Closing the gap between marketing & sales:
Specifically, social media is forcing marketers, who are typically used to a one-way broadcast-style of communication, to interact with customers and prospects directly and nearly live. It's also forcing the folks in business development to think in much broader terms - no longer able to remain mysterious and making it impossible to succeed within the narrow confines of pure cold calling.
So, here are 10 things you need to know to help your business ride the wave of this digital media revolution, so you can unite and amplify your b2b sales and marketing efforts.
WARNING: LANES MERGING AHEAD
I have seen a lot over the span of my career, which started in b2b sales in the early 2000's, and has since evolved into running an inbound marketing agency that I built from scratch. I remember early on when I told people about LinkedIn and some of the research that could be accomplished online, how they would react and just brush it all off as a passing fad.
But they were wrong, weren't they? Not only has social media stuck, but it has transformed the entire way we do be business. Cold-calling and broadcast advertising, yesterday's most powerful forms of business development, are taking a back-seat to the live interactive environments created by digital marketing.
But just because it may have taken you awhile to come around, that doesn't mean it's hopeless. Actually, the timing for transitioning into a mixed desk of inbound & outbound sales & marketing may be just right.
Here's how to merge the two -
~ MORE LIKE THIS: B2B Marketing Strategies that will Ignite Your Sales Process ~
Providing a robust blogging strategy is one of the greatest favors marketing can do for sales. It helps prospects consume the nature and purpose of your business in small bites, thereby removing one of the most challenging barriers a salesperson faces - education.
(How to develop great blog ideas)
But it also gives sales something to talk about and something to distribute through social media. When they do this, they humanize your brand, and help you build passive bonds with your prospects that survive even through turnover.
2. Social Media for Business Development
We can learn so much more about a company by searching them on LinkedIn than we can by visiting their static website. Why? Because social media exposes businesses for what they really are by who they employ. If we can understand how our prospects are built, then we are that much more likely to be able to diagnose their pain and deliver viable solutions.
But for sales to use this medium as a conduit for new business, their company should be providing them with tools to make connections (why your business should get behind your social media strategy). For example, going back to number 1 on this list, if marketing creates a powerful, educational blog that sales can distribute, then sales is that much more likely to close the deal.
Get the guide to better social media management
3. Social Media for Brand Development
One of the reasons why social media marketing works for business development is because it allows them to build their own personal brands. When we buy from somebody we place a lot of emphasis on being able to trust the person from whom we are making the purchase over the actual product or service offering itself.
By bridging the two departments with digital media, you are taking the sole responsibilities of marketing out of the hands of your marketers and building your brand through every interaction with the public, whether motivated by sales, marketing, or even customer service.
4. Use of Smart Digital Tools
The problem with most websites and corporate digital communications is that the experiences they create are neither personal or engaging. People don't like to feel as if they fit into a cookie-cutter scenario, even when we do. So, when a brand doesn't take the time to create the same personalized experience as the salesperson, the relationship is disjointed.
Change this by using dynamic forms and content that display different fields, images, and wording based on people's past behaviors and interactions with your brand. Your forms can be smaller this way, grabbing little bits of contact information from your prospects with each interaction as opposed to asking for them to give you blood. And you can focus your visual and written content based on geography, life cycle stage, and other pertinent data.
When you equip your salesforce with blogs and downloadable content, they will be able to spread your gospel far and wide, and even help you build those precious inbound links. And what better way to get found online than having links to your website dispersed all over the internet?
Put a real plan together and really watch this one soar! Give your sales teams one-liners they can use to distribute your blogs and content (say, from your targeted keyword strategy), and watch how that social traffic explodes. (interested in exploring our Professional SEO Services? Click HERE)
6. Email Nurturing
The best emails are those that come from an actual person, not just "info" or "customer service." Your prospects want to know that the person they're dealing with is actually real, and somebody they may actually interact with at one point or another.
Sales should have their names, pictures, and email addresses on your outbound correspondence where direct interaction with them based on that topic would make sense. They're already doing this on LinkedIn, building their personal brands and reputations. Bridge the gap and amplify each other's success with this simple change.
Get the guide to better email nurturing
You don't have to lose your custom experience when automating your emails or other processes when you employ personalized tokens and smart content. For example, I built an automated work flow for a client of mine whose site visitors downloaded a piece of premium content. They have 6 different personas, which means that each email had to have 6 different messages. No problem! I created a smart list for each persona, and by using the right tools, was able to vary the message based on the role each held within their organizations.
It also started by addressing them with their first name thanks to the personalized tokens.
Best of all, it sent an internal email to the salesperson whose information was contained in the signature, so they could be prepared for the inbound call or make the decision to reach out to the prospect directly.
8. Digital Marketing Management Tools
You cannot piece a strategy like this together using duct tape and silly putty. It requires the use of proper digital marketing management tools that integrate both sales and marketing. There are a ton out there to choose from, so I advise looking into multiple. I reviewed many, but it came down to Hubspot, Marketo, and Infusionsoft because of their industry-leading integration concepts. Ultimately, I decided on Hubspot, for which I have many reasons (Then amazingly, the inbound marketing strategy worked), but not limited to the fact that it integrates well with software like Salesforce and their own, free CRM.
Here's what an "all-in-one" solution does for you:
- Automatically populates valuable information on prospects into the CRM
- Gives marketing direct visibility on the prospects' interaction with sales
- Allows sales & marketing to push prospect through the pipeline in unison
- Minimizes bad communication between departments
- Specific to Hubspot: By using Sidekick, which ties into your marketing platform, and your salespeoples' Chrome and Outlook, every time their prospects visit your website your salespeople receive a live notification.
9. Lead Scoring
If your sales teams help your marketers assign points to behaviors, such as downloading content, visiting certain pages, clicking on emails or opting out of receiving more from you in the future, they can have a formulaic framework that tells them when to call and what to talk about (or when to drop them from your targeting altogether, so you aren't wasting time on dead-end leads). Your digital marketing management tools should include this. I know with Hubspot it populates the CRM automatically when the points value change, and we can create smart lists that filter out the lower point values.
10. Succession Planning
Often overlooked, especially with start-ups, succession planning for both turnover and growth is critical to the health of your organization. Sales typically suffers tremendously in this department, because those in business development forge the relationships with your prospects, not your brand. When somebody leaves, they tend to take their open book of business with them, and if they don't go to a competitor, they just wither and die.
Remember, we prefer to buy from people, not faceless corporations.
Every position I've ever taken in sales starts with rebuilding the foundation that the last person in the role decimated with their departure, which was usually preceded by lagging performance issues and disorganization. This means countless hours digging through mountains of leads to determine which are still viable and which are pointless to chase.
By creating this unified front of sales AND marketing, your prospects are not only visible by those in business development. They are accessible by marketing and other senior-level managers. This will help you mitigate lost sales due to turnover, which is an enormous drain on your resources.
Thanks to the proliferation of digital media, Sales & Marketing go together like wine and cheese:
Strategic b2b marketing solutions that embrace this idea are finding quite a bit less resistance than those still wallowing in their painful pure outbound environments. Sales & marketing represent major pillars of your brand's identity, and merging them may just be the catalyst you were looking for to ignite your growth.
To assess your sales & marketing strategies with an inbound pro, schedule a call today!
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