3 Tips from an Outsourced Sales Team for Great B2B Cold Calling in 2014

b2b cold callingWhile cold calling has never been easy, it certainly has not gotten any easier in the past few years.

Using the data we’ve gathered as an outsourced sales team for B2B companies, in 2013 our average call (time a rep picks up the phone) to connect (times a decision maker picks up the phone) ratio was between 7% -16% (depending on the Industry).  In 2008, it was between 12% – 21%. This means that cold calling is now 30% to 50% less effective getting someone on the phone. In part, this is driven by better screening technology, but it is primarily driven by the fact that with downsizing, there are less decision makers doing more work, so they have less time to pick up the phone.

In order to help you get the most out of your cold calling, here are three tips for B2B cold calling success:

1)     Know Your Target:

Spend more time researching and less time calling. Look at what your target company does and your specific prospect’s role there. Look up he or she on LinkedIn to see their past work experience, interests, anything that can give you an idea of what makes this person tick.

The more you know going into the call, the less cold the call is. This process helps to generate momentum in your favor and further ensure a successful first contact. Additionally, consider the time zone in which your prospect is located. The absolute best times to cold call are between the hours of 8-9am and 4-5pm, with the lunchtime period of 1-2 being the absolute worst.

Continue reading this blog series.

For more on how cold calling’s decline in effectiveness has changed the B2B sales and marketing process, watch this quick video. You can find out more about the value of an outsourced sales team here. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Creating Choice in Your B2B Marketing Content

b2b content marketingThis is the second half of a blog series on B2B sales and freedom of choice. To read the first part, click here.

The first step in creating choice for your buyers is getting rid of the preconceived notion that all buyers follow the same path from discovery to close. Especially in B2B sales, each buyer’s journey can look very different.

One buyer might have an urgent need and want to make a purchase as soon as humanly possible. Another buyer may be a company that requires sign off from multiple decision makers, each having a different perspective on what makes a good solution. And yet another buyer may be a year or more away from buying a product like yours but want to get ahead on early-stage research.

In order to close all three of these deals, you need to set up your sales and marketing program to honor the variances in each buyer’s situation and offer content choices conducive to each.

For example, at the end of an early stage blog post, don’t assume that you know what the next step should be and force your buyer to take it. Offer options instead. From the examples given above, the buyer on the fast track might want to go straight from your blog to a custom demo sign up. For the company with multiple decision makers, each decision maker might want to take a different path forward (e.g. the IT rep wants technical specifications, the business buyer wants case studies). The very early-stage buyer isn’t ready to move forward yet and may just want to read some more educational blogs.

By offering choice, you can create a personalized and individualized buying experience for each prospect who enters your pipe.

To learn more about how the B2B sales and marketing process has changed in recent years, read/watch this quick video-blog. For more on the importance of offering many different content choices, read our blog post titled B2B Buying Cycles: Don’t Serve Breakfast for Dessert.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

B2B Sales & Freedom of Choice

b2b sales and freedom of choice Not too long ago, sales had a lot of power. Sales people used to be able to use knowledge and information as a closing tool.

Today, we live in a world of information, most of which is freely accessible. Buyers have no reason to go to a salesperson for information when they can go a website to get the same thing. Google’s Think Insights recently wrote:

“. . . our research has shown that, on average, business buyers do not contact suppliers directly until 57 percent of the purchase process is complete. That means for nearly two thirds of the buying process, your customers are out in the ether: Forming opinions, learning technical specifications, building requirements lists, and narrowing down their options, all on their own, with minimal influence from you.”

The main take away here is not that B2B buyers are now completing the majority of their buying process on their own, it is that they prefer to do so. If buyers preferred the old sales process, they would have continued to engage with it.  Data shows they aren’t, so the question we need to ask ourselves is what do buyers like about this new process.

The main difference we see between the old and new sales model is choice. In the old model, buyers had little choice in when to be sold to—everything was done in the seller’s way and on the seller’s time. Today, the buyer can choose everything about their buying process experience: when, what, how, where. If your sales and marketing process isn’t set up to give your buyer this type of freedom of choice, he is also free to choose to leave your buying process altogether and buy from a competitor.

The buyer likes to have freedom of choice. And, the company who is able to give it to them will be the one who wins the business.

Continue reading for more on B2B sales and freedom of choice.

3 Tips for More Effective B2B Content Marketing (Part 2)

effective b2b content marketingThis is the second half of a blog series featuring tips for creating more effective B2B content marketing. You can find part one here.

2.  Create a publishing calendar.

As we’ve written about previously, B2B marketers today are increasingly expected to act like publishers. It is no longer enough to publish content once a year or once a quarter; you need a consistent stream of valuable content to remain relevant to your customers and prospects. In order to keep track of and organize the publication of all of this content over time, it is a very good idea to create a publishing calendar.

Without a calendar to execute to, it is easy for a great strategy to fall apart halfway through. Conversely, if everyone on the marketing team has clearly defined tasks with deadlines attached, there are no excuses for not getting things done. Try to create publishing calendars or schedules a few months in advance, or quarterly. Scheduling out any further than that may prevent you from staying agile and optimizing for improvement. To ensure the process goes smoothly, it is a good idea to have daily or weekly meetings to assess progress and address any issues that prevent work from being completed on time.

3.  Put production and approval processes in place.

Every time a piece of marketing content is developed, there are a number of steps the content has to go through from creation to publication. Many times, content needs to go through various stages of editing before it is approved—grammatical, formatting/HTML, etc. In terms of both efficiency and quality assurance, companies should document these processes for content production and approval.

When production and approval processes are in place, there is no ambiguity about what needs to get done before a piece of content is completed and ready for use. One thing to remember is to factor in the time it takes to complete the production and approval processes when creating your publishing calendar. For example, if an email vendor requires email creative two days before an email blast is sent, that needs to be documented in your production process and reflected in the deadlines of your calendar.

For more tips on creating more effective B2B marketing content, read 7 B2B Content Ideas that Help Move the Deal Forward.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.

3 Tips for More Effective B2B Content Marketing

The world of content marketing and how it should impact your b2b strategyeffective b2b content marketing

MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute recently put out a report on B2B Content Marketing 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends. The report looked at B2B companies overall marketing effectiveness and found that 42% of B2B marketers say they are effective at content marketing.

When you take a deeper dive into the report, it seems there are identifiable factors that contribute to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of companies’ content marketing programs. The report shows that whether you have someone overseeing strategy, the number of tactics used, the number of social media tactics used and the amount of budget allocated all may impact a companies’ content marketing effectiveness.

However, it seems the factor most closely tied to whether or not a B2B company feels effective at content marketing is the existence of a ready-to-implement strategy. Taking this into consideration, here are three tips for more effective B2B content marketing:

  1. Create a content strategy.

If you have no strategy behind the content you produce, it is like trying to do archery in the dark; and blindly shooting arrows without a clear target is never going to be effective. In order for your marketing content to get people to take the actions you want (e.g. fill out a form, send an email, make a purchase, etc.), you need to think about who the audience is and how they will be able to use it. For every piece of content you create, there should be a clear intention and goal behind it, whether that goal is brand awareness or lead gen.

Part of creating a B2B content marketing strategy involves mapping out the stages of your sales cycle and developing content each stage. This entails early-stage, educational content (e.g. blogs, videos) to help with discovery as well as late-stage content that verifies the value prop (e.g. case studies, use cases)—and everything in between. By setting up your content marketing strategy like this beforehand, your prospects can find content that is relevant and valuable regardless of where they are in their buying process.

Continue reading.

Feel free to contact us with any questions.