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Bill Bice, CEO of boomtime, said he was born to be an entrepreneur, launching his first business when he was 14. He loves to talk about sales and marketing because it makes the biggest difference in business.
Data and marketing
As business owners, we all know that we have to spend money on marketing, but it’s tough to do if you’re not seeing the ROI. For Bill, marketing is about data, which allows you to understand what’s working. The difficulty occurs when you have too much data because it can be difficult to gather valuable insights that help you improve marketing.
Smaller companies often have more freedom to bring their sales and marketing together. In larger companies, the two disciplines are separate, and they are often at odds. Marketing isn’t doing the support work the sales team needs and each blames the other for lack of performance.
In smaller companies, the CEO or entrepreneur can decide to tie the two together.
Bill calls himself a big fan of the challenger sales approach, which resulted from research done in Fortune 500 companies. The concept of using key insights to drive a sales approach creates sales optimization in smaller companies. It’s a perfect example of tying together marketing and sales so that marketing generates insights that truly help sellers. It creates better opportunities which result in better success.
B2B sales optimization
To begin with, businesses must be better at
- capturing leads
- following up on those leads
- staying top-of-mind with that larger audience that we’re building
In any complex, high-value sale, a content-driven approach to marketing is the perfect way to optimize the sales process.
Then, if you’ve done the hard work of taking care of your customers, they’ll tell others about your business which creates referrals. Now the goal is to amplify that effect,
How do we make word-of-mouth work even better?
Micro-commitments are the most effective part of capturing leads and in doing B2B sales optimization. Your website was once a replacement for the Yellow Pages, and a way to get people to pick up the phone. Now, the most important piece of information for a prospective client is an email address.
If you ask for the prospect’s name, you’ll reduce conversion by 20%. If you ask for the phone number, you’ll reduce conversion by 60%. Every additional field you add reduces conversion by another 8%.
Ask for the one thing you really want from the prospect, which is an email address. You have to be willing to do something that is really hard in order to get those referrals and capture those leads.
You have to give your best stuff away for free. Give away your deepest and best expertise in exchange for the really valuable thing, which is the email address. #CaptureProspects
The traditional battle between sales and marketing centers around what makes a qualified lead. All we really want is to get people to follow us on LinkedIn and to get the prospects’ email addresses. If we grow our audience in those two places and we’re constantly sending people back to our website with high-value insight, that creates success.
What’s actually hard to do is the day-to-day work in the trenches, because it’s the consistency that makes this work.
There are B2B sales optimization mistakes that marketers commit. The first on the list is talking about themselves. Nobody cares.
Are you talking about the problems your target audience struggles with, and are you helping them solve those problems?
Of the content you provide to your prospects, 90% should be entirely focused on the problems your audience is having and the insights you bring that they can’t get from anywhere else.
The good news is that if you have a niche in the marketing your company serves, then hundreds of those companies will share the same problems.
CEOs struggle to find those insights because they are running their own businesses. Your marketing department must take advantage of that. You must train your sales team to use a key-insight driven approach.
Secondly, you must commit to this kind of approach in your sales and marketing. You should plan for at least a year. It won’t be a miracle fix.
Test and iterate
All forms of content work. Whether you use video, white papers, or checklists, you must test each idea to determine what’s best for that particular segment of the target audience. Even with the explosion of LinkedIn, most B2B sales optimization organizations aren’t leveraging it the way they could.
The whole point is to grow a new audience and LinkedIn is the easiest way to get your word out to a larger audience of exactly the right prospects.
Avoid being salesy. Be there to help your network. Use your key insights to drive interest in what you’re doing. Share insights with consistent posting.
Get the executive team involved in building the audience. Then, turn those connections into opportunities for the sales team.
Bill’s team sends 40-50 connection requests a day, and they follow up on each one of those accepted connection requests with a recently-written article by that executive that tackles a problem and shows your audience how to solve it.
Following up on leads
Everybody wants more leads, but most companies generate all the leads they need. The easiest thing to do is to follow up on the leads you already have.
Most sales teams aren’t very good at using the CRM so they aren’t capturing leads. No follow-up exists.
Bill’s team created a process that requires going through email boxes of everyone who is client-facing and capturing those email addresses. Add those people to your CRM and then apply a nurturing campaign that follows up on every single lead.
Sellers tend to focus on things that will create a commission in the next 60 to 90 days. When you get a prospect that may take 6 to 12 months to close, you may see a tendency to drop those. Put a system in place to capture those leads and follow up with them. Use that data to understand when they are interested so you can assign a salesperson to them when they start paying attention.
Lead follow-up represents the lowest-hanging fruit in most B2B organizations. Think of the number of people you meet at trade shows, and then figure the number of leads that actually get added to your CRM. They are all valuable prospects, but some may not be immediately valuable.
Bill dislikes the fact that CRM systems are designed for sales managers, but his team uses Pipedrive. He does appreciate the fact that modern CRMs integrate email systems so that you can see all the email interaction that’s happening within the company.
The more your company automates around CRM, the more likely the sellers will actually use it. Make it a tool that actually makes their lives better rather than just a tool that tracks what they are doing.
In an ideal world, sales managers will work to uncover objections and help the sellers be more effective.
Once you put some real effort into building a larger audience, it will begin to grow organically because you’re giving them social currency. Word-of-mouth works best, and we want to amplify that. The best way to do that is to give the audience that already knows you — current clients, past clients, and prospective clients — the tools to create referrals for you.
If you’re giving them insightful and helpful content, the next time the issue comes up while they are having lunch with a peer, they’ll have the perfect thing to talk about. As your audience shares your content, you’ll get organic growth.
Everyone is terrified at this piece because actually doing it is the hardest part. Other than in early-stage startups, companies will struggle to accomplish this unless they tag a dedicated resource. Hire a large enough team to make it happen.
In Bill’s case, they don’t do the writing themselves. They hire people who are already in that market, who understand it well, and who don’t have to be trained. That kind of approach works consistently to develop a steady flow of high-quality content.
It’s a combination of well-written content with good insights that match the company’s tone.
Coming up with ideas is the easy part.
Send an email with a single link and a catchy headline. Drive your audience back to the website. Link all those articles together so that you create a trail of crumbs and you can see what really interests them. Your reader should never reach the bottom of the blog article and not have a next place to go.
The second most visited page on almost every B2B site is the About Us page, but 99% of the time, that page includes a boring list of executives and bios. It doesn’t sell you on the company. It doesn’t take you to the next natural place that you should go to.
You’re trusting your prospects to figure out where to go but you really want to control that customer journey and tell the whole story. Managing that journey improves the capture rate of leads.
Many customers choose companies who have a face on the business. They will choose you because there’s a real person behind the business who cares about them as a client.
No quick fix
The number-one battle we face in marketing is that there’s no quick fix. This approach works, but it’s a long-term commitment. If you apply it all through your sales team, you’ll create a dramatic trajectory for your company.
The challenger sale reports that 53 percent of why customers buy from your company traces to the sales experience rather than the product, the price, the service, or the delivery. The key is how they are sold.
“B2B Sales Optimization” episode resources
If you’re a sales rep looking to hone your craft and learn from the top 1% of sellers, make plans to attend the Sales Success Summit in Austin, Tx, October 14-15. Scheduled on a Monday and Tuesday to limit the impact to the sales week, the Sales Success Summit connects sellers with top-level performers who have appeared on the podcast. Visit Top1Summit.com to learn more and register!
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