I recently had the pleasure of attending the American Marketing Association Boston event Actionable Marketing Metrics: Tools and Methodologies on Tuesday, 24 January, 2017.

The two guest speakers, Thor Johnson, CEO of Bedrock Data, and Kristen Hambelton, CMO of ServiceChannel, gave outstanding presentations. They raised interesting points on how businesses should approach defining metrics in both marketing and sales.

Here are a few main takeaways that are particularly pertinent to B2B businesses (though, of course, they do apply to B2C companies as well):

There is a continuum of different B2B business models – from luminary consultants to commodity products – and each model needs to have a distinct structure for marketing and sales.  Before we assess sales team readiness, we begin by ensuring that the right revenue architecture (the product and process of marketing and sales) is in place and aligned with the target business architecture.

For businesses with a complex, solution sale or consulting sale, there are sales effectiveness attributes that we look for. Below, we’ve outlined competencies, activities, and attributes for good selling. Sales executives, client managers and account reps that sell complex products, business solutions or consultative services should possess the following:

Designing and launching a B2B sales campaign is a continuous activity for B2B sales and marketing teams. To illustrate this, we developed a Closed-Loop Marketing Architecture that describes the continuous campaign process. Data insights help determine the new customer messaging and personalized interactions resulting in better sales conversions.  The process tightly aligns marketing and sales teams to orchestrate buyer engagement at each stage and maximize lead conversions and ultimately revenue impact. Data and insights from past campaigns drive new segmentation and new messaging, spawning new campaigns.

A campaign involves the design, launch and optimization of experiences across multiple channels. It will engage customers and prospects at each stage of the buying lifecycle. So what are the elements in an effective B2B campaign design? These 10 questions can help cover the bases for your next B2B sales campaign. 

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In the course of my three decades in sales leadership roles at large enterprises, early stage growth companies and in my management consulting practice, I have witnessed and corrected many bad sales practices. These practices, if not course corrected, would lead to zero sales. When they numbered an even ten, they became Sherwin’s 10 Deadly Sins of Sales. Out of the office with senior executives, I would recount them to their great amusement.

 

Here they are! Enjoy!

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It’s the middle of Q4 and the end of the year is fast-approaching. For many, it is a time to slow down from work and spend time with family. For sales people, it’s can be a frantic time, as many B2B companies must close sales opportunities to achieve revenue goals.

So, what can the marketing team do to help the sales team and ring in the New Year on a positive note? Here are a few tips to align marketing and sales and help ease the December frenzy and drive some upward momentum into the New Year.

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Effective Selling

As we know, several factors fundamentally differentiate B2B from B2C. B2B (Business-to-Business) sales are transactions between business entities and B2C (Business-to-Consumer) sales is where businesses sell to consumers.

Typically B2B sales are complex and considered. Evaluation and decision making follows multiple stages of learning and evaluation. B2B sales cycles are longer and purchases typically have higher dollar volumes and higher risk. B2B is often characterized by team selling to committee buying. Decisions involve various stakeholders and influencers including economic buyers, solution users, procurement specialists, domain experts, etc. B2B buyers self sell.  Sales teams are no longer the single source of product information and benefits. Education has shifted to the web where buyers search products and ‘self-sell’.

The buying and selling process is fundamentally different in B2B and marketing and sales must work well together around the customer buying process. Content needs to be multi-stage and mapped across the buy-sell cycle. It must include a spectrum of TOFU (top of the funnel), MOFU (middle of the funnel) and BOFU (bottom of the funnel) content. Content for B2B is typically less emotional and more educational. It includes value propositions and product facts. Qualification is more important in B2B as the cost and of sales is high so it is important that sales teams are focused on the qualified opportunities. Marketing and sales teams must collaborate on the qualification process and lead nurturing is more important.  The cycle for B2B is elongated and complex and buyers decide when they engage with sales.

7 Attributes of B2B Marketing and Sales

When you design your B2B revenue strategy, consider these 7 attributes.

1. Use the right set of performance metrics.

Measurement focus in not just about lead generation and vanity web metrics, it is about a tangible focus on pipeline and revenue impact.

    • Impact on pipeline / Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) plus impact at each funnel stage
    • Impact on close rate
    • Impact on deal size / contract value
    • Impact on total revenue.

2. Segment your markets and tailor the messages.

Segmentation and clean data is critical in B2B marketing. Campaigns for new acquisition and cross selling are driven by predictive analytics.

    • Segmentation around demographics, firmographics, behaviors
    • Clean data
    • In-house and 3rd party data
    • Business Intelligence Tools for predictive marketing

3. Design and launch integrated campaigns

B2B campaign design is complex and follows a variety of buy-sell paths. Campaigns can be automated and driven by business rules. Marketing Automation is a critical enabler.

    • Multi-touch, multi-stage programs
    • Lead Nurture Strategies
    • Account based advertising
    • PPC vs. Organic
    • Smart (e.g. IP-based) Retargeting
    • Branding and experience
    • Derivative content

4. Maintain a solid digital experience across web and social.

The website continues to be a marketing and sales hub for B2B and social media amplifies your impact and visibility.

    • Social media sites also present a brand and product / service message
    • Website personalization plays a high value role for B2B to tailor content and messages for particular segments
    • Organic SEO around your best content helps build visibility – especially on the long tail
    • Landing pages remain a critical conversion point for lead generation.
    • B2B emphasis on LinkedIn, Twitter
    • Social selling  – enabling the account teams with relationship intelligence and social media engagement
    • Using discussion Groups on LinkedIn and Quora

5. Use the right revenue technology including Marketing Automation, CRM, Data Management and Business Intelligence.

The role of revenue technology, including Marketing Automation, CRM, Data Management and Business Intelligence is prominent in B2B. Closed the marketing and sales loop.

    • Marketing Automation for List management, life of the lead, lead scoring / grading, nurture programs, list management,
    • CRM for contact management, opportunity management, sales nurture
    • Data Management and Business Intelligence for predictive analytics and campaign design.

6. Take advantage of content marketing across the cycle.

The inbound marketing model relies on compelling, search visible and tailored content across the buyer process.

    • White Papers
    • Solution Briefs
    • White Labeled Assets (B2B2C)
    • Webinars
    • Infographics
    • Video
    • Apps and tools

7. Build your selling excellence.

Of course the effectiveness and capability of the sales team is paramount in complex B2B sales.

    • Balance the inside vs. outside mix
    • Align specialists and sales teams
    • Mix your farmers and hunters
    • Activate account and cross selling (3Cs – continue, crop rotation, colonization)

Effective sales pipeline management is vital to your business. Align your teams around a ‘lingua franca’ to better manage deal qualification, forecasting and the sales process.

We know the B2B sales pipeline is changing.  Inbound marketing and emerging marketplaces (like 99designs, Thumbtack and BlurGroup among others) manage elements of prospecting and the lead generation cycle outside of direct sales. Marketing plays a bigger role to drive inbound leads into the sales pipeline and marketplaces can replace some elements of sales outbound prospecting.

In complex or considered sales, the professional management of the sales process from working lead to committed remains vital.  It is important to get the sales team on the same page and using the same sales process. Quite often, we see companies that are not using a common language for the sales pipeline. Forecasting is much more difficult when we are unclear about the status of each deal and the stage in the process. Firms often over-invest in some deals and under-invest in others while colleagues who support the sales effort become frustrated when time is wasted.

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