One of my favorite pastimes is cooking or should I say actually eating! I love to try unique recipes that offer incredible ingredients that are simple, but yet complex. Although I love to cook, I just don’t have the time to expend making that perfect bite each day. Renowned celebrity chef Bobby Flay has summed this up perfectly.
“Basically, there are two things we know: Everyone has less time, and the general public is demanding better food – better in terms of quality and better in terms of flavor” – Bobby Flay
In today’s competitive B2B world, finding that perfect bite is the key to success. Marketers are always searching for the right mix of key ingredients to support their company’s sales efforts while at the same time tasked with forming great content, blogging, social media posts and creating support materials. You get the picture. In many cases, lead generation takes a back seat or at least the quality of leads passed to the sales team leaves something to be desired (not appealing to the palette). With the ever changing B2B landscape buyers can get most of the way through the buying process before ever contacting a vendor. All sales team asks for is that they receive quality leads that they can turn into revenue quickly. This is not a complex dish by any means!
By chance, if you are a marketing automation user you probably feel you have the complete recipe. Just like non users, unfortunately, you are still missing this one key ingredient. This one key ingredient is something very simple. Anonymous web visitor tracking. When this ingredient is added to the mix, life becomes a little more savory for everyone! What sales person is not going to be thrilled to receive a lead that is actually qualified! Through anonymous visitor tracking, both marketing and sales can achieve their respective goals. Not only do you know when visitors spent time checking out your website, your sales team has valuable information telling them what and how many pages where visited, which means getting ahead of their competition.
Sounds like a recipe made in heaven to me!
VisitorTrack by netFactor offers this incredible ingredient! By adding VisitorTrack to your marketing and sales mix, the perfect bite can be created. With only about 2% of all web visitors filling out forms, it is even more important to capture those invisible visitors that are researching your products and services and leaving before they fill out a form. VisitorTrack provides key contact data so your team can get ahead of the competition. By adding this last ingredient your recipe is now complete.
Be your own marketing chef. So don’t’ feed your sales team leftovers when you can provide the perfect bite! You will be the life of your party and as they say in the culinary world, you are as Cool as a Cucumber! By creating better leads you add quality and flavor to your marketing efforts in a short amount of time. Bobby would be proud!
I’m a huge Seinfeld fan and one of the episodes that sticks in my mind is when George complains about his “worlds colliding” (in this case his friends and his girlfriend). I am in marketing and this topic continually raises questions with our relationship with sales.
Today’s B2B sales and marketing teams struggle with the overwhelming number of channels for finding and reaching new leads. In traditional roles these two departments are at odds making any form of peace virtually impossible. As most of us do from time to time, searching the internet for educational yet intriguing information, I ran across a term recently that I would like to share with you:
SMARKETING. What happens when sales and marketing meet in the middle.
This word caught my eye because it was a little bizarre, but I liked the philosophy. After all, sales and marketing have the same goal, (or least should have) to grow business and generate revenue, and though each department uses different mechanisms and tactics, both are vital to increasing the bottom line and eliminating the colliding worlds. They achieve more than when they work independently. A lot more. This efficiency makes SMARKETING an effective strategy to drive growth.
Anonymous web visitor platforms like VisitorTrack support the SMARKETING philosophy. Harmony between these two departments allows marketing to see who is engaged on their website without filling out a form, prioritizes prospects based on interest and can identify return visitors providing sales with a high quality lead. In turn, a sales rep can see which products the prospect is interested in, have all the important contact information for the potential buyer at their fingertips and contact them before the competition, which allows deals to be closed faster. Thus, generating revenue which is the common goal, and eliminating the colliding worlds.
Imagine these formerly divided departments speaking the same language, maintaining open communication and relying on the same data! Crazy isn’t it?
When your salespeople are talking to and following up with the same target audience that marketing is engaging in advertising, social media and other channels, the results are bigger numbers, more deals, and a better return on investment as a result of this SMARKETING.
As much as I like the term SMARKETING, I am not sure it is going to catch on and become the new buzz word of the 21st century, however, it is a simple concept to bring two worlds together that before would always collide. I think even George would agree! #Smarketing!
There is an interesting infographic making its rounds on the internet describing how the typical rep follow up and the time it takes a buyer to make a decision don’t align.
Unless you refuse to surf the web, you’ve probably seen it and, like me, you probably agree with the information, especially if you work in sales. I’ve never been able to trace back the source of this infographic until recently when I read a very interesting article entitled, “Why it Takes 7 to 13+ Touches to Deliver a Qualified Sales Lead (Part 1)”. This article cites a study done by Microsoft that offers identical statistics to the one contained in the infographic, so I may have found the elusive source. As a bonus, the article is a pretty worthwhile read as well.
To me, the main premise of the infographic, and the referenced article, is that most sales reps give up trying to engage with prospects before they even generate interest. This makes perfect sense when you consider how technology has increased the ability to mass communicate, creating a noise barrier with potential customers. It becomes very difficult to break through the noise and capture the attention of the prospect regardless of how good the offering may be, so skillful messaging and repetition are critical to successful engagement.
In addition to the current state of prospect information overload, there are many sales experts that state that the majority of leads are not effectively pursued. For example, in his book “The Truth about Leads”, Dan McDade makes the statement that 95% of leads are not effectively pursued by sales people. From personal experience, selling a solution centered around lead generation, one of the most common objections my sales team experiences is that the prospect’s sales team is either not following up on leads or not receiving a quick response and giving up, in other words, bad leads.
If information overload and reluctant sales teams aren’t bad enough, let’s add to that the well- established trend that prospective buyers are increasingly not engaging with sellers until they are looking for a price. That’s exactly NOT when the sales professional wants to engage. Good sales people want to be involved with the problem definition and provide insight and guidance to the prospect. They want to provide the best solution to the customer because they want a long term partnership where they are viewed as a valuable resource and in turn sell more over time. Good luck with that if all you are doing is providing a requested price quote. By the way, if you’re a prospective buyer and someone is willing to undercut the competition without even asking what you are trying to accomplish, caveat emptor.
So, to summarize the selling conundrum, information overloaded buyers are delaying engagement with frustrated sellers until they are looking for a price quote, while the frustrated sellers are giving up trying to engage early, in large part due their perception of leads supplied by marketing. Anybody that has been in sales for more than 5 years will likely agree that the struggle to acquire new, really new, customers continues to become more challenging.
Here are some thoughts:
• Sales and Marketing MUST work together. The article I referenced at the beginning of the blog talks about the pre-qualification process for a lead. For many organizations this level of qualification will require the help of sales. Books could be written on the subject, but simply put, Marketing should abandon the play on volume of leads and focus on quality, while Sales needs to do their part by treating higher quality leads with the attention they deserve, insuring that a solid follow up process is in place.
• Marketing needs to provide transparency to the lead gen process. I suggest a tier structure on the quality of a lead and then inform sales on how the lead was generated. Pass along ALL relevant information from the lead. Utilize all available resources to try and garner the highest quality leads to be moved forward to sales for further qualification. Quality over quantity.
• Sales needs to develop a replicable, accountable and consistent sales process that can provide feedback to marketing. The team needs to know how the lead was generated, and when possible, where the prospect has shown interest. Once a lead tier structure is established and the information is flowing, they should then be held accountable to continuing the qualification process for engagement. By now, most serious sales professionals understand the infographic contained in the article, however, maintaining a disciplined approach to follow up is challenging. That challenge is made easier as the reps understand the quality of the leads supplied.
• Marketing needs to supply the best possible leads to sales. Web registrations are great if you’re the low cost provider. Click through on marketing campaigns is great if the people doing the clicking are also the economic decision makers. Opens on email campaigns become a little sketchy based on the possibility of false positives. Purchased lists provide data but no sense of interest. Anonymous website visitor tracking provides early insight to interest at a company level, but not the person. Of course if you’re focusing on decision makers, you can get that information from other sources. In the end, the marketer needs to feed the sales machine with the highest quality leads they can find.
• Sales needs to consistently follow up on the leads provided in a personalized manner. When Sales and Marketing can agree that leads provided are the best available, sales needs to make sure that there is consistent follow up. As the infographic in the article shows, engagement success increases dramatically as the amount of touches increase. Just because the prospect doesn’t knock down your door after one quick email does not mean the lead is bad. Sales needs to develop personalized messaging that provides insights and ideas specific to the prospect’s business, we all know prospects don’t want to be sold too. Provide continual feedback to marketing on progress. Qualify early and often. A personalized consistent approach requires more time and effort, so make sure that time is spent on the highest value prospects. When supplied specific information on prospect interest utilize that information within your personalized messaging.
Technology has made selling both easier and more difficult.
There are many tools to automate processes, track progress and generate leads to help both sales and marketing. At the same time the ease of mass communication has made it much more difficult to engage with prospective clients. Working together, Sales and Marketing can leverage the available resources to create a strategy to address the selling conundrum.
Buyer’s Journey from Awareness to Purchase
On the continuum of the buyer’s journey from Awareness to Purchase, the roles of Marketing and Sales have a symbiotic relationship- at least in theory. At the beginning of the buyer journey, Marketing plays the primary role in creating Awareness of the vendor’s products and services and then positioning these products and services in the minds of the buyer for their Consideration in the buyer’s list of possible vendors.
As buyers have shifted their journey on-line, Marketing has played a more prominent role in the Preference stage of the buyer decision process. Depending on the type of product or services, and based on the business model of the vendor, at some point in the Preference stage Sales takes over as the chief protagonist. A hand-off is made from Marketing to Sales (aka “Lead”) at the Preference stage and Sales takes the lead (pun intended) on to the Purchase stage and closes the deal.
In a perfect world, the coordination between Marketing and Sales is beautifully orchestrated. Marketing starts the buyer journey and Sales completes it. But, the relationship between Marketing and Sales is seldom peaceful. Despite careful planning and communication, these two groups rarely see eye to eye. Neither group is to blame. They are from two different planets.
Marketing is from Mars and Sales is from Venus. These two worlds play just fine together when there is clear distinction on who has the lead role in the buyer journey. Marketing is responsible for creating Awareness and getting their products and services on the buyer list for Consideration. Sales is clearly responsible for the Purchase phase. The worlds collide in the Preference phase as responsibility for the prospective buyer passes from Marketing to Sales.
These different views and blind spots result in an implied consent between Marketing and Sales – they simply agree to disagree. But, it doesn’t need to be this way. The two worlds could peacefully co-exist if they each had daily visibility of the “invisible visitors” to their website.
Marketing and Sales need VisitorTrack from netFactor. VisitorTrack provides the visibility of anonymous web visitors that otherwise go undetected. These “invisible visitors” are taking a self-directed journey on your web site and the web sites of your competitors. These visitors remain anonymous until they want you to know they are interested. By then, it’s too late for either Marketing or Sales to guide the buyer’s Preference or for Sales to establish the terms of engagement.
Adding regular visibility of these anonymous visitors and gaining insight on their digital journey makes life on Mars and Venus more enjoyable. VisitorTrack can’t guarantee Marketing and Sales will see eye to eye, but it will make them more agreeable.
* Thanks to Dr. John Gray, author of “Men are from Mars. Women are from Venus”, 1992, HarperCollins
What are you doing?
Have you stopped to wonder what our daily business lives would be like if we didn’t have productivity software programs and computers? Some of us can remember the days when nearly every business had a highly skilled, highly productive worker called a secretary. For most businesses, secretaries were indispensable. They were among the very few workers who could proficiently type. They kept calendars and scheduled conference rooms. They knew how to make mimeograph copies of business documents. Secretaries in larger businesses were best friends with the folks in the central mail room. Do you remember when businesses had central mail rooms? You know, before email.
Secretaries were indispensable because they had function-specific skills to perform daily repetitive routine activities. For businesses with more than a few workers, a secretary added huge productivity value by consolidating routine office tasks that would otherwise be performed by everyone else – and, not nearly as well as a secretary could do. Software programs and the computerization of the office changed the game.
With the proliferation of enterprise software it is easy to get confused about the core utility value being delivered. Software improves worker productivity by automating activities. But, not all activities have the same utility value to the business. Business activities can be divided into three buckets (see diagram below): Routine, Initiative and Reactive.
Types of Activities
By far, the most prevalent business activities are routine. These are tasks performed every day and are highly repetitive. At the worker level, typing is a routine function that has been replaced by word processing software and personal computers. At the departmental level, direct marketing is a routine function that has been replaced by marketing automation software. Routine activities are planned or scheduled tasks that are performed using consistent processes. These basic characteristics – frequent, repetitive, planned, consistent processes – make routine activities obvious targets for software automation. The utility value of automating routine functions is tactical. Process automation software like marketing and sales automation free up worker time for doing higher value tasks.
Initiative driven activities are at the opposite end of the volume/value scale from routine activities. Initiative driven tasks are the world of knowledge workers and decision makers. They are fewest in number – how many times do you make a target market segmentation decision? – but they are the highest value activities performed. Like routine activities, initiative driven tasks are planned; however, they occur much less frequently and are not always performed in the same way. Creating the marketing communications plan is an initiative driven activity as is creating the pricing plan for a new product. Both of these activities are planned events but the decision process to create the marketing communications plan is much different than what goes into creating the pricing plan for a new product.
Software that improves the productivity or efficiency of initiative driven activities is decision support software – software that creates and delivers better data to the knowledge workers. VisitorTrack from netFactor is a good example of software that improves decision making for marketers and sales reps. VisitorTrack provides information on anonymous web visitors. This web visitor data is added to data captured by process automation tools like Marketo or Hubspot and used by marketers to measure the efficacy of marketing campaigns. VisitorTrack data is used by sales reps to identify prospective customers that may otherwise go unnoticed. Both of these activities are initiative driven, yet each is very different from the other.
Initiative productivity software like VisitorTrack is designed to help knowledge workers make better decisions. The utility value of software that supports an initiative driven activity is strategic. Maximizing the information available to support better decisions can be the difference in winning or losing, therefore the ROI can be huge.
The third type of business activity is reactive. If an activity isn’t routine or initiative, it is reactive. We all do them every day. Reaction is caused by gaps in routine activities and by making poorly informed decisions. In the examples above, a poorly executed communication plan could result in sending an inappropriate email campaign to the wrong audience. The marketing automation platform did its job of getting the emails out as scheduled, but the knowledge worker failed in making sure the right content was included in the campaign. When the error is identified, the marketer goes into react mode. The sales rep doesn’t find out the prospect is interested in her/his product until after the prospect has done their homework. The rep goes into react mode in an effort to reframe the prospect’s decision criteria. Reactive tasks are productivity killers.
The goal is to minimize or get rid of reactive activities by automating routine tasks to give knowledge workers more time for initiative driven activities and by using decision support tools to help knowledge workers make better decisions.
Drive out reactive activities by automating routine tasks and getting better data for initiatives.
Software technology is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. The right investment in software depends on your goal. If your goal is to gain process productivity so that you can do more with the same or fewer workers, you should invest in process automation technology like a marketing automation platform. On the other hand, if your goal is to enable knowledge workers to make better decisions, you should invest in decision support tools like VisitorTrack that deliver information to the marketing and sales knowledge workers.
How do you know which investment to make? Look at where you spend time in react mode. Identify the root cause for your reactive behaviors and measure the lost productivity. If you are like most businesses, you will get a much higher ROI by investing in making better decisions than you will in adding one more process automation tool.