Loading...

Follow LeadCrunch Blog on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

Podcasting is a massive hit in the B2B arena. Not only do these podcast hosts share detailed tips and tricks you can use right now, but they also give you B2B marketing insights from some of the biggest influencers and thought leaders in the world of B2B.

And with podcasting growing 23% between 2015 and 2016, this trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. Clearly, podcasting is here to stay.

Many of these podcasts are so good they feel as if the producers are speaking directly to you. Whether you want to listen to podcasts to get inspired, or want specifics on how to build a stronger B2B brand, you’re sure to find a podcast that fits.

That said, not all marketing podcasts are created equal. Some offer better advice than others. The key is finding those podcasts that work for you and your company. Below are five B2B podcasts you should consider listening to regularly

Our Top 5 B2B Podcasts List

The 5 B2B podcasts (plus a bonus podcast recommendation!) below provide a unique perspective on B2B sales and marketing, and valuable advice you won’t find anywhere else.

  • Flip the Switch

Uberflip’s podcast features the most progressive digital marketing pros in the industry, with the goal of telling you exactly how to generate great ideas that will cement your standing as a thought leader in B2B.

Generating great marketing ideas is more important than you think. As content marketer Nickie Bartels mentions, you should,

“Reassemble your team every quarter to brainstorm campaigns and generate ideas for specific content.”

Now imagine if you could go back to your sales team and give them the tips and tricks presented by special guests like Mathew Sweezey and Michael Powers. This podcast will completely change how companies attack B2B content marketing campaigns. 

  • Nobody Likes It Cold

Luke Davies, the host of this podcast, speaks with guests who have already attained huge success in B2B sales. These CMOs and B2B sales masters tell you all about how they made things work out for them.

You’ll find out about their strategies and how they overcame their biggest business obstacles. They offer real world examples of what’s working out there. Previous guests have included Mike Derezin of LinkedIn and Jill Rowley, a social selling evangelist.

A key focus of this podcast is emotional selling. This is a big plus point, according to B2B marketer and influencer Joe Lazauskas, who says,

“Build trust; build relationships. If you take pride in that, the success will follow.”

  • Unpodcast: The Business Podcast for the Fed-Up

This Alison Kramer and Scott Stratten podcast began with the premise that B2B companies are drowning in the amount of information available to them today.

Much of this information is bad. In fact, there’s so much misinformation and poor advice out there, this duo felt they needed to weigh in on things.

Their weekly podcasts are direct – they’re not here to share fluff. They get right to the heart of the matter and discuss what drives success. You’ll hear advice based on real world examples. With special guests like Ron Tite, of the Tite Group, it’s worth listening to this podcast.

  • Start Some Shift

Start Some Shift is a bi-weekly podcast that teaches you about how to build a brand that people will love. This podcast is for you if prospects have ever said you’re too expensive, or they don’t understand what it is you actually do.

This podcast features some of the most well-regarded minds in B2B branding, like Marie Poulin, of Digital Strategy School, and Paul Lemberg of Quantum Growth Coaching.

Branding is a 360-degree issue, and this podcast targets every aspect of it, from what to post on social media to amp up your social selling strategy to market positioning.

  • The Growth Show

The Growth Show comes from the well-known brand Hubspot. The Growth Show does exactly what it says in the name. It will help you to drive growth, generate more ideas, and build a B2B sales team that will carry you into the future.

You’ll get tips directly from the mouths of business leaders who have already practiced what they’ve preached. Plus, you’ll learn how they achieved incredible amounts of growth in record time.

In addition, figures like Matthew Ramirez and Gabriel Weinberg show you how they built their respective companies, WriteLab and DuckDuckGo.

But this B2B podcast goes much further than just providing a few tips. They also explore the technical side of things, such as algorithms and how to analyze potential competitors.

  • Bonus Podcast Recommendation – The Greene & Green Show

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the LeadCrunch podcast. Helmed by our seasoned marketing experts J. David Green & Jonathan Greene, they dive into the nitty-gritty of lookalike audiences for B2B, and how to scale demand generation efforts on The Green & Greene Show. (See the full podcast episode list here.)

Making B2B Podcasts Work for You

Everyone learns differently. Reading a blog or an eBook on growing your company isn’t the right fit for all B2B content marketers, sales reps or executives. Understandably, podcasts work the best for those who learn through listening.

But even if it isn’t your preferred learning style, listening to the podcasts provides a much needed variation to your learning about B2B marketing.

In just 1 or 2 hours a week, you’ll find that you’re better informed, more prepared to meet the challenges of your industry and inspired to experiment with new tactics in your campaigns. So swap out the radio station once a week or host a personal ‘lunch and learn’ at your desk (with earphones!) to catch up with the latest B2B news – your business will thank you for it.

These are our favorites, but what shows do you think are the best B2B podcasts to be listening to right now? Send us a note below!

 {{cta(’42bf2a20-9901-4d7d-a30b-8537f8abbb79′)}}

The post The Best B2B Podcasts for Digital Marketers appeared first on LeadCrunch.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Is the Challenger Selling Style right for you?

There are many different types of selling methodologies: the Challenger Sale, SPIN Selling, Conceptual Selling, SNAP Selling, Sandler Sales, and Customer Centric Selling – to name just a few. While each has their own benefits and challenges, each style has something to offer B2B sales reps to improve conversions and build customer loyalty.

Of course, it’s not possible to use all these selling styles and be successful. You have to choose one style and go with it. So it’s important to study the different types of selling and then decide which style is right for your company—a selling style that fits your company’s goals and culture.

Whether you’re new to the Challenger approach or are part of sales teams that are already using it, there are tools available that make this B2B sales model even more powerful.

I was recently at a sales seminar at ToutApp’s offices in San Francisco where one of the speakers Roderick Jefferson, a sales legend from Oracle, said that The Challenger Sale was hands down the best book he had ever read on selling.

This is high praise indeed from a top authority. So I wrote the name of the book down and read it. Here are some of my key takeaways after reading The Challenger Sale, and the tools I recommend to really make this style work for your business.

What is the Challenger Sales Method?

If you’re not already familiar with the Challenger Sale, we encourage you buy and read the book – it’s full of valuable insights and advice. (I listened to the whole book on Audible while cycling.) In the meantime, here is a high-level view of the Challenger Sales Method.

  • Challenging customers’ thinking. Develop a deep understanding of your customer, and learn to push their thinking.
  • Know their market. Teach your customer something new about competing within their market.
  • Re-framing. Learn to re-frame the way a customer thinks about your category of solution.
  • Control the conversation. Learn to stay in control of the sales conversation, and when to gently apply pressure.
  • All products and services. The Challenger Sales Methodology will work for most industries, but for the complex large scale business sale, it’s even more vital.

3 Tools to Clinch the Challenger Sale

Like most selling styles, success in Challenger Selling requires solid B2B data and top performers. Here are the tools that deliver the goods:

1. LeadCrunch

For most challenger reps, the first question that comes to mind with this method is: “Who do I approach?” You want to approach relevant contacts at companies that are the right fit for your products or services. Before you do the work as a relationship builder, you want to be clear about your potential customers.

LeadCrunch provides the best tool for Challenger Sales on the market – finding the right contacts at the right companies. Using a combination of your own customer data, high-quality B2B data sources, bot crawlers, artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver the targets that are the best fit for your company – and much more likely to convert to a sale.

You’ll have greater success with Challenger selling if you know their market, and can re-frame your solution if they’re already a good fit. As part of our service, we can contact the businesses for you, so you only receive warm leads. (View the LeadCrunch case studies for specifics.)

2. Charlie

Understanding your customer is much easier when you have a better sense of who they are. Charlie combs through 100s of data sources and automatically sends you a one-pager on all prospects before you meet with them. You’ll have much greater insight on their background and point of view, and be that much better prepared for the sales conversation.

3. Hubspot

Challenging customers’ thinking is a key facet of this sales methodology, so you have to be thinking deeply about the issues they’re facing and have thought leadership in this area. Hubspot allows you to create and syndicate content in an automated fashion. Establishing thought leadership helps you develop credibility with prospects and makes it much easier for you to push their thinking.

The Last Word on Challenger Selling – Keep At It

No selling style is easy, and the Challenger Sales Methodology isn’t either. It requires a lot of you – this style of selling isn’t for everyone. However, particularly for reps selling complex large scale products or services, being able to teach the customer something new about competing in their market can be almost invaluable to sales growth.

That said, if you’ve got Challenger reps who can really master this style, it will boost your sales team’s performance dramatically and take your company to the next level.

What will you do right now to better adapt your approach to be in line with the Challenger Sales method?

The post Challenger Selling Style: Which Sales Tools Help You Close Deals? appeared first on LeadCrunch.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

AI and Machine Learning for B2B Marketing

You may not think artificial intelligence and B2B marketing are a match made in heaven. But artificial intelligence (AI) is an incredibly flexible field that’s about to jump out of its initial stages into major growth. With new changes in AI, you can improve lead generation, establish a marketing database, track behaviors and more.

Now’s the time to be asking questions about the possibilities of AI, which has enormous potential for B2B marketing, facilitating data driven matching of businesses and sales prospects. A loose definition of artificial intelligence is that it’s a set of algorithms that approximates the way humans perform tasks. For instance, someone might code for a way to tie every time in tic-tac-toe. The new subfield of artificial intelligence that’s quickly gaining traction is machine learning.

Machine learning is unique because it involves software that can modify its own code. That means that the computer can learn from trial and error in a similar way to humans. There’s more: Machine learning is built to handle the tasks that humans find intuitive. These intuitive tasks are usually much harder for machines to process or perform.

Starting to see the possibilities yet? SiriusDecisions released a marketing automation for B2B study predicting a rise from 8-12 percent in 2010 to a majority in the very near future. They cite the fact that B2B automation is already growing exponentially, with 11 times more marketing automation being used by B2B marketing teams today than there was in 2010.

Here are some of the ways AI will make a splash in the B2B marketing community by helping B2B companies beat key marketing challenges, and identify potential customers much faster and with greater accuracy:

1. High-volume lead generation

To take advantage of these new marketing technologies, you’ll want to start by seeking out some data-collection companies. You need data on existing customers and people who are potentially interested in buying from you in order to determine high-quality leads and get a clearer picture of your ideal customer profile.

It is important to note that there’s a distinction between software used for data collection purposes and that which has artificial intelligence backing it. Both iterations go hand in hand in some cases, so having the actual data in a suitable form to work with is helpful.

2. High-quality lead generation

There’s potential for methods in machine learning to actually match or generate leads for a particular business. In this context, a lead means a prospect that can potentially become a customer. How to distinguish a lead from a mere business acquaintance appears to be the perfect challenge for machine learning to tackle.

Imagine the benefits. You’re marketing qualified leads, not jumping down time-consuming rabbit holes with prospects who may not be interested. You can tell the difference between mere inquirers and people who are ready, willing and able to buy. But how can a machine accomplish a task like this? It’s precisely because that task appears to be intuitive that it’s an appropriate place to apply machine-learning methods.

Let’s get into the juicier details. How does AI actually choose between people? We’ll start with the basics. Machine learning operates in a similar way to how humans learn. It uses trial and error over a vast number of sequences before getting to a passable level.

Thus, just as people can learn to judge other people, AI can do the same through machine learning. To get an idea of how this works, this recent article from the Wall Street Journal shares the value of using artificial intelligence in employee recruitment, an area where smart data is crucial and cost-effective.

3. Using AI to generate perceived product value

B2B marketers will be able to make excellent use of AI and machine learning in how they position products and services. If you have goods you want to highlight, you need to find the right way to frame those goods to potential customers.

Being able to correctly frame your product requires a structured process. You have to begin by surveying people through research and testing how much they would pay for your product or service. This can be done through social media polling and outreach, or email surveys to gather current feedback and insights. But instead of software to interpret the data, you’ll want to recruit someone to do the surveying and lead the research efforts. For instance, you might have some luck with CMG.

4. How to beat the competition in lead generation campaigns

Recently, Google’s DeepMind machine-learning program AlphaGo crushed one of the best Go players during an exhibition, beating him 4 to 1 in a 5-set match. The moment was special because AlphaGo is one of the hardest games for computers to pick up and learn, and you can’t make value-based predictions based on position in the same way you can with chess engines.

The reason I bring up AlphaGo here is that it provides a nice metaphor for competition with other firms. The rules of the game of B2B marketing are just a bit more complex and depend on variables that change with much more unpredictability.

You eventually want to qualify how your competitors decide to go for their leads, and then use measurements of those qualities in a decisive manner when receiving results from interested clients. AI can optimize the leads most receptive or most likely to do business. The methodology is short, sweet and simple:

  • Capture the response
  • Answer their questions
  • Elaborate and qualify based on the questions
  • Share lead information with your sales team
  • Close the deal
5. Generating enthusiasm with social media

Don’t forget that we’re in the age of social media as well as the information age. There are numerous platforms you can take advantage of, many of which even have their own tools to help you run and optimize a campaign. Google, Facebook, Instagram and Reddit represent huge opportunities for the B2B community.

Besides automatic mailers after a potential lead has signed up, there are a variety of applications of AI to reliably garner public enthusiasm. The biggest application right now is a fusion between machine learning and human understanding. This is because, while machines are now able to perform an incredible variety of tasks, artificial intelligence has a limited mastery over language.

But even if we set that aside, machine-learning companies are changing the way marketing teams generate hype and analyze trends. Chatbots are becoming increasingly realistic in their ability to communicate well. There’s even a Tinder chatbot for guys that automates matches and flirting. Businesses should consider taking advantage of the ability of machine learning to personalize.

If there’s already AI tech out there that can flirt successfully, imagine the potential for integrating it with the innovative big-data analytics that social media companies already offer.

6. Marketing to a lengthening B2B sales cycle

Let’s talk about the anatomy of a B2B sales cycle. The term sounds intuitive but is actually surprisingly complex.  Basically, a sales cycle is how you get from point A to point B when selling a product to someone. A lengthening sales cycle becomes a problem because each step of the cycle will become more complex and harder to manage. It’s like a game of Tetris, where the blocks keep falling down faster and faster as time progresses.

If you’ve been keeping up at this point, you’ll notice that many of the previous ways I mentioned are all part of the sales cycle. This means that artificial intelligence has the ability to optimize each part of the B2B sales cycle, which takes a load off the shoulders of any team.

7. Marketing to a growing consumer base

At the end of the day, it’s going to be a numbers game as your business expands. But if you expand too fast, you might not be able to deal with all of the changes required by your consumer base. For instance, customer service has been transformed. For relationship management, CRM systems have adapted with artificial intelligence and voice recognition to smooth out phone calls and better address written complaints for greater efficiency and satisfaction in responses to customers.

And this doesn’t just apply to phones. Online messaging services are also becoming very common for customer service. Furthermore, the appropriate advancements in AI and machine learning are arriving at the same time. Just check out DigitalGenius, a company specializing in using machine learning to automate specialized responses to customers.

The post 7 Ways AI Changes B2B Marketing appeared first on LeadCrunch.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
How to Use the Funnel to Optimize B2B Lead Conversion

To increase the conversion of marketing leads into pipeline and closed-won business, you need an in-depth understanding of the funnel. The reason is simple.  B2B is tremendously complicated and getting more complicated every day.  Business buying behavior is complicated and marketing technology is increasing complexity.

Without a funnel, it’s hard to see where and why revenue leaks are happening.  SiriusDecisions commercialized this way of measuring the funnel and if you have the money to buy their two-year commitment, doing so is highly worthwhile.  I architected a version of the funnel below 20 years ago and have been refining its use ever since.  Enjoy.

Establish and Use a Common Funnel Language for Sales and Marketing

To get sales and marketing to work together, it helps to have a common language for the key milestones across the sales and marketing funnel.

Probably nothing in the B2B lexicon has created as much misunderstanding as the word “lead.” To marketing, these can be lists, people who subscribe, people who download, and people who register. To sales, “leads” are akin to opportunities, which means sales thinks the prospect has a reasonable chance to buy something.

For that reason, the name of these macro-level funnel stages needs to be easy to remember and descriptive of the stage. Here then are my suggestions for the top-level funnel stages for sales and marketing:

Target Market, Opportunities, Pipeline, and Closed-Won Deals are used universally and everyone seems to understand what they mean. Exchanges, Conversation Leads, and First Sales Meetings are my coinage because they better describe the outcome of the stage than terms like Inquiry, Marketing Qualified Lead, Automation Qualified Lead, Sales Accepted Lead, and Sales Qualified Lead. Plus, we really should use the word “lead” more carefully, moving it a little closer to what sales thinks of as a lead: someone who is in the target market and wants to have a conversation with sales about buying the product.

Target Market

Definition. The companies, decision makers, and influencers who look like your ideal customers for each solution you sell. In the largest companies, there may be dozens or even hundreds of people who can buy or influence the purchase of your solution(s). There may even be multiple, discrete opportunities for you to sell your solution to these large enterprises. Factor in such considerations when assessing your target market.

Purpose. Understanding the number of people and companies you are trying to reach is a sanity check on your media plans and your deployment of sales resources. It’s also a sanity check on any forecasts you might make.

Exchanges

Definition. People who share their contact information with you in exchange for information access, updates, or other information exchanges. People commonly call these “leads,” “hand-raisers,” and “inquiries.” As mentioned previously, the word “lead” has widely different meanings to sales and marketing, ranging from a list to a sales opportunity. Inquiry implies human interaction. Really, what you have is an exchange. Someone shares contact information in exchange for something (usually premium content). It’s a trade.

Purpose. Getting prospects to willingly share their contact information with you gives you the opportunity to much more intentionally build a relationship with them and assess their likely value. You can also tailor what you say based upon the company they work for, their areas of interest, their depth of interest, and so on. Unlike a list, the person generally has some idea about your value proposition, so they are more likely to become customers than those who don’t know you. Thus, while you can obviously identify without their permission people and companies in your target market, identifying those who have some interest is much more valuable to you than a mere list.

Conversation Leads

Definition. Conversation leads are people you believe would like to talk with someone about your solution. There    are two key sources: those that marketing generates and those that sales or an inside prospecting team generates. Sales can include channel partners when there is a deal registration process or some other level of visibility.

Purpose. Many people will subscribe to your blog, register for your event, fill out one of your web forms, and so on, but a much smaller number will talk to your sales people. Thus, identifying the small subset of Exchanges that are worthy of engagement by sales or an inside team dedicated to lead follow-up is a significant milestone in their Path to Purchase. Understanding the volume of Conversation Leads marketing generates as well as those sales generates puts the funnel picture into the proper context for both sales and marketing.

Specifically, sales has a capacity, and filling that capacity with people who are interested in talking to them and who fit the ideal customer profile for a given solution is a critical success factor for increasing sales productivity. In contrast, the more time sales spends looking for people to talk to, the less capacity they have for closing business.  Thus, marketing should strive to increase sales production cost effectively by delivering the appropriate volume of Conversation Leads to sales.

[CTA: Get the free ebook, “How to optimize your demand operations.” The ebook includes detailed how-to information for practices at each stage of this funnel.]

Initial Sales Meetings

Definition. The customer attends an initial meeting (often over the phone) with someone from sales. There is nuance here that largely depends on the lifecycle of the product(s) or service(s). For products early in their lifecycle, sales typically needs less qualified meetings; later in the lifecycle, sales needs a higher level of qualification. These distinctions typically fall into three categories:

  • Level 1 (early in the solution lifecycle): A Conversation Lead that has a qualified decision maker or decision influencer working at an account in the target market, interest in the solution area, and wanting to talk to sales
  • Level 2: A Conversation Lead that fits the above criteria but also has prioritized the problem(s) as one to address
  • Level 3 (late in the lifecycle): A lead that fits the above criteria but also has a specific timeframe for a decision

Purpose. This stage gives marketing and sales an early indicator of the likely percentage of Conversation Leads that will convert into pipeline and closed-won sales. Rapid feedback at this stage can enable marketing to tune the scoring model and improve upstream demand generation practices, based upon feedback from the most qualified prospects.

Opportunities

Definition. An Initial Sales Meeting in which sales has spoken with the prospect and believes there is a reason to continue the discussion (and ideally has booked a follow-up meeting on the call).

Purpose. Rapid feedback on opportunities passed to sales is critical for process improvement, both to improve upstream follow-up and to clarify downstream understanding of sales follow-up obligations. This rapid feedback is also a key input to AI models that score leads.

[CTA: Get the free ebook, “How to optimize your demand operations.” The ebook includes detailed how-to information for practices at each stage of this funnel.]

Pipeline

Definition. An Opportunity that warrants a proposal.

Purpose. Because the buying cycle is often many months, getting an earlier sense of the potential revenue contribution is very helpful for both sales leadership and those in marketing analyzing the effectiveness of upstream resources that generated the opportunity.

Closed-Won Deals

Definition. These are opportunities that sign contracts and receive one or more products or begin to receive services. There are two revenue numbers that should be attributed to closed-won deals:

  • The contracted revenue, less any downstream adjustments that may occur
  • A calculated lifetime value so that the company can put upstream investments into proper context

Purpose. Conversion rates need the additional clarity of revenue because not all wins have equal value. Further, upstream conversion rates can mislead those involved if there is not a worthwhile downstream outcome, especially at this and the next stage.

Next Sale

Definition: Closed-Won Deals you have renewed/rebooked or otherwise cross-sold something to after the original deal had closed.

Purpose. You want to see if customers you close like you enough to continue to buy from you. It is, therefore, an early look at lifetime value probability and solution/market fit.

[CTA: Get the free ebook, “How to optimize your demand operations.” The ebook includes detailed how-to information for practices at each stage of this funnel.]

The post How to Use the Funnel to Optimize B2B Lead Conversion appeared first on LeadCrunch.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Today I am going to talk about how to win in B2B with artificial intelligence. Few business assets are more valuable than data. Want proof? Look no further than the market caps of the top five companies in the world, according to Fortune:

Three of the five—Amazon, Alphabet (formerly Google), and Facebook—have used big data and data science to catapult above corporate giants like JP Morgan, ExxonMobil, Berkshire Hathaway, and Johnson & Johnson.

Amazon has a highly personalized recommendation engine. Google delivers relevant searches and relevant ads. Facebook provides relevant ads and a more relevant experience for users. Each of these companies yields unprecedented value as a direct result of the use of big data and data science. Indeed, without these advantages, these historic valuations would not be possible.

According to LinkedIn, Amazon has 174 employees with the words “data” and “science” in their title. Alphabet has 130; Facebook, 265. Of course, there are, no doubt, linguists, engineers, database architects, database administrators, and other specialists supporting these efforts. No to mention consultants, agencies, and other suppliers.

The other two companies in the top five are investing in big data. Microsoft has one of the largest installed bases in the world, a huge source of B2B big data. The company has poured billions into its search business (Bing) and bought LinkedIn for $26.2B, their largest acquisition ever and one of the richest sources of B2B data in the world. Apple, which made its mark through the fusion of technology and design, now has the iPhone, iPad, iTunes, and the Apple Watch for gathering massive amount of data.

On LinkedIn, Apple has 105 employees with “data science” in their title while Microsoft has 235.

While not making the top five, IBM has Watson, and Salesforce has Einstein and a data portal called Lightning Data on their AppExchange. IBM has 441 people with “data science” in their title; Salesforce has 62.

To transform this data into actions, those companies are using machine learning, predictive analytics, natural language processing, and other programming techniques under the banner of artificial intelligence.

Most of us experience the benefits of artificial intelligence in our own shopping experiences, such as when we get a ride with Uber, find a movie on Netflix, or book a room on Airbnb. The success of B2B giants like Facebook and Google, however, should be a wakeup call to every B2B CEO in the world. Effective use of big data and data science is far more predictive of financial viability than many traditional balance sheet and operating income line items.

The trillion-dollar question is, “Where should B2B CEOs invest in artificial intelligence?”

Get the AI white paper: “How to Win the Love of Your CEO”

The Most Compelling Use of Artificial Intelligence in B2B

Think of the most miraculous things that artificial intelligence might do to improve the world. I’ll bet improving the efficiency of B2B sales and marketing is way down the list.

That’s a shame.

There are a few advancements which help everyone very quickly. For example, the invention of writing, printing, phones, computers, and the internet all resulted in rapid advancements in civilization.

Advancements in B2B will have the same catalytic effect. Whether your company is researching a cure for a disease, trying to improve education, or developing ways to make the world a cleaner or safer place, there are businesses who can help your company do it better, faster, and cheaper.

Improving the ability of B2B buyers and sellers of complex solutions to find each other more efficiently will make the world a better place. Period.

Both the world and B2B sales and marketing could use some improvements.

The Mystery of B2B Sales and Marketing Innovation

You might be thinking that B2B Sales and Marketing, at least in the best companies, is not the biggest problem in the world. After all, B2B sales and marketing, in the best companies, would seem to have made enormous strides over the last ten years. In that time, marketing teams have embraced social media, content marketing, account-based marketing, marketing automation, retargeting, sales and marketing alignment, programmatic advertising, attribution models, and funnel metrics.

In fact, B2B companies have embraced marketing innovation for nearly 30 years.

For its part, sales has adopted CRM, inside sales models, sales cadence software, social selling, lead enrichment, calendaring tools, virtual meeting tools, and contract automation tools. The list for both groups goes on and on.

For sales and marketing professionals, there is also more content—and high-quality content, at that—than any sales and marketing professional can consume. Knowledge in B2B may be growing even faster than technology.

For marketers, great sources of content include HubSpot, Rand Fishkin (founder of SparkToro), Neil Patel (co-founder of Neil Patel Digital), Avinash Kaushik (an evangelist at Google), SiriusDecisions, Tim Riesterer and Erik Peterson at Corporate Visions, Clayton Christensen (Professor at Harvard Business School), Joe Pulizzi (founder of the Content Marketing Institute), Brian Solis (Principal Analyst at Altimeter), Jay Baer (Convince and Convert), David Meerman Scott (speaker, author), David Lewis (CEO of DemandGen), Mark Shaefer (consultant, author), Matt Heinz (the CEO of Heinz Marketing), Forrester Research, and Seth Godin (founder of altMBA, author, and more). The list is endless (and sorry for leaving out your favorite author).

The same is true for sales: Jill Konrath (speaker, author), Mahan Khalsa (Thought Leader at FranklinCovey, author), Randy Illig (Global Practice Leader at FranklinCovey, author), Barry Trailer and Jim Dickie (co-founders of CSO Insights), Trish Bertuzzi (CEO of The Bridge Group, Inc.), Jeff Thull (CEO of Prime Resource Group, author), Anneke Seley (founder and CEO of Reality Works Group, author), Jill Rowley (Chief Growth Officer at Marketo, Daniel Pink (author), Jeb Blount (CEO at SalesGravy, speaker, author), Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon (co-authors of The Challenger Sale, Matthew is also Chief Product & Research Officer at Tethr). Again, the list goes on and on.

Resources include blogs, webinars, books, podcasts, videos, infographics, marketing events, and so on. With all these tools and all this knowledge, wouldn’t a breakthrough seem likely?

The Sad State of B2B Customer Acquisition

Despite these seeming advancements, even the best B2B companies are wasting massive amounts of money trying to find customers. For marketing, a few benchmarks shed light on the ineffectiveness of this approach.

For example, this benchmark report from WordStream includes conversion benchmarks for B2B companies doing paid search and display ads, stats based on 14,197 US WordStream customers:

Click-Through Rate (CTR)—the percentage of users who clicked on a paid search ad—2.41%. In other words, 97.59% of people didn’t click. For display ads, the click-through rate is much worse, just 0.46%. That is, 99.54% of people didn’t click the ad. No wonder they call it banner blindness.

Conversion Rate—the percent of those clicking a paid search ad, sharing their identity and converting into a lead—3.04%. That is, 96.96% of the visitors to your landing page leave without telling you who they are.

Conversion of Marketing Leads into Closed-Won deals1.54%. You would think, with all the upstream filtering, that the closing rate on marketing leads would be much higher, but it’s not. For that reason, the best companies use lead scoring to reduce the number of unqualified marketing leads sales receives. The best companies also have a dedicated team of inside sales people who just follow up and qualify scored marketing leads and then set up meetings for sales people.

What does that effort tell you about the quality of top-of-the-funnel marketing leads? It’s not a pretty picture.

Get the AI white paper: “How to Win the Love of Your CEO”

The Full Impact of Low Conversion on Revenue Production

The economic implications of low conversion rates extend beyond marketing. Those low yields on lead generation reduce sales productivity, too. Lower conversion rates at the top of the funnel mean fewer leads for sales. Fewer leads for sales mean more sales capacity spent prospecting. Today, according to B2B benchmarking giant, SiriusDecisions, marketing rarely sources 45% of the leads that sales needs to hit quota. In addition, the larger the organization, the lower the percentage of closed-won business.

As a result, salespeople spend 20% of their time prospecting, according to CSO Insights. If you multiply the sales budget by the 20% figure allocated by sales to prospecting, the dollar figure often surpasses the entire marketing budget. It’s not just the time investment, however. Time spent looking for prospecting robs sales teams of revenue capacity, so the problem of lead conversion has significant lost-revenue implications.

Additional benchmarks shed light on this problem. In this report from Salesforce.com, just 1% of leads convert into opportunities (much lower than the Forrester benchmark above), and only 6% of opportunities convert into closed-won deals. A RAIN Group study of 472 companies with 10 or more salespeople found that sales teams won 47% of proposals. Across all opportunities, however, the win rate falls to 19%. A Marketo study found that just 22% of sales qualified leads convert into closed-won business. Of course, very few leads become sales opportunities or even sales qualified.

When you break out the prospecting function to a dedicated team who qualifies marketing leads and prospects on behalf of sales people, the conversion rate picture doesn’t get that much better. In this report by The Bridge Group, reps make an average of 45 dials per day, 9.1 attempts to reach a prospect, and have 5.1 quality conversations per day. For teams delivering meetings, that activity level results in 21 meetings set per month, with 11 converting into opportunities. For teams providing sales reps with opportunities (i.e., which are more qualified than meetings), the monthly average was 15 per month, with 10 converting. That’s 900 phone calls to get 10 to 11 sales opportunities each month, per rep.

Even with these incredibly low conversion rates, some of the B2B customers are not profitable, leave early, complain in social media forums and review sites, and make life miserable for front line employees.

Ugh!

The Scaling Problem in Sales and Marketing

Just so you know that the problem doesn’t just exist in old-school industries like heavy manufacturing and wholesaling, let’s peek at those darlings of innovation, the SaaS industry. Cross-functional resource allocation highlights just how much sales and marketing inefficiency is costing B2B customers and shareholders in that sector.

In this study by SaaS Capital, the percent of revenue allocated to functions like engineering, cost of goods, general and administrative, and customer support/success declines as a company grows, not sales and marketing. “Sales and marketing do not scale. Spending in these areas is at least 30% across all revenue levels.”

While that study looks only at SaaS companies, those tend to be the most profitable and most innovative companies in the world. If they can’t do better than that, what hope do traditional industries have?

The Accepted Wisdom about Low Conversion

Industry leaders cite many factors for this poor performance. Sales methodology vendors believe improved sales training will make a big difference. Messaging consultants believe better messaging will win the day. Brand advocates believe a great brand advertising program will make a big difference. Sales and marketing technology vendors believe new technology is the answer.

These and other explanations clearly have merit in certain contexts. Anecdotes of success for these narrow remedies won’t solve the core problem. Identifying and dealing with root causes will.

Maybe it’s not about getting the right message into the right channel. Maybe it’s not about asking the right question at the right time. Maybe it’s not about name-recognition. Maybe it’s not about more technology. Of course, those things matter, but low conversion rates suggest something more fundamental is wrong.

What if these low conversion rates have more to do with the customer situation than your message, your sales and marketing channels, your brand recall, your sales skills, or your sales and marketing technologies? What if targeting could more precisely identify these situations?

The Real Reason Conversion Rates Are Low

There are many reasons most of the market won’t buy a B2B product or service. Some recently invested in an alternative solution. Others have a solution in place that is working sufficiently. Some can’t find what they need. Others tried a similar solution that didn’t work out and so are cautious. Others still have more pressing priorities, based upon their current situation. Many lack the resources (money, management attention, capabilities) to make the solution work. No message or cadence, regardless of the method of contact, will change the reality on the ground. As a result, many look but very few buy.

Moreover, most of those who look have no authority to buy. Most of them don’t even influence big ticket items. In 2018, for example, there were nearly 400k employees at IBM. How many of those employees have any influence at all on purchases of even $5k, much less large commitments?

Between targeting the wrong accounts and soliciting those with no voice in decisions, is it any wonder conversion rates are low, and sales and marketing alignment is still a top challenge? The implication of this sober view of the conversion funnel is that something is fundamentally wrong with the ability of sales and marketing to target the right accounts.

Better targeting, then, is the killer application for artificial intelligence.

Unlocking the Potential of Artificial Intelligence for B2B Sales and Marketing

To use artificial intelligence to target accounts and people more accurately, you need the right data. In the conversations I have had with data scientists, they always volunteer that any predictions from an algorithm depend largely on the quality of the data.

Today, B2B sales and marketing professionals use a combination of these attributes to target new accounts:

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Few business assets are more valuable than data. Want proof? Look no further than the market caps of the top five companies in the world, according to Fortune:

Three of the five—Amazon, Alphabet (formerly Google), and Facebook—have used big data and data science to catapult above corporate giants like JP Morgan, ExxonMobil, Berkshire Hathaway, and Johnson & Johnson.

Amazon has a highly personalized recommendation engine. Google delivers relevant searches and relevant ads. Facebook provides relevant ads and a more relevant experience for users. Each of these companies yields unprecedented value as a direct result of the use of big data and data science. Indeed, without these advantages, these historic valuations would not be possible.

According to LinkedIn, Amazon has 174 employees with the words “data” and “science” in their title. Alphabet has 130; Facebook, 265. Of course, there are, no doubt, linguists, engineers, database architects, database administrators, and other specialists supporting these efforts. No to mention consultants, agencies, and other suppliers.

The other two companies in the top five are investing in big data. Microsoft has one of the largest installed bases in the world, a huge source of B2B big data. The company has poured billions into its search business (Bing) and bought LinkedIn for $26.2B, their largest acquisition ever and one of the richest sources of B2B data in the world. Apple, which made its mark through the fusion of technology and design, now has the iPhone, iPad, iTunes, and the Apple Watch for gathering massive amount of data.

On LinkedIn, Apple has 105 employees with “data science” in their title while Microsoft has 235.

While not making the top five, IBM has Watson, and Salesforce has Einstein and a data portal called Lightning Data on their AppExchange. IBM has 441 people with “data science” in their title; Salesforce has 62.

To transform this data into actions, those companies are using machine learning, predictive analytics, natural language processing, and other programming techniques under the banner of artificial intelligence.

Most of us experience the benefits of artificial intelligence in our own shopping experiences, such as when we get a ride with Uber, find a movie on Netflix, or book a room on Airbnb. The success of B2B giants like Facebook and Google, however, should be a wakeup call to every B2B CEO in the world. Effective use of big data and data science is far more predictive of financial viability than many traditional balance sheet and operating income line items.

The trillion-dollar question is, “Where should B2B CEOs invest in artificial intelligence?”

[CTA: Get the AI white paper: “How to Win the Love of Your CEO”]

The Most Compelling Use of Artificial Intelligence in B2B

Think of the most miraculous things that artificial intelligence might do to improve the world. I’ll bet improving the efficiency of B2B sales and marketing is way down the list.

That’s a shame.

There are a few advancements which help everyone very quickly. For example, the invention of writing, printing, phones, computers, and the internet all resulted in rapid advancements in civilization.

Advancements in B2B will have the same catalytic effect. Whether your company is researching a cure for a disease, trying to improve education, or developing ways to make the world a cleaner or safer place, there are businesses who can help your company do it better, faster, and cheaper.

Improving the ability of B2B buyers and sellers of complex solutions to find each other more efficiently will make the world a better place. Period.

Both the world and B2B sales and marketing could use some improvements.

The Mystery of B2B Sales and Marketing Innovation

You might be thinking that B2B Sales and Marketing, at least in the best companies, is not the biggest problem in the world. After all, B2B sales and marketing, in the best companies, would seem to have made enormous strides over the last ten years. In that time, marketing teams have embraced social media, content marketing, account-based marketing, marketing automation, retargeting, sales and marketing alignment, programmatic advertising, attribution models, and funnel metrics.

In fact, B2B companies have embraced marketing innovation for nearly 30 years.

For its part, sales has adopted CRM, inside sales models, sales cadence software, social selling, lead enrichment, calendaring tools, virtual meeting tools, and contract automation tools. The list for both groups goes on and on.

For sales and marketing professionals, there is also more content—and high-quality content, at that—than any sales and marketing professional can consume. Knowledge in B2B may be growing even faster than technology.

For marketers, great sources of content include HubSpot, Rand Fishkin (founder of SparkToro), Neil Patel (co-founder of Neil Patel Digital), Avinash Kaushik (an evangelist at Google), SiriusDecisions, Tim Riesterer and Erik Peterson at Corporate Visions, Clayton Christensen (Professor at Harvard Business School), Joe Pulizzi (founder of the Content Marketing Institute), Brian Solis (Principal Analyst at Altimeter), Jay Baer (Convince and Convert), David Meerman Scott (speaker, author), David Lewis (CEO of DemandGen), Mark Shaefer (consultant, author), Matt Heinz (the CEO of Heinz Marketing), Forrester Research, and Seth Godin (founder of altMBA, author, and more). The list is endless (and sorry for leaving out your favorite author).

The same is true for sales: Jill Konrath (speaker, author), Mahan Khalsa (Thought Leader at FranklinCovey, author), Randy Illig (Global Practice Leader at FranklinCovey, author), Barry Trailer and Jim Dickie (co-founders of CSO Insights), Trish Bertuzzi (CEO of The Bridge Group, Inc.), Jeff Thull (CEO of Prime Resource Group, author), Anneke Seley (founder and CEO of Reality Works Group, author), Jill Rowley (Chief Growth Officer at Marketo, Daniel Pink (author), Jeb Blount (CEO at SalesGravy, speaker, author), Brent Adamson and Matthew Dixon (co-authors of The Challenger Sale, Matthew is also Chief Product & Research Officer at Tethr). Again, the list goes on and on.

Resources include blogs, webinars, books, podcasts, videos, infographics, marketing events, and so on. With all these tools and all this knowledge, wouldn’t a breakthrough seem likely?

The Sad State of B2B Customer Acquisition

Despite these seeming advancements, even the best B2B companies are wasting massive amounts of money trying to find customers. For marketing, a few benchmarks shed light on the ineffectiveness of this approach.

For example, this benchmark report from WordStream includes conversion benchmarks for B2B companies doing paid search and display ads, stats based on 14,197 US WordStream customers:

Click-Through Rate (CTR)—the percentage of users who clicked on a paid search ad—2.41%. In other words, 97.59% of people didn’t click. For display ads, the click-through rate is much worse, just 0.46%. That is, 99.54% of people didn’t click the ad. No wonder they call it banner blindness.

Conversion Rate—the percent of those clicking a paid search ad, sharing their identity and converting into a lead—3.04%. That is, 96.96% of the visitors to your landing page leave without telling you who they are.

Conversion of Marketing Leads into Closed-Won deals1.54%. You would think, with all the upstream filtering, that the closing rate on marketing leads would be much higher, but it’s not. For that reason, the best companies use lead scoring to reduce the number of unqualified marketing leads sales receives. The best companies also have a dedicated team of inside sales people who just follow up and qualify scored marketing leads and then set up meetings for sales people.

What does that effort tell you about the quality of top-of-the-funnel marketing leads? It’s not a pretty picture.

[CTA: Get the AI white paper: “How to Win the Love of Your CEO”]

The Full Impact of Low Conversion on Revenue Production

The economic implications of low conversion rates extend beyond marketing. Those low yields on lead generation reduce sales productivity, too. Lower conversion rates at the top of the funnel mean fewer leads for sales. Fewer leads for sales mean more sales capacity spent prospecting. Today, according to B2B benchmarking giant, SiriusDecisions, marketing rarely sources 45% of the leads that sales needs to hit quota. In addition, the larger the organization, the lower the percentage of closed-won business.

As a result, salespeople spend 20% of their time prospecting, according to CSO Insights. If you multiply the sales budget by the 20% figure allocated by sales to prospecting, the dollar figure often surpasses the entire marketing budget. It’s not just the time investment, however. Time spent looking for prospecting robs sales teams of revenue capacity, so the problem of lead conversion has significant lost-revenue implications.

Additional benchmarks shed light on this problem. In this report from Salesforce.com, just 1% of leads convert into opportunities (much lower than the Forrester benchmark above), and only 6% of opportunities convert into closed-won deals. A RAIN Group study of 472 companies with 10 or more salespeople found that sales teams won 47% of proposals. Across all opportunities, however, the win rate falls to 19%. A Marketo study found that just 22% of sales qualified leads convert into closed-won business. Of course, very few leads become sales opportunities or even sales qualified.

When you break out the prospecting function to a dedicated team who qualifies marketing leads and prospects on behalf of sales people, the conversion rate picture doesn’t get that much better. In this report by The Bridge Group, reps make an average of 45 dials per day, 9.1 attempts to reach a prospect, and have 5.1 quality conversations per day. For teams delivering meetings, that activity level results in 21 meetings set per month, with 11 converting into opportunities. For teams providing sales reps with opportunities (i.e., which are more qualified than meetings), the monthly average was 15 per month, with 10 converting. That’s 900 phone calls to get 10 to 11 sales opportunities each month, per rep.

Even with these incredibly low conversion rates, some of the B2B customers are not profitable, leave early, complain in social media forums and review sites, and make life miserable for front line employees.

Ugh!

The Scaling Problem in Sales and Marketing

Just so you know that the problem doesn’t just exist in old-school industries like heavy manufacturing and wholesaling, let’s peek at those darlings of innovation, the SaaS industry. Cross-functional resource allocation highlights just how much sales and marketing inefficiency is costing B2B customers and shareholders in that sector.

In this study by SaaS Capital, the percent of revenue allocated to functions like engineering, cost of goods, general and administrative, and customer support/success declines as a company grows, not sales and marketing. “Sales and marketing do not scale. Spending in these areas is at least 30% across all revenue levels.”

While that study looks only at SaaS companies, those tend to be the most profitable and most innovative companies in the world. If they can’t do better than that, what hope do traditional industries have?

The Accepted Wisdom about Low Conversion

Industry leaders cite many factors for this poor performance. Sales methodology vendors believe improved sales training will make a big difference. Messaging consultants believe better messaging will win the day. Brand advocates believe a great brand advertising program will make a big difference. Sales and marketing technology vendors believe new technology is the answer.

These and other explanations clearly have merit in certain contexts. Anecdotes of success for these narrow remedies won’t solve the core problem. Identifying and dealing with root causes will.

Maybe it’s not about getting the right message into the right channel. Maybe it’s not about asking the right question at the right time. Maybe it’s not about name-recognition. Maybe it’s not about more technology. Of course, those things matter, but low conversion rates suggest something more fundamental is wrong.

What if these low conversion rates have more to do with the customer situation than your message, your sales and marketing channels, your brand recall, your sales skills, or your sales and marketing technologies? What if targeting could more precisely identify these situations?

The Real Reason Conversion Rates Are Low

There are many reasons most of the market won’t buy a B2B product or service. Some recently invested in an alternative solution. Others have a solution in place that is working sufficiently. Some can’t find what they need. Others tried a similar solution that didn’t work out and so are cautious. Others still have more pressing priorities, based upon their current situation. Many lack the resources (money, management attention, capabilities) to make the solution work. No message or cadence, regardless of the method of contact, will change the reality on the ground. As a result, many look but very few buy.

Moreover, most of those who look have no authority to buy. Most of them don’t even influence big ticket items. In 2018, for example, there were nearly 400k employees at IBM. How many of those employees have any influence at all on purchases of even $5k, much less large commitments?

Between targeting the wrong accounts and soliciting those with no voice in decisions, is it any wonder conversion rates are low, and sales and marketing alignment is still a top challenge? The implication of this sober view of the conversion funnel is that something is fundamentally wrong with the ability of sales and marketing to target the right accounts.

Better targeting, then, is the killer application for artificial intelligence.

Unlocking the Potential of Artificial Intelligence for B2B Sales and Marketing

To use artificial intelligence to target accounts and people more accurately, you need the right data. In the conversations I have had with data scientists, they always volunteer that any predictions from an algorithm depend largely on the quality of the data.

Today, B2B sales and marketing professionals use a combination of these attributes to target new accounts:

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Who wouldn’t want to win the love of sales?

Alignment with sales is not the most important priority in marketing, but it’s very difficult for marketing to reach its full potential without a good working relationship with sales.

Alignment with sales is hard. Misalignment is much harder. The symptoms of misalignment are many:

  • Complaints from sales about lead quality;
  • Complaints from sales about lead volume;
  • Concerns in marketing about rapid, comprehensive lead follow-up;
  • Insufficient, uneven feedback/resolution on marketing leads;
  • Doubts about marketing claims of ROI;
  • Lackluster ROI (or no measurable ROI in the most severe cases);
  • Difficulty securing necessary marketing budgets;
  • Job longevity.

That last item, job longevity, is a heart-stopper, right?

Marketing’s Credibility Gap

At the heart of this struggle is credibility for marketing with the CEO, CFO, and COO. In too many companies, B2B marketing is a junior partner, often not getting a seat at the executive table. For marketing to realize its potential to orchestrate shareholder value, marketing must develop a working partnership with the sales organization.

I’ve spent hundreds of hours interviewing top sales reps and their leaders, thousands of hours talking to marketers about leads and their perceptions of sales teams. I’ve also implemented successful service-level agreements in multiple enterprise organizations.

Let me share some things I’ve learned.

Before I do, let me also say that a big part of building a winning relationship with sales is simply wanting to do so. Sales won’t respond well to your telling them what they must do. Instead, as my friend David Lewis said, you need to go with your palm up and ask them to go on a journey with you, one that will help both teams.

The Looming Iceberg that Can Sink Your Marketing Ship

Before talking about some important principles in winning the love of the sales organization, let me talk about what’s at the heart of many struggles in B2B: complexity. B2B complexity makes collaboration with sales even more important. For many reasons.

The array of marketing technologies that were going to usher in the holy grail of marketing—the right message through the right channel, at the right time, to the right person in the right company—has made life for marketing more complicated, not less.

What makes B2B so complicated isn’t just the avalanche of new go-to-market technologies but the buying behavior of businesses. Consider these factors when B2B companies make buying decisions about complex solutions:

  • Different types of corporate culture affect business buying behavior;
  • Multiple people from an account influence the final decision;
  • B2B accounts often have multiple locations and even different buying centers in the largest companies;
  • Not everyone who gets involved has influence;
  • Some people who have influence work for consultancies or agencies, not the brand;
  • Many appear to look but few buy;
  • During solution investigation, your prospects and customers interact with your marketing, sales, and even post-sales team (where many pre-sales interactions can take place), across every medium;
  • Your customers and prospects take months to make a buying decision;
  • The questions your prospects have change as they move closer to a decision;
  • Their answers to your questions also can change as they move closer to a decision;
  • Most prospects choose the status quo, making closing out “dead” opportunities difficult.

This list is not exhaustive.

How Marketing and Sales Duplicate Effort

The top-of-the-funnel overlap between sales and marketing makes things more complicated still and efficient use of sales and marketing resources more problematic. For example, both sales and marketing target a set of accounts and buyer personas. Both can spark interest in those accounts, marketing with lead programs and sales with prospecting. Both can qualify those who express interest. And both can nurture those who are not quite ready. Because the sales team talks to multiple people in the same account and often more than one marketing lead, even the most diligent salespeople might not take the time to sort through proper attribution so that you get the credit you deserve and can more effectively optimize your results.

All these issues make sorting out cause and effect extremely challenging. It also makes revenue attribution like a game of pin the tail on the donkey. Plus, how can B2B companies avoid duplication of effort or sales and marketing avoid working at cross-purposes?

This complexity underscores the need for alignment with sales.

Other Common Obstacles to Sales and Marketing Partnership

The need for sales and marketing alignment isn’t new. Getting both teams to work together each day on the ground doesn’t seem to happen that often, however. The problem starts at the top, with a lack of goal alignment.

Part of the problem is that both sales and marketing experience significant turnover. Another common problem is that those initially trying to create better alignment see the issue as a one-time event, not an ongoing journey.

Alignment is also not possible through a one-size-fits-all playbook. What you need to do in a large, medium, and small company varies. The lifecycle stages of your products and services will impact the ideal approach. So will the kinds of sales channels you use.

A big part of the problem has been over-reliance on experience and intuition, especially in the areas of targeting a market and qualifying a lead. While human intuition and experience will always have an important role, you can enhance those insights considerably with data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

Perhaps more than anything, both sides need to develop—from senior leadership to entry-level people just starting their career—mutual empathy that comes from better understanding of the feelings of each side, the perceptions of each side, and the misconceptions of both sides toward each other. In other words, this isn’t a date. It’s a long-term commitment, akin to getting married.

Start with getting executives aligned, but don’t stop there. You’re just getting started. The real work happens when the larger sales and marketing teams, at all levels, collaborate again and again, working toward a common goal and developing a culture of respectful teamwork, based on customer buying behavioral insights.

The reason for this commitment is simple: if each side doesn’t help the other, neither sales nor marketing will be nearly as successful working alone as they will be working together. The goal is to bring out the best in each other.

Measure What Matters Most

Conflict between sales and marketing happens because the two teams have completely different goals. Sales is always obsessed with surpassing quota. That’s how they make money. That goal is not the goal of most marketing teams.

Getting people to come to your website or fill out a lead form doesn’t necessarily correlate to revenue or profit. Is there a relationship? Sure. But it’s not hard to create false positives. Junk traffic to your website can bounce. Low-cost leads don’t convert.

The goal of marketing should not be to generate a certain number of leads per month. It shouldn’t be to generate leads at a particular cost, either. Neither of those things necessarily helps salespeople or the bottom line of the company. In fact, a high volume of low-cost leads could easily waste time for salespeople, decrease sales production, and waste a lot of sales and marketing resources.

More sophisticated marketers want to contribute a percent of the pipeline via marketing leads. That’s closer, but here is the problem. Marketing is, in a way, competing for pipeline creation credit.

The Inherent Problem with Revenue Attribution

Getting closed-loop feedback on leads is a big step in the right direction. Once marketers start closing the loop, however, the contribution to revenue is often not that high. Rarely is it above 50 percent of revenues, and often, it’s much lower. In fact, the bigger the company and the larger the installed base, the lower the contribution from marketing leads becomes, generally. Moreover, far too many inquiries don’t convert, even with lead nurturing.

That said, a casual review of closed deals against a list of marketing inquiries usually reveals cases where, prior to the sale closing, marketing engaged the account but got no credit for generating the lead. To tell a more compelling ROI story, marketing started to distinguish between marketing “sourced” revenue and marketing “influenced” revenue. This approach gave additional credit to marketing touches on closed deals.

These efforts to analyze the true contribution from marketing notwithstanding, identifying true causal relationships between closed business and marketing engagement is almost impossible. The buying cycle is long. Many people may influence the decision. Some who visit a website have no influence on the decision, and others are looking for reasons to derail your sales team. Then, in the daily frenzy of sales activity, there is the problem of getting salespeople to track marketing leads properly.

In short, revenue attribution gets very complicated very quickly. Is it worthwhile? Yes. But it shouldn’t be the bedrock of modern B2B marketing ROI stories.

Crediting marketing with revenue contribution in this way doesn’t prove much to the skeptics, and there are many. Sales and those creating products or delivering services certainly deserve a lot of the credit for this same revenue. Then there are the arguments about how much of the revenue the company might have gotten anyway, without all the lead generation and lead nurturing activity from marketing. You’ve probably heard these arguments before. The CFO and CEO have the difficult job of deciding subjectively how much credit marketing deserves.

The Enormous Financial Opportunity for B2B Marketing Teams

I’ve interviewed hundreds of salespeople and surveyed thousands more. Invariably, a lot of their time is spent looking for people to sell to. It’s not uncommon to hear that even the most highly paid salespeople are spending 20 to 40 percent of their time on this type of activity. Multiply either of those percentages by the overall sales budget and you have a considerable expense with no real measurement around effectiveness.

Does this mean salespeople shouldn’t prospect? No. If their pipeline is low, they need to prospect. Some prospecting, like referral networking, is an extremely profitable use of time when done properly.

Sales prospecting, however, provides a baseline—particularly cold calling. Research this activity to answer a few fundamental questions:

  • What are the material categories of sales prospecting?
  • How much do various types of sales prospecting really cost?
  • What is the revenue contribution from various forms of prospecting?
  • Do marketing leads offer a better return than any of these sales prospecting efforts?

From this perspective, the most important question is whether marketing leads can drive more revenue through a sales team more cost-effectively than the team can do on its own. If not, shouldn’t a B2B company just cut investment in marketing leads and hire more salespeople? Compared to lead tracking and revenue attribution, looking at an increase in sales production is very simple.

For this simple reason, I would suggest making the goal of lead generation a tool for helping sales people surpass quota more often and at a reasonable cost.

Moreover, while there are many variables that contribute to sales productivity, it’s not impossible to establish experiments which benefit one group of salespeople and not another. This concept is the basis of testing and experimentation. There is no reason you can’t use it to measure the most important question.

The post How Marketing Can Win the Love of Sales appeared first on LeadCrunch.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Advertisement

As a marketer, winning the love of your sales team can take your operation to the next level. Aligning teams can optimize opportunities, boost conversions, and increase revenue. While this alignment is no revolutionary construct, the disconnect between teams is a tale as old as time.  

In essence, marketing discovers and sales closes. Two different responsibilities, on two different teams, with two different goals. Apples and oranges. However, the bottom line is they’re both fruit. You’ll find that winning over your sales team makes the operation a whole lot sweeter.

So how do you woo your sales team? We’ve uncovered five secrets to win over sales and align your teams for total domination.

Treat your Sales Team like a Customer

Ultimately, your sales team is working towards a quota. They’re fixated, eyes-wide on a predetermined number. Their job is to close new revenue, which grows the entire organization. Needless to say, they’re vital to the company and should be treated as such. Therefore, to win over your sales team, treat them as your most valuable internal customer. Your product? Leads. Develop your product to be robust, valuable, and uphold the highest quality. Open direct lines of communication with your customer and take feedback to continuously improve your product. The better the product, the happier the customer, and, in turn, a happy sales team.

Set a Common Goal

While your sales team defines success through a quota, your marketing team may be measuring a KPI such as cost-per-lead or total qualified leads. With two different goals, it’s easy to mishandle priorities and misunderstand what each team is working on. To create a transparent environment, establish a common goal. Collaborate with sales to create a shared objective that values quality over quantity. Dial in on Customer Life Time Value, as it is considerably harder to find new customers than keep existing ones.

Establish a Company Language

So you’ve established a common goal, great! Now, how would you define a lead? How about an opportunity? Would your sales team agree? To institute a shared goal, both teams must have a shared understanding of everyday terminology. Ask your sales team to document these everyday terms and establish a wide-spread language to serve as the holy grail of demand gen dictionaries.

Use Artificial Intelligence

Collaborate with your sales team to establish a target customer and ideal persona.  Try to be as specific as possible to capture the nuances, activities, industry, schedule, and region of your target. Utilize your existing customer base as a private resource to uncover patterns and behaviors in your best customers. Better yet, take advantage of artificial intelligence to scour this ocean of data. Machine learning can pinpoint what content, channel, and messages that resonate best with your customers and what falls flat. AI allows you to deeply understand your customers to keep conversion rates sailing strong.

Make a game plan with Sales

You’ve identified a lead, it’s qualified, warm, and ready to receive some hands-on nurturing from sales. When it’s transitioned, where does sales take it from there? Revenue can quickly slip between the cracks if a shared hand-off process is not put in place. Work with sales to establish a mandatory process, with shared responsibility across both teams. Once in place, sit back and watch opportunities transition swiftly and your sales team swoon.

These 5 tips will cause your stock with the sales team to take a jump, without doubt.  However, if you really want to be the guy [or gal] who looks like a genius, you need to get this free eBook entitled “How to Win the Love of Sales.” It has in-depth coverage of everything mentioned above, plus:

  • How to win executive support for a more strategic approach to lead management.
  • How to set up a service level agreement between sales and marketing.
  • How artificial intelligence is changing sales and B2B marketing alignment.
  • And more.
Get the 58-Page eBook “How to Win The Love of Sales

The post 5 Hacks to Make Your Sales Team Love You appeared first on LeadCrunch.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Never ending waves of technology innovation wash across marketing departments every day. Ignore this innovation at your peril. The change is constant.  The complexity daunting.  One proven strategy is the establishment of a digital center of excellence (DCoE).

I participated in one of these digital journeys earlier in my career and it’s an exciting adventure for anybody who hasn’t tried it. I think if done properly, it delivers an enormous amount of value to the upper middle and large scale business.

To find out the best ways to set up a Digital Center of Excellence and to learn more about their benefits, I talked to Siara Nazir, Head of Digital Marketing at Autodesk. You can listen to the entire podcast here.

Siara’s knowledge of the digital landscape is immense. She spent nearly a decade as Director of Online Acquisition and Global Paid Media at Symantec and has won awards for excellence in media and the Equality Impact Award for breaking industry barriers. Siara has also planted a lot of new approaches in digital marketing that have been covered in publications like the DM News and  . She will speak about artificial intelligence (AI) and marketing at this year’s MarTech conference in Boston.

Siara has a decade of experience building digital centers of excellence and has hard-won knowledge to share with other people embarking on a similar journey.

What is a Digital Center of Excellence?

A Center of Excellence is a team of specialists deploying and managing customer-facing technologies, with marketing often at the forefront.  The goal is often to improve the customer experience and use digital to gain a competitive advantage.

With a Digital Center of Excellence, you create a plan that helps you understand what you need to reach your goal. That plan usually includes building a team and assigning objectives central to that goal.

Why are Companies Setting up Digital Centers of Excellence?

Siara points out that as more and more customers are learning about and transacting with brands online, those connections are intertwining with various channels including social media, search marketing, email marketing, chatbots, programmatic adverting, retargeting, and other technology innovations. Companies have to adapt to a consumer journey paradigm shift.

As those companies adapt, their marketing teams are finding that the traditional marketing generalist lacks the knowledge to meet all of the growing expectations of customers.

Instead, Digital Centers of Excellence assemble teams with deep expertise in key technologies to assist the rest of the organization with capitalizing on digital. These Digital Center of Excellence teams analyze data about customers, conduct A/B split tests, and follow UX/UI best practices. These actions help improve the customer experience.

Using an assistance structure like a Digital Center of Excellence is also a matter of keeping up with or surpassing the competition. Siara says, “It comes out of a need to grow your business and to have a deeper understanding of your consumer. A lot of it is also rooted in competition. Your competitors may understand their customers a lot more deeply and, as a result, they’re growing double digits while you’re lagging behind.”

Where it starts: awareness and understanding

Siara notes, “It’s becoming critical for companies to understand the digital space and ensure that their businesses are built up to offer services and values of any kind in this space. Companies also need to ensure that platforms and processes exist to not only garner insights from those journeys but also to track and expose analytics that help inform our spending and strategy.”

According to Siara, a digital marketing center of excellence helps marketing operations understand both the consumer journey and how the company needs to assist that journey.

Key steps in setting up a digital center of excellence

Martech Today recommends a Digital Center of Excellence that is “centered around core organizational needs – business models and sales objectives” and that it should contain “specialist subgroups – digital creative, website development, SEM, content production, display, media buying, email, and social media.”

That enterprise model won’t work for smaller teams, of course. For very small teams who want to lay preliminary ground work, begin by hiring specialists in roughly this sequence:

  • Head of digital marketing
  • Marketing operations
  • Specialists by marketing channel (e.g., web, email, social, search, and so on)
  • Augment skill gaps with agencies and outside consultants, as possible.

And always think about the sequence of marketing technologies you want to deploy and what you need to do to improve the customer experience and make that experience scalable.

Get the 32-page ebook “How to Scale Demand Operations”

Evaluate your market and identify your target demographics.

Siara says that what they’re seeing lately at Autodesk is that the purchasing demographic is getting younger. The age of customers purchasing media and entertainment products is set to drop from the 24-35-year-old range to the 18-23-year-old range.

Once you understand the target demographic for your objective, you have critical knowledge for creating a strategy and acquiring technology in a logical sequence.

Siara says, “Understanding this (demographic) shift is the first realization that a whole new generation of up and coming buyers will be interacting with your brand and consuming related information in a wholly different way. Understanding how they are doing so is a critical part of understanding what tools and platforms you need and how to evolve your processes and infrastructure to expose that.”

Do an internal audit

An internal audit will show you how clean your company’s data is. Siara says, “I think data cleanliness is important. Can your infrastructures and data warehouses absorb more tracking data? Do you need a more robust data warehouse?” When you understand and then mitigate any issues discovered in your audit, you can add more tools and platforms that can further reveal customer insights and improve the customer experience.

Preplan processes

Now that you know who you’re targeting, start thinking about what processes you need to assist those customers through the B2B funnel.

Siara says to question “What infrastructure do you need? What do you need to watch out for? How do you need to alter your data warehouses to accommodate the inclusion of new tracking parameters or new data sources?”

Keep an eye on the future horizon for what’s coming up and how you can impact it today.

Acquire the right tools

Siara gives this example of why correct tools are imperative:  “Social media is very much a big part of a consumer’s journey today. If you don’t have the tools to monitor social chatter or the journey that comes in and out of social media channels, you miss a whole part of how a customer interacts and so your strategy will as well.”

Curate your Stakeholders

Speed and agility are key to a Digital Center of Excellence. You don’t want to slow that down with too many stakeholders. Remember that the customer experience should be your guiding design principle. Don’t allow stakeholders leverage at random – make considered choices.

Siara says, “The involvement of too many people and the shift from a directive approach to a consensus approach can slow progress when too many people are involved in decision making.”

Siara recommends implementing a process like DACI:

Driver – runs the Digital Center of Excellence

Approver – approves or vetoes decisions

Contributors – experts in assigned areas of the Digital Center of Excellence model

Informed – people that need to know the decisions that are being made

“I think everyone has their own expertise and they bring something to the table that makes the project whole. There would definitely be gaps without that. But, you have to introduce things like a DACI process to outline upfront what role everyone is going to play.” Siara says.

Specialize

As Siara says, marketing organizational design used to include lots of “marketing generalists.” Now, no marketing generalist, however seasoned, can understand and capitalize on all the technologies.

As companies start to scale, they need to quickly step away from the marketing generalist roles and start looking at marketing specialization. There is an enormous amount of knowledge and expertise required to take advantage of emerging technologies. Marketing operations should know exactly how to respond to the evolution of social media, email, and many other channels, especially with new technologies like Artificial Intelligence.

Siara talked about the importance of matching skill sets to initiatives. “When you onboard these processes and this infrastructure you create a center. A lot of times what happens is the skillsets of people in your organization don’t end up matching your future state. You have to understand the skill set gap to know what new talent you need to pull in.”

Keep international workforces in mind as well. While marketing teams in the US are becoming a highly skilled in specific technologies, international teams are behind in pursuing granular expertise. That said, the international workforce can have strong skillsets and localized knowledge of culture and language. Siara says “If you have an international brand or are selling internationally, it is important to know how skillsets evolve within those countries and how that shapes your workforce.”

Consider add on technologies as well. Be aware of what tech beyond the standardized norms you might need to purchase. Siara continues, “A critical aspect is being sure you can leverage and use the technologies you’re spending so much time onboarding. You need to keep an eye on the workforce as well as the hardware and software.”

How do you know when the time is right for a Digital Center of Excellence?

You are probably already noticing the signs that are leading you toward building a digital center of excellence. As more of your customers begin expecting online transactions or services to be available online and your competition is offering that convenience, you will have to address that shift. It will become even more apparent as Siara points out, “When AI comes up or blockchain becomes a large part of your marketing strategy.”

Siara cautions, however, that you should start building your Digital Center of Excellence before any of that happens. “The best counsel I can give executives and company leaders is to understand technology and how it can be applied in the future – two, three, or four years down the line in your business.”

Siara advises that if you can apply a Digital Center of Excellence in any way, you should flag it today. “Begin by understanding how you change your processes, what tools you need to absorb that technology, and what skill sets you need to create in your team to have the experts to run that technology and help inform spending and strategy.”

Be aware that the climax of your efforts are in the future. Siara says, “There are a lot of misconceptions about how long a process like this takes. Leadership may or may not be familiar with digital marketing and feel that it is a quick process. It’s a process that can’t happen overnight which is contrary to their perception of online in which everything is fast and you can do everything very quickly.”

According to Siara, creating and onboarding all that goes into a digital center of excellence is an experience that is unique to each company. Therein lies the complication of integrating standardized tools and platforms into a company’s unique structure.

Siara says that creating a Digital Center of Excellence can take a long time. “In my experience, I would honestly give it a year and a half to get a really strong foundation in place. Be cautious about the timelines involved and understand the importance of auditing data and having specialized skillsets.”

Companies want to be fast to market and provide the best experiences for their customers utilizing the most innovative techniques. Siara says “I think organizations have to balance all of this with agility.”

Final thoughts

Creating a Digital Center of Excellence is a journey that any viable business that gets into any kind of scale is going to be embarking on all over the world. We are going to be learning a lot about digital centers of excellence over the next half-decade as more and more companies embark on this path.

To hear more of my conversation with Siara, listen to the podcast here.

The post How to Create a Digital Center of Excellence appeared first on LeadCrunch.

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

We all know that an expanded mind comes from exploring different perspectives. When you think about a B2B marketer as a CEO, you open up avenues of thought that will transform the way you work and the way you understand your value as a marketer.

Working with a CEO mindset came up recently when I interviewed an old friend for a podcast, which you can listen to here and here.

I’ve known Ryan Phelan a long time. First through conferences when I worked with MarketingSherpa, which hosted the largest, vendor-neutral Email Summit in the World, and then through our work with the Direct Marketing Association where he served on the .

Ryan is an expert digital marketing and especially email marketing with 20 years of experience in B2B demand gen. He shares his knowledge on in this blog post, our podcast, the stage and through articles at Marketing Land and Click Z.

Ryan has discovered over the years that developing your attitudes, thought processes, and approach give you a good base in B2B demand gen marketing. He shares his discoveries on how thinking like a CEO helps you become an outstanding B2B marketer.

CEOs ask the right questions

CEOs ask why before they ask how.

Ryan spends a lot of time on stage at conferences urging marketers to look at the why – the reason for what you’re doing and its impact on the consumer, the prospect, and the subscriber.

Ryan says, “What I encourage people to look at is look at the why. Not the how. We’re all great at how. You get a bunch of marketers into a room and you say, ‘Hey, we need to get this done,’ they’re like, ‘Ooh, do this and this and this and this.’ Those are tactics. What we really need to think of is why in the heck would we do it in the first place?”

He recommends a methodical look at how to best spend your efforts. “We’ve only got a finite amount of time and we have to spend that time making sure that our efforts are effective and not just buckshot marketing where we’re throwing an idea out there just for the sake of getting something done.”

Ryan wants marketers to think beyond tactical execution.  “People think that just because email is cheap, fast, and easy that I can just throw something out there, and if I do it wrong, I can do it again some other time. But people rely on their inbox, they look at their inbox on a minute by minute basis. You don’t have a lot of time to screw up or do it wrong because the expectations are higher.”

Don’t settle for mediocrity when all it takes to have a better campaign is a shift in focus and an answer to one simple question.

Instead of trying to do many things just to check a box on a list, adopt a “why” mentality. The “why” question produces attractive marketing assets that will drive prospects deeper into the B2B funnel.

A CEO is ready for what’s coming

Be aware and act like a CEO: don’t just stay up to date – move a step ahead.

Marketers have a LOT of information to keep up with. Data, trends, forecasts, etc. There is so much going on – even inside your own company.

Ryan gave an example relating to developments in data privacy. The EU recently passed General Data Protection Regulation and California is preparing to enact similar protections. “Every marketer needs to perk up, because whether you live in California or not doesn’t matter. All of these changes – like Gmail putting in new tabs to divide primary mail from social media and promotions or AOL and Yahoo merging to create OAuth (a secure identification authorizer) – not only change how we think about email. They change how the consumer consumes it, the end user consumes it, and the B2B marketer -how they consume it.”

GDPR might not be legislated where you are right now, but it has reach that will affect your marketing going forward.

That’s why you need to be aware and a step ahead. External forces will push to you pay more attention to factors that will affect your B2B content strategy. Will your email design have to change? What about how you collect data?

Ryan expounds on that point: “The marketer has to be more holistic in their approach. They have to look at the wide field, and they have to pay attention. It’s not just about pushing the button anymore. It’s about knowing privacy legislation, and it isn’t about knowing about deliverability, authentication, and DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance for email verification and spoof prevention). It’s about knowing about the changes in design that impact Gmail.”

The most effective marketers use metrics to run their part of the business

Ryan tells an amusing story around one of the biggest a-ha moments of his career:

“I was at a public company, big retail box store. My boss calls me into a meeting.  He’s going over some of the stuff. I didn’t have my laptop. It was one of these ad hoc things,” Ryan remembers. “He asked me a bunch of questions about metrics. I didn’t know the answers. He looks at me, shakes his head, and he says, ‘Who knows those numbers?’ I said, ‘Well, X, Y, and Z, or I have them back at my desk.’ He’s like, ‘Get me the person that knows the numbers, clearly you don’t. You should.’ So he razzed me about it.” Ryan said.

Ryan found value in the experience: “It was one of those pivotal moments that I look back on, and there wasn’t a time after that I didn’t know the numbers up one side and down the other.”

Ryan emphasizes that marketers need to think strategically.  They need to know what their numbers and performance levels are. Marketers need to know more than just what yesterday’s sales numbers and conversion and open rates were.

Ryan now keeps his business stats on instant recall, using what he calls his “monster dashboard.” The dashboard gives him different cuts of various facts and figures so that he always knows his own metrics.

The dashboard is extensive but Ryan commits himself to it. He says, “I felt that I was the CEO of whatever I was in charge of, and any good CEO knows his metrics, knows his numbers off the top of his head. He lives and breathes those numbers. He tries to grow and increase or optimize them.”

Data is rapidly pouring into the marketing sphere. You have to know that data to be smarter and to make others around you smarter, especially in this B2B demand gen space.

There are numbers that come into play at nearly every meeting in B2B sales and marketing operations:

  • There are quantities over time and against goals (MQLs, SALs, SQLs, etc.)
  • There are conversion rates across stages and the trend lines over time
  • There are acquisition costs, lifetime value costs, and calculations for the return on investment
  • There are forecasts against actual.
  • Then there are benchmarks and baseline measures to put it all into context.

Knowing your numbers gives you a broader view of the industry and of your strategy. You have keener insight when you look beyond the usual metrics into metrics with a broader scope. You come up with questions that wouldn’t occur to you without that wider range of information.

Watching the numbers is particularly important in B2B. Ryan says, “It’s critical to know your numbers and be able to optimize as you go. Ten leads can be the difference between a good month and a bad month, or a good sale and a bad sale. The smallest of numbers make the biggest impact.”

Get the 32-page ebook “How to Scale Demand Operations”

CEOs have a holistic view of the competition

CEOs don’t let emotion cloud critical thinking. If a CEO sees an advantage, everything is put aside to take that advantage to advance the company.

B2B marketers often have no interest in anything that is B2C. Who care what Amazon is doing?  They may not even care about the experience Google creates because, “Hey, we don’t compete with Google.”

Yes you do.  Amazon, too.

First of all, companies like Amazon can teach B2B marketers a lot about marketing.  Yes, it’s B2C.  Yes, it’s transactional.  Still, B2C has advanced in the digital marketplace at a much faster rate than B2B. The principles and insights gained are transferable to the B2B approach.  B2C has much higher transaction volumes and they have done multivariate and A/B testing to find out what works. Use the insights B2C giants have gained.

Second of all, your prospects are using sites like Amazon.com and Google.com every day.  Those sites create a digital expectation.

You might think it’s enough to have a faster website or better online marketing collateral than your direct competitor. Your real barometer should be the big players in the B2C world. B2B customers expect your site to be as fast as Google and as personalized as Amazon. It’s what they’re used to.

Ryan says, “You learn how to interact on the web by the rapid development of the B2C world. Think about the fact that more times during the day, your prospect is on Amazon, is on Target. So, you have to learn about how B2C markets before prospects come to your site.”

Look at your initiatives from a B2C angle.

According to Ryan, the best B2B marketer thinks like a B2C marketer. “I’ve done both in my career. I’ve developed strategies for huge B2C companies, and when I came on to B2B it was so much easier. I had the handle on data. I had the handle on what consumers expect, what flow is, how to look at drip campaigns and marketing automation and all that stuff.”

CEOs prioritize connection

Whether it’s a new market or a new venture, you need to get connected and immerse yourself in it to fully understand it.

Ryan’s experience moving a European company stateside gave him new insight. He had to join UK strategies and culture with US strategies and culture.

Ryan learned three vital things in the process:

Face to face connections

“Video calling, Skype for business, whatever it is, is essential to any remote worker. If you’ve got people over in another country, you need the ability to see the other team and wave. It can get pretty lonely when you’re five thousand miles away. And that was critical for me. Day One when I walked in, I said, ‘Alright, everybody needs to go buy a webcam and get on Skype and I’m going to force everybody to do cameras on every call.’ By the time I left they had cameras up in every room. We had these great systems so people could connect. So we weren’t disparate.”

Adapt the brand

“You just can’t take a European company and bring it to the US and do the same thing; it just doesn’t work. There are differences in how people buy in the US versus in the UK. There are differences in nomenclature and attitudinal things. In the US we can be more boastful but in the UK you have to be more humble and you’re not as confident. And so you really have to research your industry, the numbers, and strategies for brand adaptation so that you don’t lose brand identity but you cater to the people you’re trying to market to.”

Focus on the metrics

“You have to put focus on the metrics. That’s one of the reasons I created a monster dashboard, was that not a lot of stats existed that I needed to know what my success looked like. And so I had to create those. I created really complex models that they hadn’t had before, I got all this data from disparate systems and brought it all together to make sense of it, and that’s how I showed success. That handle on metrics was my shield to go out and do what I needed to do, because everything I did amounted to something. You were brand new, so if you stunk, really everybody saw it. And so you had to know what was working and what wasn’t.”

Ryan added another takeaway from this experience. In-person connections are vital. “I also went over there just to get face-time, because there’s a lot that’s lost, again, from being five thousand miles away. Whether or not you have a video camera, you’ve got to be there in person.”

CEOs are realistic optimists

Realistic optimists are positive within what they realistically know of the world or their situation in it.

When Ryan talks about what it takes to be a successful B2B marketer, he starts with “a fairly small ego.”

Ryan says “You’ve got to call BS and say, this is what my customer or prospect needs. I came into a company that had 20 unique selling propositions and I said, ‘You can’t have 20, you can have three.’ They argued ‘But this is a unique selling point, and that’s a unique selling point’, and I was like, ‘No, everyone else does that.’”

B2B works in smaller numbers, so you have to be honest with yourself about the choices you make and the direction you go. Ryan believe you need a filter of honesty and humility that gives you a lens to see clearly in a crowded field regardless of your vertical. “I think B2B marketers that have that and really own up to it, I think their job is a lot easier”, he says.

The best, or most attractive, advice Ryan gives is to have fun. “Have fun, my God. B2B is a blast – I love it. I think it’s absolutely hilarious and fun. We did some guerilla marketing and I was the first company in the space to have a bacon sponsorship at a conference. It’s stuff like that. B2B is fun. I love it.”

Hear more of Ryan’s amusing and insightful anecdotes by listening to our interview on the podcast:

The post 6 Ways to Expand Your Perspective: The B2B Marketer as CEO appeared first on LeadCrunch.

Read Full Article

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview