Why sales should give a crap about what marketing is doing

Let’s keep going on the theme of marketing and sales alignment. Last week someone told me that sales doesn’t care what marketing is doing, and expecting them to take time to look at marketing activities on a lead record is ridiculous, because they won’t do it. I call B.S. on that, and refuse to accept it. While that may be true in some sales organizations, it’s not right. In fact, it’s madness. Utter madness!

First, I want to establish 2 baseline assumptions. For the sake of the following post assume that:

  1. Marketing has done its job and has implemented a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) that thoroughly integrates with you CRM and is publishing marketing interaction information to the lead records in the CRM
  2. Sales people are sane, rational and logical

Now, I’d like to set the stage with some interesting numbers:

~ 4 ~

The average number of marketing campaigns B2B companies report a lead responds to before a deal closes (Insight Squared)

~ 7 ~

The minimum number of interactions the average B2B lead has with a brand before they are ready to talk to a sales person (Online Marketing Institute)

~ 38 ~

The win rate increase reported by organizations that have focused on tightly aligning their sales and marketing teams (SAP)

~ 50 ~

The percent of time B2B sales people waste on unproductive prospecting (SAP) AND the percent of B2B sales people that miss their quota (Marketo)

~ 70 ~

The percent of the purchase cycle that’s complete before a lead is ready to talk to sales (Forbes)

~ 95 ~

The percent of B2B buyers that downloaded a piece of thought-leadership content from the vendor they ultimately chose (SAP)

Because you’re a smart, well-read person of business, most of these insights should be familiar to you. After all, I haven’t exactly chosen an original topic. But I’m going to belabor the point because it’s an important one. Armed with all of this info, I hope it is clear to you that for sales to ignore the insights into what leads are doing before they get them on the phone would be utter insanity.

Did you not immediately jump to that obvious and rational conclusion? If not <<face palm>> read on…

cooper-gosling-web
You’re welcome.

Once upon a time there were 2 (beautiful) leads: Joe Blow and Jon Doe

Joe Blow is the kind of lead we dream of. He heard great things about your business from a friend and it just so happened he was in the market for exactly your solution and he needed it fast.  So Joe went to your website and submitted a ‘contact sales’ form. In that form, he submitted comments that outlined who referred him, what he wanted, and his timeline to buy.

Awesome, right? Totally! When sales calls Joe, would they want to say “Hi Joe, I understand you wanted to talk to a sales person, how can I help?” or would they want to be ready with a quote and proposal for how they can help address his specific need immediately? The latter, I would hope. Arming sales with even that small nugget of info can help them have an informed conversation that will get them off on the right foot and both Joe and sales would live happily ever after.

Jon Doe, on the other hand, is not so sure what he wants. He finds your company as he’s doing some research on possible solutions to his widget challenge. He has 7 magical interactions with your company: 1) Visits your website; 2) Downloads a white paper; 3) Receives an email; 4) Opens an email; 5) Clicks through the email; 6) Visits your website again; 7) Downloads an infographic.

Jon is an attractive lead, too but he’s harder to get. He looks exactly like the kind of guy you want to sell to (and by that I mean he meets the profile of your company’s standard buyer), and based on everything he’s doing, marketing thinks he’s qualified enough for sales to have a go at him (lucky ducks!) But Jon didn’t actually ask to speak to sales, so when sales calls him, what do they say?

Hi – my marketing team says you have a high lead score so I’m calling you – what’s up? Anything I can sell you?” Hm…probably not. How about “Hi Jon – I saw that you downloaded our white paper on 10 Tips for Improving your Widget ROI and our infographic on the Lifecycle of a Widget. Was that helpful for you? Are there any widget initiatives I can help you with or can I connect you with a widget expert?

Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first person), but I think that second talk track might get more traction. The key to enabling that conversation is insight. All sales has to do is take an extra moment to look at the behavioral history and marketing interactions of that lead and BOOM! that conversations is much more informed and much more likely to land a sale.

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3 Tips for One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing

If you saw this title and thought to yourself “ooOoo that sounds great! How do I do that?” then I have two things to say to you:

1. You will find this post disappointing because this is not an instruction guide for mediocre marketers, but I highly suggest you read on

2. To quote one of my favorite Disney movie characters,“BAD LLAMA!” You should never be excited at the prospect of One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing. That strategy is for losers. And if you disagree then I suggest you cry on the inside like a winner. (Ok, just kidding…but bonus points if you can name that movie).

I did promise to offer 3 tips for those interested in doing One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing, and here they are:

  1. Don’t do it.
  2. Don’t even think about it.
  3. If you’re doing it, or thinking about it….stop.

Unless you sell to a completely homogenous group of identical robots void of independent thought….If this is your buyer, by all means carry on.

For the rest of you, here is a word cloud that explains just a handful of reasons why One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing doesn’t work:*

Some of the words listed above are not only reasons why not to do One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing, but they are better, more strategic alternatives. The reason they’re both is because of that pesky word up there that says “competition.

I guarantee your competitors are using technology to execute personalized, targeted marketing programs. And if they are, and you’re not, they’re better than you. As a marketer, that’s not acceptable. We marketers must be better than our competition, just as the businesses we serve and the products we market must be.

It would be cruel of me to suggest what you should not do without making recommendations for what you should do instead, so…

3 Tips for NOT doing One-Size-Fits-Most Marketing

  1. Personalize the experience.
    Persona Definition + Content + Technology = Personalization
    Whether your audience is engaging out in web-land, on your website, via email or through third party partners, if you can clearly define who your audience is and what the right message is for each of them there are technologies that can find and target them. To start, try using a content matrix to map your buyer to your content. Here’s how.
    Want to know more about how personalized content targeting works? This blog does a pretty good job of explaining it.
  2. Don’t put all of your eggs in one channel basket.
    Just as one message does not suit all audiences, neither does one channel/tactic. The biggest trap marketers fall into is believing they can rely on email to reach their entire audience. This is a myth. And if you believe in it you’re probably missing a LOT of potentially great customers. No one channel can reach all, or even the majority, of your audience so you must extend your channel reach.Here’s an oldie but a goodie from Hubspot that talks more about multi-channel marketing (yes, 1 year is ‘old’ in the high-tech marketing blog world).
  3. React to your audience’s reactions (AKA Trigger Marketing)
    If you got engaged in the era of facebook and made your new relationship status ‘facebook official’ then you no doubt found yourself being presented with ads touting all manner of wedding paraphernalia. Happy coincidence? Nope. That’s smart, timely, trigger-based marketing. The web is flush with info about each and every one of us, and smart marketers use this information to trigger personalized content (ref: tip #1). It’s the same principle that Amazon and Netflix employ when they present you with those nifty suggestions that say “if you liked X, then you may like Y and Z.” You can apply this to all sorts of things, such as content consumption, to help you offer up the right message at the right time via the right channels (ref: tip #2). Here’s a good resource from Eloqua to help get you thinking about some trigger-based programs that may be of value to your business.

And finally, I leave you with this:

And old classic:

“Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.”
~ David Olgilvy

Combined with modern insight:

Innovation needs to be part of your culture. Consumers are transforming faster than we are, and if we don’t catch up, we’re in trouble.
~Ian Schafer

Together these show that some marketing principles never die…they just evolve, as must we all.

* I created this lovely word cloud using a nifty web tool called Wordle.

Originally posted on LinkedIn – Feb 3, 2015

Is your marketing automation system just an expensive stand mixer?

Is your marketing automation system just an expensive stand mixer?

Imagine that you’re a successful five-star restaurant owner (congratulations!), but you do not currently serve dessert (gasp!). You realize that in order to compete and continue to be successful you need to serve dessert, so you do a little research and find that every one of your competitors with great desserts has a stand mixer, so you go out and get the best stand mixer money can buy. You give it to your cooks and say ‘make me five-star desserts!’

What do you think would happen? Do you think you would get a five-star dessert? Probably not. You’ve got a skilled team, so you’d probably get something passable as a dessert, but it will probably be 2 stars ☆☆…maybe 3. ☆☆☆

But why not five? That stand mixer is the BEST. You paid a small fortune for it, so why can’t it produce amazing desserts?

Because that stand mixer, as great as it may be, is just a stand mixer – a tool. It’s a powerful tool, and a worthwhile investment to be sure, but just buying a tool is not enough. The same goes for a marketing automation system. It is not magic, it is a tool that can help you make many masterful desserts, but it requires a skilled pastry chef (or team of chefs) with great recipes, and it requires investment in ingredients, attachments, cleaning and maintenance to really add value to your kitchen.

So let’s break it down:

A skilled pastry chef
You can’t just plop your line cooks, or even your head chef in front of a stand mixer and expect them to make a masterpiece. And you can’t throw your demand, field, or product marketers in front of a complex automation tool and expect them to produce great results. A marketing operations or automation expert, like a pastry chef, has a specialized skill set that takes knowledge and experience to master.

Great recipes
This is the foundation of any chef’s skill set, and the best practices your ops expert brings to the table are foundational to the successful use of your automation system. These best practices define the processes that determine how your automation system functions – how it processes data, scores leads, passes them to sales, sends emails, reports on result, etc. And just as food tastes, trends, and techniques change, so do automation trends, so invest in ongoing training for your pasty chef so that existing recipes can be fine-tuned and new recipes can be learned.

Ingredients
There are many ingredients that go into a great dessert, and without them the stand mixer is a useless vessel mixing air to no end. Your automation system is useless without inputs like data, assets and workflows. And the supply of these must be never-ending because they’re use is limited – one set of ingredients can only produce so many desserts before you must put more ingredients into the mixer and start again to create another great delicacy.

Attachments
Stand mixers are one of the most robust and versatile tools in the kitchen, yet many people don’t use them to their full potential. Most people know how to use the mixer attachment, which comes standard, but did you know that with the right attachments you can roll and cut pasta, juice fruits and veggies, grind meat, knead bread dough, slice, dice, and more? Your automation system is a robust tool and with the right attachments you’d be amazed at what you can do, from lead scoring to third party integrations toclosed-loop reporting. Some of these great features come standard, and some cost extra, but you should explore your options to make the most of your investment.

Cleaning & Maintenance
I hope you will agree that cleanliness is absolutely necessary in a kitchen. You must keep your mixer clean to avoid contamination that could affect the quality and safety of the food, and if it gets too dirty it can even impact the functionality of the mixer itself (ew!). While not a safety issue, the cleanliness of your automation system certainly is critical for quality and functionality of your system. Cleaning needs to be performed regularly in order to ensure that the old ingredients, like bad data and expired workflows, are washed away.

And voila! You have the foundation for many five-star desserts…I mean, successful marketing programs to come. ☆☆☆☆☆

 

Originally posted on LinkedIn – November 11, 2014