We left transactional sales behind in the 90s. With recurring business models like ‘as-a-service’, we need to rethink the “sales process” from the traditional vertical funnel to a bow tie funnel that recognizes the role of the post-sale customer execution in revenue realization. We need a full-funnel approach. Predictable, sustainable, and accelerated revenue performance relies increasingly on the customer realizing benefits and impacts from a product or service.
Closed loop marketing ties together marketing and sales in a continuous engagement process.
Buyers want an efficient, effective, quality buying experience. They don’t consider whether their experience is “marketing-generated” or “sales-generated”. They choose if they want to engage with your web content, 3rd party digital outposts or marketplaces or with your sales people. They most likely will interact with all of these in different sequences and in unstructured and unpredictable ways.
Buyer engagement efforts take place all along the buyer journey and to deliver the experiences buyers expect and maximize your revenue impact, you need an integrated marketing and sales process.
The CRO is Responsible for Predictable and Sustainable Revenue Growth
This post is updated. It was originally published in July 2016
Today, companies recognize the need for a company-wide revenue focus and a more integrated approach across marketing and sales. The CRO oversees the traditional responsibilities of the VP of Sales and the Chief Marketing Officer and is a member of the senior team overseeing go-to-market strategy and execution. The CRO is responsible for aligning company resources, defining differentiated go-to-market strategies and delivering on the company’s revenue performance goals.
Face it. Most of the sales methodologies from the 80’s are tired. They do not address what growth companies need today. Growth companies need to shift from using a sales methodology to using a revenue methodology.
More insights for the 85% of B2B marketers that don’t have effective personas!
Mapping out your buyers’ pain and organizing via Pain Maps™ to enable the ULTIMATE Goal: Informing Engagement Personas™.
There are many different perspectives and philosophies on persona development. This makes sense, as they’re the most critical element of creating messaging and informing Message Maps™…then identifying and developing content aligned with the buy cycle…and ultimately validating the various components of a true buyer engagement strategy. In the end, persona development should be defined by how it’ll be used – in terms of purpose and context that will drive messaging, and ultimately content strategy. Other marketers will use it more as a “playbook” of all possible or available buyer insights. I’m not saying either is right or wrong, but it’s why we’ve created a new category called Engagement Personas™.
Understanding what makes high-impact content and reexamining the competence of all the content “experts” out there.
The need for content and content marketing, as well as the discipline itself, has grown exponential just in the last few years. The proliferation of content is at staggering levels and buyers are inundated with it on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour and daily basis. And I think that the majority of B2B content out there, intended for buyer engagement and advancement, is simply subpar at best. And a BIG word of caution: In addition to a proliferation of content, there is now an explosion of new “experts,” “gurus,”, and “thought-leaders”. My advice is take a long hard look at their career experience prior to considering hiring one of them for guidance.
Financial Advisors are an amazingly difficult prospect to engage. They are incredibly busy and already have a wealth of resources already available to them – do they even need to engage with wholesalers? The best way to convert financial advisors to customers is to build your marketing automation program around them.
Lead generation starts with effective segmentation
Before focusing on key strategies, Sales and Marketing must have defined a set of engagement personas and customer segments. Marketing has had personas for a decade but only since the advent of marketing automation software have engagement personas become empowered and brought to life.
Defining financial advisor segments for lead generation
Creating clarity with Sales is a two step process:
- Lead scoring – a measure of how active a financial advisor on your digital properties
- Lead grading – a measure of how profitable the financial advisor is likely to be
It may take several iterations to get lead scoring and grading optimized, however, the process should be fruitful for Sales and Marketing. The process crystallizes Marketing and Sales perspectives around which advisors are most profitable and which digital behaviors are believed to be most relevant to a sale. Some marketing automation vendors have one score that represents profitability and interest. However, being able to separate advisor behaviors from profitability factors simplifies discussions by clarifying customer segments by profitability as seen in the above graphic. As an example, Pardot applies a numerical value for an advisor’s lead score and a letter grade (A-F) for an advisor’s expected profitability.
Ending Content Confusion: Differentiating Between “Domain-Centric” and “Engagement-Focused” Content.
There’s a significant problem with content today that can no longer be ignored. It’s the “elephant in the room”—and some organizations and marketers are aware of it, and some aren’t. It’s that the vast majority of the data from marketing practitioners, benchmark reports, industry analysts, and a multitude of other sources suggests that the #1 objective of content is lead generation and account/buyer conversion, sometimes expressed as “engagement”: (and yes, brand awareness tops some lists). Yet, almost universally, content strategy and content creation is “owned” by Product and/or Corporate Marketing in 60% – 80% of organizations. It’s driven by the Demand Generation team in only 5% – 10% of organizations!
So, let’s get this straight. The primary objective for content is to top-of-funnel inquiries, leads and converting full-funnel opportunities, yet the very people tasked with creating integrated programs to drive that objective DO NOT control the #1 MOST IMPORTANT element which is critical to achieving it? HUH?! Seriously?! That’s like having a plumber wiring your house and an electrician installing the pipes. This can truly blow your mind!
OK, as I step back from the ledge, please allow me to share a highly-informed perspective on this based on a nearly 25 year career in B2B marketing, buyer engagement and demand generation. It’s critically important to acknowledge and understand the difference between “domain-centric” and “engagement-focused” content. Is this starting to make a bit more sense?
The CMO of a “Top 50” B2B technology company said he saw tremendous efficacy in our buyer engagement frameworks and methodologies…but asked himself, and me, the question: why would he need our help with content when he has an dedicated, well-staffed team of product marketers producing it? Then bam…the ability to articulate this difference, which was percolating in my subconscious, hit me right between the eyes. I framed it as “domain-centric” vs. “engagement-focused” content, and the CMO immediately embraced the distinction.
Seems like I sort of threw Product Marketing under the bus, right? Actually, quite the contrary. Product Marketing sits at the intersection of Product Development/Management, Sales, Corporate Marketing, Demand Generation and Field Marketing. As such, they are the single most important information resource in content marketing today. They arguably know more about your products, value proposition, market segments, buyers, market trends, etc. than anyone else in your organization. The disconnect I see, universally across organizations, is that most are classically trained product marketers…schooled in research, creating and articulating value propositions, describing features and benefits, and creating stellar product collateral.
That’s where we Demand Marketers come in and the hand-off begins. By looking through the various white papers, data sheets, collateral, and sales playbooks the Product Marketers have created, Demand Marketers can find what they (and you) are looking for. It’s content that’s embedded and buried within, and it serves a different purpose and context than what is truly useful for buyer engagement. There, in the guise of product and benefit information, you’ll find the buyer’s key pain points, as well as an articulation of how your company, products and solutions help address them. Then you can apply all the insights in our new game-changing eBook entitled Exposed. The False Promises of Revenue Marketing. to create truly effective engagement-focused content.
To discover more in-depth insights on this topic, download a copy of the eBook by simply clicking on the link below to discover 9 principles to exponentially increase leads, conversion and pipeline velocity:
Creating Logical Pathways™: How to build a clear engagement path via content – to advance buyers and increase conversion through the buy cycle by 300% or more!
It’s crucial to buyer advancement and conversion to seed content in logical, sequential parts of your buyers’ UX (user/visitor experience) by using your various digital assets/properties. It allows you to use “guided selling” techniques to capture additional depth of understanding via progressive profiling. One good content asset deserves an even better one, and then an even better one after that.
Or…to put it another way: By providing increasingly attractive incentives on each successive page of your digital properties (website, registration, thank you or landing pages, etc.), you’ll be able to focus prospect behavior and streamline data capture. It works very simply: Upon their registration for an initial asset requiring minimal information, pull prospective buyers further in with an even stronger content offer of higher perceived value—provided they take the “next step” you’ve guided them towards.
See for yourself how this is a powerful tool for engaging prospects and collecting essential information about their companies, current situation, challenges, pain points, needs, and of course stage in the buying process. And the value in monitoring and analyzing their Digital Body Language will be priceless.
It’s all about leaving bread crumbs along the conversion path you want your prospective buyers to follow! And ALWAYS define calls-to-action everywhere (social media, blog posts, landing pages, on your website, in automated lead nurturing e-mails, via links within all types of content assets such as eBooks, guides, etc.). What do you want the buyer who consumes content to do next? (Below is just one simple example of the practical application of this principle.)
What questions are buyers trying to answer at the early and middle stages of their buying process? Your content should help specific audiences (i.e., Engagement Personas™) answer questions like, “do I have a problem?” or “do I have THIS problem?” and “how should I solve it?” You’re attempting to surface latent pain and demand… long before the conversation shifts to what solution is best. Your solution is obviously the best, but TRUST is what makes it obvious to a discerning buyer.
To that end, one of the most valuable aspects of Engagement Personas™ when constructed effectively is to anticipate and answer the questions a buyer would ask at each step of the process. If you have content that answers them in a way that’s relevant to the specific prospective buyer, fantastic. If you don’t, then that’s where you start. The other suggestion for enabling Engagement Personas™ to drive strategy is to develop engagement scenarios.
To discover more in-depth insights on this topic, download a copy of the eBook by simply clicking on the link below to discover 9 buyer engagement principles to exponentially increase leads, conversion, pipeline velocity and revenue impact:
The Escalating Accountability Mandate…
Measurability and accountability—it’s one thing to feel the heat, it’s another to get burned. To understand why so many marketers are relying on a new and evolving array of automation tools, let’s consider one fact: Today, one of the key drivers of B2B demand generation is proving the value of marketing investments. What are you getting for your marketing dollars? And how do you quantify it?
As revenue marketing executives seek to answer these questions, they’re more focused than ever on measurement, accountability and increasing performance across programs, marketing activities and media. In fact, according to recent marketing outlook reports by the CMO Council, marketers are under “increased pressure to improve relevance, accountability and performance of their organizations.”
In other words, marketers are being told to deliver the goods. Those who succeed are rewarded. Those who do not are at risk. (The average employment span for a CMO at any one company—approximately 2 years.).
Hence, the increased reliance on—and investments in—marketing automation an ABM solutions to help measure results and manage programs. The universal goals, it seems, are to improve and quantify the efficiency and effectiveness of marketing initiatives, and significantly improve the allocation and return on marketing spend. Or, put in its simplest and most personal terms—you need to enhance performance to create a sustainable, competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
The question is: How do you do it? Or, more specifically, how do you plan,execute and measure a highly-calibrated demand generation strategy that takes into account your target audience, solution set, price point, market conditions, competitive environment and current initiatives?
To answer these questions (I’ll put a stake in the ground in a moment), it’s first necessary to make a few assumptions. First, I’m assuming that as you read this, you already understand the need to align Sales and Marketing more closely than ever to better support the sales process and drive demand. I’m assuming that you’ve embraced new social media tools and marketing automation technologies, that you have the dashboards in place to measure results, and that you genuinely desire to increase performance. And if not, your career is likely facing an extinction-level event!
Additionally, I believe that I do not need to delve into areas that are best left to specialists — including Revenue Architects — such as the mechanics of digital marketing, search and social media marketing and sales, the operation of marketing automation, deploying effective ABM programs, formatting landing pages for maximum conversion, and the criteria and process for lead scoring and distribution.
Today’s universal mission and objectives. Marketers, of their initiatives. Marketing’s attribution to revenue is critical. Those who do are today’s true “revenue marketers”. The others…well they may be looking for new jobs soon.
Below you’ll find SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall. You’ll also find a more detailed view of how best-in-class companies are measuring and analyzing key levers that increase Marketing’s contribution to revenue performance, including conversion in the pipeline via a Metrics-Driven Methodology™…
But enough of the qualifiers. To the heart of the matter. To improve marketing performance and create a sustainable, competitive advantage, you need to do more than rely on new technologies and digital media as ends unto themselves. Rather, you need to return to the foundational principles of solid, effective demand generation—and base your programs on learnings and insights that have proven themselves on countless occasions in the marketplace – ultimately in the context of a well-defined buyer engagement strategy. Yes, new technologies and digital media are remarkable—awe-inspiring in fact—but you need to balance your use of them (and your thinking about how to fully maximize their potential) with several core principles that are often overlooked.
One final thought before we proceed: Let’s define Demand Generation and Revenue Marketing. Before launching into the foundational elements, there’s one point of order. Let’s define demand generation as results-based marketing that supports Sales, and ultimately revenue delivery. Demand generation serves the purpose of generating, nurturing and converting leads into qualified sales opportunities. When effective, it makes both selling and buying a more comfortable and efficient process. And when compared to other forms of marketing, it is by far the most measurable and therefore accountable side of the business.
The challenge is that until recent years, demand generation meant “lead generation” and was associated too often with one-off marketing campaigns, often supported by telesales, less sophisticated landing and registration pages, static banner ads and e-mail blasts. And to compound things, marketing automation platforms were basically used as “spam cannons”. Ultimately, it was measured by short-term results and myopic questions such as “How many leads did the program produce?”
However, the fact is in complex B2B sales, demand generation isn’t about instant gratification, but rather buyer engagement which requires a sustained effort, often over a relatively long period of time.
Is your career facing an extinction-level event? Avoid annihilation by downloading a copy of our eBook by simply clicking on the link below to discover 9 principles of buyer engagement to exponentially increase leads, conversion, pipeline velocity and revenue impact: