At DiscoverOrg, our experience in sales intelligence has allowed us to develop an expertise in marketing for B2B sales. This expertise is derived from:
- Product Position – By both generating leads and helping convert those leads to sales, our product is uniquely positioned at the intersection of sales and marketing
- Industry Research – Through our research team, we talk to thousands of salespeople and marketers every month about their experiences, successes and pain points
- Lifecycle Visibility – Because our product is used by both sales and marketing, we can actually see how sales and marketing interact in generating leads, developing content, creating account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns etc…
In a series of blog posts, I will share what we have learned through the years about how to do effective marketing for B2B sales. When I write of B2B sales, I am writing about companies that have at least one person doing outbound sales as opposed to a company that sells entirely online. This is a very important distinction, because for great sales teams, time is money, and wasted time is wasted money. The value of time means that our marketing must focus on lead quality over quantity for effective marketing for B2B sales. Survey after survey reveals the desire of sales teams for qualified leads over quantity. As an example, Formstack reports that lead quality is the number one priority for both B2B and B2C marketers. Similarly, a report from BrightTALK showed, “B2B marketers have demonstrated a clear preference for generating high-quality leads (68%) over generating a high volume of leads (55%).”
The first topic I am going to address in improving marketing for B2B sales are the five mistakes that marketing makes when marketing for a B2B sales team and how to address those mistakes.
Marketing Mistake Five: Not Enough Leads
I am sure a few of you thought that this would the biggest mistake marketing can make and you wouldn’t be alone, research from the Content Marketing Institute had lead generation as the top goal for 85% of marketers. The reason lead generation isn’t the top mistake is because good sales people can generate leads on their own. They won’t sit around waiting for marketing to feed them leads and they won’t be happy if you waste their time with bad leads. A large volume of bad leads is a sure way to have an unhappy sales team. Interestingly, in the same report I just quoted from the Content Marketing Institute, while lead generation was the top objective for marketers, lead quality was the most important metric to measure.
This is not to say a lack of leads isn’t an issue, if you are struggling with generating leads, take a few minutes to read this great article from the Act-On blog, “New Research on How B2B Marketers Get More Leads”, which is full of data and suggestions to increase your number of leads.
We would also suggest looking at DiscoverOrg for high-quality leads. Our detailed company and contact profiles are an invaluable asset when trying to identify and close sales. Utilizing our ranking tool, DiscoverOrg surfaces your ideal buyer personas: technology ties, budget holders, C-suite execs, and more. This will help you easily identify decision makers to contact directly – effectively bypassing the gatekeepers and non-influencers and saving you valuable time.
Marketing Mistake Four: Targeting the Wrong Personas
Your Marketing team has put together an amazing marketing plan and is executing flawlessly. The leads are pouring in. You feel great and head over to Sales to bask in the glory, but when you get there, all you hear is grumbling. It turns out that your paid advertising campaign attracted a lot of the wrong type of prospects. This is a simple mistake to make because often it is not obvious that the prospects are the wrong persona and the personas you are capturing could be wrong for many different reasons: You may be targeting the wrong seniority level or the wrong pain points or the wrong stage in their contract cycle etc… No matter why the persona is wrong, Sales isn’t going to be happy speaking with them.
Recent research by ANNUITAS, highlights the disconnect between Marketing and Sales in persona development, “less than 50% of organizations consistently include sales on the development of buyer personas…”
If you could describe your ideal prospects, what attributes would they possess? Do you perform better with companies of a certain size or in a specific industry? Is there a job title you seek out? Are there certain technologies or responsibilities they should be in charge of? These are the types of questions that need to be asked and answered before moving forward with a marketing plan.
Through its deep dataset, DiscoverOrg can also help you find the right personas to target. Within our platform you can filter by keywords, technologies-in-use, revenue, IT budget and more to define your ideal customer. Then, let DiscoverOrg find you new, high-potential leads and rank your prospects based on likeliness to buy. With the power of DiscoverOrg’s analytics, you will be able to target the right people, at the right companies, at precisely the right time with just a few clicks.
Marketing Mistake Three: Measuring the Wrong Metrics
If Marketing fails to measure the right metrics, it can be too easy for Marketing to spike the football short of the end zone. Marketing can publish a beautiful dashboard full of metrics like organic searches, content consumption, time on site etc…all of which are moving in the right direction, but the company still fails to meet its goals because success is ultimately measured in deals not page views.
This challenge is highlighted in the ANNUITAS report quoted above, “While 62% of demand generation teams have a standard set of KPIs by which they measure the success of their programs, that number drops to 38% when asked if these KPIs align with sales.”
A truly aligned Sales and Marketing machine will only occur if both departments map their goals to the same metrics and numbers. The good news is that it’s relatively simple to align your marketing goals with Sales’. To do so, first identify how your organization measures sales goals (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.) and then back your marketing goals into this number. Define the percentage or total revenue your Marketing department is aiming to contribute through lead generation efforts, then determine how many closed deals you need in order to hit this number. Once you have that, calculate how many qualified prospects you need to achieve that many new clients. Finally, calculate the amount of traffic needed to generate the necessary number of qualified leads.
Marketing Mistake Two: Poor Lead Hand-Offs
It is important for marketers to know when a lead has been nurtured enough to hand it over to Sales. A lead handed over too early can create a bad experience for your prospect and waste the time of your sales team. A lead handed over too late means missed opportunities. There is really only one way to discover the right time to hand-off a lead to sales and that is to continually monitor and optimize.
This is critical to get right because it can have a dramatic impact on sales.
The results are compelling: Organizations with a formal SAL stage in their lead management process generate 9.3 closed/won deals per 1,000 inquiries, while organizations without a formal SAL stage generate only 4.6 closed/won deals per 1,000 inquiries. That’s more than 100 percent higher performance for companies that have the rigor of sales acceptance in their lead management process.
This statistic highlights the importance of a correct hand-off, because there aren’t many areas in the sales process that can directly contribute to a 100% increase sales.
If a majority of leads coming through the lead scoring process are unqualified or need more nurturing, don’t be afraid to speak with Marketing about it. Working together, Sales and Marketing should figure out what these unqualified leads have in common. Once that is accomplished, update your scoring criteria to better distinguish a qualified lead. Remember, this is a fluid process that will involve reassessment and strategizing on behalf of Sales and Marketing, but it will ultimately lead to a better outcome for both groups, your prospects, and the organization as a whole.
Marketing Mistake One: Bad Data
All of the previous mistakes should be corrected, but the most damaging mistake that Marketing can make is giving the Sales team bad data. Imagine being in sales and continually making calls or sending emails that had the wrong names, titles, prospect pain points and technologies. You would lose all credibility with your prospects and you would completely lose trust in Marketing. Bad data grinds the whole sales process to a halt. Unfortunately, it is very hard for Sales to know what is bad data until the mistake has been made, so bad data is difficult to correct for on a one-off basis. Essentially without clean data, Marketing has created a “bad data minefield” for Sales. No one chooses to go through a minefield and if they are forced to go, they go very slowly. Being hesitant to make that sales call or going slowly are sure-fire ways to fail to grow your business.
Bad data is a common problem and is expensive.DiscoverOrg’s research shows, that data accuracy is the number one issue confronting marketers with 52% saying that dated and inaccurate data impedes the effectiveness of marketing operations.
If your company has experienced issues around bad data, DiscoverOrg can quickly help you alleviate those issues. With DiscoverOrg’s best-in-class research team and our data accuracy tools, you have access to clean, constantly updated data and potential new prospects every day. You can also compare your current data to our database, and with a click of a button, our powerful tool with append your existing data, identify those in your system who have decision-making power, and provide additional contacts from the same company whom you may want to target.
The good news is that if you can alleviate these mistakes and have sales and marketing work together, research shows it is a powerful force for growth:
- Alignment will drive revenue. By aligning your teams, your company could generate 208% more marketing revenue for the organization. (Wheelhouse 2016)
- 36% of companies with a strong Sales and Marketing alignment enjoy higher customer retention rates
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