Ignite your sales process, not your salespeople ~
Sales & marketing are often found to be at odds with one another. We always seem to be fighting over space and it's not uncommon for one to complain about the other. It's a strange thing too, because aren't we both after the same things?
If I were to say that I want to "get more clients and make more money," who in this scenario WOULDN'T it apply to? If you're a business owner, you're thinking the same thing, right? So, why can't we make these two groups work together in harmony toward our common goals?
Well, the truth is... we CAN. And, we will.
How to get more clients using 5 B2B marketing strategies designed to ignite your sales process:
Look Inward & Establish your Marketing Objectives early:
Before you run off looking for who to blame about the disconnect or the fact that sales numbers that aren't where you want them to be, let's look inward for solutions. I don't mean setting up a company retreat where we engage in trust falls and sing around a campfire, but rather, let's focus on the positives we already have, and expound upon them.
That's what this article is all about today: how to get clients using what we already have - but be better at it and more synergistic. The concepts described don't require a magicians wand or bending the boundaries of truth and fiction. Quite the contrary, actually. The best marketing strategies in 2015 incorporate genuine tactics that boost the value of every visitors' experience while positioning your brand as a go-to resource.
Of course, this is the crux of inbound marketing, a newer development in the advertising world that's turning everything upside down. And it's what will unite your b2b sales & marketing teams, bringing them closer than ever before.
1. Content Marketing Services
They're all the rage.
Inbound marketers everywhere are lining up to offer you valuable content that you can download in exchange for your contact information. It comes in the form of ebooks, infographics, presentations, and more, and if it's good enough and relevant enough to the users' personal situations, they'll come back for seconds, or even better, they'll come back to ask for a chance to buy your products or services.
This is the catalyst for the inbound lead generation process, and the point in time when your sales teams will have visibility on visitors of your website and other digital mediums (like blogging & social media) have been courting. So, we start here in terms of marketing services and production, but it's actually a step that your audience engages in after contact has already been made.
Whether you're handing it off to a content marketing agency or managing it internally, you want to get this part right. It may be a few editions or iterations before you get there, but the experience your users have with the content is just as important as having it in the first place. It's how we establish ourselves as thought leaders, and if we want to arm our salesforce with something they can use to pry open viable opportunities, it should most definitely have replay and sharing qualities to it.
Leveraging your content to convert visitors into leads requires a strategy for promotion and distribution. Blogging provides you the opportunity to promote the content without selling it. Each blog post should have the target audience in mind (what information can I offer to earn your readership?) but also be focused on promoting ideas that are discussed in the content offers. This will entice visitors to make the exchange and download your ebooks.
(more on blogging strategy for your business HERE)
From a marketing perspective, the benefits of blogging are a little more obvious than when standing in the shoes of most salespeople. They attract visitors to the corporate website because we can frame entire posts around our most prized keywords. They help us understand our customers and prospects by their reaction. And they help us develop a brand awareness that is becoming more challenging by the day to accomplish with more traditional advertising (vs marketing) concepts.
However, there are ENORMOUS benefits for business development as well, such as:
~ They arm you with materials you can share, discuss, and debate online
~ They educate your audience about the problems your company solves
~ They generate traffic 24/7/365, which means they can generate viable leads 24/7/365
~ The leads are generated by their own permission, which means they're not COLD
~ They're really easy to share on social media, which means others can promote you
Basically, blogging is the grease that will loosen up some of your most challenging sales prospects - as long as it's true to the inbound form, and not disguised case studies or company advertisements.
Speaking of social media strategy... This is another area that, if you put some time and effort into its development and maintenance, will improve the sales process and experience of everybody who comes into contact with your company. It's also the distribution channel for your blogs and that beautiful content you spent so much time developing.
When your business is active in social media, and being social about it, of course, they improve the sales process in so many awesome ways. To be clear, there are right and wrong ways to execute social media. My marketing agency abides by the strict code of inbound vs outbound, which means social media is a channel for connecting with others, curating 3rd party content, getting involved in public conversations, and distributing our materials here and there vs non-stop company ad blasts.
One of the benefits with inbound social media marketing is succession planning. What happens when you lose somebody in the middle of a big deal, or, more likely, in the middle of half a dozen big deals? You lose relationships with those involved, because you never really had them to begin with... they were held by your salespeople. By your company being active in social media, however, you personify your brand, which helps you forge bonds with your prospects that are otherwise reserved exclusively for your staff.
"A better connection with your brand means a smoother transition for your sales when turbulence inevitably occurs." Tweet
Other benefits include making it easy for your staff and fans to share your blogs and content, being able to connect with client service issues before they become irreversible, and monitoring public sentiment about your brand and/or service offering. It's the kind of intel and process improvement that turns your leads into something quite a bit more valuable than what you'll find using purchased lists.
It's how you stop cold calling and land the better quality deals.
There's nothing more embarrassing to salespeople than presenting marketing or legal materials to prospective clients that contain mistakes or are outdated. Avoid this by producing evergreen marketing materials that are just as relevant today as they will be in 2, 3, 4 or more years from now.
We want that blog to continue producing for us long after it's been published. We don't want to have to update our content every 6 months (although you may find it difficult not to at least improve the aesthetic qualities from time to time). And we want those precious keywords we're ranking for to feel the love all the time. This means staying away from trendy topics, buzzwords, or too many pop-culture references.
And it caters to the very core principles that drive inbound marketers. We think big picture, long-term, and sustainability.
5. Lead Scoring & Alerts
This is one of my favorite things - being able to alert our sales teams when a lead generated through inbound marketing has reached a certain apex or quality standard.
We accomplish this through lead scoring, which means point values are assigned to certain behaviors. When a lead meets a predetermined threshold, an alert goes out to the sales teams letting them know that they have a lead ripe for the picking.
Success here lies in our ability to work together and develop a system that allows us to analyze aggregate data (using forms with drop down fields vs plain text for example) to our advantage and provide intel that the SALES teams think is valuable.
We develop this system together. We also update it and monitor it together. Period. Now, I like it when the leads are visible to sales from the first moment the information exchange occurs, but having the scoring system allows everybody to assess the value of the leads individually. And then, of course, we install mechanisms that alert sales when a lead is up to code and most likely able to convert with a series of calling.
Bridging the gap between these two departments is one of the many benefits that comes from inbound marketing. Whether you are trying to figure out how to sell staffing services, software services, accounting & finance solutions, find investors, or get your start-up off the ground - you will always do better when there is synergy between the two, not finger-pointing or eye-rolling.
I have been on both sides of the coin, and they are two very different skillsets and state of minds - but digital media is transforming the landscape, and pushing them closer together. It's a good thing, and we should embrace it. It just needs to happen in symbiotic fashion.
Click HERE to grab a copy of our inbound lead generation playbook: