7 Tried & True B2B Marketing Automation Examples

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.

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. 

Recommended Reading: Lake One’s Guide to Sales & Marketing Alignment

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. 

B2B Marketing Automation Examples

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. 

Lead Scoring

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 Marketing Automation Examples

Recommended Reading: 5 Ways Marketing Automation Can Boost Lead Volume

Automation for Internal Processes 

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. 

Lead Routing 

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.

B2B Marketing Automation Examples

Data Governance/Management

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. 

Marketo

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!

B2B Marketing Automation Examples

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?

via GIPHY

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.

 Book Your Consultation Now

B2B CRM Strategy: 6 Ways It Can Drive Sales & Marketing Alignment

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.

CRM software revenues are now the largest of all software markets with revenues expected to reach over $80 billion by 2025. 

B2B CRM Software Revenue Chart

Image Source: SuperOffice

What is a B2B CRM

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. 

Better Visibility

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.

Working Smarter

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. 

Related Reading: Is a HubSpot CRM Right for You? 7 Questions to Consider

Get Teams Speaking the Same Language

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.

Lifecycle Stages

  • 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).

Lead Statuses

  • 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.

Pro Tip: Identify your lifecycle stages and statues as part of your Service Level Agreement. Learn more about Lake One’s SLAs here.

Contact Field Basics & Defaults

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. 

Related Reading: Lead Scoring Basics 

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.

HubSpot B2B CRM Strategy

Image Source: HubSpot

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.

Related Reading: 6 KPIs for Sales & Marketing Alignment

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.

HubSpot B2B CRM Strategy

Image Source: HubSpot

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. 

HubSpot B2B CRM Strategy

Image Source: HubSpot

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.

 Book Your Consultation Now

Insider Tips on Building a Marketing Tech Stack You’ll Actually Use

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. 

building a 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.

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

How to Choose the Right Marketing Tech Stack

marketing tech stack

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

marktech stack

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?

Related Readings:

Tools for Nurturing and Selling

marketing technology

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.

It’s important that you have strong sales and marketing alignment so you are capturing the most important information all through the customer lifecycle – and nothing more – and not 9 versions of the same thing. Again, your reporting will thank you. 

Before getting starting, ask:

  • 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

marketing tech stack

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. 

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

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

MarTech Assessment

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.

Prove the Value of Your Program: How to Measure Sales Enablement Success

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

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:  

Related Reading: A Roadmap to a Sure-Fire B2B Sales Enablement Strategy

Lead-to-Customer Conversion 

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 Performance 

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. 

Source: Seismic.com

Attribution Reporting

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. 

Companies with a dedicated sales enablement function improved their sales training effectiveness by 29%.
Brainshark “6 Sales Enablement Statistics You Have to See (2018)  

Win/Loss Rates 

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. 

Source: CSOInsights.com

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. 
How to Measure Sales Enablement Success

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. 

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Building Blocks of a Quota Crushing Sales Enablement Program

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.

Source: Demand Metric

Although sales enablement programs aren’t one size fits all, successful programs have these building blocks in common.

sales enablement program

Strategy

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.

Content Alignment

Sales enablement content can be for both internal sales support and for 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.
Source: Uplandsoftware.com

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.

Content Management

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.

Learn more about marketing’s role in B2B Sales Enablement 

Training & Reinforcement

We understand busy schedules more than anyone, but training and reinforcement is a must and is non-negotiable for making your sales enablement program stick.

Source: Brainshark.com

According to the Harvard Business Review, salespeople lose 80 to 90% of what they learn after one month. 

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.

Source: 6connex.com

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 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.

Related Reading: Is a HubSpot CRM Right for You? 7 Questions to Consider

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

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. 

Marketing Automation for Manufacturing

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

Getting Your Sales Enablement Program Started

Now that you know the basics, here are a few tips for getting started.

  • Start with the end in mind. Know your goals and work backward, determining which levers you can pull to make an impact. 
  • Don’t develop your strategy in a vacuum. Sales enablement is a team effort so make sure you have buy-in and agreement from key stakeholders.
  • Progress over perfection. You’re going to have bumps and you’re going to face challenges. That’s okay! We’re big believers in learning as you go and going forward.

If you’re considering building a sales enablement program, we’d love to chat. Contact us.

A Roadmap to a Sure-fire B2B Sales Enablement Strategy

Implementing a B2B sales enablement strategy can align your internal teams and empower your sales personnel with the tools they need to close more deals. A solid, collaborative strategy can create more effective sales teams and stronger marketing programs. Here are the elements every leader needs to consider when developing their sales enablement strategy.

Creating a B2B Sales Enablement Strategy

What is Sales Enablement?

First, what is sales enablement? According to HubSpot, “Sales enablement is the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.” It involves the creation, distribution, and use of marketing collateral and content within the sales process. The goal of B2B sales enablement is to collaboratively create and use marketing material that sales can use to nurture and close their deals.

Why is Sales Enablement Important

The alignment of sales and marketing is at the forefront of what makes sales enablement important. When up and running smoothly, a sales enablement strategy will create a symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing teams. This facilitates a culture with an open, continual, and constructive feedback loop with the insights to spur progressive change. It also empowers both teams to create and utilize better, more effective content. Sales teams are able to utilize content in their lead nurturing that’s on brand, optimized for conversion and SEO, and written for the persona.

how to achieve sales and marketing alignment

Furthermore, sales and marketing alignment has concrete, real benefits. When teams are aligned, they are 67% better at closing deals and drive 209% more revenue. Read more stats on smarketing alignment here.

When sales teams are enabled with content from marketing, both teams win. According to Seismic research, enabled sales reps generate 65% more revenue. What would your company do with a 65% increase in revenue? They also see a 275% increase in conversions. And the benefits to marketing? A 350% increase in content utilization, according to the research. 

sales enablement strategy

Found on HighSpot 

How to Budget for Sales Enablement

In order to ensure you’re creating a successful B2B sales enablement strategy, you’ll want to make sure you have the budget to support it. Providing the right tools, resources, and technology to increase sales performance is a must when you’re looking for innovative ways to get ahead.

When creating your sales enablement budget, consider costs that are consistent and unavoidable, as well as costs that are unexpected or a value-add to the sales enablement efforts. Here are four core areas that will help you build the foundation of your sales enablement budget: 

  1. Fixed costs: These are your expenses that stay pretty consistent even as things change. For example, salaries for the sales team, the must-have tools and solutions, cost of training, and more. If it’s necessary for the day-to-day operations, include it as a fixed cost. 
  2. Unexpected costs: No plan is perfect, so adding a little bit of padding in your budget to account for those unexpected expenses can help lessen the blow when things pop up. For example, maybe the sales team has an urgent need for an unplanned sales meeting. There are likely costs associated with that meeting or event. 
  3. Variable costs: These differ from your fixed costs in that they might fluctuate as needs change in your business. For example, travel and associated travel expenses, professional development training, contract work, etc. These aren’t necessarily must-haves, but they can help increase sales enablement’s impact. 
  4. ROI/Measurement of Success: Here you should make a case for the investment you’re making in sales enablement. Why does sales deserve the resources you’re requesting instead of a different department? Show what you anticipate the return on investment to be. For example: If you can pull in existing reports and data to support the return of each cost, that will help when you’re building your business case.  

Once you’ve created your budget, you’ll have to make a business case for each aspect of the budget in order to get the buy-in and support you need from executives, to secure the funds and resources you’re requesting. 

Getting Sales Enablement Buy-In Across the Organization 

Even though the business case for investing in sales enablement is strong, you will undoubtedly find that there are some executives and other company decision-makers who fail to see the purpose, value, and ultimately the benefits of it. According to CIO Insights, that could be why 40% of companies don’t have a dedicated sales enablement professional or program. 

Knowing that sales enablement buy-in can sometimes be an uphill battle, how do you go about getting the support you need? 

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

Step 1: Know your Audience 

Who you’re talking to will dictate what areas of importance you should highlight. Learn what’s important to your leader or the executives you’re trying to get buy-in from. For example, when it comes to sales enablement, your CFO will want to know the potential to increase the sales reps’ contributions to revenue. A CMO will want to understand how enablement will affect and support the marketing team’s sales content creation. Your CEO might be most persuaded by improvements to profitability and retention rates. 

b2b sales enablement strategy

Identifying the key stakeholders up front and what’s most important to them will help build a stronger case for sales enablement. Each of these conversations should highlight how your b2b sales enablement strategy will improve sales productivity. 

Step 2: Let the Data Do the Talking 

Data can be a powerful tool for making a case for sales enablement. For example, take a look at the day-to-day activities of the sales team, you might find that they spend too much time creating presentations, responding to corporate emails and more. All of these things take away from the time they could and should be selling, which incurs a higher opportunity cost. 

Step 3: Show Results 

If and when sales enablement activities are established, create a regular cadence to review the results of your efforts with company leaders. This will provide insight into what activities are actually effecting change. You want to do activities that produce the desired outcomes, but that might require some trial and error to find which ones yield the best results. That’s why it’s important to monitor performance regularly and adjust accordingly. Being transparent and working together with leadership will allow you to identify what sales enablement activities are actually needed and which ones you can do without. 

Step 4: Start Small 

Getting buy-in from internal stakeholders for your sales enablement efforts can be tough if you come out of the gate full force. Especially if you go from zero to sixty with your enablement efforts. This goes back to knowing your audience. Find out what’s important to your leader and where sales can add value and start there. Once you’ve demonstrated results and built that credibility, you can make an even stronger case for expanding your sales enablement strategies. 

MarTech Assessment

At the end of the day, the goal of implementing a B2B sales enablement strategy is to empower your sales team so they can close more deals and drive more revenue and profitability for the company. By doing this you not only support your sales reps, but you create alignment between sales and marketing and everyone can work towards the ultimate goal: company success.

Top 6 Benefits of Using a Marketing Firm for Lead Generation

Lead generation is one of those things that you can do alone, but probably shouldn’t. Like cutting your own hair, it’s not that deciding to do it yourself is inherently bad, but you might end up with a bowl cut straight out of 1995.

Here are the benefits of using a marketing firm for lead generation and why partnering with experts might be the best choice for your organization. 

Benefits of Using a Marketing Firm for Lead Generation

1) Alignment

Perhaps the greatest benefit of using a marketing firm for lead generation is alignment. A great firm will know that while the ultimate goal is getting more leads, you won’t be able to achieve or sustain that without alignment throughout your entire program. So what do I mean when I say ‘alignment?’ 

Related Read: Lead Generation Guide: Basics of Lead Gen

First, I’m talking about sales and marketing alignment. What a marketing firm does to increase lead gen will support sales initiatives. A firm will be focused on bringing in the high-quality types of leads that sales needs. They’ll also enable sales with tools– such as email templates, ebooks, white sheets, etc.- to help them close deals. Furthermore, a marketing firm will also encourage input from sales to create a symbiosis of feedback and continual improvement.

I’m also talking about alignment with your business objectives and goals. One benefit of working with a marketing firm on lead generation is that they can help you ramp up your current targeting or pivot to a new market segment when necessary. They’ll be able to right-size your existing program with the tools and strategies to take your company where you want to go.

2) Multi-Faceted Strategy

Additionally, a marketing firm will be able to implement multiple strategies and tactics to increase your lead generation. Firms typically have experts in varying areas of specialty- an SEO expert, a social media expert, a content expert, for example- that make up their larger team. They’ll put their heads together to create a lead gen strategy that encompasses all different angles of marketing in a cohesive way to get the best results. 

benefits of Using a Marketing Firm for Lead Generation

As your program grows, the needs of a lead generation program will change. Sometimes a paid media strategy to bring in leads isn’t always a good fit and maybe you actually need to back off on the social posting a bit. A firm will have the wherewithal and experience to implement these strategies (or not) and make changes as the program develops. Working with a marketing firm for lead generation means they will have the experience to know how – and when – to pull the right strings. 

3) Automation Experts 

A key element to lead generation is marketing automation. The right partner for your lead generation program will be an expert in this area. You can read more about the basics of marketing automation here, but in short, automation is a way to make your marketing work smarter and harder for you. Working with a marketing firm means you’ll have experts doing the setup and management on your behalf. They’ll work in your CRM to make sure incoming leads are nurtured and addressed appropriately. 

A marketing firm will also be able to set up the parameters to sort your leads for you. They’ll be able to set up the automation to make sure the job candidate leads go to HR and any complaints go to Brenda in accounting. (Just kidding. Unless you want them to…). They’ll also be able to qualify leads appropriately, which is essential as higher volumes of leads start coming in. This means that leads can be screened for fit before they ever hit the desk of your salesperson. For instance, let’s say a lead comes in that meets most of your criteria to be a good lead, but isn’t ready to buy yet. They can be automatically enrolled in a drip campaign that nurtures them along to keep you top of mind, but they won’t be handed to sales just yet. A marketing firm will be able to help you identify your criteria and set up the backend work to make it all happen.

4) KPI Reporting

Because a lead generation program has many elements, tactics, and levers, it’s easy to get lost in the reporting weeds. A marketing firm will be able to narrow your scope and focus on the KPIs. Furthermore, they’ll be able to tell you what those KPIs actually mean. So your lead volume is way up but your traffic is down- what does that mean? Is it a problem? Do we like it? There’s always a story behind the numbers. A firm will be able to read it to you. 

Benefits of Using a Marketing Firm for Lead Generation

5) Unbias Insights

Another benefit of using a marketing firm for lead generation is that you’ll have a neutral, third party present to help with decision making. They’ll use those reporting insights we just talked about along with their combined experience to offer unbias solutions on how to move forward. It can be hard to see the forest through the trees and a firm will bring a new perspective.

Partnering with a marketing firm means you’re bringing a team of people whose sole objective is to help achieve your goals. This is important because starting up a lead gen program often means changes for internal sales and marketing team. It might be a new process to handle leads or an ask to do something new. A marketing firm will be able to discuss the big picture objectives and the reasons for change to encourage your team and make them feel comfortable with it. 

6) More Leads 

This benefit was so obvious I almost forgot it, yet it needs to be said. The biggest benefit of using a marketing firm for lead generation is more leads. Nothing is ever guaranteed, but when you bring on a firm with everything stated above – expertise, alignment, automation skills, etc. – it translates into a stellar lead generation program.

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Key Takeaways

Lead generation is important. Actually, it’s critical. Without leads coming in the door, you’ll become stagnant. Working with a marketing firm for lead generation means more leads and company growth. A firm will be able to align your program with your business objectives and get your sales and marketing teams working toward a common goal. They’ll bring the experience and unbias insights needed to take your lead gen to the next level.

Lake One-on-One with Jeff Davis: Author of “Create Togetherness”

At Lake One, we’re all about creating harmony between two key departments- sales and marketing. When the two are fully aligned, it’s a match made in smarketing heaven. We also love talking with like-minded professionals about the importance of aligning sales and marketing. That’s why we were so excited to have the opportunity to connect with Jeff Davis on his award-winning book Create Togetherness.

He shared with us why he thinks misalignment is so common, insights he gained writing the book, the three pillars of alignment transformation, his thoughts on building the buyer’s journey, and what he says is the main takeaway from the book. Jeff specializes in helping B2B companies strategically align their sales and marketing teams to accelerate revenue growth. Jeff pulls from his over 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, and business development at Fortune 100 organizations to early-stage startup. 

In Create Togetherness, Jeff encourages B2B leaders to examine the relationship between sales and marketing and head toward alignment. His goal is to transform sales and marketing to exceed modern buyers’ expectations and increase revenue. Music to our ears! 

Related Reading: Lake One’s Guide to Sales and Marketing Alignment

Why Misalignment is so Common 

The misalignment of sales and marketing departments has resulted in companies falling behind their competitors by failing to acknowledge a structural flaw responsible for a significant loss in revenue. 

In the book, Jeff talks about the benefits of a strategic approach to long-term, sustainable alignment. We wanted to get his thoughts on why it was so common for teams to become misaligned in the first place. “They’ve operated in silos for so long, that most companies see them as two completely separate departments. In addition, the functional leaders don’t really know how to leverage each other because working in this way is new and unfamiliar. Most organizations still don’t realize how interdependent these two functions truly are in today’s modern B2B landscape. Because of this, their goals and incentives are not aligned, thus how they go about engaging the buyer is not aligned.”

What Suprised Jeff 

Jeff is an international keynote speaker and business consultant. He has worked with companies such as Salesforce, LinkedIn, Seismic, and Oracle. He speaks regularly about alignment transformation at conferences, company meetings, association events, and more. So, we were curious to know if there was anything new or surprising he discovered while writing this book, on a topic he is so well versed in. 

He said what surprised him the most was, “How marketing was created as a support function for Sales during the Industrial Revolution and how the relationship between the two functions has changed over time. I was also intrigued by the 4 Sales-Marketing Configurations model as I think it helps company leaders better understand when they are at a point where they have the structure to be able to benefit from an alignment transformation.”

Three Pillars of Alignment Transformation 

There are three pillars of alignment transformation that Jeff covers in the book. They are: 

  1. Data
  2. Process 
  3. Communication 

While all three are important to aligning sales and marketing, is it possible that one is more important than the others? According to Jeff, “They are all equally important but having timely, accurate, and relevant data is the lifeblood of any high-performing Revenue Engine, thus it is mandatory to ensure you have a strong handle on your customer data if you are looking to transform these two teams into better alignment.”

sales and marketing alignment

Building a Buyer’s Journey

Have you ever written something and then after the fact thought of another point you wanted to make or a concept you wanted to expand on? We posed the same question to Jeff. Were there any concepts from the book that he’d like to expand on or add any additional insight to, after the fact? 

“Having sales and marketing come together to build a buyer’s journey is an effective way to ensure they can optimally orchestrate their resources and also identify if there are any content gaps through the buying process.” He goes on to list them below:

7 Steps to Creating an Effective Buyer’s Journey: 

1. Clearly define the key stakeholders or personas from the buying committee of your ICP (ideal customer profile) – use quantitative and qualitative data from both teams to verify 

2. Document the customer’s internal decision-making process 

3. Understand the persona’s goals at each stage of the process 

4. Translate the decision-making process into buying journey stages 

5. Map current sales and marketing interactions (content) to ensure that resources exist at each stage that addresses the buyer’s concerns 

6. Identify interaction/content gaps and develop new resources to fill those gaps 

7. Continuously evaluate the conversion effectiveness of each stage and its associated resources 

Key Takeaway 

With any good book, there are likely a few main points the author wants you to walk away with, so we know it can be a challenge to narrow it down to just one. But we knew Jeff was up for the challenge, so we asked if he HAD to choose just one, what would he say is the main takeaway from Create Togetherness. He said, “The main takeaway is about how digital disruption has fundamentally changed the B2B buyer-seller relationship and the only way we will be able to successfully engage the modern buyer and win their business is for sales and marketing teams to work together to create a cohesive buying journey that is easy to navigate.”

Are you a sales or marketing professional, or an executive looking to ensure there’s alignment between the two departments? Then we encourage you to check out Create Togetherness.  There’s value to be had in the pages of Jeff’s comprehensive yet quick read. Order your copy here.

Unsure if your sales and marketing teams are properly aligned? Take the assessment to find out.

More about Jeff 

Jeff is the executive producer and host of the fast-growing TheAlignmentPodcast.com which is heard by B2B professionals in over 25 countries. He and his team of consulting experts also help mid-sized B2B companies build high-performing Revenue Engines that are equipped to win the business of the modern B2B buyer.   

Jeff holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.