The days of “spray & pray” are long over; campaigns must now show results in the form of qualified leads and most importantly, new customers.
Under mounting pressure to perform, how is a marketing leader going to show results when they are frequently understaffed and often budget-constrained?
Answer: Partner with Sales.
Here are two ways marketing leaders with limited resources and small budgets can partner with sales to generate results.
- Engage the Sales Force to Understand the Buyer
- Vet your Content with the Sales Force
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Understanding the Buyer
Unlike the marketing department, the sales reps spend time each day interacting with prospects and customers. Whether face to face, on the phone or exchanging emails, this level of interaction produces incredible insight into what prospects and customers expect and value in their journey to purchase.
One way to leverage the customer knowledge of your sales force is to convene an “Expert Panel”. An expert panel brings together the company’s star performers or top 10% producers. Expert panels can be in person, via WebEx or a combination of the two. Whichever mode you choose, assembling this group gives the marketing leader the opportunity to glean a deeper understanding into the buyer’s behavior. Equipped with this knowledge, they can direct their marketing team to produce content and campaigns that resonate with the buyer and what’s important to them. Too often, I see marketers pontificate on the greatness of their products and services and ignore the pain points and business challenges of their prospects and customers.
Sales Reps are chronically time-starved, so keep your Expert Panel agendas tight and to the point. To achieve this and maximize your time together, focus the agenda on three areas or groups:
- Current Prospects
- Current Customers
- Prospects lost to a Competitor
For each group, ask the Expert Panel a series of questions to better understand what resonates with buyers and helps them progress on their journey to purchase. The questions below are a starting point. I suggest you give the Expert Panel members the questions beforehand so that they come prepared.
How did the prospect/customer discover your product, solution or add-on?
- According to a 2011 Sale Research Council study, 57% of a consumer’s buying process happens without a rep being present. In other words, buyers have made it over half way down their “purchase decision timeline” before ever engaging with a sales rep. This monumental shift in buyer behavior places tremendous responsibility on marketing departments. The new buyer is self-directing two-thirds of their buying journey. Marketing leaders need to know where their buyers are going to educate themselves… and be there.
Why did they choose your company over the competitor or vice-versa?
- What was the compelling reason your company was chosen over a competitor or vice-versa? What pain did you solve that won you the business? What goals and objectives did you meet that earned a new customer? Answer these questions, develop content around them and see your campaigns generate quality leads for the sales force.
How do they prefer to interact with your company – Face to Face, Phone, Website, Email, and Social Media?
- Marketers must understand how their prospects and customers prefer to interact with your company. The first step is to develop relevant content; the second is to know what channel to deliver it through.
Vet your Content
Another way a resource-challenged, budget-constrained marketing leader can leverage sales is to use them to vet the content produced by his/her team.
Using the same “Expert Panel”, invite an open forum of comment and critique. Remember, these reps are the top producers; they know what resonates with the buyer.
The two most important questions you want them to answer are:
Does the content produced (blog posts, social media updates, eBooks, webinars, etc.) connect to the different buyer types?
- There are different buyer types in typical B2B sales. The more common delineations are Economic Buyer, User Buyer, and Technical Buyer. Each of these has their own goals and objectives, and buys for varying reasons. Your content must speak to the different buyer types. Use your top sales reps as a sounding board to vet your content to ensure it connects to each type of buyer.
Does the content connect to where the buyer is on their journey to purchase and help him/her advance on their “purchase decision timeline”?
- As I mentioned above, 57% of the buyer’s journey happens without a rep being present. Therefore, your content needs to meet the buyer we they are – be that on your webpage, social media outlets or LinkedIn page. Ask your Expert Panel reps to vet the content you’re producing for the early stages of the buying process. With their deep knowledge of what makes the buyer tick, their insight is invaluable.
So there you have it… two sure-fire ways to generate results without spending more money or hiring more people. If you want to know what your peers are doing differently in 2013 to hit their numbers, register for this no-cost session.