The way companies acquire, retain and create loyal customers has fundamentally changed. Just take a look at the dramatic shifts that have taken place in the B2B buying journey, sales process and customer experience …

YESTERDAY: Marketing pushed the message out into the marketplace through defined channels.

TODAY: Your corporate story is available on-demand, 24 / 7 across any and all channels.

YESTERDAY: Sales reps were the primary way customers got to know your company.

TODAY: Customers consume your story without human intervention — when, where and how they wish.

YESTERDAY: Marketing’s priority was acquiring leads.

TODAY: Marketing must not only play a role in acquiring customers but a more significant part in how companies retain, grow and increase loyalty.

YESTERDAY: Brands were built through controlled campaigns, channels and messages.

TODAY: Brands are defined by the story customers consume and the experience they have with your company through an unlimited number of touchpoints.

YESTERDAY: Communication and engagement with your customers was limited, contained and controlled.

TODAY: Customers can communicate and engage with your employees through endless channels and communication vehicles.

YESTERDAY: Product features and functionality were the basis of differentiation.

TODAY: Products are being commoditized — the experience customers have with your company is now the battlefield of differentiation.

YESTERDAY: Sales reps controlled the pipeline and qualification process.

TODAY: The self-service buying process allows the customer to opt-in or opt-out before the sales process even starts.

YESTERDAY: Shifts in your business strategy were not immediately visible to customers.

TODAY: Your strategy is now transparent to buyers and instantly recognized in the customer experience.

YESTERDAY: Executives served as thought leaders and the voice of the brand.

TODAY: Every employee has a voice on the web and impacts brand perception and loyalty.

YESTERDAY: Message consistency was controlled through branding campaigns.

TODAY: Explosion of online and offline channels make inconsistencies in your story immediately noticeable to the customer.

The ability to adapt to these changes will define market leaders in the future.