s a great time to alert sales that this customer maybe ready to buy again.

If you’re a machine equipment manufacturer, you can use the IoT to send spare parts and schedule service before breakdowns occur. But you can also monitor entire systems’ performance. A set of wear metrics may be a signal that the machine is at a point where continued maintenance may no longer be economically feasible; this can be passed to sales, along with the data to back that diagnosis up, and sales can offer a replacement.
The IoT allows marketing to add real-world data to its arsenal of data based on traditional marketing efforts, which not only sets up sales for repeat business, but sets up the next great change:

Profile, Profile and Re-profile

The segmentation of prospects and customers today is done largely based on demographics and expressions of interest: a prospect who has these characteristics and does these things should go into a bucket with these other similar prospects. But customers don’t stay fixed in place just because they’ve purchased from you. They change and evolve. Too many companies don’t monitor for these changes and, as a result, always relate to those customers as they did when they first made contact with them.

The IoT allows you to see through data, how things are changing for customer, and thus how you should alter your view of those customers as a marketer. Is a customer going through supplies faster than he ought to based on his assumed persona? Change the persona! Is his usage suggesting his company is larger than you assume, or is the company doing some activity that suggests a business shift you should be aware of? Use that data to re-asses your view of the customer.

Following the data – and confirming it with a meeting – is a great way to show you’re on top of the relationship. It also allows you to better tailor ongoing marketing messages, thus achieving something all marketers want:

Personalization to the Max

Personalization is the goal of every marketer, but it can be tough to do and maintain over time. The IoT provides an ongoing view of what the customer is really doing, which enables you to personalize messages in a way never before possible. You can match content to usage; tailor offers to actual behavior, and build nurture campaigns informed by what the customer is actually doing, not based on what you think the customer is doing.

An example: if the customer’s data shows they run your equipment 24 hours a day, you might create a piece of content about taming the pitfalls of the always-on manufacturing environment. If they go to two shifts, you’ll see it – and can offer new content based on what’s actually happening.

And remember – personalization is not what customers want, but they want value in the form of content that speaks to their specific needs. There’s no better way to do that than through understanding their experience with your products through the IoT.

This is only the tip of the iceberg – we’re going to discover many more use cases for marketing to use the IoT, many of which will give the companies that discover them a significant competitive advantage. Even if your business isn’t using the IoT yet, now’s the time to consider how you as a marketer will take advantage of it to create a more reality-based, accurate and personalized way of reaching prospects and maximizing your relationships with customers.

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