To maximize profitability you must first identify your marketing and sales efforts, strategies and processes. Below are 2 points to identify your marketing & sales strategies so that you can properly research your target market prospects, nurture your leads into qualified opportunities that become new customers.
Marketing vs. Selling
Companies are constantly searching for and generating leads, and that usually requires the marketing department to do research as to where the next lead is located and how to best attract potential leads into actual leads. Identifying the purpose of your research: is it to generate interest in your product in hopes of becoming a lead or is it to enter the Person/Company directly into the sales process, meaning the sales pipeline. Most leads first have multiple points of exposure to your brand, products or services before becoming a lead.
Finding new leads online through Hoovers, LinkedIn, Twitter, Contact Us forms…etc can bring terrible results if you have not first identified your marketing funnels and your sales funnels. Unidentified marketing and sales funnels can cause your agents to skip steps that ultimately reduce your conversion ratios.
A guiding rule of thumb is that Marketers are responsible for establishing interest in your products/services and a relationship between the Lead and your company. The marketing funnel should have key point indicators that identify the level of interest and level of trust. Marketing should be responsible for sending marketing collateral such as ebooks, white papers, blog posts, supportive articles...etc this also means that Business Development Reps (Qualifiers) will be having conversations with your Leads to answer basic questions and insure the Lead is properly qualified to speak with a Sales Executive (Closer).
The purpose of marketing is to generate interest from Person/Company and convert that interested Person/Company into a Lead, upon which further trust is built up through lead nurturing (most effectively done through marketing automation). When the Lead is qualified and asking the right questions it's time to transition the Lead from the marketing funnel to the sales funnel.
Leads are a Person/Company that have identified a specific need for your services and or products. Unfortunately, not all Leads are qualified. Leads that are Qualified become known as Opportunities and Opportunities can now enter the Sales Pipeline as a “qualified lead” or better said in CRM speak - Opportunity.
ALIGNING MARKETING COLLATERAL WITH FAQ's
All companies require the development of marketing materials aka "collateral" to help generate leads, build interest and establish a relationship. A mistake many companies make is developing collateral for Closers and lumping it in with marketing's collateral. Properly identified marketing stages and statuses in the Leads Tab of your CRM will help indicate collateral needed for marketing and nurturing, while Opportunity stages in the Opportunity's Tab will indicate collateral needed for Closers.
Best Types of Collateral:
- white papers
- blog articles
- youtube videos
Both marketing and sales can use any type of collateral as long as your organize the content to specifically serve the need based on the status or stage of the Lead/Opportunity
It is common that a Qualifier was unable to discover or nurture every need from the Lead, and thus Closers will need quick access to all of marketing's collateral.
Creating Buyer Personas
The best marketing automation companies such as Eloqua, Hubspot and Act-On Software have written in great detail about the importance of coming to understand your best customers by understanding where your customers originated from (lead source), the message they connected with, the primary need your service met, the unexpected benefit they discovered, the value they placed on your product/service, the time it took to nurture and the time it took to become a customer, the products/services they purchased and did not purchase and a myriad of other indicators that personify your average customers, your best customers and your worst customers (the one you wish you would have never sold).
By understanding your customers and establishing profiles you can generate interest in Person/Company by identifying their common traits and behaviors. Using buyer personas helps to nurture with coordinated marketing materials. Create collateral that coordinates with personas. Identical or similar buyer personas often share the same values, challenges and concerns; This provides excellent opportunity for Qualifiers and Closers to establish common grounds and move through the stages and processes while building a relationship of trust.
2. Generalized vs Specialized
Identify if your company is best served using a Generalized or a Specialized sales model.
Generalized: The roles, skills and knowledge of the Marketer and the Salesperson are held and executed by the same agent/rep. Generalized models are best served in organizations that have very simple, transactional sales that can be closed on the first phone call.
Specialized: The roles, skills and knowledge of the Marketer are held and executed by an employee whose responsibility it is to generate interest in Person/Company with marketing materials and question based tactics that progress the Person/Company to entering the Sales Pipeline, typically known as a Business Development Rep or Business Development Executive (BDR/E).
The BDR/E introduces the Person/Company to a Closer, typically known as a Sales Account Executive or Account Executive (S/AE).
The S/AE has the role, skills and knowledge of a Closer and is well versed in identifying the Person/Company needs can truly be met by his products or services, identifying all decision making Authorities, confirming budget, confirming urgency/timing, negotiating values tangibles and intangibles to close the sale.
B2B companies have best results within a Specialized model. CRM systems are typically designed for B2B companies. B2B companies are often best served with a specialized model,, while B2C companies are served best with a generalized model.
One of my favorite books for better understanding how to improve your sales by understanding and identifying common complexities within the B2B space is "The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful By The World's Best Companies"