Busy with Zoom Meetings? Video Chats? LinkedIn Business engagement? How much time are you wasting on sales prospecting?
In this article, I highlight 8 ways to get your sales organization less focused on prospecting and more on selling. You need to start with Marketing to push forward a digital-first selling model that is well-organized and designed for efficiency and repeatability.
71% of companies marketing to buyer personas and buyer journeys managed to exceed lead goals. (Peer to Peer)
1. Revisit understanding your target audience and and fine tune your Ideal Customer Profile.
The ideal customer profile should include data based on your most profitable customers, industry segment, type of business, and possibly region.
By leveraging this information, you can zero in on the prospective markets to focus most of your time selling. Another good exercise is to refresh your value proposition towards your clients’ business goals and challenges. In other words, is your solution still targeting the right marketplace?
2. Develop your Personas – Who you sell to (user, economic buyer, influencer, etc.)
The customer analysis involves collecting detailed information about your target market and trends, key influencers, and buyers within your specific niche. This section is also where you revisit your buyer personas in detail. For B2B, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of the individuals within your ideal customer profile that use, buy, and influence the purchase of your product or service. Information includes:
1. Demographics (e.g., age, gender, educational attainment, employment role, title)
2. Behavior patterns
5. Pain points
6. Critical issues they are trying to solve
The Buyer Persona
Startups and Small-Medium businesses have limited resources to map the buyer journey and create buyer personas. Still, you must make the time or outsource the research to a marketing partner.
One of the reasons why marketing fails for businesses is that their buyer persona is not detailed enough to make sound messaging decisions that move target audiences to act. Companies build content that falls on deaf ears or is placed effectively on the right marketing channel. Your buyer persona is a central figure in your marketing strategy, so it is essential to take time to create this with as much detail as possible. There many buyer persona tools and templates that can help you create specific buyer personas, but your Startup or SMB business need to perform the due diligence and map out their buyer journey.
3. Create a Buyer Journey Map
A simple Buyer Journey has three stages and should be extended beyond the customer purchasing your product as the above graphic represents. For this article, we are focusing on prospecting and getting your sales team to perform less on it and focus more on deal making.
Creating a buyer journey helps you follow your buyer’s decision-making processes before, during, and after they purchase your product or service. This exercise runs in parallel with mapping the marketing and sales funnel.
Awareness Stage. FACT: 90% of buyers search the internet before making a large purchase. (SEMRush, 2019). Your buyer realizes that they have a problem, but they do not know what it is yet. They begin to do some internet research based on the signs and symptoms they experience to figure out the problem. Essential questions to ask are how does your buyer become aware of your product or service during the Covid-19 era?
Consideration Stage. In this stage, your buyer persona understands precisely the problem he or she is facing. Now, he or she is researching to find the possible options available to solve their business problem. What are the consideration factors necessary for your buyer?
Decision Stage. At this stage, your buyer persona ready to make a decision and has developed a list of the possible solutions. This is a crucial stage for ensuring that you’re the better choice, so you need tools (e.g., ROI tools, research data, customer references, etc.) to help close deals.
This is, of course, the ideal journey that your buyer persona will go through. In the New Normal, your buyer persona can go through the buyer’s journey differently, but your content strategy is designed along these stages with many touchpoints. For example, your buyer persona may go back and forth the consideration and decision stage several times before they are finally go-ahead to make a purchase. In other cases, your buyer persona can skip the consideration stage altogether and move from the awareness stage to the decision stage.
Once you align the Buyer Journey to your Sales Cycle and address every potential touchpoint, you will improve the alignment between internal departmental processes.
4. Automate the Buyer Journey from Marketing-to-Sales
Marketing Automation Software & Content are the foundation to automating your buyer journey and enabling your sales team to focus on deals, not prospects. Even small to mid-sized companies can greatly benefit by employing this approach to scale their marketing and selling capabilities.
A significant piece of the puzzle
Marketing Automation software (MAS) supports your entire Online Marketing and Sales strategy. Affordable technology is available and makes it easy to create, deploy, and manage online marketing campaigns rapidly and track buyers through the funnel (Awareness, Consideration, and Decision) stages.
MAS provides reporting to see each step of your campaign, capturing real marketing ROI Analytics. For example, ActiveCampaign’s SMB category-defining customer-centric platform enables small to medium businesses to quickly deploy and use it. ActiveCampaign offers hundreds of pre-built automation recipes that combine email marketing, funnel automation, CRM, and machine learning for powerful orchestration, segmentation, and personalization across social, email, messaging, chat, and text. With 300+ integrations, Peritus Marketing clients move from chaotic to well-defined marketing processes with full-scale analytics, lead gen, and nurturing tracks to determine which programs impact the sales revenue needle.
Content Marketing is King – your Voice to the Market. It fuels all marketing and sales campaigns. When you combine high-value, high-targeted content to automation technology supporting your marketing and sales approach, you can easily coordinate campaigns focused on delivering business results.
5. Create a Campaign Approach
Whether you have one marketing person and seven sales reps or several in each department, chances are they are not consistent alignment. Generating enough lead volume is the lifeblood of businesses, and you can’t afford to continue prospecting into the wild west that was once acceptable pre-COVID 19.
If Marketing and Sales are not in alignment, scaling your company’s growth is a real challenge.
Even for small and medium-sized companies, achieving team-market alignment is manageable. Greater marketing efficiencies in approaching the marketplace will translate into increasing the volume of sales.
Mapping your existing marketing-sales process is strategically important because you set up triggers to automate touch points with prospects to yield increased productivity:
Creating efficient and purpose-built content marketing engines to fuel all digital channels and achieve unique goals for each stage of the Buyer Journey.
Engage with your market to eliminate the Sales Team’s need to hunt for leads and prospects.
Lead scoring can quickly trigger sales engagement with automated assigned tasks. A sales rep can arrive to work in the morning and have all of his/her tasks for the day or individual campaign.
Setting up automatic email triggers to notify the Sales Team to engage and close business.
93% of B2B companies say that content marketing generates more leads than traditional marketing tactics. – Forbes
6. Create Lean Content & Messaging
Lean content means you’re creating a single piece of long-form of pillar content (e.g., a case study) repurposed into many other assets for different channels (e.g., multiple emails, social media posts, several supporting blog articles). All the assets are designed around a common theme to address customer business problems. This is crucial for several reasons. One, your offering different options for consuming content. Two, you are coordinating slight variations of the message around a central Arc Theme. Three, lean content gives you the ability to create several content assets in a short amount of time to “break through the noise” in the marketplace.
Convert your knowledge into content.
Content marketing offers some of the highest available returns on your marketing investment. Content like e-Books, case studies, and blog articles are permanent digital assets that continually attract and engage prospects. The cumulative effect of building content not only positions you as an expert in the marketplace, but it also helps increase your domain authority and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Over the long haul, this increases organic website traffic from potential prospects.
The information your prospects want.
As prospects move through the buyer journey (awareness, consideration, and buying decision), they consume an ever-increasing amount of content. Content marketing keeps your firm front and center as prospects self-educate about potential solutions.
Position your small firm as a thought leader.
SMB firms are built on reputation. Let’s take that to the web by creating content (targeted, high-value, high quality) to validate your marketplace’s expertise. For example, case studies, e-Books, testimonial videos demonstrate how your services solve real-life clients’ problems.
Permanent assets with evergreen ROI.
From a financial perspective, content marketing is a fantastic option because content like case studies and e-books are evergreen assets that continually attract potential prospects on your website. A blog article discussing cash forecasting will be as relevant two years from now as it is today.
In the new normal, your website is your most valuable sales tool. Perhaps the most important feature of a sales-focused website is the depth to which it offers current and potential customers resources. The vast majority of B2B buying decisions, including procuring your services, involve extensive online research. Your website needs to be positioned as a library of information that answers the questions potential customers ask as they consider their options within the marketplace.
7. Sales Enablement Tools
Leveraging ActiveCampaign CRM and prioritizing the right content in an editorial calendar combine to create a sales enablement platform that provides visibility across the buyer journey. With powerful search, scoring, and syncing, a ActiveCampaign closes the loop between marketing, sales, and customers and helps teams track content performance from publication to pitch. The content created in campaigns (blogs, case studies, resource articles, FAQs, etc., help increase the number of arrows that reside in the sales team’s quiver. Your traditional battle cards, pitch decks, talk tracks, and ROI tools have supporting assets to covince buyers to purchase.
8. Track, Measure, Optimize
Measuring marketing performance and ad spend gives you hard data to support decisions about future campaigns, marketing channels, and market niches. This optimizes new customer acquisition and ultimately drives revenue growth. Professional services providers like accounting and bookkeeping firms need to understand a handful of fundamental conversion ratios to calculate ROI on marketing activity. This includes lead conversion ratios, open email rates, click-through rates, and how they translate to converting new contacts into qualified prospects, often called Marketing Qualified Leads or MQL’s. It also is relatively easy to set up and put on business development auto-pilot to free up your accounting and booking keeping team to focus less on prospecting and more on the business.
Lead Conversion Rate
In a given email marketing campaign, tracking email open rates and click-through rates will tell you what percentage of prospects that qualify as a lead. This can often be measured by using automation software and assigning a minimum lead score as a benchmark.
Your close ratio is the number of new customers you capture based on how many leads you develop. For example, assume you generate one new customer for every three leads you conduct an initial meeting with. Your close ratio would be 1/3 or 33%.
Average Deal Value
Another important metric to define is your average deal value. For example, assume that you sign on a new customer who pays you $1,200 a month for outsourced Controller and monthly financial statement services. Your average deal value would then be $14,400 or $1, 200 X 12 = $14,400.
Marketing ROI is the total of new revenue won divided into the total marketing investment.
Assume you generated 2 new customers each month for a total of $28,800 and invested $3,000 into marketing. Your ROI would be 960% ($28,800 / $3,000 = 9.6 X 100 = 960%.).
Pulling it all together
Setting up tracking processes, lead sources, and workflows with Sales to manage your buyer journey and sales funnel are mission-critical for success. Start with a step-by-step process and map your lead workflow. Even leads generated from your blog require tracking by topic so you can match revenue to marketing activity. Our motto: If you can’t track it, it’s most likely not working.
Key suggestions for building a better sales pipeline:
— 1-to-1 Prospect Experiences – Personalizing emails, webpages, nurture tracks, and automation
— Develop targeted content by personas, buyer stages and digital channels.
— Customer Reviews and Customer Referrals are essential in the digital landscape.
Fact: 50 percent of customers will likely repurchase if they have a positive experience – automate customer engagement.
Fact: 75% of viewers respond to humorous videos on LinkedIn – Invest in video creation.
— If you have leads, traffic and users, focus on Bottom of the Funnel Conversion tactics (Webinars-A series, Videos, Virtual Education Events, ROI tools).
Get started, and good luck!
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