The Four Most Important Things B2B Marketing Must Share with Sales

The Four Most Important Things B2B Marketing Must Share with Sales

Blog Post by Jonathan Gray

B2B marketing and sales don’t always play nice. After all, each team often grew up separately, with its own set of goals and initiatives. Take your average B2B marketing unit. It’s responsible for the five Ps: Product, price, place, promotion, and packaging. Each may tie back to revenue growth, but marketing’s main focus will always be cost per lead and return on ad spend. With sales, the goal is—wait for it—sales. Its focus is on generating revenue through maintaining and acquiring customers. In other words, sales is your front line for making it rain. But because revenue is a function of lead volume, conversion rates, average order amounts, and customer retention, sales and marketing depend on one another. Qualifying leads isn’t as effective without B2B marketing, and turning leads into customers can be a drawn-out process without sales. As a result, marketers want more involvement in the sales process, and sales wants to be included in lead generation and qualification. When you bring these teams into alignment and get them working together, those silos come tumbling down.

B2B Marketing and Sales: Speak the Same Language

That’s why communication is so important. Without it, B2B marketing and sales will fail to provide the contextual information necessary to improve conversion. It’s no wonder that as much as 50 percent of sales time is wasted on pointless prospecting. The two teams don’t speak—at least not the same language. Our company worked with a B2B logistics provider. Its marketing department provided a list of more than two million customers, a kind of call-them-all strategy that lacked prioritization. The entire list contained high-potential opportunities based on spend levels, but sales conversion rates never exceeded 15 percent. By applying analytics modeling focused on sales successes, we identified the best customers to engage based on business type, seasonality, and recent interactions. By focusing on the highest propensity-to-purchase customers, the conversion rate doubled. Shifting the focus for qualifying leads aligned B2B marketing and sales. In fact, more than 89 percent of companies that align these two departments report increases in lead conversion. What’s more, 57 percent of the decision-making process is completed before salespeople even enter the scene. Both teams must continually exchange information to improve conversion rates.

Leave No Room for Interpretation

What information should marketers share with sales to generate more qualified leads? Start with the following variables: Customer status, customer interaction history, customer intent, and lead quality.

Customer Status

Your interactions with a customer are much different than your communications with a prospect. Sales must understand a person’s position in the buying process to address that person’s needs. We worked with a communications company that converted less than five percent of its leads. After a little digging, we found 40 percent of prospects were customers. Simply defining customer status freed up sales to focus on leads.

Customer Interaction History

Knowing the number of times marketing has interacted with any given customer helps sales understand where that person is on his decision-making journey. Is he just browsing, or is he gearing up for a purchase? Besides quantity, sales needs to know what type of interaction it’s observing. Clue salespeople in on whether someone watched a webinar, opened an email, visited your website repeatedly, or had a billing issue. All of this information is valuable for subsequent interactions.

Customer Intent

Reason provides context for salespeople, and some would argue it provides a clearer picture of the customer than even demographics. It allows sales to meet the consumer in the moment that matters most. Gather as much information as possible. Capture campaign responses, keyword searches, browsing habits, registrations, and content shares. A firm grasp on these brings your target audience’s motivation and patterns into focus, which sales can use to prioritize and route the customer.

Lead Quality

In the B2B world, we talk about lead criteria. Is the potential buyer ready to engage with sales? Her readiness often depends on budget, authority, and timing. The lead must have all three to be qualified. By requiring prospects to meet certain criteria, marketing knows whether to continue messaging or move them to sales. B2B marketing automation tools can smooth the process, but you’ll still need to establish the criteria. Marketing and sales have an uneasy alliance, but one can’t survive without the other. In fact, they must work in tandem. Establishing different goals, initiatives, and languages will keep them in their separate silos, which is no way to improve conversion rates.

This article was originally published on Spin Sucks’ website. Click here to see the original article.

Written by

Jonathan Gray

Senior Vice President
Business Development & Marketing Services

Marketers: 3 Pieces of Advice, Courtesy of the Trump Campaign


Marketers: 3 Pieces of Advice, Courtesy of the Trump Campaign

Blog Post by Jonathan Gray

The contentious election season put a spotlight on a lot of things — the most under-discussed facet, perhaps, being the power of marketing.From a marketing standpoint, customers vote every day. This election highlights marketing tactics that worked for Donald Trump and can work for you. He leveraged smart marketing strategies in a very unconventional campaign, riding the wave all the way to victory. Marketers can learn from his strategic approach.
The now President-elect stayed on offense instead of playing defense. He found the message his key target voters wanted to hear, shouted it as loud and as long as he could, and harped on his opponent’s character rather than focusing on issues. His campaign’s effective marketing strategies led to a historic upset and serve as a great reminder for all marketers.

Presidential Pointers
Think what you want about Trump the person, but there is a definite genius to the marketing approach he used in his campaign. He was the bull in the china shop that turned the election on its head. He didn’t try to portray himself as someone he isn’t; rather he used his marketing savvy, avid social media presence, and unique personality to his advantage.
The amazing thing is his approach worked when the smart money said it wouldn’t. Here are three lessons all marketers should learn — or be reminded of — from Trump’s incredible election run:

1. Don’t worry about everyone — focus on the few. Trump didn’t try to appeal to everyone. He identified the constituency that would be the key to his success, and then crafted a message to motivate that specific target audience.
Trump’s message hit the bull’s-eye — It resonated and created an emotional response prompting everyone to run to the polls. During the election, he found data suggesting that a silent portion of the population harbored anger toward the current political climate.
He focused on it, empathizing specifically to that audience and its pains. From there, Trump used that information to craft a message that would prompt them to vote instead of standing on the sidelines on Election Day.
Marketers should remember to clarify which audience matters most and know what motivates it. Stay true to the platform, and convey a message the audience can’t help but rally around.

2. Out-shout your competition. In some cases, Trump turned up the volume (in terms of reach and especially frequency) to deliver his message. His outrageous statements, tweets, and accusations of media bias ensured he would get airtime.
He was everywhere. In the final days leading up to the election, Trump TV ads hammered the airwaves with messages that attacked his opponent’s character, overwhelming the more measured and sometimes defensive voice of the Clinton campaign.
Marketers: To win, don’t just have a great message for the right audience. Be louder than the competition. If the market is highly competitive and commoditized, leverage all the communications channels, venues, tools, and tactics out there to out shout the competition.

3. Play offense more than defense. “Perception is reality,” Lee Atwater once said. In this election, Trump’s campaign on character became the pivot point. He drove perception about Clinton’s character, spreading fear and doubt about email leaks and corruption.
He reminded the public of Clinton’s email discrepancy every chance he got. He planted uncertainty within the voter base and deepened the distrust constituents already held toward the democratic candidate.
No stranger to wrong-side-of-the-news stories himself, Trump used the accusations to fuel his message against the “politics as usual” image Clinton conveyed. But, rather than defending himself, he used debate podiums, TV appearances, even Twitter rants, to drive home his message on Clinton’s character.
His mission? To continually cast a shadow over her candidacy. Clinton had to play defense, right? It reminds me of when I marketed a high-speed internet service during the DSL versus cable battle years ago.
At the time, cable could tout the higher speed of its shared network. So DSL had to focus on the fear of internet speed slowing on the shared cable network, as well as fear of price increases. Our positioning represented facts, but played on FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt to create an emotional connection to our message. In this election, scandals fueled the FUD messaging machine.
For marketers, we’ve been taught to protect the brand at all costs, which became a top priority for Clinton. But in an election decided on one specific date, the most important thing for Trump was to have voters at the polls thinking what he wanted when they placed their vote. What the realities are become moot, because the voter’s perception at that moment determines their selection.
President-elect Donald Trump showed his marketing genius through his campaign, and it serves as a great reminder to all in the industry. Stay on message, be loud, and play offense.
After all, customers vote every day. The question is: Are they voting for you?

Jonathan Gray is the senior vice president of marketing and leader of business development and marketing services for Revana. His team oversees marketing analytics and integrated marketing services programs that automate electronic marketing strategies on behalf of industry-leading clients. He was involved in developing new digital marketing and sales solutions, such as Revana Analytic Multichannel Platform (RAMP) and Revana AQ360SM , which won a Gold Stevie as the 2016 Best New Marketing Solution.

This article was originally posted on  Click here to see the original article.

Written by

Jonathan Gray

Senior Vice President
Business Development & Marketing Services

Why You Can’t Afford to Keep Sales and Marketing in Silos


Why You Can’t Afford to Keep Sales and Marketing in Silos

Blog Post by Jonathan Gray

As Frank Sinatra crooned, as far as love and marriage are concerned, you can’t have one without the other. It turns out the same holds true for marketing and sales — though even Ol’ Blue Eyes would have had a hard time writing a rhyming ditty around that pair of words.

Cute song lyrics or not, marketing and sales are essential to one another. The shifts to mobile and digital have created consumer demand for immediate responsiveness. You have to know who your customers are and what they need the instant they interact with your brand. And you’d better be ready to help them buy at a moment’s notice.

Sales are increasingly time-sensitive. By the time most customers contact your sales team, they’ve already conducted up to 90 percent of their prepurchase research. If your sales representatives reach out to these leads within five minutes of them landing on your site, those potential customers are 21 times more likely to engage in the sales process. Connecting with leads in that five-minute window can generate a ninefold increase in your conversion rate.

The only way to reach people in a timely fashion is to know who they are before they’re ready to buy. Marketing is key to achieving that. Customers expect personalized interactions and content that’s relevant to their journeys. They’re the ones who control the buying process now, and marketing and sales must work together to adapt to this change.

These two departments need to tag team their campaigns so they each enter the buying process at the right time. Then, they can work together to successfully guide the customer to the same conclusion.

The In-Tandem Approach in Practice
My company recently helped Axtel, a Mexican telecommunications corporation, improve its conversion rates by taking a tandem marketing and sales approach. Axtel wanted to boost its qualified sales leads and overall sales numbers. We created a customer journey ecosystem that offered a seamless end-to-end experience.

The marketing team developed detailed and hypersegmented customer personas so we could target the right people with the right content. The marketers also devised SEO strategies and conducted testing on Axtel’s messaging and landing pages, which helped ensure that more people were qualified leads before reaching the sales department.

The data collected throughout the customer journey allowed Axtel’s highly trained sales representatives to provide personalized service when the time came to convert. Based on this information, the lead was delivered to the right sales rep, who had the most complete knowledge to help that customer. We set up cross-channel communication systems so representatives at every point in the funnel could deliver top-notch service to prospects. Every sales team member had all the information necessary to connect meaningfully with their leads.

This integrated approach increased Axtel’s qualified sales leads by 66 percent. Overall, sales rose from 4.7 to 13 percent, and the sales team outperformed its predecessor on new installations by 38 percent. These boosts were amplified by the fact that we also decreased costs per lead by 40 percent. Such results are only possible if marketing and sales work together.

When these departments work in silos, sales representatives spend half their time on unproductive leads and neglect up to 80 percent of their marketing leads. That’s an egregious number, considering that marketing has likely gathered important information that the sales team could use to close deals faster and more efficiently.

Blending marketing and sales provides both teams with a holistic view of the customer journey and allows them to develop impactful insights that drive performance improvements.

Implementing A Blended Strategy
If you want to implement a blended strategy in your own organization, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Talk the same talk. It may seem like a small thing, but you’ll see significant performance improvements when your marketing and sales organizations align their definitions of all terms in the sales funnel, including leads and conversions. Without clear agreement on basic terms, your people end up talking past one another. You can’t deliver a flawless customer experience if the team members running your campaigns are out of sync.
  2. Establish a sales and marketing lab. Nimble companies explore new ways to engage with their customers. Designate a space where your marketing and sales teams can learn skills, such as predictive analysis, and experiment with potential strategies. A dedicated lab teaches them to be adaptive and allows them to test their theories without jeopardizing real-world results. Most importantly, it gives them a place to practice collaboration and exchange ideas.
  3. Maintain constant contact. Nearly 50 percent of marketing and sales professionals say that a lack of communication is the biggest challenge to interdepartmental alignment. Marketing and sales should understand one another’s roles within the funnel. Although they serve different functions, they must have common KPIs to reach their shared goals. Communication breakdowns between these teams lead to disconnected metrics and ineffective campaigns.

Marketing and sales teams make natural partners. They both work toward growing your customer base and revenues, and teams with a shared vision complement one another and generate more creative, engaging campaigns. At a time when consumers demand personalized, instantaneous attention, you want all of your best hands on deck. The only way to stay competitive is to allow your best marketers and salespeople to excel by realizing that without one group, you can’t find success with the other.

Jonathan Gray is the senior vice president of marketing and leader of business development and marketing services for Revana. His team oversees marketing analytics and integrated marketing services programs that automate electronic marketing strategies on behalf of industry-leading clients.

This article was originally posted on Sales & Marketing Management’s website.  Click here to see the original article.

Two-Thirds of Senior Marketers Say This Is the Next Big Thing

Two-thirds of senior marketers say this is the next big thing

Blog Post by Judi Hand

Common wisdom tells us that we “stumble upon” some of the best things in life: a rare copy of a classic novel in a quirky, small-town bookshop; a vintage wine in a relative’s dusty cellar; the love of your life in the produce aisle at the grocery store. Some of our best moments happen entirely by accident. That’s a fine way to approach your personal life — but it’s not how you should run your marketing strategies.

Many marketers still rely on vague analytics and luck to find qualified buyers. Their strategies boil down to “stumbling upon” clients who are ready to buy. As you can imagine, this results in wasted time, lost profits, and a weak customer base.

Instead of making scattershot attempts to find needles in the haystack, use data sources that provide timely, targeted insights. These tools identify strong indicators of interest and intent so your sales team knows who is (and isn’t) a qualified lead.

By leveraging the right resources, you can build predictive models that are essential to your success. Not only that, predictive analytics are becoming an industry imperative. More than two-thirds of senior marketers say this method “will become a critical piece of the marketing stack.” It’s time to stop stumbling and start sharpening your methods.

The Power of Predictive Models

Marketers have access to thousands of data elements that can boost campaigns, but you have to know what you’re looking for. Predictive indicators vary depending on the products or services being sold. If you sell office equipment, such as computers and servers, know your potential clients’ hiring histories and expansion plans. Or maybe you offer content marketing services. In that case, you need to understand your target clients’ audience, product, and current content strategies.

The key to using data points successfully is to understand which are most relevant to your business and to test different tools against one another. Then, you can determine which have the highest predictive values.

Predictive analytics will transform your marketing and sales numbers. Once you begin gathering the right information, you can use it to connect your sales team with qualified leads, refine your buyer personas, and develop more personalized messaging. In a 2015 study by Magnetic and Retail TouchPoints, more than 50 percentof consumers surveyed expect brand messaging and offers to be tailored to their needs. You should use every resource at your disposal to create targeted, personalized experiences.

The data you collect can also highlight where you should allot your marketing budget and which channels are most lucrative. The more precise your campaigns, the more successful they’ll be.

Predictive in Practice

Let’s look at a real-world contrast between the scattershot and predictive approaches. Perhaps your company typically buys a list, loads it A to Z, and uses the same messaging for every potential customer in this group. Statistically, someone must be a good fit and ready to buy, right?

Possibly. But you’ve already spent an awful lot of time and money on the chance that somewhere on this list, you’ll find a handful of people who need and want your product right now.

Instead, you can partner with a company that specializes in marketing analysis. The team there will apply enhanced data elements to your raw list and run predictive tests. Then, they’ll help you apply the best one to optimize your campaigns. This approach will also show you how many genuine leads you have so you can focus your efforts on the clients who are most likely to convert.

Maybe you have a potential buyer universe of 1 million, but the models show that only 250,000 are real prospects. You can redirect your resources to those 250,000, saving you money now and earning you more in the long run.

Brands can’t afford to cross their fingers and hope for the best when it comes to marketing. You need to identify your target audience and connect with them in meaningful, personalized ways. Predictive tools help you find and reach them so you can build the right relationships and convert the clients who benefit from your business.

Has your company implemented predictive analytics? If so, which tools worked best for you?

This blog was originally posted on the Salesforce blog.  Click here to see the original post.

Written by

Judi Hand

President and GM Revana and Revana Digital