B2B Sales Leaders Dish: Top Strategies and Tools for Digital Sales in 2021

The countdown to 2021 is on. Oh, who are we kidding? For many of us, this countdown started back in March. Regardless, this past year has left an impression on businesses, good, bad, or otherwise. One area of business we were especially interested in gaining some outside perspective on was sales. So, to help jumpstart your 2021 digital sales strategy, we invited some of the best and brightest in B2B sales strategies and technology for a discussion on breaking through to buyers when business environments are turned upside down.

Our Experts

Lou Orfanos | General Manager & VP Product – HubSpot

Joshua Fedie | CEO and Founder – SalesReach

Dan Wardle | VP, Revenue – Vidyard

Hindsight is “2020”

They say that hindsight is “2020”, so we wanted to reflect on a year that was anything but business as usual and see what could be learned from it. There are some things we’d like to keep and others we’ll be sure to leave behind. Ultimately we wanted to learn how this pandemic shifted sales processes and how HubSpot, SalesReach, and Vidyard adapted to this change.

Buyer Expectations and Experiences

When asked about 2020, our panelists all agreed there was no question that COVID caused sales to change the way they engage with prospects, but the reality that sales needed to start working in a more digital-first way, was not recent news.

Orfanos noted that you should really be looking at everything you’re doing and calibrating your go-to-market and digital sales strategy to the new expectation. “It’s been moving that way for a while, but COVID made it go into warp speed.” That said, he cautions that you shouldn’t just rush to do whatever is new. Look at your services through the buyer’s lens and what they expect, and then determine what new strategies you want to adopt.

It’s also essential to make the buyer experience seamless from the start. Wardle encourages people to create the best experience possible from the minute prospects hit your website. “Whatever the customer needs is what you should be thinking about.” Things like the ability to directly book meetings online or adjusting your sales process based on customer needs.

Reducing Friction in the Sales Process

With so much change in how we do business, all of the areas you would expect to reduce friction in the sales process are spiking—things like online chat and videos. People want answers now. How does a sales leader get a sales team over their own friction when the speed of change is so fast, especially when it comes to video, online sales demos, and more?

Watch the Entire Discussion

Video for Sales

When it comes to video for sales, Wardle says the best way to start is just to start. He notes that the more authentic you can be, the better, only with some decent lighting. We know not everyone has time to make high quality, custom videos all day long. Nor should you.

Wardle recounts an example of his team making a quick “really excited to see you” video sent to leads. It got a 10% response rate! That same team decided to make a more professional video for another segment of leads and had half as many responses. Why is that, we asked? “You can see it was human-made, it wasn’t marketing, wasn’t polished. Think of it as a handshake at a conference. That video you send is that handshake. Make it personal- not overproduced. Just get started.”

Online Sales Demos

When it comes to your sales strategy, in-person sales demos were likely a very common occurrence for many pre-COVID. And while many of us might be facing “Zoom fatigue,” it’s still important for sales to get that face time with prospects, even if they are virtual or online demos. In fact, research has shown that the more face-to-face time or time spent on camera vs. sharing slide decks, the better. The closed/won deals were 41% more frequently pushed through the sales cycle. That’s how powerful face-to-face is.

Drift sales video webcam usage and successful deals

So, what do you do when you can’t meet in person? What lessons have been learned to break through with B2B buyers?

Fedie says, “You really need to embrace the fact that the best sales professionals – they’re all great entertainers. This digital thing through us for a loop, though, because it’s easier to take prospects to a restaurant or a golf course to build that relationship. So now you have to figure out how to be an entertainer on sales calls or demos.” He advises:

  • Be more interactive
  • Make it an experience
  • Have some Q&A
  • Call out specific stakeholders during demos to address their questions
  • Work harder to make sure they’re entertained, informed, and educated

While keeping prospects engaged and entertained is important, Orfanos takes it a step further to say that you need the value to back it up. At HubSpot they have a saying, “Add value before you extract value.” So take your demos and sales process and try to add as much value as possible. He says this is most impactful mid-funnel. “If you can nail personality and value that’s amazing, but if you had to choose one of the two- value first.”

Coaching Reps

It’s also important to remember what you’re coaching your reps on now. When it comes to friction and how to reduce it, Orfanos pointed out that 82% of managers and leaders say that they’re providing coaching but when those reps were asked, less than 50% felt they were being coached. Can you say low hanging fruit for reducing friction?

Your Sales Training Is Broken. Here's How to Fix It.

2021 Digital Sales Strategy Top Priority

When looking to drive and start pushing forward modern, digital sales strategies, we wanted to know what’s a top priority for these sales leaders—knowing that resources aren’t unlimited. Where does one start? What’s the top priority in creating a strong digital sales strategy?

Choose the Right Tools

Fedie suggests asking your team what they’ll actually use and what they’re comfortable using. He also said he sees many times that it isn’t sales leaders choosing tools for the sales team, it’s marketing, without having the necessary conversation with sales about what they actually need. “You’ll have a lot more success and rate of adoption if you get input from sales when choosing a sales tool.”

Adapt to Change

For Wardle, tools are secondary. He says, more importantly, it’s taking a step back. Businesses have changed, and maybe your sales reps haven’t changed yet. Understand what’s changed and how you’re going to coach the reps and be more effective. If you’re doing things the same as you were back when we could go to conferences and meet in person, it’s time to reevaluate. Once you’ve figured that out, then you can get into tools and strategies.

Align with Your Buyer

Tools, coaching, and last but not least, aligning with your buyer. Orfanos says in addition to tools and coaching, if there was ever a time to do this, it’s now, and that is your need to ruthlessly align with your buyers. Ask yourself:

  • Are you really locked in with marketing on who the target accounts are?
  • Are you fully aligned across the company on the target accounts?
  • Have you done the map of how your prospects expect to buy from you?
  • Are you actually delivering on those expectations?

How to better align your sales with B2B buyer's journey

Looking Ahead to 2021

Despite the challenges that this pandemic brought to businesses and the sales process, there’s still a lot to look forward to in the year ahead. We wanted to know what our panelists were most excited about for 2021.

Orfanos enjoys seeing the outside rep become more of an inside rep and inside reps moving to more e-commerce. He says, “If you can figure out the right blend of selling online and selling through reps, you can create a really efficient customer friendly model.”

Fedie says he loves seeing how quickly people have embraced technology, in good ways. “We’re starting to see more good come out of tech than bad. You’re still able to create meaningful relationships without having to travel to prospects and I don’t think that’s going away. That brings me the most joy and excitement.”

Wardle sees the world moving to broader adoption of video – that the default will be FaceTime for the enterprise and will live long beyond this pandemic. “Virtual selling is here to stay.”

Key Takeaways

  • Look at everything through your buyer’s lens and then work to create as seamless a buyer experience as possible.
  • Work to reduce the friction in the sales process, whether in your videos, online demos, or sales coaching. Things have changed and sales needs to change with it.
  • Align with your buyer, but don’t change for the sake of change. Find out what your buyer expectations are, and create your digital sales strategy around that.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things. You need to embrace new technologies, new efforts, and new ways of doing things.

A big thank you to our three panelists and all of you who joined in! It was educational, informational and entertaining.

Failure to Launch: 7 Challenges Preventing a Successful Inbound Marketing Strategy

Do you find yourself spinning your wheels on your inbound marketing strategy? Or maybe you’re just starting to entertain the idea of incorporating it into your overall marketing program and find yourself unable to get it off the ground. You’re not alone. There is no shortage of inbound marketing challenges, but there are far more rewards once you can move past some of those obstacles. 

Here are the most common challenges of inbound marketing that prevent you from having a successful strategy. 

Incomplete Strategy

When it comes to the various challenges of inbound marketing, this is one you’ll see often. Not for lack of good intentions, but because often people are ready to act before they analyze and plan. Don’t get us wrong, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation of analysis paralysis or placing perfection over progress, but you do need a plan in place before you dive in. 

inbound marketing challenges

The whole point of an inbound marketing strategy is to attract targeted and qualified leads and turn them into customers, so your strategy needs to be built around those clear buyer personas and have a plan in place for each stage of the buyer’s journey. So if you’re starting a blog, for example, you need to create a content strategy. If you’re planning to do social media marketing, you’ll want to identify the social sites that your personas are utilizing and create a posting schedule. Having clear strategies in place can often eliminate or at least reduce some of the challenges of inbound marketing listed below. 


As you likely know, this challenge isn’t specific to just inbound marketing. Having limited time and resources is often a challenge across the board. There just isn’t enough time (or money) in the day, right? And to put a solid inbound marketing strategy into practice, you need those resources, as it can be pretty labor-intensive. 

To implement inbound successfully, it often requires you to create a lot of relevant content and produce it consistently. Keyword being consistent. And more than just creating content like blogs, white papers, and case studies, you’ll need to master SEO, have a social media presence, and don’t forget about email marketing. 

If you don’t have the necessary time or resources to dedicate to your marketing rigor, you can often address the issue by partnering with freelance writers or agency partners. By going it alone, you might be inhibiting the success of your inbound campaign.  

Persona Alignment

You know all that content we talked about needing to produce? One of the challenges of inbound marketing is that you can’t write content for just anyone. You need to ensure that your content and inbound marketing strategy align with your target audience, AKA, your buyer personas. When you curate content designed specifically for your buyer personas, you might even be able to reduce the amount of necessary content that needs to be created. By narrowing your focus, you put quality over quantity, producing better results, and helping reach your potential customers. 

inbound marketing challenges - buyer personas
Image Source: HubSpot.com

Beyond just reaching those potential customers, by creating a buyer persona and aligning your content to them, you can:

  • Maximize your ROI
  • Generate qualified traffic and leads
  • Collect data/insights on the right people
  • Use your ad dollars efficiently
  • Create a great customer experience
  • Improve engagement across all of your channels

More About Buyer Personas: Why Understanding Your B2B Buyer Persona is the Crux of all Marketing Efforts 

Creating the Right Marketing Tech Stack  

marketing tech stack

Since resources, or lack thereof, is one of the challenges of inbound marketing, it’s essential to work smarter when it comes to the tools you incorporate into your overall strategy. That said, it can be hard to find the tools that are right-sized for your business, and that will cover all of your needs and that you and your team will actually use. But it can be nearly impossible to execute an effective inbound strategy without a proper marketing tech stack. Tech like: 

  • A CRM 
  • Marketing automation tool
  • Email marketing tool 
  • Social media publisher 
  • Analytics 
  • Content management system  

Is marketing technology right for your organization? Take the free online assessment here.

If you’re lucky (and smart), you’ll utilize a tool that covers multiple bases. When you implement a marketing technology stack, you’re building the framework for a solid inbound marketing strategy. The tools you decide to use are the bones of your plan and enable your team to take your marketing to the next level. This includes:

  • Better aligned sales and marketing teams
  • Marketing automation and reduction of manual work
  • Increased lead generation and the ability to nurture leads
  • More impactful analytics, insights, and reports
  • Streamlined processes and the simplification of complex operations
  • Ability to generate and carry out a comprehensive strategy

Poor User Engagement 

Picture it, you have a clear strategy, you have the time and resources you need, you’re aligned perfectly to your personas, and have all the right tech, but you’re still seeing low user engagement. Your strategy must be off, right? Not so fast. What’s the doorway between your prospects, your brand, and a potential sales opportunity? Your website! Before you throw your strategy out the window, be sure to check your website.

Related Reading: The Surprising Ways B2B Website Design Affects Sales 

A poor website user experience can be a significant weakness and challenges of inbound marketing that will likely be reflected in high bounce rates and potentially low time on page. Be sure to look at things like poor website design, poor mobile-optimization, and poor user experience. If you find you have issues with any or all three of those areas, fix them. It really is that simple. 

Here are some ways to make the content and design of your B2B website purposeful in driving conversion: 

  • Create clear CTAs (Call-to-Actions)
  • Ensure a quality user experience
  • Use the right language and tone for your buyers 
  • Cluster content strategy around topics 
  • Have supporting pillar content with blog topics 
  • Humanize your images and videos 
content clusters

Learn more about how to master your B2B website strategy and drive growth here

Misalignment of Sales and Marketing 

We already noted the importance of having a clearly defined inbound marketing strategy upfront. Still, all of that can be for not if your internal teams, specifically sales and marketing, aren’t aligned. 

One of the common marketing challenges is that the marketing team has one viewpoint of what makes a great lead and the sales team has an entirely different one. If marketing is creating content to attract the wrong target, then the leads will likely have a lower conversion rate into sales. It’s a lose-lose. 

Aligning sales and marketing needs to be a priority for all involved if you want to get traction on your inbound marketing. Why? 

  • 209% higher revenue from marketing-generated leads (Marketo)
  • Win more customers – 67% higher probability that marketing-generated leads will close (Marketo)
  • Keep those customers – 36% higher retention rates (MarketingProfs)
  • 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% more rapid three-year profit growth for B2B (SiriusDecisions)

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Expectation Setting 

Remember, results take time. Even if you’ve overcome all of the challenges above, you can’t expect to grow your website traffic, write the world’s best content (at scale), generate new, quality leads, and convert them to customers overnight. Your expectations need to be realistic. Whether it’s internal or external stakeholders, make sure that expectations are set up front and well-aligned. Then give it time to work! Work your strategy, be consistent, measure results, and then adjust as needed. 

While the challenges of inbound marketing can be tough to overcome, it’s worth the time and energy to implement a successful strategy. But if you find that it’s more than you or your team want to take on, there are resources out there that can help—interested to learn more? Chat with one of our experts and learn how Lake One can help you take your inbound strategy to the next level. 

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5 Tips on How to Create a Profitable Google Ads Campaign

Google Ads is a great tool to have in your marketing toolbox if you’re looking for profitability in your business. The tools, techniques, and strategies available allow businesses to grow exponentially in a very short period of time. There’s a reason why companies worldwide collectively spend billions of dollars on Google Ads– if done right, it’s profitable. Here are five tips on how to create a profitable Google Ads campaign.

Understand ROI and ROAS

Having a profitable Google Ads campaign requires you to think mathematically. In a nutshell, it all comes down to how much traffic you generate, how much of that traffic converts, and how much it costs you to make that happen. The name of the game in Google Ads is ROI (Return on Investment) and ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). 

ROI = Revenue-Cost / Cost of Ads

*You must know your profit margins to calculate your true ROI. This means keeping in mind things like associated costs with onboarding new leads or making a sale.

ROAS = Total Revenue / Cost of Ads

It’s important to recognize which model you should use for your campaigns and how they can affect your perception of their performance. If you have associated costs with your marketing, you may want to consider the ROI model.

Calculate Your Break-Even Point

The understanding of ROI and ROAS is crucial in effectively tracking your profitability in Google Ads and can be the difference between good vs. great. Calculating your break-even point gives you an excellent benchmark and goal to aim towards for your Google Ads campaigns. So how do you know what your ROI should be to break even? The answer is fairly simple. Divide your profit margin by one. So for the above example, our break-even point would be calculated by the following formula:

Break-Even Point: 1/.4 = 2.5 or 250%

What this means is that in order to be break-even, you need to make $2.50 on every dollar spent on advertising. Why? It’s because, for every $2.50 in revenue, you’re only generating a dollar (40%). Thus, you net zero dollars.

Verify Search Volume and Gain Keyword Insight

Before you start advertising on Google, it’s essential to research the space you are entering. Take a look at key metrics like how much the historic average CPC has been for your target keywords and much search volume there is. One way to do this is by using Google’s keyword planner. This tool even gives you some more insight into how much you can spend to expect specific results. It also allows you to see how your max CPC bid and conversion rate will affect the performance of your campaigns. Doing this research also will enable you to understand whether your budget is optimal for a profitable campaign or not. Sometimes as little as an extra $5 a day can be the difference between a profitable campaign and one that is not.

Google keyword planner

One thing to note though, Google’s predictions are not always accurate and will not ensure any such performance for your campaigns. It’s merely Google’s best insight based on the data that they have on hand. Use these insights as a general guide and helping hand during your planning. Don’t let it influence too much of your expectations and judgment. It’s best to start slow and a bit cautious while carefully monitoring your data as it comes in instead of relying on the keyword plan’s overview. 

Another resource for Google ads insight is Wordstream’s Google ads benchmarks, which are updated annually. These reports provide information on many industry’s average cost per click, conversion rate, and cost per action.

Image Source:

Utilize Conversion Rate Optimization

Increasing your conversion rate is another key component in how to create a profitable Google Ads campaign. This can include a variety of different things, including your ad copy, having the right CTA’S, and optimizing your landing pages. This aspect of Google Ads is where you should spend considerable time on and continue to improve. It’s also where you can get very creative and utilize A/B testing and data to increase your conversion rates further.

Maximize Extensions To Gain SERP Real Estate and Increase Relevancy

You can also increase your conversion rate in Google Ads by simply aiming to be helpful to the user. This means that you should give them everything they need to solve their issue and provide as much value as possible. 

A way to be more helpful is to maximize your extensions. The SERP (Search Engine Results Page) has four limited spots for text ads at the top of the page. Once you get there, use that space wisely and take advantage of it. You also want your ad to take up as much space on that page as possible. 

Lake One ad extensions

Utilize ad extensions of all types. Here’s a brief overview of what they are and what they’re best used for:

Read more about Google Ads extensions here.

Many businesses struggle with focusing on what they know works for them. Don’t make things too complicated. If you know something has worked well for your business in the past, continue to promote and refine it. If you know that targeting a certain persona leads to a larger order value, then put more advertising dollars towards that persona. Think about what conversion actions are most important and will have the most impact. Working within your budget means that you need to make the most out of it. So treat every last dollar with care, purpose, and a vision.

Interested in learning more about how to create a profitable Google Ads campaign? Talk with one of our experts today.

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Mark Boyts Joins Lake One Team

If you subscribe to our Field Notes, you already know this exciting news. For those of you who don’t…. *drum roll*… please join us in welcoming Mark Boyts to the Lake One team. Mark is our new Marketing Technology Implementation Specialist.

“My time so far at Lake One has been nothing short of exciting. For me, starting a new job is anxiety-provoking and takes a lot of perseverance and hard work,” said Mark. “At Lake one, my anxiety has quickly faded into a sense of teamwork with the Lake One team supporting me and guiding me through my initial weeks here.”

Mark has worked in the technology industry for the past six years. After graduating with a B.S. in Marketing Communications, his passion became combining his love for technology with his education in Marketing. Prior to Lake One, he worked as a Marketing Operations Specialist for Arcserve, a data backup and protection company. While there, he oversaw all operations processes and gained expertise in several automation software platforms, web development, and marketing technology stacks.

“Mark is a quick learner and has valuable experience with CRMs, our various partner platforms, and all things marketing tech. We’re excited to have him on the team,” said Rachael Cecko, Sr. Director of Operations at Lake One.

We couldn’t be more excited to have Mark aboard and are excited to see him continue to grow and flourish in his new position. Welcome, Mark!