Best Practices for Writing B2B Sales Emails

Writing B2B sales emails is one part art, one part science, and a whole lot of patience. To get to that elusive, perfect email you have to find the blend between friendly but not over-eager, helpful but not pushy, and naturally follow up without being annoying. 

Here are our experience-based best practices based on writing a B2B sales email.

Writing B2B Sales Emails

1) Know Your Persona

A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal buyer according to HubSpot. Almost everything you do in sales and marketing should start with your persona, and sales emails are no different. When writing a B2B sales email, consider how technical your persona is. While you know and care about how important your product is, your email recipient may not. The CTO or head of the IT department might show interest in the highly technical aspects of your product, but you might not get the CMO to read beyond line two if you start talking about phalanges and gigahertz.

Figure out who you’re addressing and build your strategy around how to solve their pains and problems with your product using their language. 

You’re generating leads, but are they ready to talk to you? Get the guide to lead scoring and learn how to determine if your leads are sales-ready.

2) Be Helpful, Not Sales-y

Which brings me to number two- be helpful. Where impulse can lead a B2C purchase, the majority of B2B searches and buying journeys are set off by a pain point. The need to improve, prevent, encourage, scale, etc. in order to do better business. We know that those B2B buyers are eager for information and resources because 92% of B2B purchases start with search.

Use that to your advantage when you write your B2B sales emails. By knowing your persona, you should have been able to uncover the pain points they experience. By knowing your product, you should be able to relay how your product solves those pains. The key, though, is providing the content, resources, and insights to do so without giving off the used car salesman vibe. If you set out to be  authentic and your intent is to be helpful (rather than desperate for a sale), you may find your emails naturally follow in tone.

3) Offer Content and Resources 

If your sales and marketing teams are aligned, fingers crossed, you have assets to include in your sales emails that provide value. In the spirit of being helpful and not sales-y, the assets I’m talking about are not about you. Yup. You heard me right. Drag all of those sales brochure PDFs on your desktop to a new folder called “for later” and bear with me. 

B2B buyers want information. They set out to gain as much knowledge as possible, map out all their options, and typically present select solutions to their teams for final buy-in: the buyer’s journey. This all starts with knowledge. Your job is to provide that to them, via resources, to make their research process easier. As you move to conclude your follow-up process, you can include those product-specific brochures and sell sheets.

4) Create Personalization and Authenticity

Personalization in a B2B email can improve click-through rate by as much as 14% and conversion rates by 10%. It’s important to know that personalization is more than just a name. It’s mentioning a connection, noting something in common, building a bit of rapport. Doing so builds trust, authenticity, and credibility. 

Here are some ways to create personalization in your emails: 

  • Company name 
  • Noting mutual connections
  • Remembering and excluding information/resources they already found on their own
  • Tailoring content to the specific persona’s needs 
  • Including personalization tokens in the subject line
  • Sending by timezone
  • Acknowledging seasonality 

Your goal here is to identify yourself as a real human (even if you’re sending automated emails) and create a connection.

5) Add a CTA

A CTA, or call-to-action, is a way to encourage your recipient to take a specific next step. Adding one to your email can be in the form of a button or simply in hyperlinked text, but including one is a must.  Do not, however, go overboard in the ‘helpful’ department here. Try to limit the actions you’re requesting to one thing – two tops. 

You can, however, include the same CTA more than once in the same email. Having only one requested action, potentially reiterated, keeps the focus where you want it to be in order to increase your conversion rates. 

Writing B2B Tech Sales Emails

6) Include a Thoughtful Subject Line

The biggest factor in whether an email gets opened or not is the subject line. There are some fantastic recommendations for creating engaging subject lines here. In short, don’t make it about you: make it about them. Find a way to include personalization tokens, like name or company, or even pull out some of those even more personal touches if you’re mentioning them in your email.

Most importantly, be sure to test. If you’re using a CRM like HubSpot, it’s easy to run A/B tests on subject lines. (More on that here.) If you aren’t using a CRM, create a simple spreadsheet and run your own tests. Record what’s working and what’s not, and continually build on your success. 

7) Create Templates 

Creating templates for your B2B sales emails will save you time. A lot of time. And also a lot of energy and brainpower. Imagine being able to copy and paste rather than writing fresh emails multiple times a day. Doing so can help eliminate errors and typos as well.

Additionally, having templates aids in your ability to track and monitor your success rates. Does name dropping a mutual connection work better than asking for just thirty minutes of their time immediately? (I’m guessing it might). The tests you can run are endless, but you won’t be able to effectively measure what’s the most successful if you start from scratch every single time. 

Another benefit to templates is that you can use them for multiple people in your organization. If you do run those tests and find something to be highly effective, you can then get everybody into that sweet spot of selling. This also creates brand cohesion, a collective strategy, and a unified voice within your department.

8) Follow up

How many times do you follow up with your sales prospects currently? Once? Twice? Maybe three times? What if I said five times the charm? According to HubSpot, 80% of sales require five follow-ups. Starting to see how important those templates are now? 

You can read more about follow up strategies here, but the most important part I want to highlight is that you are following up. And that you’re doing it more than once. 

Related reading: 3 Lead follow up processes that will turn off your inbound leads

9) Use a CRM

Using a CRM, like HubSpot, will make your life 1,000 times easier. If you use a CRM to create your CTAs, you can track them and A/B test them easily. The same is also true for your templates and your subject lines. These little time-savers add up quickly to allow you to work more efficiently.

A CRM will also give you the ability to automate your email sends and follow-ups using those templates we just talked about. Once an email is sent, you can designate follow-ups to occur based on timing, user actions, or even user inactions. Doing so increases your win rates and reduces your workload. Find out if the HubSpot CRM is right for you here.

B2B tech sales email automation

Even if you’re not testing or automating your emails, a CRM is still beneficial because it helps you keep track of your contacts and interactions. You can assign contacts to a company, easily monitor when or if you follow-ups with somebody, and categorize your efforts into deal stages such as won, lost, bad timing, etc. to keep your efforts organized. 

Lead Scoring

Writing B2B sales emails really boils down to one thing: providing value. The meat of your email should be helpful, specific to your persona, and direct focus to one particular call-to-action. Your subject line should be catchy and your content personalized. Using a CRM aids in tracking and creates efficiencies, such as automation, that will generate more success. 

How to Master B2B Website Strategy and Drive Growth

The website plays one of the most pivotal roles in business-to-business marketing for technology companies and manufacturing businesses. Forrester Research found 74% of B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase offline. With the number of stakeholders involved in a purchase decision growing every year and the journey becoming ever more complex – the B2B website job is heavy.

master b2b website strategy

The b2b website is the doorway between your prospects, your brand, and a potential sales opportunity. How do modern brands juggle all these priorities? With a B2B website design strategy focused on your buyers. Here’s how.

Want to read this later? Click here to have it emailed.

Difference between B2B & B2C 

Understanding the distinction between B2B and B2C web strategy starts with acknowledging the substantial differences in the types of transactions.

What Could Professional Services Marketing Learn from Product Marketing?

When marketing a product, people typically talk about FABs (features, advantages, and benefits). This technique is referred to as FAB selling. It’s a widely used and accepted method within sales and typically very effective when the product lives up to the FABs. But what does that have to do with professional services marketing? Well, a lot actually. Just because professional services “product” is an intangible one, doesn’t mean there aren’t still features, advantages, and benefits to showcase. While different approaches, if we take what we know from product marketing and apply it to professional services marketing, we could learn a thing or two.

Here’s what professional services marketing could learn from product marketing:

professional services marketing

No MPGs or RPMs but there are FABs

You already know that professional services marketing and product marketing require two different approaches. There’s no argument there. Marketing professional services isn’t like marketing a car, for example. You can’t just list off the bells and whistles. If you, your team, and your service are the “product,” you’re selling something much different. You’re selling an experience, something that isn’t necessarily tangible. Maybe you’re a law firm or an accounting firm or a surveying company, or {insert whichever professional services industry you’re in}. The point is, you can talk about what services you offer and your capabilities (features), how you’re different from competitors and what problem you solve for your customers (advantages) and ultimately, what’s in it for them and what value do you provide (benefits).

marketing professional services

Product Marketing Insights for Professional Services

Credibility

When it comes to credibility, products have the advantage of customers being able to physically try it out or use it. These products have been tested and inspected. If someone doesn’t like a product, they can {usually} return it. That’s not the case with services. So what can you do? When someone is searching for professional services, they want to work with a team that knows what they’re talking about. Most people want to work with a company that has experience and success stories to back it up. Without that experience, it can be tough to gain the credibility you need to build that trust with your buyers. Adding case studies and customer testimonials on your website to highlight your expertise and success stories will increase your credibility. If you’ve been in business for a while, be sure to call that out, too.

Returnability

As mentioned above, you can’t usually return a service. It’s a finite thing. Once you’ve used the service or started the process, you can’t return that time spent. With products, there’s almost always an ability to return if you’re not satisfied with your purchase. Of course, there are caveats to this, but in general, buying a product typically comes with a short window of time to get your money back if product realities fall short of expectations. Since services don’t have that option, make sure you are targeting the right audience, vetting buyers before you commit to working with them, and of course, provide top-notch service to customers. This can reduce or eliminate buyers wanting to “return” your service.

marketing professional services

Tangibility 

The tangibles of a professional services company aren’t tangible at all. Those “tangibles” are usually things like experience, expertise, efficiency, and a proven track record of success. Services aren’t like products. You can’t hold them in your hands. You don’t usually get to test drive services. How do you overcome the fact that there are no tangibles? By ensuring your messaging and marketing about your services are effective, standout and that you tell your story and why buyers should choose you. 

Scalability 

When you create a product and perfect that process, you can usually take it and mass-produce it. You’re able to scale the production. This can allow for cost savings and a higher volume of available inventory. As we mentioned above, having a process in place for your service offering is about as close to scalability as you will get. With services, you, your people, and your talents are the “product,” so it can be a little harder to scale these operations. But, it can be done. Especially when you have a tried and true process for doing your work. Scaling professional services slowly and with a calculated approach can ensure every experience can be customized to the client while still representing the company. There’s flexibility in professional services marketing that you don’t necessarily have in product marketing.

Ownability 

When you buy a product, you own it. It’s yours or your company’s. You can usually transfer that ownership. Going back to the car example, someone can buy a car, drive that car for a while and then later sell that car to someone else. You can’t, however, go to a tax professional, have your taxes done, and then later sell that appointment or tax prep to someone else. But just as people need cars to drive, people need professional services. Showcase the value of their purchase and deliver on it. Capitalize on the fact that you’re selling a great experience and make that experience worthwhile for buyers.

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The Professional Services Marketing Mix: 7 P’s 

Finally, when thinking about your professional services marketing, don’t forget about the extra P’s. Marketing 101 tells us that there are 4 P’s when it comes to the marketing mix that relates to products. They are product, price, place, and promotion. In the case of professional services marketing, however, there are three more P’s that are added: people, process, and physical existence. 

People: Services are inseparable from the person or people providing it, which is why this is such a defining factor in the service delivery process. You and your team are key to making your service stand out and delivering on what your buyers want or need.

Process: It’s hard to scale something that isn’t a product, that’s where process comes in. Process is the closest thing to scalability that professional services can offer. Having a service delivery process in place ensures that the same standards of service are repeatedly delivered to customers. You might call it a playbook or a business blueprint. Whatever your company calls it, make sure it exists and that it’s a well-oiled machine.

Physical Evidence: There are rarely tangibles in an intangible professional services business. So how do you take nothing and make it something that customers can see and try to make it more real for them? Think about the marketing materials you send out, the resources you provide on your site and the website itself. Investing in a quality website that showcases who you are and what you’re about, can help customers visualize you. It can lend to credibility, professionalism and much more. 

Related Reading: 5 Enviable B2B Websites and Why We Love Them 

While professional services marketing and product marketing have their differences, there’s an opportunity to learn something from each. They both have their challenges, their pros and cons, and both require skilled professionals to market them successfully. Knowing the differences between the types of marketing and not applying a one-size-fits-all approach can ensure you’re creating the proper strategy out of the gate and positioning yourself strong when it comes to marketing your professional services.

How to Marketing Qualify Your Manufacturing Leads

Whether your manufacturing digital leads are feast or famine, how do you know which leads are a good fit? How is the sales team determining which leads they should talk to and which ones are in need of nurturing by marketing because they are aren’t quite sales-ready? In other terms, how are they being qualified? If you find yourself asking these questions, you might need some help determining a marketing qualified lead. 

Often referred to as an MQL, a marketing qualified lead is a lead that is considered more likely to become a customer compared to other leads. These leads have shown an interest in buying. They are open to the idea of a sale and have engaged with you and your business by taking some sort of action. Marketing efforts are typically what bring the leads in, but it’s what the lead does next that prompts them to become an MQL. 

qualify manufacturing leads

Define Your MQL Criteria  

Before you can begin to qualify your manufacturing leads, sales and marketing need to come together and not only define what an MQL is but agree on that definition. What are the characteristics and engagements that make up a good lead for you and your sales team? At Lake One, we lovingly refer to this as your lead fit to win criteria. It includes both lead requirements and lead engagements.

Related Reading: Lead Generation for Manufacturers: 9 Strategies to Crush 2020

But okay, where do you start? Here are the top areas for consideration when it comes to defining your MQL criteria.

qualify manufacturing leads

Review existing opportunities and customers: Who is your team talking to right now? Which leads have turned into customers and what actions did they take prior to inking a deal? You’ll likely uncover similarities in demographic data, such as industry, geo, company size, or job title, along with similarities in engagement. 

Engagement can be the content offers downloaded, the frequency of web visits or maybe even specific page views. 

Examples of MQL Actions

  • Requests a quote
  • Requests a product catalog
  • Attends a webinar
  • Downloads an ebook
  • Engages with your social
  • Opens a marketing email (or two)
  • Subscribes to your newsletter
  • Visits your website and/or visits key pages
  • Requests more information or asks to be contacted 

Talk to Sales: Find out what a qualified lead means to sales. They are not only key drivers in moving leads from marketing qualified to sales qualified and beyond, they know what they need and are a great resource. For example, is a lead worthless without a phone number? Or does sales need to be connected to a certain role within a company to increase the likelihood of closing a deal? All of these can be factored in as MQL criteria. 

Marketing MQL

Nice to know vs Need to know: Defining MQL criteria is really finding a balance of what is ‘nice to know’ vs what is ‘need to know’. Especially when starting out, we recommend creating opportunities to collect information (like updating form fields and leveraging progressive fields if you have that accessible) while still making the MQL status obtainable by leads. You can always tighten up the fire hose. 

Review. Revise. Repeat: Like with most things in sales and marketing, you can’t just set it and forget it. We recommend revisiting your MQL definition at least on a quarterly basis as a team. If you aren’t seeing the number of MQLs that you anticipated, is it because your criteria is too narrow? Or is it a lead quality issue? MQL criteria is a great place to start.

Once you’ve defined your MQL criteria, you need a way to collect it, track it and communicate it with your sales teams. 

Cue marketing automation.

qualify manufacturing leads

Leveraging Marketing Automation Software

Determining marketing qualified leads for your manufacturing company doesn’t have to be a manual process and in fact, we recommend it’s not. Marketing automation helps with:

  • Data capture at the time of form fill
  • Contact data storage
  • Housing the MQL criteria infrastructure
  • Notifying sales when a lead becomes an MQL
  • Closing the feedback loop

Here are some of our favorite marketing automation tools to get you started.

Out of all that is listed above, we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t discuss the importance of notifying sales and closing the feedback loop. When a lead is hot, it’s hot and sales needs to be notified in real-time and on the contrary, if a lead isn’t so hot, marketing needs to know that too. Marketing automation software helps facilitate communication through notifications and custom properties.

It’s All About Alignment

Marketing qualified leads are really just a piece of the big picture of sales and marketing alignment. If you know anything about Lake One, you know we’re major proponents of alignment and defining what a marketing qualified lead is for your manufacturing company is a critical step to getting both teams on the same page and funneling quality leads to sales.

MarTech Assessment

Trade Shows Canceled? 5 Strategies to Keep Your Sales Pipeline Active

Trade shows are an important part of generating leads and filling the sales pipeline for many. In fact, a survey conducted by IDG reported that conferences and trade shows are listed as second, behind companies websites, on effective B2B lead generation tactics. But when crisis strikes (i.e. COVID-19), many have found that attending trade shows is no longer a viable option. At a time when we’re all being asked to social-distance, the last place anyone wants to be is in an exhibit hall, surrounded by a ton of people. 

So, what do you do now? How can you pivot that budget to something else meaningful? More importantly, what strategies can you implement to help fill the sales pipeline? These are all valid concerns. Things don’t have to come to a halt just because conferences have been canceled or postponed. There are still ways to get “out there”. 

Here are 5 B2B marketing strategies to keep your sales pipeline active: 

sales pipeline

Host a Virtual Event

With more and more people working from home and utilizing video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom, now is a great time to embrace video. Maybe you’re used to having a weekly in-person coffee or networking event, move it online. Or, see if you can get a list of the conference attendees and invite them to an event you’re hosting. You could team up with other types of vendors and see if they’d be interested in joining. Try to bring value to the businesses you’re trying to attract. They’ll be more inclined to attend. Almost like hosting your own mini-trade show.

Try Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-Based Marketing or ABM is one of those hot topics right now and rightfully so. 84% of businesses who used ABM, reported that the strategy offered a higher RO1 than other marketing campaigns. ABM is the strategy that directs marketing resources to target and engage a specific set of accounts or companies. Rather than casting a wide net in an attempt to generate leads and fill your sales pipeline, you’re identifying key prospects and you tailor your message accordingly. Think about it like being at a conference. If there was a specific company or person you were hoping to connect with or have visit your booth, you might seek them out. It would be very targeted and you would customize your message just for them. That’s the idea behind ABM. 

Related Reading: Marketing in a Time of Crisis Inbound and Automation Strategies

sales pipeline

Conduct a Webinar 

This is another great example of a way you can still get your brand and brains out in front of people. Typically this would be a free event to sign up for, but key phrase there is “sign up.” Make sure you have people register for your webinar so you collect their contact information and can follow up with them after. Your webinar topic should be informative and a value-add to the people attending. What it shouldn’t be is an hour of you self-promoting and making it a sales pitch but calling it a webinar. Beyond lead generation, there are other benefits of hosting a webinar. Like, 1) positioning yourself as a thought leader or expert in your field, 2) deliver value and keep your audience engaged, and 3) broaden your reach by communicating with hundreds of people at once. Now that’s something you wouldn’t be able to do at a trade show. 

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Create or Expand Your Digital Marketing Strategy

If you’re already marketing online (as you should be), great! If you’re not, now might be the time. We recommend taking a look at your strategies. With your trade show budget freed up, there might be some opportunity to:

  • Start a paid media plan or look at increasing your ad spends. Think Google, LinkedIn or Facebook. 
  • Look at putting some dollars towards paid social, “boosting” or “promoting” your existing posts.  
  • If it isn’t already, optimize your website and content to ensure you’re set up for success to be a lead machine. 
  • Invest in that CRM you’ve had your eye on or perhaps another piece of marketing technology to help you work harder and smarter to generate leads. 
  • Devote more time and resources to creating valuable content for your site.

There are lots of possibilities here to either up your digital game or to start it. Not sure where to start? Check out the Digital Kickstart Checklist on how to pivot your business to digital quickly.  

Guest Posting and Speaking 

Since time and energy aren’t going into prepping for and promoting attendance at a show, maybe those resources could be spent working to do outreach and promote or create some really great content. That way you’re getting your name out there and building authority on topics you have an expertise in. Another way to build that authority and get some “face-to-face” time with people is to be a guest speaker on a podcast or webinar. I know it’s not the same as speaking at a conference or networking in person, but it’ll allow you to keep your distance while still actively trying to fill your sales pipeline. 

sales pipeline

Please don’t let lack of trade shows make you feel like you have to make a trade-off on achieving your goals. These are just a few strategies and tactics to consider with your newfound time and additional budget. But there are plenty of opportunities out there.

Six Easy Lead Gen Tips for Sales

Batman and Robin. Tom and Jerry. Mac and Cheese. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Sales and Marketing. These are some pretty iconic duos. You don’t often get one without the other. But, it does happen. Maybe you know that firsthand. Are you a sales professional who doesn’t have marketing support, either due to budget, size, or lack of resources? Maybe you do have a marketing team but want to ensure you’re doing everything you can to help bring in new business. You have quotas to meet, after all. Or perhaps you are the marketing team and you want to give your sales team some quick tips to help further the lead gen cause. No matter where you’re joining us from, you’ve come to the right place!  We’ve got you covered, with 6 easy lead gen tips your sales team can implement today. They’re pretty painless, easy to implement, and we’re confident you’ll be able to tackle them all: 

easy lead gen tips

Use Your Social Media

Believe it or not, social media is great for more than just hilarious memes {how funny are some of those though, right?}. If you’re in sales or are a business professional of any sort, you likely have a LinkedIn account. Most salespeople do. But there’s a difference between having an account and using an account, especially for top-of-the-funnel activities. Using your social media accounts to share content and promote your company is a great and free way to direct traffic to your website, and hopefully generate some leads. While LinkedIn is likely the most useful tool, you may have a lot of connections on Facebook and Twitter that it might make sense to promote content there, too. As an added bonus, sharing on social media can help you build a loyal and engaged following. 

LinkedIn Marketing Guide

Capture those Leads 

Picture it: you shared some really great content on your social media page and it was wildly successful and drove a ton of traffic to your company’s website. Fantastic! But…. what are you doing with those visitors? How are you getting leads from your website? Is the landing page they’re hitting compelling enough to get them to stay and more importantly, take an action? Get your landing pages up to par (if they’re not already) and then make sure you have an effective and clear call-to-action. There shouldn’t be any confusion for your audience on what you want them to do and what they get in return. Remember, they want to know what’s in it for them. After all, it’s about them, not (just) you. 

Related reading: Conversion Funnel Basics

Referrals from Current Customers 

Who knows the great work you produce or service you provide better than the customers you already work with? Identify a few clients you really enjoy working with and who really enjoy working with you. Odds are they may know people who are equally as pleasant to do business with. Schedule some time with them to thank them for their business and see if they have any other contacts or companies that would be interested in the same level of service. They may offer to make an introduction or just pass along the contact information. Either way, thank them profusely and follow up with the potential lead. If you’re not comfortable just coming out and asking your current clients, start by telling them or reminding them that referrals are welcomed… even encouraged.

Tap into Your Personal Network 

This is one of those easy lead gen tips that too often gets overlooked. I get it, I used to shy away from mixing business with pleasure. Meaning, I didn’t like to tap into my personal network, aka friends, when it came to business-related stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem helping {trusted} friends who ask me for help, but for some reason, it used to be tough for me to ask the same in return. Maybe you can relate? I’m here to tell you to get out of your own way. If you have friends or acquaintances who you feel comfortable discussing business with and who are willing to help, they might just be the untapped lead machine you’ve been looking for. Let them know the type of company you’re looking for and if they can help, let them! Be sure to make it as seamless as possible for them. This shouldn’t be added stress for them. Send them an email they can just forward on to make the connection. And who knows, maybe someday you can repay the favor.

easy lead gen tips

Competitive Intel

What’s the saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer?” I kid, of course. Your competition shouldn’t be viewed as the enemy. Rather, they should be viewed as an inspiration and someone who pushes you to be at the top of your game. If you’re playing your cards right, they’re viewing you in the same light.

When you think of your main competitors there’s likely one or two that come to mind who are just crushing it. What are they doing that you aren’t? What’s resonating the most with their customers? You can use that information to create more effective ads and additional lead generation strategies of your own. This isn’t about just following along with what everyone else is doing. It’s about keeping up with industry trends and looking ahead to stay ahead of your competition.

Networking Works

Don’t let the word networking scare you off. I know it’s not every business professional’s favorite thing to do, but it is so important to both your company and your career. I’m not sure about you, but when I first started out in the business world, networking seemed like such a daunting task. That was until I stopped putting so much pressure on it and decided to seek out events that were both relevant and resonated. That way it was something I looked forward to going to vs. seeing it as an obligation. It’s part of my routine now and should be part of yours too, especially if you’re in a sales position. It’s a great way to generate new business or to meet people who will refer you to new business. At the very least, it’s good practice for your “elevator speech”.

These tips don’t require a lot of heavy lifting.  Whether you’re the lone salesperson with no marketing support, the salesperson who wants to help with lead gen or the marketing professional looking to help their sales team, you can get started with these six easy lead gen tips as early as today. Good luck!

Related Reading: Interested in learning more about lead gen? Check out our Lead Generation Guide: Basics of Lead Gen 

Lead Generation Guide: Basics of Lead Gen

If you’re in sales and marketing, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about lead generation. Business folks, in general, are probably at least a little familiar with it. Maybe it’s discussed in business conversations you’re apart of or you’ve seen it in sales and marketing materials. But what’s all the fuss about? What’s so important about lead generation? We’re here to break down the basics of what it is, what’s tough about it, why it’s worth it, trends to watch for and how tools can help with it all. 

HubSpot defines lead generation as the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service. Lead generators are things like job applications, blog posts, live events, coupons or online content. These types of things {hopefully} create interest and attract potential customers. The goal is to create unique ways to get people, the right people, interested in your business. 

Lead generation sounds simple enough, right? Well, if it were that easy, everyone would do it and do it successfully. We know it’s not that simple, so we put together a few insights into lead generation to help get you started.

Click here to have the lead generation guide emailed to you.

Sales & Marketing Automation: What it is and what it can do for B2B

You likely know that sales and marketing alignment is our jam. We are all about the two teams communicating openly and working towards common goals. But did you also know that we are all about working smarter? Sales and marketing automation can help you with some of the heavy lifting allowing you to scale and spend your time on the things that matter most to your business.

Despite the joint naming, sales automation and marketing automation serve distinct purposes within an organization. In this post, we’ll define both sales and marketing automation and share some of our top tips for implementation. 

Sales & Marketing Automation

What is Sales Automation?

HubSpot defines sales automation as the mechanization of manual, time-consuming sales tasks using software, artificial intelligence (AI), and other digital tools. 

With the sales team focused on one to one communication, automation can help with prospecting and outreach and cut down on response time, making sales uber efficient. More specifically, sales automation helps with:

  • Lead distribution
  • Lead follow-up emails
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Sales quotes/proposals
  • Customer onboarding
  • Lead scoring
  • Approvals
  • Lead qualification

What is Marketing Automation?

Marketing automation is using software to automate marketing activities such as email marketing, social posting, and reporting. 

With the marketing team focused on communicating to a group of people, (ideally targeted to personas), automation adds scalability and also personalization. Without marketing automation, it’s nearly impossible to include personalization at the scale needed for most B2B businesses. 

Marketing automation helps to accomplish the following:

  • Updated tracking
  • Real-time alerts
  • Automated lead-hand off
  • Forms
  • Landing pages
  • Social post scheduling
  • Emails 
  • Lead nurturing
  • Lead qualification

Did we mention you can use marketing automation to outsource lead gen? Read more.

Sales & Marketing Automation Tips for B2B

If you’re either considering sales and marketing automation for your business or your current efforts aren’t going so well, this next section is for you. Here are our top five sales and marketing automation tips. 

Tip #1: It starts with alignment

If it feels like your sales and marketing teams are on different planets, adding automation to the mix won’t solve that. It’s best to have a meeting of the minds first. There you should outline responsibilities, define key terms and align your goals. 

Alignment can be a process, but at a minimum, it should be an active process.

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Tip #2: Don’t overbuy

Underutilized technology can be a costly expenditure. Not every company needs sales and marketing automation and not every company needs all the bells and whistles of enterprise-grade solutions. Being aligned as a team will help you hone in on the features that are necessary.

Here are some questions for consideration when evaluating the needs of your teams:

  • Are you struggling to segment and prioritize leads?
  • Do your leads require nurturing?
  • Is your sales team struggling to find the time to follow up with leads?
  • Are you leveraging your content?
  • Do you know where your teams are coming from?
  • How are leads handed off?

Tip #3: Have a plan 

Sales and marketing automation can be great, but not without a plan. Having an agreed-upon strategy of what matters to your organization will help you select the tech that meets your needs and execute day to day.

Automation isn’t the entire strategy, but it’s part of it.

Tip #4: Who owns automation?

Bringing on new technology can sometimes have people asking, “Who’s on first?” We strongly recommend appointing an automation internal champion. This person is responsible for adoption, consistency and holding teams accountable.

Tip #5: Don’t forget you’re marketing and selling to humans

When it comes to automation, you can have too much of a good thing because at the end of the day, you’re still marketing and selling to humans. No one wants to engage and converse with a robot, especially if the buyer is in the decision stage. 

 Make sure to:

  • Monitor replies to your automated your messaging
  • Use personalization
  • Practice social listening 
  • Analyze the data and optimize

Avoid these B2B email nurture mistakes that will leave your leads dead in the water.

Tip #5: Automation isn’t set it and forget it

C’mon. Is there anything in sales or marketing that is set it and forget it? The answer is no. There isn’t. Sales and marketing automation tools typically come with better reporting capabilities. Use it! 

Also, there’s part of the story that can’t always be seen in the data. Take the time to talk to the teams and solicit feedback.

Sales and marketing automation can save you time and help your B2B business scale. If you’re considering incorporating automation into your sales and marketing strategy, we’d love to chat.

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5 Enviable B2B Website Examples & Why We Love Them

Have you ever visited a website that you can’t click out of fast enough? Maybe it has a poor user experience, hard to navigate, visually unappealing, or just not worth the eyeball-time? We’ve all been there.  But why? We all know that a company’s website is its digital storefront. If that same company has an actual office, they likely, or hopefully, spent some time and money to make sure it looks nice and is a comfortable space for their employees and visiting customers. Their office should reflect their style, what they stand for, who they are, and what they do. The same could be said, if not more so, for their website. Here are some of our favorite B2B website examples.

b2b website examples

1) HubSpot 

If you’re not familiar with HubSpot, they offer a full stack of software for sales, marketing, and customer service. One of the reasons we love this site is because everything is laid out nicely, without attempting to overload the homepage with copy and leaves you unsure of where you should be looking. HubSpot displays the different subpages they’d like visitors to go to where you can find more details. We also like to say it passes the “blink test,” which means you can tell what they do or offer right away. The site is easy to navigate, not super content-heavy, and has enough icons, imagery, and multimedia to keep people engaged. 

HubSpot is an awesome b2b lead gen tool. Learn more + see our other tool recommendations here.

2) Trello

Say Hello to Trello. Trello is a project collaboration tool that uses boards, cards, and lists to help organizations or teams. What do we love about their site? You’re able to see how it works via interactive slideshows, which is a great way to keep visitors engaged while also showing how Trello works. It’s laid out in a simple way that’s easy to understand. With their minimal copy and a good balance of imagery that shows how to use Trello, they definitely make the enviable B2B website examples list.

b2b website examples

3) DropBox 

DropBox has been around for a while, but we’re liking the new direction they’re trying to take. File storage and sharing are still a big focus, but now they’re introducing features similar to that of a project collaboration tool. When you first hit the homepage, it gives you the option to sign in or download. Once you scroll down, that falls away so your screen is freed up to learn more about DropBox. They also have another cool scrolling function that keeps the content on the left locked, while the pictures corresponding to it move on the right. Most people are already familiar with DropBox, so the site is simple and provides the necessary information upfront. 

Why is SEO important to your B2B site? Read more.

4) MailChimp 

MailChimp is a marketing platform and CRM. They’re often associated with email marketing, but they’re much more than that. We like their site because it’s short and to the point. It offers the right balance of content and characters, without being distracting. The dropdowns at the top are easy to use and navigate to get you to their subpages. So while the homepage is short and sweet, the subpages provide much more in-depth information on what services they offer. The site also has fun colors without being too distracting.

b2b website

5) Asana

Last, but certainly not least, is Asana. If you aren’t currently using Asana, you’ve at least heard of it. They are everywhere these days. Asana is a work management platform that teams use to stay organized, connected, and on track with their projects and workload. Why do we enjoy their site? As always, we love a site that’s easy to use, easy on the eyes, and easy to tell what they do at first glance. As with some of the other sites we like, Asana’s site also hosts helpful videos showcasing what they do and how to use their tool. Don’t even get us started on how user-friendly the actual app is to use.

Sensing a theme with these enviable B2B website examples? All five of them make it clear what they do right away, their sites are easy to navigate, most display videos, interactive slideshows, or images of some sort, and the homepages are all are pretty content light. They save the heavy stuff for the subpages. We also love that they keep users engaged with the right aesthetics, interactive media, and different characters and icons. If you’re looking to revamp your site and need a little inspiration, we recommend you take a look at these.

Essential Marketing Automation Functions to put Your Lead Management on Autopilot

Entrepreneurs and small business leaders are the ultimate hat-wearers. Unlike bigger, resource-opportune corporations, startups are scrappy. Anybody in a sales role likely isn’t doing just sales, the marketing person might double as HR, and the CEO likely wouldn’t be able to fit all his or her descriptive titles on a business card. Resources are scarce in order to put revenue back into the company for growth. If this sounds familiar, marketing automation can likely help you free up your employees’ time and aid in your business growth while you focus on all the other things your business needs. 

Marketing Automation to Outsource Lead Generation

What is Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is the use of technology to automate elements of your sales and marketing processes. While you are always looking to get more leads, implementing marketing automation allows for lead nurturing and followup at scale. There are many aspects and angles of marketing automation, but let’s talk about email marketing. 

Marketing Automation through Workflows

One of our favorite ways to use marketing automation to outsource lead generation is through workflows. Also called drip campaigns or nurturing sequences (and likely a few other names I’m forgetting), workflows are a series of emails intended to automatically move a buyer along in the journey. 

Learn more about the basics of lead gen in our guide. Get it here.

Enrollment

So how do you kick off a workflow and start automating your lead gen? Well, there are a few ways, but they all involve the user taking a specific action- visiting a specific website page, adding items to their online shopping cart but then abandoning it, making a purchase, etc.. We typically enroll users into workflows using content or “lead magnets.” We offer up a piece of content (eBook, infographic, comparison guide, etc.) that a user fills out a form to access. We get their contact info – including email- and they get their content. (Read more about this exchange here.)

From there, we know 1) who the user is, 2) what they downloaded, and 3) have the ability to infer what they are interested in. You might even get more info from your user like when they want to purchase and the persona they identify with depending on your form. (Again, here’s more information on forms and conversion funnels if you want to know more on that subject.)

Nurturing

Once a user is enrolled, your goal is to move them along. Nurture them with useful content and keep your business top of mind. We usually do 10-15 emails in each workflow campaign starting with a friendly, “Thought you might like this thing my company has” and ending the last email with a direct, “Contact us.” Three things to keep in mind here as you build out the contents of your emails:

1) Interest 

What are you emailing your leads about? Go back up a paragraph and find the word useful before the word content. Super important distinction. The most successful workflows are ones that continue to pique the interest of the user. If they downloaded an offer on subject A, don’t email them about subject Q. Your workflows should walk your lead through a natural progression of subject matter that ultimately leads back to a bottom of funnel call to action (contact us, schedule an appointment, buy this, etc.). 

2) Timing 

The timing of your workflows can be critical, and sometimes it can be hard to get exact. Too frequent and you’ll make an enemy. Too infrequent and they could move on to other options or lose interest entirely. As a general rule, we recommend about 7-10 days between these types of email communications, gradually increasing in frequency as you start to close in on your sale.

If you captured any timeline from the user on your form, use that, too. If they indicated they are looking to buy in the next 2 months, a more aggressive workflow might be in store. 

3) Other communications

What other marketing do you have going on? Make sure your leads aren’t enrolled in more than one workflow at a time. Additionally, use this opportunity to uphold other marketing efforts and communicate consistently.

Marketing Automation through Sequences

Another way to use marketing automation to outsource lead generation is by sales sequences. Take this scenario: Somebody submits a Contact Us form on your site. You email them back. No reply. You email them again. No reply. One more time for prosperity’s sake? No reply. So much wasted time. With sales sequences, you can automate that follow up. Draft templated followup emails to leads and have them automatically sent on a predetermined schedule. 

The same is true for cold-calling/emailing. Trigger your sequences by sending the first email out to your target(s) and let automation handle the followup. You can set followup and reminder emails to go out at specified intervals automatically rather than having to remember to do it yourself. For instance, you can send a cold email out on a Monday, and have marketing automation email that Thursday, at the end of the following week, and perhaps once more a week after that. Without automation, you would need to set reminders to do this and would likely be writing every new email rather than falling back into the loving arms of a template. Check out these leads followup tips to help you get started.

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