Sales and Marketing Educational


What is Modern Sales and Marketing

What is Modern Sales and Marketing

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about adjusting sales and marketing techniques, tactics and alignment to meet the needs of the modern B2B buyer. But what are the needs of this new type of buyer as they search and move toward purchase? What is Modern Sales and Marketing?

Before the days of the internet, people became aware of products in the physical world – traveling to a tradeshow, answering calls from and engaging with a sales person to gather information and learn about a product or service. And if the sales person was knowledgeable about the solution features and benefits, then they bought it.

Obviously, those days are gone, and now the internet gives people the opportunity to self-educate about products and services before communicating with a sales person. Now, if the buyer can avoid a sales person completely (which occurs frequently with SaaS products), they will. If a buyer does need to work with a sales person to complete the transaction, the buyer now expects that sales person to understand their needs and to customize a solution that meets their needs.

The paradigm has shifted and now products are bought first – with digital content that proves you understand your buyers’ needs and pains – then sold by closers or sales reps who take orders, once buyers feel educated enough to engage in deeper discussions.

The numbers continue to prove the acceleration of this trend: CEB Global finds, 77% of B2B buyers say they don’t talk with a sales rep until after they perform independent research. Sirius Decisions says, 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally as today’s modern buyer self-evaluates the value of a product or service on websites, social networks, review boards and other digital resources of choice. And when they’re ready to engage with a sales rep, they’re already more than half way through the traditional journey. So, businesses must now embrace content marketing, marketing automation, content distribution and social posts to keep up with the demands of the modern consumer.

In essence, modern sales and marketing bridges the gap between sales and marketing and aligns the sellers sales process with the buyers’ journey, to sell solutions, not features and benefits. The goal of modern sales and marketing is to map your sales process with the contemporary buyers’ journey to make it easy for the buyer to purchase at each stage of the process.

Aligned Sales and Marketing

Today, a company that wants to succeed in the modern marketplace, must demand its sales and marketing departments work together collaboratively, get along and partner for one goal – increase the bottom line. With the multiple moving parts involved in the modern sales and marketing machine, both entities must work together to bring in an audience, educate that audience and move that audience towards a purchase decision. Equally important, they must also remove segments of that audience that are not interested in purchasing to maximize the time of the sales rep. It seems like an arduous task, but the effort is worth it because the rewards are tangible: Marketo finds that companies with an aligned sales and marketing strategy are 67% better at closing deals.

In order to align the two departments, sales must talk to marketing and clearly articulate the types of people (targets) who are most likely to buy and which ones are the right fit for the company. They also need to be able to clearly convey the problems these buyers need to solve. Then, marketing must take those items and craft a strategy, produce content (both educational and content that facilitates easier transactions) and distribute it in an organized, timely manner.

On the flip side, marketing needs to craft powerful sales stories and value propositions for the products or services, so the sales team can be consultants and offer solutions to consumers, rather than pushing product features and benefits.

It’s also marketing’s job to attract and nurture prospects with quality and authentic content that makes it easy for buyers to understand the company story, what makes them unique, and what makes them different. Additionally, marketing must track the buyers consumption of this content to pass the most qualified leads to the sales reps, so they can convert those prospects into customers.

At Gabriel Sales, we make it mandatory for the sales and marketing teams to meet weekly to review results and provide feedback regarding processes, content campaigns and other sales and marketing tactics. We often go through call verbatims, to learn what works and what does not work to adjust and fill gaps in both the sales process and marketing process where needed. This type of open communication and collaboration ensures our content is customized to our target audience – which the sales team knows best – and is being utilized in the correct stage of the buyers’ journey. In addition, this open communication and collaboration aligns our marketing and sales efforts, which helps generate inspirational and creative ideas for new content and sales and marketing tactics to attract qualified leads. Finally, it allows us to provide our target audience with incredible value and a clear understanding of our clients’ products or services. This level of collaboration accelerates our ability to hit sales goals and to generate the results our clients need.

Content Production, Curation and Distribution

As content marketing matures, the ROI is now becoming established. Demand Metric finds that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about 3-times as many leads. But content marketing only works if you aim to educate your buyer and allow them to move towards a purchase. And again, the numbers support this approach as a Demand Metric study reports, 60% of buyers are inspired to seek out a more information on a product after reading about a business approach to the solution.

So, what type of content should you produce for the modern sales and marketing process to move a buyer towards a purchase? It’s important to create several types of targeted content for all phases of the new buyers’ journey, which is broken into three parts:

  1. Awareness phase: to help buyers realize their need for a product or service to fix their problem
  2. Consideration phase: to help buyers research solutions for their problem and to compare and contrast a solution they’re interested in
  3. Decision phase: to help assure buyers the product they’ve identified as a solution is the right choice

Any content device is useful, blogs, videos, webcasts, product demos, case studies, white papers, checklist, etc. But not all buyers like the same type of content. A Demand Gen report notes 95% of B2B buyers choose solution providers that offer relevant types of content at every stage of the buying process. So, it’s good to use several pieces for each stage. It’s also important to not over spend on content production. In many cases authentic communication at a lower cost works just as well as highly produced, expensive content. Blogs articles work just as well, in many cases, as expensive white papers. In fact, a Demand Metric study shows, companies that have a blog platform produce 67% more leads per month than those that do not have one. And video works too: Hubspot finds 70% of B2B buyers watch a video sometime during their buying journey.

The most important criteria is not expensive production, but aligning your content pieces to your buyer’s journey process, so you ensure each consumer interested in your solution is receiving the right message at the right time. As content is pushed out, it turns outbound leads into inbound leads that help your buyers decide if they are the right fit, while at the same time, either qualifying them as prospects for your sales team or disqualifies them (a no is as good as a yes) according to your target identification within your strategy. Remember, unqualifying leads is just as important as qualifying them, as it mitigates time wasted on people who will eventually fall out of the buyers’ journey themselves. This ensures you’re speaking to the right people and increases effectiveness and conversion rates, which, Aberdeen finds are nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters – 2.9% vs 0.5%.

Marketing Automation and Lead Scoring

Content marketing takes commitment to ensure steady production. But simply churning content to increase your volume of marketing assets no longer makes sense. Creating the right content and using it as effectively as possible to maximize your investment is now critical. To do this, a company needs to leverage the right marketing automation tool to execute a systematic automation and digital communication plan that includes lead scoring. Marketing automation allows you to implement your buyers journey content strategy, roadmap, or digital sales process (whatever you want to call it) within a system that automatically sends messages at a desired cadence. Lead scoring then allows you to identify what buyers are most interested and actively considering buying a solution by assigning a score to the buyers’ digital activities and engagements. Leads are ultimately scored by correlating a buyer’s digital conversation to a buying stage. For example, form fills and pricing pages demand higher scores than educational blog pages. As a user self-educates, it continues to compile points and bubbles buyers most likely to buy to the top of the lead funnel.

When a buyer hits a certain threshold, they are then prioritized by the sales team for follow-up calls and discussions.

And because the automation software keeps a history of the pages visited, a sales rep can jump into that digital conversation and already understand the pains and problems a buyer is trying to solve. This allows a sales rep to become more of a consultant, rather than one that “feature dumps” and/or highlights the benefits of the solution.

At the same time, marketing can constantly study data and improve results with smarter reporting, in the forms of real-time content consumption, dynamic reporting of email activity and correlating campaign results to stages in the sales funnel. Ultimately, marketing automation allows for more accurate data, which allows teams to pivot when needed.

What is Modern Sales and MarketingDedicated Sales Consultants and Engineers

Top performing modern sales and marketing systems optimize workflows to make it easy for sales reps to follow-up with the right leads at the right time.

As Velocify finds, organizations with the fastest lead follow-up have the highest inbound lead conversion. In order to accomplish this, teams must dedicate sales consultants to qualify and contact high-scoring leads immediately, while understanding which “solution ballpark” the prospect is interested in, from the information provided.

Think of this as smart lead distribution – sending the right lead to the right sales rep to optimize the sales rep’s time. As Hubspot’s analysis of more than 2,200 American companies finds, those that attempt to reach leads within an hour of when a buyer looks ready to buy, are nearly 7x likelier to have meaningful conversations with decision makers than those that waited even 2 hours or more.

Summary

While this is a simplified synopsis of modern sales and marketing, there are key pieces SMBs can use to begin to build a process of making modern consumers aware of its products and solutions, while picking up some quick wins along the way.

The keys are to target the right decision maker units through communication and collaboration, set a strategy that clearly outlines the buyers’ journey and automate message delivery for a certain, decided cadence. Top performers solidify a consistent process and leverage technology to help execute it, while simultaneously mitigating wasted time and effort through insightful analytics. Another key is getting all teams on the same page for the same goal, to increase company revenue. Because when organizations achieve that, the results are astounding. Hubspot finds, when sales and marketing teams work together, companies see 36% higher customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates. Hubspot also reports, companies with good sales and marketing alignment practices, generate 208% more revenue from marketing efforts. And that’s good for everyone.

 

About Us

Gabriel Sales helps companies build modern sales and marketing operations. We are committed to marketing automation as one of the critical tools for sales success. We have over 50 marketing automation deployments under our belt. And we have implemented over a half dozen different marketing automation technologies so we can help you decide on the best fit at the right price to meet your sales goals and stage of sales maturity.

To learn more about the gaps we can help you in building modern sales and marketing operations with sales outsourcing we invite you to visit our sales outsourcing approach and philosophy page or our blog post about how we leverage sales outsourcing to build modern sales and marketing operations.

 

We Are Passionate About Helping Entrepreneurs Committed to Sustained Sales Growth 

 

We Specialize in Building Outbound Marketing Engines To Consistently Fill Your Funnel with Real Sales Opportunities 

 

Contact our team and evaluate in detail if our solution can help drive your success and remove barriers to growth.

 

 

 

 

How Outsourced Sales and Marketing Impacts Calling Efforts

Solutions are first Bought and then Sold 

All culminating in the ability to score leads so your callers are focused on buyers most likely to transact

Ten years ago the number one way to generate new leads was through the proven method of targeting the right market, picking up the phone, telling your prospect a great sales story and setting an appointment.    The more calls you made, the more appointments you could set.  But times have changed and you can no longer throw bodies at the problem.

According to Forrester Research over “70% of buyers now prefer to receive an email and be educated digitally before meaningfully engaging with a sales rep.”  Couple this with the fact that buyers now pick up the phone 50% less than they did several years ago,  you can see why you and your outsourced sales and marketing company now need to approach cold calling and their phone approach to sales and lead generation differently.

A Changing Market 

So now when you outsource sales and marketing in 2017 you can expect your outsourced sales and marketing team to generate leads through a combination of the integrated process including  Email Marketing Campaigns, Content Marketing, PPC Campaigns and Cold Calling

When cold calling your outsourced sales callers will start by introducing content

If buyers prefer to learn about new solutions through educational content this is where your calling efforts will start.  You should use your callers to target customers that fit your ideal customer profile – buyers that are in the right vertical, buyers and influencers that should have a need for your solution that can help them hit their own personal annual bonus this year, and buyers that you have a proven ability to serve.  Your goal of that initial call should be to get to pitch your solution in under 30 seconds, confirm that they have at least a little interest in your solution and that they are the right person at the company to share the information with.   Once these goals are achieved you should share the information and get off the call and move on to putting more early stage deals in the funnel.

Your outsourced sales team should focus on helping and not selling

You callers initial focus needs to be more customer service and buyer education focused.  Not trying to set appointments immediately with closers.   Your callers need to shift their mind set to discover if there is a real possibility of a fit.  Your initial aim needs to qualify, not force or convince.   Forcing a fit is a waste of your buyer’s time and your time.

One of the primary innovations of automation technologies is that it gives you’re the ability to observe a buyers digital footprint so you can see what buyers are most curious and interested in your solution.  Once the lead has been generated your outsourced callers should focus on these leads first.

Your callers should focus on understanding your buyer’s needs

If your callers are calling on buyers that are highly scored this means the buyer is educating themselves about you digitally. Your callers don’t need to pitch, they need to understand what the buyer’s specific needs and goals are.  Your callers need to change their language from “sales speak” to natural language.  You need to ask smart questions, then listen. Doing these two things will immediately set yourself apart as someone who is patient, open minded and willing to listen.   Ask what more educational material the buyer would like to see.

Finally your callers need to close on the sales appointment

When you follow this process that allows the buyer to buy the way they want to buy you will know that:

  • The buyer is a fit for your business
  • What the buyer needs
  • That the buyer is educated

At this point your outsourced sales team is ready to hard qualify the deal for your closer and ask for the appointment. At this point the buyer is either ready to buy or not ready to buy.  The buyer will trust you so you will be able to ask hard qualifying questions and expect accurate and truthful answers because trust will have been established in both directions.  And most importantly when you pass to your closer they will have all the information they need to service and close the buyer for a mutually beneficial long term relationship.

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Gabriel Sales builds outsource sales and marketing teams for Start Ups and Small Businesses.  We help companies build modern sales and marketing operations for buyers in this new digital landscape.  If you think this may be a fit for your company we invite you to visit our outsources sales and marketing services page to learn more about what we can do for you.

 

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Outsourced Sales Tip – How to Amplify Quality Content

Companies with even a limited amount of quality content now have some distinct advantages in generating more sale ready leads with specific outbound tactics.  As an outsourced sales company, we often combine our client’s content, with some specific outbound tactics, our reps and software to produce qualified sales opportunities at a lower cost. What follows are a handful of quick tips and best practices to help you amplify your existing content to:

  • Effectively leverage eMail marketing for more cost effective top of funnel lead Generation
  • Amplify your existing educational articles and videos to score leads
  • Generate more Sales Ready Leads at a lower cost

Pendulums swing back and forth as do sales and marketing strategies. According to Marketing Sherpa, with the advent of content marketing, more B2B buyers now prefer to be introduced to new products and solutions through email. This is a financial windfall, especially for SMBs, and needs to be taken full advantage of while it lasts. For less than one month of the fully loaded costs of a cold caller (not to mention the cost of buying their calling list) a company can now generate 2000 to 6000 early stage top of funnel leads.  For more info to evaluate the economics, you can visit our eProspecting educational microsite and video here.

Target the Decision Making Unit

According to the Harvard Business Review, 90% of Buying decisions now require both a technical and business buyer (HBR – 2010). The same article goes on to state that the number one purchase criteria for  C-Level decision makers was the buy-in of their managers  – and the number one criteria for middle management was approval by senior management. This risk aversion and need for consensus is a lasting legacy of the 2008 downturn. Most solutions are now made by committee so it makes sense to initially introduce your solution to everyone in that Decision Making Unit. The takeaway is if your solution hits a hot button with middle management, it will gain traction.

While we appreciate that all marketers want to segment more because different buyers have different needs – when it comes to top of funnel lead generation and email marketing, the economics of this may not make sense. If you can target/engage 25,000 buyers/influencers for $4,000 and 75,000 for $5,000 it just makes sense to introduce your solution to 3X the buyers/influencers for an incremental investment.

You can diversify your messages with your automation platform once you have generated the initial top of funnel leads.

No one ever buys a solution after reading one email

B2B products and solutions are not impulse buys. So you should not expect to send one email and instantly have the phone ringing off the hook. For email marketing to work effectively, it requires multiple emails spread out over a period of time. We typically recommend a three-step integrated approach:

  • Generate your top of funnel leads with a rented, opt-in e-mail list from a certified vendor
  • And then leverage a marketing automation platform with lead scoring capabilities for continued digital communication
  • Then focus your callers on the most highly scored leads that are showing a propensity to buy

The content framework below will help to illustrate that point.

First things first – Educational content works better than a great “offer”


eMail marketing is no different than the early stage job that is done by an inside sales rep. The first job of an inside rep is to establish trust and empathy. This can often take 2 to 3 phone conversations – which may take 30 attempts to connect to the buyer to get them on the phone.  You can use the same approach with your early eMail communications at a much lower cost.  As an outsourced sales and marketing company, we have seen the best results with:

  • Leading with a few simple educational blogs, intro videos and articles (especially for top of funnel and early nurturing)
  • Then moving to more solution based content like demo videos, webcasts, case studies and testimonials

There are no short cuts to building a relationship and we see that offering more info beats “sign up now” 85% of the time. In most cases, your buyers want you to prove you can be helpful before they want to know the details of how you can help. Don’t sell the product, but rather the content – because in this age of digital engagement, more and more products are first “bought’ then “sold”.

One final note – If you have video, use it! The video doesn’t have to be Clio Award winning.  In fact, we have seen the opposite – once the lead has been generated, simple, straightforward headshots, screencast demos and videos that stress benefits rather than features that are substantive are some of the best ways to score buyer propensity.

 

As an outsourced sales and marketing company that supports SMBs and Start-Ups, Gabriel Sales has a somewhat unique view of the world.  While as marketers – impressions, reporting and top of funnel leads are important to us as an outsourced sales company, we are more interested in generating sales ready leads as cost effectively as possible. We believe SMBs initially only need two key features from an automation system – The ability to sell one to many digitally and the ability to prioritize who to call first. To achieve these two goals marketing automation platforms allow you to:

 

  1. Build trust with the buyer digitally through nurturing email campaigns
  2. Score the leads based on a buyers engagement with specific types of content

Ironically, according to the Marketing Automation Strategy Survey published by Marketo in 2016 (see graphic above), the lead scoring function is often the most overlooked by marketers. As an outsourced sales and marketing company, our suspicion is that automation tools are often so focused on inbound marketing efforts that the sales function is overlooked. Don’t forget to score your leads! This is the number one way to optimize your outbound calling efforts. Our best practice is this simple to use formula to the left.

Why is video so important? Because, according to Forbes magazine, video is preferred over text by 59% of Middle Managers and Executives as a way to understand a solution. And 50% typically move onto another piece of information after viewing. So:

  1. Buyers prefer it
  2. It demonstrates authentic interest beyond initial early education
  3. It shortens your sales and development cycle (they move onto another piece of content)

It has become easy to have optimized and easy to digest on your mobile device.

Design for Mobile

More email is read on Mobile than on desktop email clients.

  • Stats say 48% of email is now opened on a mobile device and it jumps to 55% for executives – Litmus “Email Analytics” (March 2016)
  • 65% of Media Time is now spent on mobile (comScore)

What does this mean for you and lead development? For effective use of content:

  • Keep your videos clean and simple
  • Landing pages and microsites must be optimized for mobile first
  • You should not over design and over code your emails with heavy graphics and complex design. Make getting to your message clean and straightforward.  Get them to the website and get them to mobile enabled content

Conclusion

For most SMBs, generating sales ready leads and improving the effectiveness of your callers  is not as difficult as it may first appear.  This is especially true if you are already starting with a well-designed website, a couple of solid educational offers and a handful of videos  and blogs to help with lead scoring.  A marketing automation system helps and if you have not invested in a system yet, Gabriel Sales has two cost effective solutions that can be leased on a month to month basis to help you get started and avoid the annual commitment most providers now require.

 

Who We Are and How We Can Help

Gabriel Sales is a full service outsourced sales and marketing consulting and execution firm that provides outsourced sales and marketing services. We combine sales strategy consulting, digital content marketing, marketing automation expertise and sales execution in order to produce self-sustaining, scalable, and measurable sales engines – all designed to put more sales qualified leads in your closers hands to generate revenue.

We have been building repeatable sales processes with automation tools for long enough to understand that companies are at different stages of sales automation maturity. So we offer solutions for companies at different stages. Solutions include:

  • Top of Funnel Campaigns
  • Sales Ready Lead Campaigns
  • Thought Leadership and Sales Automation Content Production
  • Tradeshow Support
  • And Full Go-to-Market Packages

To learn more about Gabriel Sales we invite you to check out the About Us section of our website

If you are still a little uncertain if eMail is even right for your business you can check out our eProspecting educational microsite and solution video to learn a little more about how eProspecting  can fill your funnel fast.

How to Build a Winning Ideal Customer Profile

This blog is the second on our series and outlines the steps we take to build a successful outsourcing lead generation strategy and the sales consulting options we provide, as well as the steps you may be able to take on your own if you have the sales bandwidth.

In What is an Ideal Customer Profile, we talked about why the sales consulting step is critical to our success as an outsourcing sales company. To recap – It allows us to find and target your potential customers based on a number of hard criteria related to both the company and the specific decision maker type.

During launch, the first step we generally advocate as part of our initial sales consulting (especially when selling Professional Services or launching lead generation for a highly complex sale) is to apply Pareto’s Principal to your existing customer list. Also know as ‘the law of the vital few”, or the 80:20 rule, it states that 80% of your revenue is going to come from 20% of your customers. These are the customers we want to go after. You can then score the customers based on the hard criteria discussed in What is an Ideal Customer Profile with a specific focus on

  • Title and Level of Contact
  • Functional Area
  • Annual Revenue and Number of Employees
  • Vertical Market

We also recommend that you look at the customers that you don’t want, which means looking at your failures. Who makes up the 80% of your customers who are driving 20% of your revenue? Here we recommend that you look at:

  • Functional Area
  • Level of Contact

If there is a trend here, as an outsourcing sales and outsourcing lead generation company, we will avoid them like the plague and label them WCP (Worst Customer Profile). You then make a decision about what you want to replicate and don’t want to replicate when you do your new lead targeting.

If you are starting from scratch with no history you need to start making intelligent guesses. We recommend that you start with determining what percentage of someone’s budget your solution would qualify for. You then need to target companies that will produce large enough size revenue deals to cover the costs of sales and marketing and determine who in that company will own the P&L for your product or service.

The second step is to understand the size and scope of the market to see where the biggest opportunity is. Gabriel Sales we recommend the following three-part approach:

  • We take your internal Ideal Customer Profile and map it against our historical data to examine connect ratios. This helps us to determine how many calls it typically takes to get the decision maker. From this we can do a semi accurate forecast of how often the will to actually pick up the phone or open an email. This lets us determine the ease of reaching.
  • We do a deep dive leveraging Hoovers and other Database Research Tools to match SIC codes of your existing ICP to determine the target market size based on the hard criteria and get a hard decision maker count by vertical and determined ease of reach.
  • You look at Social Media including Linked In, You Tube and Influential Blogs to do a preliminary landscape of ancillary tactics to determine Social Media Adoption.

The third step (and the one often skipped) that we recommend is an honest assessment of where you are best equipped to Sell Money and provide Success Stories for these new targets. Essentially it’s about selling to the customers you are better equipped to service than anyone else. Where there is alignment is where you will win. So, ask yourself where does this customer alignment meet existing sales and marketing alignment too, so I can win and the customer can win faster. (Both of these tactics are detailed in other blogs). This step will make your outsourcing lead generation or internal lead generation more effective. It will also accelerate your ability to sales qualify and increase your pipe velocity.

Bottom line is that an Ideal Customer Profile is (in the words of Steven Covey) starting with the end in mind. It will drive sustained and exponential returns by helping you to:

  • Find deals faster
  • Close higher volume and higher deal size
  • Build a strong pipe to nurture for future deals
  • Eliminate customers that do not scale or take too much time to service
  • Increase your profitability
  • Create a focus that drives sales and marketing alignment

Visit our resources page for more helpful tips, tactics and strategies.

What is an Ideal Customer Profile?

This is part one of a two part series that explains how being strategic in planning how you target customers will produce significantly better results on the back end. Part two can be found here, How to Build a Winning Ideal Customer Profile.

An Ideal Customer Profile is a process for identifying what customers you should be targeting to get the best return from your sales lead generation efforts.  As an outsourcing sales organization this is one of the key areas we focus on when providing our initial sales consulting during the launch of a client. We believe this aspect of the sales process deserves careful attention because what goes into the sales funnel is going to have a huge impact on what comes out of the funnel.   It is also the critical first step in building an aligned sales and marketing effort, so you can create a sales machine.

Ultimately, an Ideal Customer Profile should allow you to find and target your potential customers based on a number of hard criteria related to both the company and the specific decision maker:

  • Annual revenue of the company
  • Number of employees
  • Level of Contact – C-level,  senior Manager, middle manager
  • Functional Area –  business Area, technical Area
  • Title
  • Revenue Responsibility – budget maker or budget spender
  • Geography – global, national, local
  • Technology Adopted –  in some cases knowing what  ERP, CRM, and if they have virtualized may be critical
  • Their Clients – e.g.  are they doing business with a Procter and Gamble, Federal government, education (local gov.)  Walmart, Intel,  EMC etc.

In addition, there well could be some softer qualitative criteria:

  • Business Pain/Need
  • Vertical Industry Trend –  established or in transition,  growth or decline
  • Competitive –  large competitors or a volume of competitors
  • Psychographics – company culture, leadership style, corporate values

It is also important to know who you don’t want to sell to:

  • Decision makers whose jobs could be threatened
  • Internal Support Functions – for example, if you are selling data analytics you may want to avoid MR groups, or if you are selling operational efficiency services you may want to stay away from operations managers and start with supply chain directors

The purpose of this type of hard and soft segmentation is to establish clear, hard criteria that can be leveraged across your sales and marketing machine to:

  • Purchase  direct dial contacts for cold calling
  • Purchase direct mail and Electronic direct mail contact information
  • Filter leads from publishers
  • Leverage for a “Cost Per Click Campaign” like Google Adwords
  • Decide where to place your online advertising budget
  • Instruct your social media outreach program

We realize this can look like a daunting task.  But, as an outsourcing sales organization with 10 years of data we can guarantee that if you give this the attention it deserves upfront, you will see significant returns within 6 -12 months. You will see exponential returns in months 12-18 when your first wave of nurturing deals start to fall out of your pipe as closed deals.

For additional information on how to build and Ideal Customer Profile, we recommend you check out our companion piece entitled, interestingly enough, How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile.

What’s the difference between a Sales Cycle Vs. Buying Cycle?

What’s the difference between a Sales Cycle Vs. Buying Cycle?

 

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

  1. The buyer starts satisfied with their current solution
  2. The buyer acknowledges to themselves that they are not satisfied
  3. The buyer makes the decision to do something about it
  4. 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

  1. 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
  2. The buyer investigates deeply, typically with short list of solutions and a deep dive into one or more solutions
  3. Selection is made; a front-runner is chosen
  4. 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 sale. 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.