Are you a hamster or an eagle?
Do you ever feel like a hamster on the B2B sales and marketing wheel? Running faster and faster just to stand still? Executing the same old campaigns quarter after quarter because...well you simply don't have the time or capacity to stop and think of a better way. While a nagging doubt is growing in the back of your mind; that your same old tactics just aren't working very well any more - No wonder you have to run so fast.
Or are you an eagle? Riding the warm updrafts your marketing and sales engine have created, soaring higher and higher, taking your business to greater and greater growth. You have time to survey the landscape, to view your next target with the clarity of an eagle's eye and to plan and create compelling lead generation campaigns where the sales team have quality meetings with qualified prospects.
Our own growth plan at g2m Solutions calls for me to have 4 well qualified meetings per week (we call them "Explore meetings" and they form part of the Inbound Sales framework dubbed I.C.E.A. which you can read about here). We meet with heads of sales and marketing and almost 100% of those meetings are with exhausted hamsters!
Of course they want to be eagles, (who wouldn't) and in fact many of them realise they MUST become eagles to keep their jobs, but they can't figure out how to get off the endlessly spinning wheel.
The secret to becoming the ruler of the skies is to build a highly efficient, carefully planned and regularly tuned lead generation engine to grow your business. There are three steps.
PLAN - LEARN - GROW
STAGE 1- PLAN STRATEGY AND BUILD
Planning marketing strategies really means taking careful aim at your chosen target. Too often its not "Ready, Aim, Fire," but "Ready, Fire, Fire, Fire" and then when you don't hit anything fire again! It creates a lot of smoke and noise but really isn't effective or efficient. Instead, the hamster wheel just spins faster and faster.
Pretty much every B2B marketer knows they must develop buyer personas - this is a well understood first step. But to be an eagle you need to think harder and deeper.
- What is your initial positioning to get them to think about you in the first place?
- Is your positioning specifically aligned around the customer's problem you solve best?
- Is your offer clearly differentiated from your competition?
- Are you able to articualte your key benefit that is best or the first of its type or is unique?
But eagles go further still and develop messaging across the full customer journey. Messaging must change as customers work their way through a series of decision gates, your messaging and your content must support these decision stages:
- Research how to solve the challenges they have and achieving the goals that have been set.
- Decide on what a good solution looks like for them and their business.
- Which vendors seem to have a solution that fits their need best.
- Reassure themselves that this is a low risk decision that is going to get them the outcome they desire.
Understand your full sales and marketing funnel velocity. Exactly how fast do I need to run my sales and marketing engine to meet our firm's revenue goals? Start by knowing your monthly business' new revenue goals and then work your way back up the funnel. You need to work out the following:
- How many new customers you need each month to hit that revenue goal.
- The number of propsoals you must submit
- The number of meetings your team must have
- The number of new qualified leads you must create each month
- The number of unqualified leads (new contacts) you require each month
- The number of website visitors you need each month
...and finally how long does it take for someone to go from a visitor all the way to a customer? This process requires some initial estimating and assumptions - but will become more accurate as you start tracking your funnel. Your funnel velocity is made up of your funnel leakage (how many you loose at each stage of the funnel) and lag (how long it takes them).
Pro Tip: As this is a joint effort between sales and marketing its also a great step to align marketing and sales around common agreeed metrics.
With clarity around your target, your positioning and messaging and how much activity you need to generate - you can build a lead generation engine that is fit for purpose.
For an eagle its broad wingspan is its mechanism for flying so high and effortlessly. Your own firm's mechanism comprises your full digital and analogue presence and specifically how your content and tactics attract, convert, close and then delight a customer.
Your content and tactics are deliberately chosen to help the customer move from stage to stage of their decision making journey. It should be a deliberate orchestrated progression for your customers.
Your website should sit at the heart of your lead generation engine and must be powered by integrated marketing automation and CRM tools. This is a crucial component as its this element that allows the lead generation engine to run with minimum effort. It's how you stop the hamster wheel. We favour HubSpot's platform for this task as we feel its tight integration creates the greatest efficiency for sales and marketing operators.
Pro Tip 1: All too often content is developed for the initial attract phase but little thought is given to the crucial convert phase where a buyer is really getting serious about making a decision and the close stage. Content should tie closely to the four messaging stages outlined above and should cover both sales and marketing tactics.
Pro Tip 2: Content is very popular in a B2B marketing strategy with over 80% of B2B Marketers using content to attract visitors and generate leads. But only 40% are satisfied with the results. This is because so many people are publishing content that its hard to be unique and interesting and create some cut through. Take time to plan and build emotive, story based content that really engages your target customers. Content isn't cheap and if budget is a problem we recommend clients to do less, but do it well.
STAGE 2 - LEARN
With a clearly defined and articulated plan and a carefully built engine fuelled by the right content we can start to carefully observe what is and is not working with our B2B lead generation efforts. By launching campaigns and then measuring the activity each component generates, analysing the results and adjusting and tweaking the lead generation's settings we can systematicaly improve results using real data from our target customers. By focuing our limited resources on what works and stopping low yield tactcis, we are able slow down and stop the hamster wheel's endless and pointless spinning.
Pro Tip 1: A/B testing is an excellent way of testing different hypothesese you may have developed. Does this landing page design convert better than that one? Does this email header drive greater click-thoughs than that header? But it takes time to collect a good data set. Don't be in a rush to judge, typically we gather 3-6 months of data before making any big changes.
Pro Tip 2: To learn you need to publish content and run campaigns regularly. Frequency is important. Be prepared to fail, take come calculated risks, its how we've learnt our best lessons.
STAGE 3 - GROW
As you adjust your campaigns, using the data series you have collected - a wonderful thing starts to happen. You soar! Because you are optimising your lead generation engine your return on investment improves greatly. Not only are you generating more leads but they are good quality and your close rates improve.
Research data from HubSpot suggests your cost of customer acquisition can fall as much as 60%. This is because you've stopped low yield activities and doubled down on those that are proven to work.
By planning your positioning and messaging correctly, building content that's aligned to the customer journey and building an engine that efficiently advances buyers through their decision stages you have built the underlying infrastrcuture for business growth and this, in turn, free's up your time.
Armed with this infrastructure and your campaign data it's a great deal easier to present a powerful business case for further investment in lead generation campaigns, to support further growth, to the senior executive team. In fact, this approach is the best way to become PART OF the senior executive team as you are able to show your direct contribution to the revenue growth of the company.
Pro Tip: An eagle is constantly adjusting its position to take best advantage of updrafts allowing it to effortlessly glide across the sky. Similarly, markets are continually shifting, buyer's needs are continually changing and so your own approach must also adjust. Typically a quarterly review is sufficient to ensure you are optimising your approach to market (though sometimes one off events require you to change your approach more frequently).
If you are not sure where (or how) to start you are not alone! To combat that, we are happy to invest some time with you on an initial consultation where we talk through your current approach and offer some suggestions to help. Find out how it works in this short one minute video