In a previous blog, we discussed 12 reasons why using an outsourced sales company for corporate blogging in B2B sales is effective. In this blog, we will outline exactly how to craft those blogs to make sure they are effective at every step of the sales cycle. While there are many different ways to purpose a blog, writing for reach and for acquisition are two of the most important.
Blogging for Reach
Creating an outsourced sales blog can be a great way to attract new potential customers. The best way to do this is to provide your potential customer with something informative and useful. Make sure it is something they would actually like to read, not a notice about moving offices. The key to blogging to reach new customers is to keep it general and related to your industry overall.
Your blogs posts should seek to strike a balance between opinion, advice and news. Posts about specific products or services are good, but are not likely to catch the attention you are looking for. By offering your readers your opinion about what is happening in the industry, you are able to get your name out there and position yourself as an expert at the same time.
Blogging for Acquisition
Blogs can also be extremely effective in turning those potential customers into actual leads. In today’s market, the decision makers for B2B sales are going online to do their research. This means you have an opportunity to put the information they need right in front of them.
Rather than the general industry related blogs you wrote for reach, blogs for acquisition should be more specifically about your company. Here is your chance to discuss your products and services and why you think they can solve business problems. This is also a great place to answer frequently asked questions and display your success through case studies.
Blogging for acquisition should also include posts that familiarize your reader with who you are. You can do this by writing posts about key staff members or even have staff write blogs themselves. There is also no harm in writing up blurbs about any awards you have won. This adds a more personal aspect to your blogs, which makes you look more human and therefore easier to work with.
The goal to using an outsourced sales blog for acquisition is giving your potential customers information they are looking for. Help them to understand who you are as a company and how you help your customers succeed. If you give your reader all of the information they need to make a decision, you are one step closer to closing.
Understanding the difference between a Sales Cycle vs. Buying Cycle may be the most critical shift an organization needs to make to see significant and sustained revenue growth, especially for complex or highly competitive sales.
In a nutshell, the Sales Cycle is how your company looks at moving deals through their own sales pipe and sales process to close deals. Typically the flow looks something like a lead, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified leads, needs analysis, proposal, negotiation, verbal, and closed. This is a company centered view.
A buying cycle is looking at your sales cycle from what the customer needs. Probably the best example we have seen of a buying cycle is from Robert Jolles book Customer Centered Selling. Below is our brief explanation of how we look at this cycle, addressing some of the implications it has for us as an outsourced sales and marketing company with how we divide the sales and marketing functions.
Phase 1 – Intention to Buy
- The buyer starts satisfied with their current solution
- The buyer acknowledges to themselves that they are not satisfied
- The buyer makes the decision to do something about it
- The buyer starts to think about “what are the criteria” to consider moving forward
As a lead generation and a demand generation company, we understand that intention is meaningless without action. The world is full of people with great intentions that never actually take any action. Your job as a sales person and marketer is to understand that your first task in generating demand for your solution is to help educate a buyer on the “criteria” they need to consider. You need to appreciate that given a choice, most buyers will sit on the fence for as long as possible. They want to move forward, they know it’s good for them to move forward, so you need to help educate the buyer enough so they do in fact move forward. Your first job as a sales and marketing professional is to inspire and catalyze the desire that gets your buyer to move from the passive buying process to the active buying process. More and more, this is becoming the function of your content marketing and inside team.
Phase 2 – Active Buying
- The buyer needs to figure out how to measure the solution to: justify the purchase, understand the impact of doing nothing vs. changing, see the impact on topline, recognize the implications for bottom line, feel subjective relief of pain or risk
- The buyer investigates deeply, typically with short list of solutions and a deep dive into one or more solutions
- Selection is made; a front-runner is chosen
- The buyer reconsiders their decision
During the “Active” buying process, your sales team is typically on point. It’s at this point that marketing should take a back seat – with one exception: marketing needs to continue to support the sales team with the content they need to help deal with the reconsideration phase of the sales cycle. Your marketers need to be prepared to help the buyer remember why they were no longer satisfied and embarked on their buying cycle in the first place.
A landing page is where your potential customer is sent after he or she clicks on one of your ads, an email, or a search engine result. A landing page can be your main website, your blog, a specific product page, etc. But, while it is possible to simply send someone to your homepage, it will be much more effective to create a specific landing page that is meant to match the link that was clicked on.
When people click on an advertisement, they are only willing to stay on the page they are sent to if that page contains further information that interests them. If you force people to look around for the information they want, they will leave your site before they even know who you are.
For this reason, landing pages are extremely important for B2B lead generation. Because landing pages are usually your first point of contact with new potential customers, you need to set up a well-designed and organized page that catches their interest.
The best way to make a successful lead generation landing page is to present information that is directly related to the ad, email link, or search engine result clicked on. This information can vary depending on the exact intent of the landing page, but you should always include a call to action, like a downloadable offer with lead capture form. Because you need to tailor your lead generation landing page to match your specific advertisement, this means that if you have multiple ads, you need multiple landing pages.
While it may be easier to send everyone to your homepage and have them go from there, this is not an effective sales approach. The more clicks it takes for people to find the information they are looking for, the more likely they are to leave your site altogether. It is therefore your job to make the information they want as easy to find as possible by making separate pages for each ad.
When designing landing pages, it is important to keep in mind that their intent is to push people along in the sales cycle. So, your lead generation landing pages should contain information and tools that will help this happen. You should design each page to give readers key information about only the product or service featured in the advertisement.
The goal of designing multiple landing pages for each advertisement is to simplify the process of giving and receiving information. By creating a separate page for each of your products or services, you make it easier for your customers to find the sales content they want and for you to get their contact information in return.
B2B marketing is changing dramatically and it’s going to take an even greater commitment by marketers to embrace and execute effective B2B marketing. Here are the top ten things I believe you need to commit to in 2013 to be part of the transformation B2B marketing is going through.
1) Commit to multimedia content marketing that truly educates your potential buyers. You want the content to be so strong that your prospects have full-heartedly believe that they are more intelligent around the topics presented in your content than they were before they consumed it. You want it to be diverse in type (video, eBooks, blog posts, webinars, etc.) because people learn differently (and search engines will reward you for the diversified content types).
2) Develop and adhere to a content publishing schedule. This is important for a few key reasons: 1) keeping all responsible parties on track regarding the content creation and publishing cycle 2) establishing a pattern with your audience so they confidently expect new education on a regular basis 3) the ability to batch produce, plan ahead and pre-schedule posting so that when the inevitable interruption deters you, you have a backup plan to get the content out on time anyway.
3) A greater commitment to search engine optimization. The foundations of SEO are in flux with the current state and changes in social media, content marketing, vertical search, continuous search algorithm changes, and more. We believe a full-time commitment to SEO is necessary for all B2B marketing campaign portfolios. It often produces the strongest leads and, when done correctly, has longer lasting passive lead generation benefits that other B2B marketing campaigns.
4) Develop a social media marketing plan. B2B Marketers need to develop and execute an actual social media plan with functions in place to measure the social media ROI. This plan should at least include the use of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other social forums that have an industry-related focus.
5) Dig deeper into your web/data analytics goldmine. First, make sure your analytics data is well organized in some type of central reporting area/dashboard. Secondly, establish regular review periods to assess current performance across your KPIs against historical benchmarks. Third, set up instant alerts that notify you of key opportunities or concerns.
6) Implement marketing automation software. 2012 was my maiden voyage into the world of b2b marketing automation software. On the consumer marketing side, I’ve used some tools that do some components of marketing automation, but nothing like what I’ve seen done in the past 6 months. Tools like Pardot, Marketo, Eloqua and a few others are changing the B2B marketing game big time, yet the adoption rate is is still low enough to where you can gain some true competitive advantages if you implement in a timely manner. There are more than a dozen recommended marketing automation strategies that I can think of. Look for an additional blog post on this, but in the mean time read this blog post on how marketing automation helps sales teams.
7) Optimize your landing pages. You are likely sending people to various landing pages through your different marketing channels. Additionally, there are organic landing pages that reveal themselves over time (using Google Analytics data). This is often your best chance to get someone engaged with your company – make it count. There are countless resources for “landing page optimization” some with opposing views, so my number one tip for landing page optimization is make sure you split test.
8) Improve your website’s user experience. Some examples of ways to do this include: 1) Improve your page load time. Page load time is a positive or negative user experience. A fast load time gets potential prospects to your content/message faster. Slow load time keeps your prospects waiting or worse, going elsewhere. People doing research want information fast. If your site doesn’t load swiftly, you are likely losing leads. 2) Consistent and easy to use navigation. You want users to be regular visitors to your site (either for purchases or continued trust building with your site as an authoritative hub). Good navigation helps your users get to where they need to go with ease. This also includes a good internal search engine. 3) Make it easy for them to take the most desired action on each respective page they are visiting, e.g. when offering a free whitepaper, make it abundantly clear what they need to provide and how exactly the whitepaper will be delivered.
9) Create a greater mobile experience for your websites. Whether its a responsive website re-design or delivering a mobile-based theme through device detection, more and more people are using mobile devices to consume content. Personally, I keep my laptop put away late at night and use my mobile devices to do research, solve business problems and to keep communication flowing (e.g. late night email, instant messaging, texting).
10) Get more involved in the lead nurturing and sales education process. Other experts I know in this space are predicting a much greater role to be played by marketers in strengthening demand generation, lead nurturing, and using targeted content marketing for sales education (moving away from just focusing on top funnel lead generation volume). B2B marketers should expect to be more deeply involved in the prospect buying cycle. This will require a more active participation with the sales team, product experts, and, most importantly, prospects themselves.
B2B marketing requires a new breed of marketers – people who are: knowledgeable/experienced in B2B selling, technically skilled, analytical, organized, productive, and business-savvy individuals who work well across teams to champion the creation of high performing, measurable, and predictable lead/demand generation and sales conversion systems.
Now, imagine the workload and personnel commitment required to make all that happen within a single company. First, you need at least one person to get up to speed on the changing tools, technologies, language and strategies required for the new rules of B2B marketing. Then, not only do you need that individual or team to learn all of this, you need them to be able to articulate it clearly across teams so that everyone understands and is on board with the changing rules and processes. Next, you need a diehard commitment to actually managing, implementing and optimizing all the different projects that come about by committing to the 10 issues above. Projects like website redesign, new software implementation, consistent content production, streamlining reporting/analysis, and more are huge undertakings.
At Gabriel Sales, we have:
- gone through the learning curves
- championed the transformation into various companies
- stayed abreast of B2B marketing best practices
- deployed the projects required to meet our B2B marketing recommendations
- continued to hone and optimize our own strategies as well as our clients
Working with an outsourced B2b marketing firm like Gabriel Sales will help you deploy these recommendations more quickly and cost-effectively compared to doing all of the work in-house. If you’d like to learn more about how we would help you, please request a complimentary review here.