To execute a successful marketing campaign, you need to understand your target audience. This goes beyond learning the demographics and behaviors of your prospects. Carving out fictional characters that align with your business objectives will guide you in developing a strategic marketing campaign.
Oftentimes, companies invest money into content marketing plans, google ads, or social ads with little knowledge of their B2B buyer personas and realize that the data and ROI aren’t adding up, inevitably blame the channels or product. More likely, you aren’t reaching your target buyer, the person with the purchasing power.
While the focus of content marketing is to attract leads, it doesn’t necessarily help convert prospects into customers. Creating a sales enablement content strategy helps. This content is specifically created to arm your sales team with materials to engage prospects as they make their way through the funnel and close deals.
Follow these steps to create a sales enablement content strategy to help you convert more prospects into customers.
1. Review the content your sales team uses
Find out what content the sales team is currently using. Learn what content engages prospects and starts conversations, and which content isn’t useful. The marketing team should also ask sales what content they use at each step of the buyers’ journey. This information will help marketing focus on the types of content they need to create and identify any content gaps.
2. Take inventory of your current content
Perform an audit of your existing content and review which items can be useful to your sales team. You also need to identify where each piece of content fits on the buyers’ journey, so sales understands which content piece is appropriate at each step. Some examples of content the marketing team can provide are:
3. Create new content to fuel both sales and marketing teams
Next, it’s time to create new content to fill the gaps. The new content should help sales engage prospects, and it should help marketing attract qualified leads. While both teams play a role in deciding what content to produce it is important to keep your buyer personas in mind to ensure each content piece speaks to your target buyer(s). When handing the content over sales, marketing can also provide them with email templates to increase content promotion. An effective headline can make or break your email open rate.
4. Determine if content needs to be outsourced
While your marketing team can likely create most content in-house, there are some items you might need to outsource – such as videos and demo videos — depending on what resources you have available. When outsourcing content creation, make sure to provide clear, direct instructions to ensure it has the right messaging and tone. Attaching a content brief to the assignment can help with this and save time.
5. Align content to the buyers’ journey
After the content is created, it’s essential to determine where it should be used in the buyers’ journey. Sales and marketing should work together to establish when prospects need each content piece, and how sales will distribute it. To assist them, marketing can create emails or social posts to help promote the content. Marketing can also gate the content they are promoting. This way, contact information is captured for the sales team, and can be used for future marketing campaigns. Both teams should also discuss how to repackage the content– such as turning blogs into ebooks or videos – to help increase engagement.
6. Measure results
The final step is to measure how successful the sales enablement content is in terms of metrics and in advancing prospects through the funnel. This can be done in several different ways. For one, marketing should talk to the sales to get their take on how well each piece of content is engaging prospects and helping to close deals. Sales should also provide overall feedback as to how well the content was received.
In addition to getting feedback from sales, marketing should use analytics. The metrics used will depend on what tools marketing is using to track performance on each piece of content. For example, pulling the click-throughs on calls-to-action, demo requests, and emails through analytics can determine how many prospects are engaging with the content.
When creating a sales enablement content strategy, it’s important to remember this is only one piece of marketing’s content plan. Marketing still needs to rely on its other tools and content to attract top-of-funnel leads that sales can turn into prospects and guide through the rest of the funnel. Sales enablement content benefits sales by helping them turn middle-of-funnel prospects into customers.
If you need help moving your prospects through the funnel, let Lake One help. Our experts can provide guidance and tips on how to convert leads into customers.
When you’re not meeting your revenue goals, the finger-pointing starts between your sales and marketing teams. Sales blames marketing for not generating enough leads. Marketing blames sales for not converting the leads into customers. Sales and marketing alignment is missing. This can go back and forth, creating hostility between two groups who need to be working together. Sales and marketing have the same goal – to increase customers and revenue. To achieve this, you need to curb the finger-pointing and get the two teams to align and work together.
Use these best practices to align your sales and marketing teams.
First, get out of silos and learn about the other team’s goals. The easiest way to do this is to schedule regular meetings with both teams. During these meetings, sales can educate marketing on their process and review quotas and metrics. Marketing can then share what initiatives they are working on, what campaigns are running, and what metrics they are tracking.
Create a Content Process
Marketing should include sales in their content brainstorming process. Together, the teams can generate content ideas helpful for sales to gain new leads. From there, sales can promote content in conversations with prospects, and on their personal social media channels. Video is a great way to promote new content with prospects. The use of video is growing as a marketing tool. It is an effective, personal way to communicate that builds trust and increases sales.
When marketing focuses on promoting thought leadership and expertise at the company, they should not overlook the sales team. Make sure to include sales in new content. These are the individuals that prospects interact with the most, so marketing can promote them through guest blogs and social media posts.
Understand Your Roles & Goals
It’s critical for sales and marketing to truly understand what each team member’s role is, and how it helps the company achieve its goals. Sales might not understand why someone writes a blog, and how that content helps generate leads. Marketing might not know how sales breaks down each person’s responsibilities – whether they sell to specific regions, or they each sell a specific product. It’s important to break down any misconceptions, create clarity around what each person does, and how it helps sales and marketing alignment.
To hit company goals, it’s essential for sales and marketing to understand which potential customers they are targeting. Marketing needs to know who to target with their content, keywords, and ads. Sales needs to know who they are selling to. Get everyone on the same page by creating buyer personas and a buyer’s journey map showing how they make purchasing decisions. The buyer personas should include the buyers’ demographics, size of the organization they work at, type of organization, role, priorities, and challenges. In the journey map, make sure to document what activities the buyer engages in, his or her objectives, what information he or she consumes (or needs), and what types of communication he or she uses to get the information.
It’s important for sales and marketing to share feedback they get from clients and prospects with each other. When the marketing team gathers data from surveys or feedback forms, they must share the results with the sales team. It’s also important for sales to share what they’re learning on calls with prospects, such as what questions they have about the product or company, what misconceptions they have, what they like about the product, and more. This will help marketing figure out what gaps need to be filled with their content, on their website, and in their campaigns to better promote the company and attract qualified leads.
Share Access to Documents
Does your marketing team have a plethora of blogs, white papers, and even one-sheets and brochures that they keep within their marketing files? This content is meant to fuel the sales team, so they must have access to it. Create a shared space (whether it’s on Teams, Slack, or another platform) where the two teams can share content. This will help your sales team feel more enabled, and it will help demonstrate what marketing is doing to help them.
To get the sales and marketing teams to work together better, they need to get to know each other. Organizing social activities with both teams can help improve the relationships between team members. This helps cultivate a collaborative environment where everyone feels included.
Understand Each Other
Finally, one of the most important ways to achieve sales and marketing alignment is to create an understanding that both teams are trying to help the company – and each other – achieve their business goals. While both teams have different tasks, their end-goal and intentions are the same.
About Sales & Marketing Alignment Services at Lake One
At Lake One, technology is at the core of all our sales and marketing thinking.
We work with our partners to make sure their basecamp is “right sized” for their organization.
That the goals and strategy are leading the technology choices and not the other way around.
But most of all – that the technology is embraced and providing value to the organization.
For additional tips on how to align your sales and marketing teams, contact Lake One to talk to our experts.
When it comes to automation tools, marketing automation often gets all the glory. But a growing category of tools, sales automation, is picking up steam as remote anddigital sales strategiesbecome more mainstream. Truth be told, marketing and sales automation working together is a one-two punch. A strong sales and marketing alignment from strategy through technology can be a game-changer for revenue teams. So what’s the deal with sales automation? What is it, and how should an organization approach it when looking at their total sales and marketing technology investment? We’ll explore all of that and more in this Lake One guide.
What is Sales Automation?
Sales automation is the use of tools and technology to scale and automate manual elements of an organization’s sales process. Tasks include data management, follow up automation, call transcribing, and reporting. Sales automation seeks to eliminate manual tasks that often take up valuable time daily, weekly, and monthly. Sales teams can better utilize their time focused on higher-value sales activity like proposals and closing discussions.
Benefits of Sales Automation
While there are a host of benefits to automating elements of your sales McKinsey states that early adopters of sales automation report efficiency improvements of 10 -15%. Whether utilizing prepared proposals, AI to determine a contact’s likelihood of conversion, or chatbots – sales automation can make sure more time is focused on the highest value efforts.
Reduce pipeline friction
Using tools to automate functions within your salesforce has shown to lead to a 30% increase in deal closures and a reduction in the sales cycle by 18%,according to Instapage. Imagine how much more revenue you’d have flowing through your pipeline with those reductions in friction.
At the end of the day, if performance lags, so does morale, thus creating a vicious cycle. Morale drops, dragging down motivation and then impacting performance, and the cycle continues. With sales automation, it’s like giving your sales team an unfair advantage.
Essential Sales Activities to Automate
When approaching sales automation, the easiest place to start is thinking about your sales team’s major time drainers. A 2017 HubSpot sales survey of sales professionals in the US, UK and Ireland found that thetypical sales day is wildly inefficient. In fact, salespeople spend less than half their day actually selling.
Emails, data management, prospecting, and more are all tasks that have either a portion of which or the entire task that can be automated. Looking at the tasks that the HubSpot survey identified, where can sales automation assist?
Email: Utilize templates and a canned response for common messages. It’s half the time just thinking about what you want to send, even if it’s a common message. A template can get you started and let you tailor a portion to your latest conversation with your prospect.
Data Entry: There are various browser plugins, email extensions and CRM add ons that help complete a contact profile with publicly available information. Whether it’s logging an email and creating a net new contact in a CRM from Google or outlook or adding someone from LinkedIn.
Prospecting: Effective prospecting for a modern salesperson is a balance between the numbers game and outreach quality to increase response rates. Areas to focus automation on include the qualifiers on building prospect lists and driving them into your CRM, sequences, and cadences used to conduct the outreach, calling tools to be able to call through a list with a direct dial and reduce time fumbling around with a phone.
Internal Meetings: When it comes to internal meetings and updates. Does everything need to be a meeting, or do you need better reporting and check-ins? Can communications be managed through a tool like slack with a status update through an app?
Scheduling: Trying to book a meeting with a prospect can be a nightmare. If you’re selling a complex product to a large group of influencers and people who need to sign off, now you’re managing multiple calendars. Automating the booking and availability eliminates all of the back and forth.
Tools for Sales Automation
So what tools help with these kinds of task automations for sales teams? I’m glad you asked.
Let’s explore some of the options available to support automating the essential tasks we’ve outlined in the previous section. In each section, we’ll provide a couple of options. First we’ll explore how HubSpot can solve the sales automation as a platform solution, a tool that can support multiple sales automation needs and work across other areas of your customer experience like marketing and customer experience.
Second, we’ll provide options for point solutions that can also integrate into other systems so you can plug and play depending on how your sales and marketing tech stack is architected today.
Email: HubSpot provides easy to deploy email templates that can be utilized across Outlook and Google mail. Templates through HubSpot also have the added benefit of reporting on performance so your sales organization can see which templates drive the best response and can be plugged into process across your organization.
If you’re looking for a plug and play solution,Right Inbox is an option if your business runs on Google Work, if you run on Office 365,AppSource has a variety of options as well.
Data Entry:HubSpot makes it easy to automatically log contacts from your inbox. They will also populate company records with publicly available data.
Depending on your CRM, both the Google Chrome Store and Office 365 AppSource are places to look for integrations to support data entry.
Prospecting: HubSpot Sequences make it easy to enroll up to 50 prospects at a time (depending on the tier you’re on) for a sales play. Email outreach, LinkedIn inmail, call, etc. With HubSpot calling, you can assign the call to a task queue and work through calls in a quick efficient way.
For plug and play options, there’s a host of sales cadence tools including Outreach, Salesloft, and Mailshake. All of which have robust integrations with a variety of CRMs and MAPs.
Internal Meetings: HubSpot reporting can go a long way to eliminate some needs for constant meetings and updates. The ability to tag and mention colleagues in real-time on contacts, companies, and deals also allows for communication and updates without leaving the CRM.
For plug and play, consider Slack plusStatus Hero as a way to communicate regular updates without disrupting daily workflow.
Scheduling: HubSpot’s built-in meetings link allows you to connect to your Google or Outlook calendar and create custom booking availabilities. The link can be embedded in templates, sequences, or dropped into ad hoc emails to eliminate back and forth scheduling.
On the plug-and-play side, there are a host of booking solutions but the one we come across the most often and seems to have the most flexibility isCalendly.
When Should You Invest in Sales Automation?
There are several things to consider when looking at timing your sales automation investment. Vablet, a mobile sales enablement platform, points out 10 critical things to consider beforeinvesting in a sales enablement solution, for example, your sales tools are going to only be as good as the people using them. Invest in good people, then empower them with tools.
Additionally, just like in marketing, sales technology is not a replacement for a bad or missing process or strategy. If you haven’t developed a sales process and strategy that yields results – investing in sales tools isn’t going to help.
With marketing automation, you can serve the right content to the right person at the right time – at scale. You can also drive consistency and efficiency with internal processes. And not to mention, it just might be my favorite tool in our marketing tech stack.
So, how does marketing automation apply in the real world? Here are some of our top tried and true must-have B2B marketing automation examples.
What is B2B Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is technology that allows you to automate, streamline, and measure your marketing tasks and workflows.
However, its true power comes through sales and marketing alignment combined with a well-utilized B2B CRM.
Sales & Marketing Alignment in Automation
If it feels like your sales and marketing teams are on different planets, adding automation to the mix won’t solve that. Ensure your teams are aligned by outlining responsibilities, defining key terms like lead statuses and lifecycle stages and aligning your team goals.
Reaching total harmony among teams can be a process, but at a minimum, it should be an active joint effort.
B2B Marketing Examples for Sales Collaboration and Internal Processes
Marketing automation helps to facilitate collaboration between sales and marketing in real-time. It’s the conduit between the two teams. These processes within B2B businesses are centered around sales collaboration and the facilitation of internal processes.
Automation for Sales Collaboration
Sales collaboration takes place in a variety of ways, but the most common are some of the marketing automation examples outlined below.
Not all leads are created equal and for that very reason, we leverage lead scoring. Lead scoring is ranking lead readiness to convert based on the lead’s behavior. The idea behind lead scoring is that a lead can take specific actions or engagements which speak to their sales-readiness. For example, a user who is highly engaged on the site, downloading multiple offers visiting key pages (like pricing), and signing up for the blog, etc. is in theory, more ready to purchase than a user who visited one or two pages on the site a couple of times.
Lead scoring allows a sales and marketing team to work together to develop criteria identifying leads likely to make a purchase so they can be followed up with by Sales. How to do this will be different for each CRM. In HubSpot, you set up your behaviors and scores and then create a workflow or a list to send all leads who meet your threshold over to sales automatically.
Setting Leads to Marketing Qualified & Assigning to Sales
This next section really applies to setting any lifecycle stage or lead status, but we’ll focus on Marketing Qualified Leads because that lifecycle stage is a must and a big factor in measuring marketing ROI.
Again each CRM will be different, but in HubSpot, our favorite way to achieve this is by creating what we call, a MQL List. The list includes all of our specific MQL criteria like the following:
Role is (insert the desired role)
Company name is known
Phone number is known
Industry is (insert the desired industry)
And the lead source is none of offline
Note: MQL criteria setting is part of the sales & marketing alignment process and should be revisited at a minimum twice a year.
Once your list is built with your set criteria, you can create a workflow that notifies sales or creates a task for the MQL to be reviewed by sales.
B2B companies often have complex business processes. Marketing automation can drive efficiencies and allow for real-time routing, task creation, and follow-up across functions and channels.
Is your sales team divided into territories? Or divided by certain products, services, or areas of expertise? If so, lead routing is your ticket to removing the manual review of leads and automatically routing by key differentiators. You’ll most always start with a form submission of some type and follow with if/then branches or conditionals to route leads.
For example: If a contact fills out the “Demo Request” form and their country is set to the U.S., then assign Frank as the contact owner and create a task for Frank to review.
It’s also common that workflows be used to ensure your CRM stays up to date and with as many properties completed as possible. Workflows can be used to manage some of the following:
Subscription Types: If contacts fill out forms such as a newsletter sign up, a webinar, product updates, etc… you can manage their subscriptions on the back end with workflows.
Opt-Outs: If you want to keep a running master opt-out list, you can create a workflow that states if a contact opts out of communication, add them to a specific list.
Contact Owners: Similar to the above lead routing scenario, you can use workflows to ensure all contacts have an owner. Or if they don’t, use a workflow to create a task for a sales leader to review.
Copying Across Property Types: This might vary depending on your CRM, but you are likely using different types of properties or objects to store your data. For example, a company record or contact record. In some cases, the information should be the same in both places. Rather than duplicating efforts, use a workflow to copy the value from one property to another.
B2B Marketing Automation Examples for Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing is the process of cultivating relationships with potential buyers at every stage of the sales process and through the buyer’s journey. It puts a focus on meeting buyers where they are at, listening, and providing helpful relevant information.
Marketing automation allows you to create lead nurturing campaigns, also known as email drip campaigns which are a series of emails spread out over time that help buyers move from awareness to consideration to decision.
When it comes to what emails to include and how many and what frequency, it really depends on your personas needs and your buying cycle and the action the contact took. Nurturing campaigns are definitely not ‘set it and forget it’. Email open rates and engagement all the way through to marketing attribution reporting, will be your workflow gut check and point you towards areas for optimization.
Lead to MQL Nurturing & Beyond
Lead to MQL nurturing is a common point in the buyer’s journey in which nurturing can start. It’s likely initiated by a contact downloading a piece of content. From there, you offer the lead relevant information that you think may help them solve the pain point that brought them to your site initially. Along the way, you give them plenty of opportunities to convert with additional content and CTAs.
The goal is to nurture the lead until they become a Marketing Qualified Lead and meet your set criteria. From there, queue sales!
Form Submission Follow-Up
Depending on the type of form a contact submits, you might not need a full-blown workflow, maybe a simple thank you will suffice? If so, workflows are your ticket. They can easily go from a 10 email sequence as mentioned above, to a one and done thank you for your submission email.
Pro Tip: Take your ‘Contact Us’ form submissions to the next level by sending a follow-up email post submission letting your contacts know when they can expect to hear from you in response to their inquiry.
Date Based Marketing Automations
If you have a CRM like HubSpot, workflows don’t have to be based solely on a contact property, they can be date-based too! This is perfect for webinars, trade shows, and other events. The following can be handled with date-based workflows:
Leading up to an event
During an event
Post-event follow up
Marketing Automation Optimizations
Okay, you set up all of the marketing automations above, that means you’re done and can move on to the next initiative right?
In case the ‘how about no sloth’ didn’t give it away, the answer is ‘no’. The setup is only the beginning. Sales and marketing automation tools typically come with better reporting capabilities and you should totally use them. Whether it’s lead flows, MQLs, or subscriptions, reviewing and optimizing your marketing automation workflows are a must.
Also, it’s worth noting there’s a part of the story that can’t always be seen in the data. Take the time to talk to the teams and solicit feedback. Are the automations working? Are they missing the mark? Meeting on a regular cadence will help uncover those issues too.
So tell us, did you like the examples? Are we missing one of your favorites? 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.
The B2B buying environment is complex and often multifaceted. With heavy workloads and high goals, one thing remains consistent across the board: strong business relationships help close deals and drive company growth. But how do you keep track of contact history and provide visibility company-wide all while keeping your sales and marketing teams aligned? Queue Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and B2B CRM strategy.
According to Salesforce, a B2B CRM stands for Business to Business Customer Relationship Management and refers to systems, technologies, strategies, and processes that help B2B companies manage their relationships with existing and potential customers. It helps companies better understand contacts, their needs, and where they are in the buyer’s journey as it relates to your business.
Why Invest in a B2B CRM
B2B CRMs should really be thought of as a strategic way of understanding, managing, and delivering on business customers’ needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. They really are what you make of it, but here are three main reasons why you should take the plunge and invest in a CRM and drive alignment for your internal teams.
B2B CRMs provide visibility system-wide and are single-handedly the best solution for keeping a real-time pulse on your contact database and sales cycle ecosystem. Even smarketing meetings (sales and marketing alignment team meetings) can’t provide you with the same kind of real-time feedback across teams.
Have a question on a contact? Or are you wondering overall how leads that come from paid media are performing? Your answers lie in the CRM.
We’re big fans of working smarter and not getting bogged down with busy work or meetings for meetings sake. You might be thinking that CRMs create more work because of all the necessary input which is only partially true. It does take time to adjust your daily processes to a CRM, but once you do, your teams will likely find that they are more efficient with contact follow up and reporting, and actually are able to spend more time selling and focusing on target accounts. And as an added bonus, marketing has better insight into marketing qualified lead performance as well, resulting in the ability to hone in lead quality vs quantity.
Data-Driven Decision Making
Whether you’re looking for a bird’s eye view or you like getting down and dirty with the details, CRMs undoubtedly provide insight into the data. You can view account activity, pipeline, close rates, and more. You’ll also be able to turn your hunches into a data-driven decision. For example, let’s say you think that the majority of your prospects in a certain industry sign when you can get them to a demo. A CRM would allow you to confirm that in the data and then you could spend your time focusing on how to get more prospects in the said industry to demo faster.
Getting Started with Your B2B CRM Strategy
B2B CRMs should really be thought of as a strategic way of understanding, managing, and delivering on business customers’ needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey. The CRM technology itself is what enables the strategy and makes it possible.
So where to start? Here are our 6 proven B2B CRM strategies that fuel sales and marketing alignment and business growth.
CRMs are great, but they’re only as good as in the information you put it in and it’s really difficult to increase usage if everyone has different definitions of some of the basics. Everybody needs to be speaking the same language and have a common understanding of what is critical for your CRM. And trust us, it’s better to iron out the basics sooner in the process rather than later.
Lifecycle Stages & Lead Statuses
Lifecycle stages and lead statuses may differ slightly in naming depending on your platform, but the purpose behind them likely doesn’t. Lifecycle stages signify what stage your contact is in the buyer’s journey and lead status provides an extra layer of detail as to where they are at exactly. Here are the most common definitions we use across our partnerships.
Subscriber: Contacts who know of your business and have opted in to hear more from your team. This is likely visitors that have signed up for your blog or newsletter.
Lead: Contacts who have shown sales-readiness beyond being a subscriber. An example of a lead is a contact who signs up for a content offer from your business.
Marketing Qualified Lead: Contacts who have engaged with the team’s marketing efforts, but are still not ready to receive a sales call. An example of an MQL is a contact who responds to a specific form in a marketing campaign.
Sales Qualified Lead: A contact that your sales team has qualified as a potential customer.
Opportunity: A contact who is a real sales opportunity.
Customer: A contact with a closed deal(s).
Prospect: No marketing automation. Contacts with this lead status are being hunted by sales.
New: All new leads will be assigned this status by default.
Open: A lead that is currently being worked by sales.
In Progress: A connection has been and the lead is in progress.
Open Deal: There is an open deal with the contact.
Attempted to Contact: Sales is attempting to contact or follow up with a lead.
Connected: Sales has connected with the contact.
Unqualified: Lead is not qualified to do business.
You’ll also want to work with key stakeholders to define your default required fields. For any field that has a dropdown, you’ll want to make sure those are well-defined among internal teams as well. The basics range from specific contact information needed down to current solution provider, market or buying role. Most CRMs will allow you to customize fields to your business needs.
Pro Tip: Think wisely about the field ‘type’ you select when creating properties as it’s nearly impossible to use a single line text field in list segmentation or workflows. This is due to the room for error in data input. For workflow usable data, dropdown selects are one of my favorites! We reserved single line text for fields like phone numbers, addresses, notes, etc.
Segment Contacts for Personalized Communication
Personalization in a B2B email can improve click-through rate by as much as 14% and conversion rates by 10%. Personalization starts with list segmentation. Of course it can come in to play via the actual insertion of personalization tokens (names, role, etc.), but deciding who you are communicating with is the first step.
B2B CRMs allow you to segment contacts by where they are at in the buyer’s journey (lead, customer, MQL), their product interest, industry, etc. without needing to think about each contact and manually emailing a custom communication. This is also critical for sales and marketing alignment and allows both teams to tailor communications. Get more tips on writing B2B sales emails here.
Close the Feedback Loop in Real-Time
A key component of sales and marketing alignment is closing the feedback loop between sales and marketing. It’s absolutely essential that sales provides feedback on lead quality and lead status in real-time.
Closing the feedback loop entails:
Sales communicating a lead is rejected
Sales communicating why a lead is rejected (poor timing, bad contact information, no budget, etc.)
Communication on when lead nurturing is taking place
Communication on if and when to resume lead nurturing once it’s been paused
All of the above is made possible by a B2B CRM in a relatively quick and painless way.
Leverage Lead Scoring That’s Based on Engagement
Lead scoring is a systematic and scientific way of ranking leads based on their readiness to purchase a product or service from your company. Scores are assigned to certain criteria such as a lead’s fit for your product or service, expressed interest through different activities like filling out a form or watching a webinar, and position in the buying cycle.
Lead Scoring provides a reliable, predictable, recurring means for deciding which leads are sales-ready, and ordering them by importance takes the guesswork out for both teams.
Lead scoring can be done by either using explicit data/demographics and/or implicit data/actions or behavior. A B2B CRM allows you to track and gather implicit data more easily such as: email opens, click-through-rates, key page views, and form fills. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to track and leverage the data across teams.
Universal Deal Stages & Pipelines That Reflect Sales Cycles
Pipelines and deal stages help to break down complex B2B buying cycles into a measurable process that’s easily digestible. Whether you have an established sales process or you’re starting from scratch, B2B CRMs like HubSpot make it easy to create your ideal process.
Most processes of course start with a meeting and end either in closed won or closed lost. The pipeline gives you visibility into what’s in process, when things will hit, and most importantly, what’s stuck in the process.
Use Forecasting & Reporting to Better Manage Teams
B2B CRMs like HubSpot really shine when it comes to taking your data inputs and turning it into dashboards and usable reporting. Maybe you could create manually? But the time savings and accuracy that come with CRMs are too good to pass up. Here are a few ways to leverage CRM data for forecasting and better managing your teams.
Sales Team Activity: View activities by sales rep on a rolling basis. Activity includes number of calls, meetings, emails, new contacts, deals closed, etc. It’s easy to see top performers and those who might be phoning it in.
Forecasting Deal Revenue: Get a clear view of what’s coming down the pipe associated with the deal stage and its likelihood to close. The benefit of these reports are two-fold. It keeps your sales reps accountable knowing that their estimates will be used in reporting and it also allows you to better forecast.
About Sales & Marketing Alignment Services at Lake One
At Lake One, technology is at the core of all our sales and marketing thinking. We call these services basecamp.
We work with our partners to make sure their basecamp is “right sized” for their organization.
That the goals and strategy are leading the technology choices and not the other way around.
But most of all – that the technology is embraced and providing value to the organization.
Nearly every single job you could think of utilizes tools. Whether physical instruments, software, or learned skills, tools are what we use to accomplish our jobs fast, easier, and better. For marketing and sales professionals, we call those tools your marketing tech stack.
What is a Marketing Tech Stack
A marketing technology stack, or martech stack, is the collection of marketing tools you use to accomplish marketing activities. These tools empower the scalable growth of sales and marketing functions and are often cloud or SAAS (software as a service) based. Typically these tools help automate manual tasks, simplify complex business processes, and/or carry out marketing tactics.
As of 2019, there are over 7,000 martech platforms available to choose from. With that many options, you could literally subscribe to and cancel thousands of tools before finding the right ones for your organization. So how do you pick the right marketing tech stack? Well, our framework follows the marketing and sales workflow: planning, attracting leads, converting awareness into opportunity, nurturing opportunity to customers and repeat customers, and finally reporting and automating. The more categories you can stitch together under one umbrella, the less you end up with a dreaded Frankenstack. Here’s what to look for in each category.
Tools for Marketing Planning
Planning how to tackle your tasks often consumes significant resources and time. Who is doing what? What day does it need to be done? The project management side of work can get incredibly complex, especially if you don’t have a system in place to hold people accountable and provide transparency. To bust out marketing calendars and the like, some people look to Excel or even handwritten schedules. Technology has a much better way though. Look for tools that provide the framework and ability to automate or add efficiency to planning processes. Simple things like ways to curate content to review it in one place or connecting an editorial calendar to publishing schedules can increase efficiency and reduce last-minute deadline crunches.
When building your marketing tech to help with planning, ask:
Do I need integrations with other tools?
How do I want to view my plans – in a list? Calendar? Something else?
How easy can I remove or add people to the tool, to individual projects, or to individual tasks? How granular do I need to get?
Tools for Attraction and Conversion
The highest level goal of any marketing initiative is to grow awareness and drive demand. Awareness is typically built through three means – paid, owned, and earned/shared media. You want tools that allow you to carry out a strategy that brings potential leads within each of those buckets. They may be a tool to publish content (a CMS), something that helps you find earned media opportunities, a social publishing tool, etc.
Once you’ve brought the leads in, how will you convert them? Your tech should help fulfill whatever success looks like to your company- a form filled out, a cart checkout, an app download, a click to call, a donation, etc.. Your goals here will largely dictate the tools you pick.
Consider asking these questions:
What are the functions of my website? My current CMS? Have I used them to their full capabilities yet or do I need additional tools?
Again, consider integrations. If you need data from a form to be added to your CRM, ensure you can integrate to avoid manual work.
What are the gaps in the current processes? Where am I spending the most time?
How are we tracking, monitoring, and improving marketing efforts? Do the tools I’m looking at implementing provide the insights I need?
Depending on how your organization is structured, nurturing may live with marketing or sales. Tech for lead nurturing looks like tools where you can create workflows or drip campaigns, sales sequences, and advanced targeting. You want the marketing technology that helps drive new and repeat sales.
Once that sale is in, your martech stack should also aid in moving contacts from the marketing process to the sales process, for tracking and reporting. Whether you use a funnel, a flywheel or any other term – it’s more important that there is a handoff and metric that can clearly feed your reporting. Otherwise, when it comes time to close the loop on how marketing is contributing or how is the revenue team collaborating, you’ll be out of luck.
Sales tools can also have a lot of bloat. We’re looking at you, CRM.
What tools will help with my sales and marketing alignment?
How do my teams currently work together? How do I envision using martech to improve that?
What type of transparency do I want in the sales pipelines?
Tools for Analytics and Automation
Finally, analytics and automation. This category may seem like a bit of a catch-all but it’s the glue that connects everything. The technologies here serve one of three purposes. First, to deliver insights about any of our various marketing touchpoints or databases via a set of analytics. Second, provide optimization via testing, personalization, or data visualization. Third, and finally, leverage automation apps and tools to create a connection between other pillars above, tools, or data sets.
Try as you might, you will almost always inevitably end up with data coming from a few sources. You can either put together manual reports, be lucky enough to have an in-house data team, or pull in a data dashboarding tool like Databox.
A few things to consider:
Are there any of the tools in any of the categories above that may have automation capabilities themselves (or serve across multiple categories- i.e. tools like Hubspot).
What data is important for my organization?
Do I need a dashboarding tool to streamline data sources?’
Who will actually analyze the data and how will it be used?
Benefits of Martech
When you implement a marketing technology stack, you’re building the framework for everything mentioned above. The tools you decide to use are the bones of your strategy. In many ways, they enable your team to take your marketing to the next level. This includes:
Marketing automation and reduction of manual work
Increased lead generation and the ability to nurture leads
More impactful analytics, insights, and reports
Better aligned sales and marketing teams
Streamlined processes and the simplification of complex operations
Ability to generate and carry out a comprehensive strategy
Key Takeaways for Building a Marketing Tech Stack
Again, we want to reiterate that there are many marketing tech tools that provide solutions across these categories. Find them. Use them. Integrate them. Layout your goals, ask the important questions and map out your strategy before you subscribe to every Freemium platform available. By doing so, you’ll create an environment for efficiency, more impactful insights, and better alignment. Plus, we bet you’ll actually end up using all those tools.
Making a case for sales enablement isn’t always the easiest thing to achieve, but once you secure that buy-in, measuring the success of your efforts is important. Even measuring the failures of your efforts is a must. Having insight into how things are performing allows you to know which activities to continue to invest in and which activities no longer serve you and your sales team. But sales enablement performance shouldn’t just be a concern for sales, marketing should also be actively measuring sales enablement success. Having the right metrics provides insight into what to expect from the investment that’s being made.
Aberdeen found that companies with excellent successful sales enablement programs have:
32% higher team sales quota attainment,
24% better individual quota achievement, and
23% higher lead conversion rate.
So how do you measure sales enablement success?
How to Measure Sales Enablement Success
When it comes to evaluating sales enablement efforts, different organizations may adopt varying metrics or KPIs to measure success. While some organizations might use different metrics based on their structure, we recommend starting with these:
If you want to measure the impact of your sales enablement activities, the lead-to-customer conversion rate is a good number to track. The ultimate goal of sales enablement is to help the sales team close more deals, right? Right. One thing to keep in mind is that this metric is influenced by other factors, such as the number and quality of the leads generated. But that doesn’t detract from the importance of it. If this rate is high, it indirectly indicates that your sales enablement efforts are working or at least improving.
Content for the sake of content doesn’t do anyone any good. Having compelling content, on the other hand, now that’s a different story. This is one of the most effective tools you can equip your salespeople with. But it’s important to measure how well content is performing. Determine this by analyzing the number of total downloads, number of likes, number of shares, ratings, etc. The more insight you have into what content is resonating best with your prospects, the better you can enable your sales team with those types of materials.
Once you know how your content is performing, you can run attribution reports to see how much influence each piece of content had in helping turn leads into customers. They will of course view many pieces of content, but this report provides insight into what content they read and are most interested in late in the buyer’s journey.
Onboarding and Proficiency
When it comes to sales enablement and how to measure success, you’ll want to measure the effectiveness of each sales rep and how it relates to how long it takes for onboarding and ramping, but also proficiency. Ensure that sales teams are well-versed in the processes and materials. Cutting down the ‘time to productivity’ is a primary parameter that can help prove the effectiveness of your training efforts.
How are you stacking up against the competition? Looking at your win/loss rate can help you measure how well you’re equipping your sales team when they’re up against competitors.
Actual Time Spent Selling
Enablement programs that are set up properly should empower sales reps by providing all the tools necessary to sell when they need them. By having these tools and resources at the ready, it allows more time for the reps to actually sell and close more deals. Measure the percentage of each rep’s time spent on the actual sale and attainment. Allowing them to focus more and have fewer disruptions in their sales process should increase their close rate and overall revenue.
Measure Against Sales Goals
At the end of the day, the goal of sales enablement is exactly that: enable your sales team. Enable them to sell effectively, sell confidently with the materials they need, when they need them, and to close more deals. So it comes down to are they meeting or exceeding their sales goals? Are your enablement efforts and activities creating an effective sales team?
Hint: if the answer isn’t yes, it’s time to readjust and look at what activities are actually serving you and which ones are hurting your enablement efforts.
Sales Enablement KPIs
As we mentioned, what metrics are most important can vary from organization-to-organization. Ultimately it comes down to what are your goals and which metrics are going to help move you closer to achieving those goals. Regardless of what metrics you choose to narrow in on, when measuring your sales enablement KPIs, it’s important to remember to:
Analysis even before activities: If you don’t have a sales enablement program yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t still measure your sales activities and success. By doing this, you’ll have a baseline to start from to measure the impact and success of your sales enablement activities once you do implement them.
Review results frequently: This is an iterative process, sales enablement. So don’t just set KPIs and call it a day. Be sure to review results frequency so you can pivot your efforts if needed. It’s also good practice to get a regular cadence of reviewing results with leadership to show them the impact of the enablement efforts. Especially if those results are good, it will show the ROI of the investment.
Adjust KPIs if necessary: Just as you will refine your sales enablement process and materials, make sure you do the same with your KPIs. Tailor them to your sales team, materials, and sales enablement processes. As part of reviewing results frequently, be checking to make sure you have the right KPIs.
Capture proficiency scores: When it comes to measuring program effectiveness, don’t forget that sales is an important factor. Make sure all your sales reps are at least on the same level from the beginning. This will make it easier to see changes in individual sales rep success and how that relates to sales enablement materials, strategies, and techniques being used.
Continual Feedback Loops
Once you know how to measure sales enablement success and what to be looking at, it’s important not to stop there. These efforts and iterations on the enablement activities should be an ongoing process, with sales and marketing aligning closely and sharing information frequently.
Salespeople are the ones interacting 1:1 with prospects and new customers and as a result, they will have important insights on how marketing efforts can be improved or strengthened. Consider things like any direct feedback from customers. Did they mention liking or even disliking a specific piece of content or resource?
This feedback is important to know what content is or isn’t resonating with your personas and customers. It gives marketing direction on what to focus their efforts on. But this is a two-way street. Marketing should be communicating and sharing their insights with sales as well. Analytics like open rates, conversion rates, traffic, etc. can be helpful for sales teams. Having that open, frequent dialog around set key performance indicators is a must.
LinkedIn is one of the popular social networks right now. With over 610 million users, it’s the epicenter of business networking and the perfect place for thought leadership. It’s also a fantastic place to launch your ABM. Here’s what you need to know to launch a LinkedIn account based marketing strategy.
Why Use LinkedIn for Account Based Marketing
Unique amongst all other social networks, LinkedIn is purely business-related. It’s mostly free of politics, memes, and the unsolicited parenting ‘advice’ that comes with other social platforms. People using LinkedIn are on it to network, promote themselves, and grow their businesses. They are inherently primed to have conversations about their companies.
That notion, along with LinkedIn’s native tools, makes it one of the best places to launch an AMB strategy. We’ll get into the specific tools shortly, but regardless of which tool you end up using, LinkedIn targeting is simply unmatched. Why? Users self identify on LinkedIn. They give you their job title, company, and job description alongside stats on the companies themselves, like size, location, and core business description. This makes it incredibly easy to find specific people for the purposes of account based marketing.
How to Use LinkedIn for ABM
Building an account list
As mentioned above, LinkedIn makes it easy to identify potential good business fits based on their shared information. Unlike running an ad that might target types and categories, ABM protocol is to actually find the specific people/accounts to target. You’ll actually be on LinkedIn searching for Jane Smith, CTO of Acme Co., and not just Acme Co. look alike audiences. You’ll use LinkedIn’s advanced search feature to find the types of accounts most suited for your business.
LinkedIn Inmail is for all intents and purposes paid direct messaging. If you’re a Basic LinkedIn user, you can only direct message your connections. InMail, which is only accessed through a LinkedIn Premium subscription, is how to go around that. Start by drafting a templated message that you can use as the base message to all of your identified accounts. Then personalize that template. Do you have somebody or something in common? Perhaps a mutual connection or ties to a former company? Include that personalization on your Inmail. Make sure your subject line is clear, attention-grabbing, and concise.
Sponsored content is just a fancy way to say “Ads” in LinkedIn terms. The only difference is that you’ll be promoting content as the term suggests. The ads will display in the newsfeed of your targeted accounts. Make sure the content you’re promoting is highly aligned with your persona. If it misses the mark, it won’t be effective or produce the ROI you’re seeking. We also recommend promoting content that aims to inform your audience- something at the awareness or consideration stage of the buying funnel. They most likely won’t be ready to buy or complete a form to speak with somebody, especially if your ad is the first they’ve ever heard of you. Start with something noncommittal.
Hand-in-hand with sponsored content is lead generation. Offering a piece of content for your accounts to convert on looks like gated content: access to your valuable content in exchange for their contact info. Once you have that contact info, you can nurture those leads. Luckily, LinkedIn integrates with HubSpot’s CRM. Any contacts generated through sponsored content will automatically be imported as contacts into HubSpot. Read more about that here. This cuts out manual work and allows you to easily enroll leads in workflows or sales sequences.
Sales Navigator is a native tool within LinkedIn. It allows you to take all of the above LinkedIn account based marketing strategies to the next level. Your advanced search is more advanced with Navigator. Accounts will be recommended and scored. Best yet, you can set up to receive alerts about updates on your leads, create notes and tags, and see who viewed your profile. It also integrates with your CRM as well.
LinkedIn & Marketing Automation Platforms for ABM
To say the integration with a CRM/CMS that does marketing automation makes life easy is a huge understatement. Marketing automation allows you to automatically nurture and follow-up with the leads you generate on LinkedIn. This might look like the automatic send of a follow-up email 3-day post initial outreach. It could also be sending automated notifications to your sales reps to take the next step in their selling process or it could be the trigger to enroll a contact in a workflow based on their response (or lack thereof).
How to Measure Results
You should be able to measure most of your LinkedIn account based marketing efforts within LinkedIn. What are your InMail open rates? What’s your response rate? A typical cold sales email has about a 16% open rate. Personalized InMail can increase that by as much at 13% bringing your targeted open rate to about 29%.
You can also track the conversion rates from your lead generation and Sponsored Content efforts. A standard ad click rate is 0.06% for LinkedIn. From there, you can expect to see a landing page conversion rate of 4%, according to Unbounce. However, we would expect the rates from an account based marketing campaign to be higher than standard. Your targeting is much more selective and if you’ve done your research thoroughly, they should be much more ready to engage with your company.
Another area to measure for success is your deal close rates. How do your close rates compare to your benchmarks or goals? Are you moving more people further along in your pipeline? Having more sales calls? These are all things you should already be tracking. Compare those against your AMB efforts to determine success.
A LinkedIn account based marketing strategy can be executed through the many native tools LinkedIn offers. It’s a great place to start your ABM efforts because LinkedIn users are already primed for discussing and growing their companies. ABM on LinkedIn begins with the ability to search for and find specific, highly relevant accounts. Using Sales Navigator can take the already advanced search functions to the next level, allow you to make notes, and find you more prospects. Utilize the integrations these tools offer and connect your CRM. That way you can build automation and lead nurturing into your ABM strategy in order to close more sales.
Sales enablement is quickly gaining traction across organizations. High-growth companies are finding that in order to grow the business and hit revenue targets, sales teams need more support.
According to HubSpot, Sales Enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales teams with the resources they need to close more deals. Resources include content, tools, knowledge and the information needed to effectively sell and close more deals.
Although sales enablement programs aren’t one size fits all, successful programs have these building blocks in common.
A successful sales enablement program almost always starts with a good strategy. In order for a program to make an impact, it needs to be aligned with the needs of your organization, but in order to do that, you need to understand where your team is at today. Your baseline.
What current challenges is your company facing?
What are the teams’ pain points?
Where is there friction in the buying process?
Open dialogue should start to unearth areas of opportunity for team alignment, streamlined processes and content creation.
Sales Enablement Content
There are two key areas when it comes to sales enablement content – content alignment and content management.
Sales enablement content can be for both internal sales support and for b2b lead generation. Marketers are hyper-focused on the buyer’s journey and who better to bring back information from the front lines than the sales team? Sales can share insights into knowledge gaps, buyer objections, and content performance. Some examples of sales enablement content are:
Internal Sales Support Content: Product sheets, competitor comparisons, email templates and snippets, one-pagers, presentation support, and social messages.
Lead Generation Content: Blog posts, white papers, case studies, and videos.
Creating content that is underutilized and undervalued, doesn’t benefit anyone. Aligning your content strategy with buyers to further support sales efforts is a win-win across the board.
According to Inc., the average salesperson spends about 440 hours each year trying to find the right content to share with their prospects and customers. Yikes.
Creating the content is only half of it. Take it the extra mile by making the content easily discoverable by sales. This can be as easy as a shared file system, a Google Doc, or as sophisticated as creating trackable documents and leveraging marketing technology. You want your team to spend their time selling, not tracking down assets.
Pro Tip: At Lake One, we do a hybrid approach for sales enablement content that consists of a workbook that we call a “Content Audit” along with trackable sales documents in HubSpot. We often categorize the assets by industry, service area, and persona, for easy lookup.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
The alignment of sales and marketing teams for sale enablement isn’t just necessary- it’s the entire point. When creating your strategy, keep that at the heart of it all. Ultimately, you want to create a symbiotic relationship between both teams. Sales should be communicating their needs and knowledge to marketing as we mentioned. This includes what assets would be most helpful in their sales process as mentioned, but it also includes what feedback they receive from leads, how long their sales process typically takes, etc. At the same time, marketing should be communicating back to sales about up and coming events, relative data points and new assets on the horizon.
You’ll hopefully kick off your strategy creation with a meeting of the minds from both teams, but plan to make this a recurring event. The aim is to have regular check-ins to keep communication open, analyze data, and optimize your efforts.
Training doesn’t have to be a days-long convention on solution selling. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Frequency and consistency are key. Not sure what to train your teams on? Here are a couple of suggestions to help you flush it out.
Review the team stats. Do you have a stellar performer that is standing out about the rest that could share some pointers with the team? Or is your team performing below industry benchmarks?
Just ask. Chances are your team has areas that they’d like to improve if given the opportunity.
The Role of Technology in Sales Enablement
According to Forbes, the term “sales enablement technology” refers to a software or system that allows the sales team to access content that is relevant to their target consumer and appropriate for the consumer’s position in the sales funnel. It also makes content accessibility and reporting a heck of a lot easier.
From notifications of initial interest all the way through to closing deals, consider how you want your sales and marketing teams to work together. How can you streamline the process, using technology? Where can you automate a manual process?
The specific role technology plays in your sales enablement program can vary, but will likely consist of a few of these basics.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
A CRM helps manage and organize your company’s interactions with prospects and clients. It’s your central source of truth for account ownership, account activity, and the state of the state. It’s critical for alignment.
Of course though, CRMs these days aren’t just CRMs. There is an opportunity to integrate your B2B CRM with your marketing automation software. A CRM, like HubSpot does this seamlessly and can bring your sales enablement strategy to the next level because it allows your team to see, nurture, and report on leads. Thorough contact records are kept up to date automatically with the actions leads have taken on your website including things like content downloads, email opens, and page visits. These insights help to bring your content full picture.
Additionally, a CRM allows for progress tracking of sales or deals. It’s really where your sales enablement strategy is able to come to life as a shared information access point for better visibility and better forecasting.
Marketing automation is the use of technology to automate elements of your sales and marketing processes. It’s the clincher in a sales enablement strategy and how you can make the most out of your CRM. Marketing automation can be used to aid in prospecting, lead nurturing, sales follow up and streamlining internal processes.