While B2B sales is always going to be about building relationships and creating trust, the way we go about doing those things has changed dramatically in recent years. Social media, marketing automation and other digital sales tools and technologies have enabled a new and more effective way of selling while simultaneously making the whole process much more complex.
The new digital marketplace requires better synergy between sales and marketing teams, a steady flow of digital content and web tools to track and measure your efforts. For some companies, making this transition can be hard to handle and involves a long learning curve. Because of this, many companies find an advantage in leveraging B2B sales outsourcing services to help them change and adapt to this new way of selling.
As a B2B sales outsourcing company, we obviously have some bias here, but here are three of the main ways our services bring value to our clients:
- Align digital content with buyer need
By now, most B2B companies know they need to create marketing content to use in the course of their sales process. The part some companies struggle with is creating content that is both relevant to the buyer and contributes to moving prospects through the sales cycle.
A B2B sales and marketing outsourcing company has the experience to know what content works and what doesn’t. They also know how to craft content that speaks directly to your buyers’ greatest needs or pains. At least initially, your content should be able to let your prospects quickly decide whether or not they have any interest in your solution; sales outsourcing services can help you create a content strategy aligned around this goal.
As we’ve written about previously, there are a lot of similarities between dating and sales. Parts 1-3 of this blog series can be found here:
Referrals are like inbounds in the sense that they don’t come around that often. Referrals are great for a prospect and company because there is third-party verification right out of the gate. On the downside, there is also an added level of risk involved, as you have to live up to the hype that has been said about you or risk making a liar of your referrer.
The best way to handle referrals is carefully. In both dating and sales, it’s tough to get a good introduction. There is very little to gain for the ethical matchmaker. So, treat these types of leads with extra care and respect because blowing it really means blowing two deals at once. Additionally, news spreads, whether it is good or bad. So, the way you handle your referrals can have a lasting impact on your future success or failure.
The main takeaway here is that while inbounds and referrals are rare, they should be treated with special care and attention. Inbounds have gone out of their way to let you know their interested. Referrals come in because someone else has put himself out on the line for you. Both of these types of leads therefore deserve your A-game.
For more on how to handle B2B sales leads, read this blog on B2B sales pipeline management. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Sales, dating, and Inbound leads
As we’ve written about previously, there are a lot of similarities between dating and sales. Both types of relationships require building trust and involve a lot of hard work to be successful.
Similarly, in both sales and dating, there are two types of ‘leads’ that are rare and golden: inbounds and referrals. In sales, inbounds are leads that do not come in from outgoing marketing campaigns; they may find you via search engines or social media. Referrals are self-explanatory, they are leads that have been referred by a third-party. The problem with inbound and referrals is that most companies don’t even know or have a process to deal with them.
In sales or dating, most of us aren’t lucky enough to get many inbounds. Unless you’re the attractive type (e.g. a professional athlete or Apple), inbound inquiries are usually far and few between. Because inbound leads are so rare, many people fumble them because they have ‘no game’ or no process in place to deal with these situations.
In sales, some companies are so clueless about how to handle inbound leads that they turn off their inbound marketing. From our perspective, this is equivalent to the average bachelor turning away a reoccurring bevy of female admirers. This simply does not make sense.
For both sales teams and bachelors, inbounds should not be overwhelming or complicated. They simply require a discerning disposition; when inbound leads come in, they need to be vetted to see who is worthy. Another thing to remember about inbound leads is that they aren’t always obvious. Just like in dating, you often get signs or subtle cues that let you know someone is interested, but how often do people come up to you and ask?
This is part 2 of a blog series on the ways B2B content marketing programs can fail. Click here for part one.
3. Unclear roles/responsibilities
Even if you have a strategy and content production processes in place, if no one knows what they are supposed to do, you content marketing program will fail. People cannot be expected to succeed if they are unclear on what their individual roles and responsibilities are.
For each and every step in content creation, editing, approval, publishing, sharing, etc., clear responsibility should be assigned. Even if certain steps seem insignificant or intuitive, assign and document responsibility. As business scales and content production increases, you will be extremely thankful you took the time to do this.
4. Poor use of technology
Today, content marketing is inherently bound to digital technology. This means that your ability to leverage digital marketing technologies will have a direct impact on the effectiveness of your content marketing programs. Not all marketing technologies are appropriate for all companies, so it is important to do your research as to which will be most effective for achieving your specific goals.
For B2B companies, leveraging a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program as well as a marketing automation solution can dramatically increase the effectiveness of your content marketing efforts. These programs allow you to keep track of all of your prospects and track their individual engagement with your content to gauge interest and start building a digital relationship. Learn more about how B2B companies leverage marketing automation here.
5. Lack of consistent flow
As we’ve written about previously, marketers today are expected to act like publishers. This means a quarterly newsletter is no longer enough. Again, the right volume and flow will vary from business to business, but generally speaking, you need to make sure you have a consistent and steady flow of content coming out all year.
Writing weekly blog posts is a great way to establish consistency with your readers. It also gives early-stage prospects (who aren’t yet ready to buy) a way to get to know your company without feeling intimidated or threatened by aggressive sales messages. If you have the bandwidth, putting out a quarterly newsletter or series of videos is a great way to get traction from some of those prospects who haven’t engaged in a while.
For more tips on successful B2B content marketing, read 3 Tips for More Effective B2B Content Marketing. Feel free to contact us with any questions.
In 2014, your content marketing program is an integral part of your overall sales process. If your content is unsuccessful, that ultimately spells trouble for sales and the company overall.
To help you implement an effective B2B content marketing program, here are the five most common things we see that cause content marketing programs to fail:
1. Lack of strategy
While the majority of B2B companies are now engaged in content marketing (93%), it seems that many are doing so without any type of documented strategy in place. A October 2013 study from the Content Marketing Institute found that only 44% of B2B companies had a documented content strategy in place. The study also found:
“A documented strategy makes a difference, as 84 percent of marketers who say they are ineffective at content marketing said they have no documented strategy. B2B marketers who have a documented content strategy are far more likely to consider themselves effective (66 percent vs. 11 percent).”
So, if you don’t have a clear strategy currently backing your content marketing efforts, that is the best place to start. A content strategy should include elements like high-level objectives and goals (e.g. increase awareness, generate leads) as well as the specific tactics (e.g. get followers on social, execute email marketing campaigns) that will be used to achieve those goals.
2. Lack of production process
The next place a content marketing strategy can fail is in the actual production of the content itself. A lot of companies can generate great content ideas, but then don’t have the processes in place to make sure the content is created, edited and shared.
There are a number of different ways companies can manage content production, and the best way will likely be determined by the size of the company and the amount of content being produced. Solutions range from Excel spreadsheets to track production stages to highly sophisticated project management softwares that can manage content production across different brands or channels.