Have You Hugged Your Salesperson Today?

Sales and Marketing: The Buyer's JourneyIn my first “real” job, my boss (head of sales and marketing) once said, “If you go on a sales call and they buy something, it’s sales. If they don’t, it’s marketing.” I’ve spent much of the balance of my career trying to counter that perception.

Once upon a time, sales and marketing were more discrete disciplines. Now, with marketing automation, demand generation, lead nurturing, and other strategies, the line is blurring. Marketing is now taking on the role that used to be handled by inside sales teams. We’re bringing leads to sales that are further along in the decision-making cycle, generally more qualified, and we can offer more knowledge when sales engages. In fact, we’ve represented this in the model shown below:

As you can see, in the New World Order, marketing engages prospects more fully early on, and then becomes less involved as the sales team ramps up.

Now you’re thinking, “That’s great; so what?”. A valid question indeed. Here are six actions we recommend:

  1.  If you haven’t been a salesperson, talk to some. Living with a number, and having your professional existence hinge on that number changes your perspective. If you haven’t seen the parody “A Few Good Expenses”, I highly recommend it. Cultivate relationships with the top performers in your sales organization. You’ll quickly learn the objections they face, the sales cycle they work in, and more about the subtle nuances that can make or break a deal. I can guarantee that you will learn valuable information for use in your marketing programs.
  2. A marketing-savvy sales force is your best ally. Many sales people I’ve encountered don’t fully grasp what we in marketing do, and how we do it. Make time to educate the sales force on your upcoming campaigns and the strategies that are driving it. Show them how your strategies tie to their objectives. If you have branding campaigns, give them the long-term vision so they understand that while this won’t give them leads tomorrow, it will make their next 3-5 years much more lucrative.
  3. Understand how the sales cycle differs from the marketing cycle. The sales cycle is a common topic. We all spend a lot of time talking about it. But, if you think about it from a sales perspective it starts when that prospect first enters into a sales dialogue. In reality, we should have started a marketing dialogue with them through branding and demand generation efforts months, or even years earlier. As a rule of thumb, I would recommend a marketing cycle that is 2-3x whatever you consider your sales cycle.
  4. Have a good filter. A lot of mediocre sales people become vocal when they’re not hitting their numbers. “The lead quality is poor.” Or, “I need a brochure.” Perhaps, “Google leads are lousy.”. While the top performers are investing that time into exceeding their sales goals. Also, remember that due to its more immediate nature and shorter cycle, sales is inherently more in the moment. Often, a salesperson’s biggest problem is the one they faced today. You don’t have to react to EVERY bit of feedback you receive.
  5. Align your planning. Marketing exists to fuel the selling process. Period. But that doesn’t mean you’re a slave to sales. It means working together. Finding out what sales objectives are, and finding ways to align marketing objectives. But don’t give up complete control and become sales’ lackey. This can quickly lead to a 3,245 fragmented campaigns. And, no marketing organization has the resources to support this effectively. Remember – you’re the Air Force, softening up the beachhead for the invading ground infantry.
  6. Don’t forget enablement. This seems SO simple, but it’s astounding how often it’s overlooked. When you’re planning a marketing campaign, be sure to review it with sales. Generating qualified leads when the sales force is unprepared to deal with them is wasted effort. Several years ago, we built a comprehensive integrated campaign for an industrial processing equipment manufacturer targeting a specific vertical market. Advertising. Direct mail. E-mail. Trade shows. AdWords. A dedicated web landing page. Then we launched it. And, the call center started getting inquiries. Unfortunately, no one on the marketing team had presented the campaign to sales, so they were totally caught unaware. Fortunately, within six months, the company had seen significant growth in this vertical, so there was clear evidence of marketing effectiveness.

All too often, sales and marketing are enemies. Fighting for scarce resources and management attention. The reality is that if we can work as a team, while respecting the inherent differences in our roles, success will almost inevitably follow.

-Sean-

Lifeblood

referrals

Referrals are the headwaters of lifeblood for an agency – new business. We greatly appreciate our solid clients, but to survive and thrive, an agency needs new clients. Agency network Second Wind tells us that most agencies average 15% per year in lost billings due to client turnover.

What this means for us is a continual need to find new clients. And, what’s the best way? Agency development consultant John Heenan recently completed a survey of marketer preferences. In it he found that 51% of marketers prefer to learn about a new agency by way of a referral from a friend, colleague, or peer. The numbers for other methods of contact fall off dramatically.

Another interesting discovery from Heenan’s research is that you are being flooded by agency news business contacts. In this survey, 56% of marketers report receiving 3-10 new business inquiries per week from agencies. And, this was a tremendous reminder of how much we appreciate our loyal clients. Despite being bombarded by agencies promising you the moon, you choose to work with us. Our sincerest thanks for your loyalty!

This is where you come in – we both need and appreciate your help. If you feel you’re getting great work and solid results from PWB, why not tell a friend? We’re not looking only for people who are actively seeking an agency, we love to build solid relationships that grow and evolve. Know a peer at another company who might need our services? Please help us connect. Whether they’re in a marketing role or not (while marketing is best, leaders in other functions are also generally solid), this really helps us cut through the onslaught of agency inquiries.

We appreciate these referrals more than you know, and we’ll definitely show our appreciation in return. We’re not talking “send us a referral and you’ll get a gift card from _______.” We’ll show you in real, thoughtful ways that are personal and indicative of our gratitude.

As a closing thought, those of you who haven’t worked in an agency environment may not fully grasp the challenges of finding and acquiring solid new business. This quote, from one of Heenan’s respondent is both funny, and a bit depressing (if you’re an agency…):

“We do not like receiving unsolicited contact from ad agencies. We do not like them Spam you am. We do not like them in a boat or with a goat. We do not like them while stung with bees or up in a tree. We do not like them Spam you am.”

-anonymous-

How can you help? A conversation with your peer, friend, or colleague would be great. If you’re not comfortable with that, a simple e-mail connecting both parties would be equally awesome. Or we’ll buy you both lunch, or breakfast, or and adult beverage (or two…).

Thanks, in advance for any help you can lend in PWB’s continued success! And, thank you for your loyalty!

-Sean-

Contact Us

contact pagePity the poor Contact page. The most valuable place on your entire web site – yet often the most overlooked. I’m stunned by how little thought people put into this page.

Some want a simple “whaddya’ want?” form-to-e-mail fill in. Others put a little more thought into it, but not much. Mostly, they’re designed for the benefit of the host, not the visitor.

One of the key tenets of web marketing we advocate for our clients is a customer-centric view of their web site. Take a moment to think about the reasons you’d visit a Contact page…

• Sales inquiry (the obvious one)
• Looking for a job
• Having a technical problem
• Having a billing question
• Looking for driving directions

Get the idea? There are a lot of reasons someone might want to get in touch with you beyond simply wanting to talk to a sales person. Why not make this easy for them? We recommend a simple e-mail address (like info@yourcompany.com that might go to several people in the intended department. One recommendation – NEVER put in individuals e-mail addresses on your web site. You’re simply inviting a mind-boggling volume of spam.

Number one on most people’s sources of irritation? The lack of a phone number where they can reach a live warm body. Yes, I know you want to reduce your call volume. Too bad – people who aren’t comfortable contacting you through digital channels won’t. They’ll go somewhere else. Let that sink in for a moment.

Another major opportunity is your location, or locations. In addition to helping people find you when they need to this has potential brand value. For example, if you’re an America company and Made in the USA is something your customers. Some customers will want to know your global presence – do they have a location in my country or at least my part of the world? Having this information on your web site offers nothing but potential.

Finally, pay attention to your dialogue with your customers. If you’re hearing that not having something on your Contact web page is a problem – get it on there today!

Sean

Does Your Content Have Superpowers?

Content marketing | Content Superpowers | PWB MarketingA few years ago, while serving on a social media panel during a presentation to a local entrepreneurial group, I casually remarked that, “Content is everything; social media is just plumbing.” In the years since then, I’ve seen this proven over and over both with clients and with brands I follow. In order to succeed, your content marketing needs superpowers.

This post examines some of the content marketing your brand needs to succeed.

Exceptional Audience Relevance

Social – more than any other medium – has to connect with what your customers and prospects want to learn. If it doesn’t, they’re on to the next thing. Too many marketers are pushing content that THEY want to tell customers, as opposed to information that customers are seeking.

Powerful Stickiness

Remember the old days of “sticky” web content? Where your reason for existence was to get customers to return to your web site? Sticky content and content marketing are essentially the same concept. According to a study by DDB Worldwide and Opinionway, 84% of a company’s fans are already customers.  Only relevant, interesting, and fresh content keeps people coming back.

Incredible Engagement

In his book SocialnomicsEric Qualman observes that social media marketing is, “More like Dale Carnegie than Mad Men. Less about selling and more about listening.” Social is a unique channel because of its allowance for real-time dialogue. Harness this ability with content that asks questions, solicits opinions, and takes other actions to encourage audience response.

Robust Adaptability

Successful content marketers generate content for use across multiple channels. A LinkedIn post might lead to a white paper on your web site, expanding on the post topic. A targeted Facebook ad might direct users to a a topic-specific landing page. Great content is great content – just be sure to recognize the unique nature of each channel and modify appropriately. For example, text on a web page won’t make a dynamic Pinterest post without adaptation.

Brand Power

What does your brand stand for? How are you positioned? What is your unique value proposition? Content marketing should clearly and consistently support your brand and values. If you don’t have a clearly defined set of brand values, we can help you with that.

These are but a few of the content marketing superpowers your brand needs. Want to know the others? Or put this to work? We should chat.

-Sean-

Get Your Story Straight

PWB is in the midst of creating several storytelling videos, and we’re finding some common themes and issues emerging. Here are a few recommendations for crafting a successful storytelling video.

  1. Get your story straight – if you haven’t really figured out the messaging for your product, service, or company, you can spend a lot of wasted time wandering in the wilderness.
  2. Understand how it will be used – storytelling videos are an excellent asset in an integrated demand generation program. Taking a step back to see where your video(s) will fit in the buyer’s journey is always helpful. This helps you stay on-message and focused on the viewers felt needs.
  3. Keep it simple – the goal here is simple; to help people quickly “get it” – emphasis on “quickly”. A good storytelling video should be less than two minutes long. Stay focused on that goal.
  4. Bite-sized chunks – two minutes is a surprisingly short amount of time. More complex stories may need more than one video. One of the projects we’re working on is a three-part series. This really enables us to tell the story in meaningful increments. It also gives our client more assets for their demand generation program.
  5. Picture = 1,000 words – use both the visual and narration elements to say more than you could by using just the narration. Some concepts are easier to see than talk about.

At PWB, these are all key elements in our process as we craft your story. Have a complex concept that you want to quickly, simply, and effectively communicate to key audiences? Let’s talk!

-Sean-

Catch on Command: Demand Generation

A few years back I was fly fishing on Michigan’s Pere Marquette River. After a little while a couple hiking up the path stopped and the gentleman said to me, “Catch a fish now…”. I remarked that I wished it were that simple (well, in reality, I don’t – the chase is a big part of the fun).

At the end of your marketing campaign, did you hook more fish than the last time?

Recently I was reflecting that interaction was a little like the demands that are placed on demand generation programs today. Often management and sales folks without a marketing background forget that marketing is an inherently longer-term activity. It’s all about the science of getting into your prospect’s head and helping them make the decision-making journey toward your product. Just like that day on the river.

While I can’t catch fish on command, I can do a lot of things to increase my likelihood of catching one. Spend more time on the water. Test new techniques. Tie different flies. Learn from what worked in the past. And experiment with new things that you think will work, based on what you’ve seen before.

Demand generation has many parallels. If you test, refine, measure, learn, observe, listen, and occasionally take a bold-ass risk your odds go up considerably. While you can’t generate qualified inquiries on command, you can do a lot to improve your inquiry and conversion goals.

As marketers, it’s incumbent on us to help the leadership and sales teams we serve understand this holistic, long-term perspective. I can do a great deal to entice an inquiry. I can even target getting inquiries from the right prospects. But what we can’t do is make the exact fish you want bite precisely when you want it.

I look at my fishing season a lot like I approach a campaign. At the end of the campaign, did I hook more fish than the last time? And if so, did I land more? Those are the true metrics for success.

-Sean-

Marketing: How Do You Sell?

I have a funny skill to come up with Yogi Berra-esque quotes that are off-the-cuff at the time, but then prove to be even more accurate than I realized initially.

Last night, at a local workshop for entrepreneurs, I did it again. I was talking with a peer after the event and I said,

“Channel trumps promotion…”

In this case, I was referring to a local start-up who is doing all the new cool edgy marketing tactics, but wasn’t really putting much value in how their product would get sold. They have a solid distribution partner who’s getting them into key retail outlets, but that’s not energizing the brand in their minds. As I thought about it more afterward, I find that this is an all-too-common problem in demand generation and marketing.

Case in point – a couple of years back I was talking to a technology company who’d basically been built on defense and government contracts. They wanted to start to sell into more consumer markets (a familiar theme) and they had identified 2-3 possibilities. What they were looking for from me was a marketing plan to penetrate one of these markets.

As it often is, one of my early questions was, “How will you go to market?” The answer was both revealing and frustrating. Turns out they had a potential deal with a humungous OEM who basically owned that segment. We’re talking a “these guys would buy 100% of what we could possibly manufacture” type deal. Yet they wanted me to build them a plan to reach end users. Ummmm, how about if we chase that OEM thing down first, guys?

If you’re in Marketing and you’ve never “carried a bag” (i.e. been in field sales), it’s easy to dismiss the importance of a connected, effective sales channel. Want to sell high-pressure filters for use in refineries? If you don’t have either a direct team or a group of reps who know the industry and have access to key contacts, it’ll never fly, Orville.

I’ve said this before and I’ll repeat it – sales and marketing are interrelated, interdependent disciplines. HOW you go to market is tremendously important to WHAT marketing strategies you will employ. If you haven’t figured out the former, the latter will nearly always fail.

Easily over half the entrepreneurs (who, BTW, had some pretty cool products and ideas) at last night’s event hadn’t really figured that out yet.

Marketing can be an answer. But first you have to figure out what the questions are.

-Sean-

Why Discipline is Critical for Successful Demand Generation

 

At a recent PWB staff meeting, we sidetracked, as we often do, into a discussion of what makes for a successful demand generation program. It dawned on me that a common characteristic was various forms of discipline, so here are some thoughts on the disciplines of successful demand generation.

A Disciplined Point of View

First and foremost, successful demand generation require one to take and maintain a point of view that looks at the whole marketing and sales process, not just individual efforts or programs. Look at how it all fits together (or doesn’t) from the customer’s point of view, and in terms of your goal.

The Discipline to Work Together

Many companies have serious discontinuity between marketing and sales. Often they don’t ever talk, let alone work cooperatively. Demand Generation requires mutual respect and a disciplined commitment to work together to achieve common goals. Sometimes this can be solved structurally, by having both functions report to the same person.

The Discipline to Test

The secret to success is often just to stop doing things that don‚Äôt work, or as we say here at PWB, “stop doing stupid stuff!” This easier said than done, as many companies can’t tell what things in their program are stupid. Sometimes they’re just standing too close to see it (which is where PWB’s outside perspective can help a lot). Sometimes it’s because there are too many variables. It takes discipline to stop doing the things we’ve always done even though they’re outlived their usefulness. It takes discipline to focus on one variable at a time so you can determine its impact. You have to be willing to fail to be willing to test, and then be willing to pay attention and act on the results of the test.

The Discipline to Make the Results Visible

I had the privilege of working in an organization with a very well developed and disciplined demand generation process. I was responsible for the entire marketing and sales effort, so I could control the whole process — from spot TV buys to telesales commission systems. At the time I didn’t like it, but hindsight showed me the value. We had quarterly Board Meetings were I had to stand up, share what we did that quarter, and show how it compared to plan. Having those facts out there for God and everyone to see was a big motivating factor for me and my team. It also made it possible for a bunch of smart people to see the whole process, and help me improve it. What you measure, you motivate!

QR Codes – true Demand Generation for print media?

You’re starting to see them everywhere‚ those goofy-looking bar codes. While it would be easy to write them off as a new-fangled gimmick, they have a real place in an integrated demand generation campaign.

A challenge of utilizing non-online media in the past was the ability to direct traffic to a campaign-specific landing page. Previously, the only way to do this was to either create a vanity URL, or hope viewers could remember to enter: “www.mycompany.com/bonus/123bb_mw”. Good luck with that.

Now, with a simple QR app and a smartphone, your prospects can quickly be transported directly to a page with more information and lead capture vehicles.

But, there’s one caveat. They’ll be doing this from a mobile device. So, make sure your landing page performs on most of the major mobile platforms.

What Kind of Demand Are You Generating?

During a recent Marketing Roundtable presentation I moderated, one of the presenters touched on the idea of bad customers. His argument was that not only do bad customers consume valuable resources, they ultimately are significantly less profitable than good ones.

This premise set me wondering – are you chasing the GOOD customers? Or are you just running demand generation programs to drive numbers. In my experience, very few customers are doing the former. Do you even know the profile of a good customer? Few businesses seem to take the time, especially during an economic downturn, to find out. It seems to me that a few simple analyses would identify the good ones – total lifetime value, tenure, average sale, purchasing of multiple products or services, or even the classic Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value (RFM) model from direct mail modeling.

The presenter at this roundtable did say that in his past experiences he found some direct correlations between acquisition strategies and outcome. For example, customers acquired through pricing discounts had a high propensity to become bad customers. Was nice to see some data to support my long-held belief that price discounting as an outbound marketing strategy is a bad plan.

So, are you just generating demand? Or are you generating the demand from the customers your business most needs to be profitable?