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B2B marketing blog - Funnel Vision
'Funnel Vision' is a blog that explains B2B marketing best practice using the buyer-centric principles of Funnel Logic. Published twice a week, this blog is a collaboration between MathMarketing’s global network of B2B marketing consultants (we call them Funnel Coaches). Through quickly-digested and actionable sales and marketing tips, Funnel Vision takes you and other sales and marketing leaders through a journey to discover means for growth in your business.
From simple tips to in-depth guidelines, our leading insights cover a range of B2B marketing topics – strategy, sales and marketing planning, sales funnel management and buyer progression tactics, to name a few. Simply put, Funnel Vision presents you with a fresh methodology for B2B sales and marketing, giving you the expertise you need to grow your business.
We have argued for years the need to find an unsolved problem, and to become the best in the world at solving it. But what do you most need to get right? The product, the market, or the marketing of that product to that market? As Marc Andreessen - cofounder of Mosaic and Netscape, major investor, and board member of Facebook, eBay and HP says “Product market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” Sean Ellis - godfather of growth hacking says that until you have 40% product market fit, forget about hiring marketing and sales. As a sales and marketing professional of 30 years, am I offended? Not in the least. But do you listen to your market or does your market listen to you?
When George Bernard Shaw said that England and America were "two countries divided by a common language", he might as well have been talking about Marketing and Sales. In fact, he might have been talking just about Marketing as a profession. Marketers are shocking for using the same phrase to mean very different things. A personal favourite is the confusion between branding and positioning. We're going to have a go this week at building the definitive source of Marketing terminology and definitions.
We know the importance of optimising your website and blog for search. What you might have overlooked though is that lots of your search volume - maybe as much as 95% - is for phrases that are not on your priority phrase list. This is the so-called 'long tail' of search - a reference to the fact that if you charted the phrases used to find your content very little of it will be for your chosen phrases, so you get a very long tail in your chart. How do you find these phrases, and prioritise them, then optimise for them? In this week's blog we're looking at long tail search for B2B and we'll share a great tool for finding new phrases related to your copy that might be worth writing about.
With the most up to date information about contacts and companies available, we need to know how to generate leads through LinkedIn. LinkedIn's core proposition is still CV's online (get found by recruiter and position yourself to them well). LinkedIn therefore contains the most up to date info you can have about key contacts and their roles. How can we tap this rich source of up-to-date contact information to create great B2B leads? In this week's show, we'll explore how to use LinkedIn Lead Builder, integrating LinkedIn with Salesforce, and whether to connect or send InMails. We'll conclude with a discussion about using the right tools for the right job, and being social with social.
A full time outbound caller might manage one or two real conversations a day from up to 60 attempts. A sales professional who gives cold calling only an hour or two a day might be lucky to have one real conversation a week. How can we increase their conversation rate? If your marketing is delivering, then cold calling is less necessary. But even in really well-run businesses, Marketing is often responsible for generating demand that accounts for only 25% of the revenue. So unless you have an installed base or a great network of the right buyers for your product or service, cold calling is likely to be a part of your mix. We've recently been discussing how to earn a new meeting with a valid business reason. In this week's show, we'll explore the best voice mail script for complex B2B.
Cold calls suck. Sales people hate them, buyers hate them, the hit rate is low and the process is demoralising. A buyer who has stuck their hand up will always be more valuable than one whose profile suggests they should have their hand up. So avoid cold calls if you can. Use referrals or shape your marketing to condition the market for you and flush out those who are ready for a proper discussion. But if you can't, in this week's show we'll explore how to be smart about overcoming the typical barriers to getting a meeting from a cold call by using the best cold email template.
There's not enough honesty in business. I want to tell you everything I know, exactly what I am doing, and why. And I don't need to be prompted to be that transparent. But is that really what you want? There is so much technology available to me as a marketer to track what you are doing, what you are interested in, and what you are doing. Not you as a statistic in an average anonymous behaviour indicator in my analytics software, but you as an individual business. This week we're exploring just how much I know about you, and how much of that you want me to share with you.
The best pain funnel questions, asked at the wrong time, will lose you a deal you might have won if you'd asked them in the right order. Popular sales training company Sandler uses the term 'pain funnel questions' to describe the questions a sales person should ask. I'm going to show you today that their questions, shown here, are good enough. If you mastered these good-enough questions, you'll go a long way to succeeding in sales. And if 'good enough' is good enough, then have a go at mastering pain funnel questions. But if you want to excel, and to align Sales with Marketing, then you'll also need to master one more skill. More of that in this week's show.
There are plenty of how-to blogs, videos and other web pages for LinkedIn. The bigger question is why use LinkedIn for business? There is no doubt that having your CV online is a great idea for getting recruited. Get busy. And sure we should be promoting our businesses via all channels. The problem is that every communication has a curve to learn and then another to master the channel. LinkedIn, like any medium, takes time to master. Let's agree that even the smallest business should have a basic company page, and every person - employee or employer, should have a properly 'pimped' profile and a handful of connections. But what's the value for the time-starved amongst us (aka 'everyone') to invest the time to use LinkedIn for business properly. In this week's show we'll give you six reasons why you should use LinkedIn for business.
In a perfect world, Sales would only be following up the leads generated by great marketing tactics. In an even more perfect world, it would be Inside Sales, not Sales, making the first human approach. But if, in the real world, you need to send cold sales emails, how do you make this work? Remember that you are interrupting - this means you have to be brief, cut through, and then move them. But who is the right 'them' and how do we move them? In this week's show we'll look at 8 tips to making a killer cold sales email.
You work hard for 3 years. At the end of that do you have 2% or 20% share? Do you know? Do you care? How much market do you need? In this week's show we'll explore how to answer that question by building building a basic model, and then working out what sort of funnel we need?
Imagine you had prepared seven perfect questions for a prospect meeting. Really insightful, penetrating questions. With a breath, you asked your first and waited - using golden silence. Your prospect considered your question, and answered that the issue didn't really impact them. Together you explored their answer - you because you want to dig deeper and they because they are being polite and interested early on in the meeting. But the question still bombed. That's OK, you have six more - equally penetrating. And so you ask your second. Despite you both giving the question a decent run, it bombs too. Not because the question was wrong, or poorly asked, only that this issue - the one you had hoped would surgically unsettle them - just didn't impact this particular business. Question three bombs too, and you both lose faith. Your prospect moves to "so why don't you tell me a bit about your products and why we might be interested in them. Having failed to get any traction with plan A, you relent and revert to a simple pitch. You have lost control of the meeting. Who knows if question four was the one - the question that would have created all sorts of rich dialogue about their issues and why they need to find a solution. For next time, how do you plan and run the perfect prospect meeting that let's you explore the whole story?
Spending the day at Salesforce World Tour in Melbourne provided ample evidence that events work wonderfully well for the organisers and often poorly for those who sponsor or take booths. For context, this event is largely pitched at existing users, not prospects, so it's preaching to the choir somewhat.
How do you get those recalcitrants - the nervous nellies and those past failures - into your funnel as quickly as possible? A part of the answer is you probably don't want them there quickly. You want them there confidently. You want, for them to want, to really be in your funnel. In this week's show we're going to explore the difference between nurturing and recycling, and some of our favourite tactics for carrying that nurture message.
Buyers leak from your funnel all the time, and those that you describe as "stalled" have probably already leaked but you don't want to admit defeat. What do you do with leads that are not yet ready to progress? Or those that progressed and then leaked from your funnel? If they are well-qualified as leads, but the opportunity has leaked, you would obviously recycle or nurture those leads. Recycling and nurturing are not the same, and in this week's show we'll explore the differences and why our recycling needs be nurturing but our nurturing doesn't need to recycle.
We spend our lives trying to reduce leakage from our sales funnel, but let me show you why you need high failure rates in the top of your sales funnel. The further your prospects make their way through your funnel, the more you have invested in them. If they are going to leak, you want them to leak early. In this week's blog we'll show you some back of the envelope maths to make the point about why early leakage is better than late leakage, then share with you some gems to help you increase leakage at the top and decrease it at the bottom.
This year's growth is largely a function of decisions made last year, and your ability to effect real change has already passed. We all want to grow, and those of us working in larger businesses are tasked with this growth. But there are forces that shape our ability to grow. These forces are not out of our control, but they are forces we should have shaped last year, or earlier. In this week's show we'll review Geoffrey Moore's book 'Escape Velocity', and explore how to create growth that gets us into orbit.
Business often employ Inside Sales as a cheaper sales resource for smaller sales, or less-strategic accounts. Others use Inside Sales as a kind of Sales Co-Ordination resource tasked with everything from appointment setting to admin - in other words, everything necessary to keep the sales guys on the street. I want to give you a third reason: increasing your sales conversion rate by 6000% (60 times!) We work really hard on improving response rates from online leads: better lead bait compelling copy A/B testing landing page layouts and terms And we're often happy with 10% or 20% improvements at any stage in the process. But in this blog, we're going to show you how you can improve response rates as much as 60 times (6000%) with one small change.
In B2B marketing, we often fret over the length of the sales cycle - it's always too long. If the economy gets nervous the funnel slows even further. So we're asked something like "how do you make your funnel flow faster?", "how do you reduce the sales cycle?" and "how do you make buyers act faster?" - all variations on a theme. To answer this, we need to understand why and where the funnel is slow. And that means today we need to expore the mind of the buyer, the efficacy of tactics, buying roadblocks, and hidden failure. We're often explaining why you can't speed up the funnel, but today, we're going back on all that, and explaining exactly how you can.
Marketing plans are an essential part of every marketing initiative. Whether you’re constructing a plan for a multimillion dollar company or a small start-up, a marketing plan is crucial in that it ensures your marketing objectives are aligned with your business goals and strategy, and helps keep you focused through assigning tasks and establishing timelines.
How many leads do we need? A basic sales calculator will help you work out how may proposals and leads you need to meet your sales target. And it will be wrong. Adding just a small degree of sophistication to your sales calculator will deliver you a very different conclusion, resulting in a very different plan. In this week's show, we'll build a basic back-of-the-envelope sales calculator, and share a great free tool that will give you a result that will astound you. You need a lot less market than you think.
The probability of closing a marketing lead is 46% higher for companies that let their marketers change their CRM to use customised stages, and another 28% improvement if those renamed stages are buyer-readiness stages not seller-activity stages But only 24% of marketers make this change. Why? Do you like your sales process to much? Seriously, it's not about you. It's about your buyer. And what are the buyer readiness stages, anyway? All this, and more, in this week's show.
B2B competition strategy is like just every other aspect of strategy - there is no 'of course' approach to strategy for addressing your competition. Anyone who tells you that you always need a competition strategy in B2B is spending too much time looking behind them, and not looking at where they are going. In sales and marketing, where we are going is to the buyer. Often, the best B2B competition strategy is to ignore the competition all together and just focus on the buyer. Except for that strange stage where you can't and you actually have to attack them. We'll explore why, and help you set the right competition strategy for your business.
Your channel partner strategy plan needs to begin with "who"? But like so much of strategy, the "who" question isn't "what sort of channel do I need", but "who is my buyer", and therefore "what sort of channel do my buyers need." We're arguing here that your channel partner strategy plan needs to be based on what your buyers need, not on what you need. What type of channel you r buyers need, and how many channel sales people you need to provide to meet that need, changes as the market matures. We'll show you how to work out your channel partner strategy plan based on what your buyers need, and how many sales people you need, in this week's show.
Here is a great go to market strategy example of why crude assumptions are dangerous. Brand / Demand / Enablement need a balance, and it changes over time. B2B marketers seem to be dragged between two extremes at the whim of Sales: We're either just doing branding 'stuff' or we're supposed to focus on leads. So which should it be? Today we'll use a go to market strategy example to show why too much demand is just as bad as too little, and how to get the balance right.
You sell what you are good at. The market has taught you what is attractive, and what is not. So you should gear up production and sell like crazy, right? Well, no. The product marketing strategy you have now will not be the right strategy for the next phase of the market. It is rare that a product marketing strategy deliberately only solves a half of the client's problem. But accidentally solving only half of their problem, or meeting only 50% of their need, is 100% wrong 20% of the time. There are five phases in any market, and you need a complete solution for one of those phases, and an incomplete solution for another. Pricing, bundling, and service strategies are all factors in your product marketing strategy, and all change as the market matures. In this week's blog we will explore what the right strategy is for each phase.
Your old strategy for sales and marketing just won't work. And neither will your next one, or the one after that. Sure they will work for a while, and then they won't. What's going on? Buyers change as their own familiarity with a new innovation changes. Put differently, when a new idea is put to the market, it will appeal to a certain segment of the market. Then a different segment, then a different segment again. So, should your strategy for sales and marketing be based on the industries these segments operate in? No, absolutely not. Then yes, then no, no and yes. In this week's blog, we'll explain how to choose your target based on who is ready, and when.
How should you approach the c-suite? That elusive senior person in a large business who can approve your deal? Often, the answer is: you don't. Instead, target the person whose problem you aim to fix.
In the wonderful African proverb, we are reminded that if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. In this week's show, we'll explore how to get the whole tribe to buy in to your Sales and Marketing plan and to join you on your journey. Although the focus is on problem choice, the approach holds true for all decision making.
Troubling the market about the wrong problem may actually help your competitor more than it helps you. Businesses spend money to fix problems or to avoid problems in the future, therefore buyers want a solution to meet their need and perceived problem. If they believe that they have a problem that a competitor solves better than you do they will go with your competitor. You may try to convince them that they actually need the solution that you offer but that will be very hard work and low yield. Instead, it is best to change their concept of the problem, or you can trouble them about it - with Marketing - in the first place. In this video, Hugh helps clarify why you need to choose the right problem to solve for your customers.
Revenue targets have nothing to do with the targets you want to set for Sales and Marketing. So, how do you figure out your Sales and Marketing targets? Firstly, you need to know the value of new business that you need Sales and Maketing to generate for you, you also need to know the average size of each deal. Secondly, you need to figure out how many sales need to occur over a specfic time period in order to determine how much revenue you actually need Sales and Marketing to generate. In this video blog, Hugh helps to clarify this process, as well as the importance of figuring out the correct targets for each department within the organisation.
If you can't make your funnel flow faster, can you lose fewer buyers throughout their journey? We've argued on recent blogs why you can't speed up your buyer just because you have quotas to meet, but that you can improve your conversion rates. We had a ton of email requests for specific tactics. So this week we're making a series of specific tactical recommendations to improve your conversion rates throughout the funnel.
If you are committed to a regular schedule of blogging, you'll know that the production needs to be efficient or the process can quickly become unaffordable. Video is a super-engaging medium for blogging, but might appear unaffordable at first glance. Great corporate videos on your web site deserve a high quality production, but frequent video blogs need 'good enough' production only. At MathMarketing, we're a long way from the efficiency we think we can achieve, but have mastered the art if good-enough quality video blog production and are pleased to let you under the covers a bit to show you how we do our weekly video blog.
In last week's show, we offered 10 steps for calculating sales conversion rate. We also promised to show you why lag is death. In English, why a buyer who has taken longer than normal is unlikely to buy from you at all. So does that mean there is merit in using assertive marketing and sales techniques to speed them up? We all want to speed our funnel up. In a recession like the GFC, sales cycles typically blow out, meaning buyers are taking longer than normal to buy. This could be so - they might genuinely be taking longer - but it's just as likely that the problem is we are failing to concede defeat on deals that aren't progressing making our data look like deals take longer. In this week's show, we'll explore what happens when your funnel goes faster than normal (whether by design or by accident). In this week's show, we'll explore what happens when your funnel goes faster than normal (whether by design or by accident).In last week's show, we offered 10 steps for calculating sales conversion rate. We also promised to show you why lag is death. In English, why a buyer who has taken longer than normal is unlikely to buy from you at all. So does that mean there is merit in using assertive marketing and sales techniques to speed them up? We all want to speed our funnel up. In a recession like the GFC, sales cycles typically blow out, meaning buyers are taking longer than normal to buy. This could be so - they might genuinely be taking longer - but it's just as likely that the problem is we are failing to concede defeat on deals that aren't progressing making our data look like deals take longer. In this week's show, we'll explore what happens when your funnel goes faster than normal (whether by design or by accident).
In most “solution selling” methodologies, B2B sales people are encouraged to uncover their prospect’s issues, rather than leading with their products. But there’s a potential problem: any organisation, any stakeholder, always has many more issues that they would like to address than they could possibly have the have money, time, or inclination to deal with. That’s why so many issues stimulate so many apparently positive sales conversations that end up going absolutely nowhere. The prospect is interested enough to talk, but not motivated enough to act... One of the ways of dealing with this, of course, is to really dig into the cost of inaction, and to persuade the prospect that the cost and risk of sticking with the status quo is worse than the cost and risk of change. Another is to associate the issue with an already-funded corporate initiative that has the attention of the senior executive team, and to position your solution as a key tool to support the initiative.
Ask any Sales Manager, and she will tell you that her team closes 1 in 4 (or 3 or 10, whatever it is, they usually know the number). Ask a marketer what his click through rates on emails are, and again, he will know (maybe 4-5% of successful sends). But ask them how many names they need to add to their 'engine' next month, and how many deals need to close that month, and you'll probably get a "good question" response. Ask them to give you conversion rate by stage in funnel, and they'll blink and smile. Oops. Ask them to do this from the buyers' perspective (rather than our perspective as seller), and we won't even raise a grin. You take my point, I think. If marketing and sales are ever to become respected management sciences around the world, we need to get good at calculating, and improving, our closure rates by stage. In this week's show, we'll show you how to calculate your sales conversion for each stage in the buyer's journey, and how long it takes, and why lag is death.
As we all know, your website is your shop window. In this day and age your website’s look and feel along with its functionality can really turn your customers on or off, there is hardly anything worse than a dated website that gives you a sense of the early 2000s. Nostalgia is a no-go when it comes to your inbound marketing and B2B lead generation. Your website is the tool which lets you attract, engage, convert, close and delight. Obviously, the conversion part is fundamental to this process, but how do you get there? The answer is simple; you need to be creating high-quality, sales-ready leads. And while this sounds like a piece of cake, it can be the exact opposite when handled poorly and inefficiently. But fear not, we have compiled 5 effective tricks that can really help you up your inbound marketing ante, stand out from the crowd and generate leads, leads, leads.
One of the problems with creating generic “unique value propositions” is that they are just that - generic. They might be a useful basis for communicating mass-marketing messages, but they are not a suitable basis for a truly productive sales conversation. To be truly effective - and to have real impact - your sales people need to be crafting uniquely customised value propositions for each individual prospect (and often each significant stakeholder). If that sounds like hard work, it is. But here’s why it is worth it… Your prospects are tired of generic value propositions that do not relate to their specific current situation and priorities. They filter them out. And even if they appear to be in the meeting, their mind is probably somewhere else.
If you followed our tips from last week's Funnel Vision you now have loads of great digital content for your B2B marketing. You've got white papers, videos and webinars from your own great ideas, and great ideas from others who have a view that supports your own. How do you get that great content out into the hands of yourtarget market? And is there a way to leverage others to do some of the work for you? Maybe a key partner or two, your sales people, and your audience itself can help to get the word out. In this week's Funnel Vision, we'll show you hot to leverage each of your mavens, connectors and salespeople to share your great content, and how to do it in your sleep.
With the best will in the world, you will never be able to create enough content to meet all of your market's appetite for content. So are asking your audience to read widely. those other sources include your competition, as well as others who might not be competition, but definitely are not arguing a view of the issues and solutions that helps your case. In today's blog, we'll show you five steps to leveraging 3rd-party content so you can meet more of your audience's demand for content, without having a huge content team, yet still select content that helps your case
Building great blog content scares many away from content marketing. They'll say something like "I don't have that much to say about it (the topic)." Others blog regularly, but their topics are chosen randomly and don't build any kind of brand or slowly sway opinion. The purpose of any blog should be to remain positioned with your market, and to subtly concept-condition them. That is, if your blogs do their job, you'll enjoy inbound leads from those who hold you to be a thought leader, and, best yet, they will already share your view about what the issues are, and what they should look for in a solution. I'll show you in this blog how much you actually do know so we can get past the "don't have much to say" issue, and how you can you build a roadmap for lots of content, that keeps you on message.
We are all somewhat in love with our own products and services, and can sing their virtues. There are two problems with that: Firstly, unless your buyers are looking for a solution right now, that product-centric messaging will fall flat; Secondly, by not understanding your competition, you might be painting a story that is failing to differentiate you from your competitors, or, worse, even creating advantage for them. So we need to build our marketing and sales messaging around the challenges and needs of the buyer, but a specific challenge and need that is deliberately different from our competitors'. In this blog, Hugh shows how to build a winning message to create new opportunities, that only you can win.
Sales and Marketing alignment and effectiveness vary wildly between countries. Which country do you think have got this most right. I'll bet you a fine red wine your guess is wrong. Mine was! In this week's blog, Hugh draws from our most recent alignment study, published jointly with Marketo to explore how well marketers in five major countries have aligned Sales and Marketing, and to what effect. We'll also show you how to get the whole report, for free, at the end of this video.
In B2B marketing, Marketing tactics early in the journey have more effect on closure rates than sales tactics later in the journey (which is why search beats social, blogging beats traditional, and it doesn’t matter what tactics the sales team uses). In this week's blog, Hugh draws from our most recent alignment study, published jointly with Marketo to explain what affect B2B marketing tactics used at key stages of the buyer's journey have on closure rates. We'll also show you how to get the whole report, for free, at the end of this video.
In B2B marketing, demand generation is more important than brand building, but only to a point. In this week's blog, Hugh draws from our most recent alignment study, published jointly with Marketo to explain what happens when you increase how much effort you give to branding and demand generation. What we found is that increasing focus on demand generation improves closure rates, up to a point. After that point, more demand generation actually reduces your closure rates.
B2B marketing strategies shape what you sell, to whom and through whom. In last week's blog on a B2B marketing definition, I defined B2B marketing as "the planning, execution and measurement of the strategy and the tactics needed to sell a product or service to a business". In this brief blog I'll get into the actual B2B marketing strategies a little, and focus on the planning rather than execution or measurement.
You should expect, what you inspect, and it seems that measurement of Marketing still has a great impact on effectiveness. In this week's blog, Hugh draws from our most recent alignment study, published jointly with Marketo to explain what happens when change what you measure Marketing on. Shifting your focus from leads to appointments, then proposals and finally sales has a big impact on closure rates, how much revenue comes from Marketing, and even customer retention. We'll also show you how to get the whole report, for free, at the end of this video.
I've not typically been big on the necessity for definitions, but became frustrated recently when a senior marekter threw terms like strategy, tactics around as if they were interchangable. It is not hard to understand what B2B marketing is, nor how it is different from consumer, or B2C marketing. Let's start at the top: B2B marketing can be defined as the planning, execution and measurement of the strategy and the tactics needed to sell a product or service to a business. In this blog, I'll unpack that just a little, argue why the four P's is a vague and antiquated notion, and offer a simple alternative. I'll also distinguish B2B and B2C marketing.
As a marketer, Hugh was deeply frustrated for years. Most B2B marketers are either domain specialists having way too much fun, sales people 'retired hurt', or confused consumer marketers. He set out to make B2B marketing a respected management profession, and formed what has now become MathMarketing as his vehicle. So it will not surprise you to know that it is with no great enthusiasm that Hugh is now arguing that Marketing should report to Sales. At one level, the argument is simple: in B2B, marketing's job is to condition to market, and to create demand, to help Sales to succeed. In this week's blog though, Hugh draws from our most recent alignment study, published jointly with Marketo to explain what happens to closure rates, revenue contributions, and customer churn in each of four possible reporting options. We'll also show you how to get the whole report, for free, at the end of this video.
B2B Marketers are asked, more than anything else, to generate leads for sales to pursue. But what kind of B2B leads do we want Marketing to generate? named prospects who meet your ideal client profile? buyers who have shown interest in a topic you write about or a category you sell? buyers who have shown they are troubled about the problem you solve better than any other? buyers actively looking for solutions like yours?
Change the sales stages in your CRM to reflect B2B buyer behaviour, rather than sales gates. Our latest research suggests this focus on B2B buyer behaviour has the potential to increase closure rate by 28% In this blog, we will focus on just one chapter from our landmark 2014 report into alignment. Chapter 5 looks at the sort of performance uplift you should expect if you rename the stages in your CRM - and your marketing automation platform - to reflect buyer behavior and not vendor actions or gates. We'll also show you how to get the whole report, for free, at the end of this video.
The marketing funnel isn't dead. Sorry Forrester, Aberdeen and HBR, it's just that you never understood it. The funnel is an old metaphor, and only a loose one: lots of buyers at the top and a few at the bottom, and our job is to move them through. The flaw in the metaphor is obvious: not all buyers move through - even if you are infinitely patient, and so it's more of a seive than a funnel. This is the basic idea that MathMarketing founder Hugh Macfarlane began with when he wrote 'The Leaky Funnel' in 2003 and introduced two terms now in reasonably-popular use in marketing circles: The buyer's journey (the stages they go through from blissfully ignorant to happy customers) Recycling (nurturing buyers back into the funnel with engaging content). In this blog, Hugh unpacks why the analysts are 'over' the funnel, and what smart marketers can do to uncover powerful insights from their own funnels.
Sales and marketing systems are usually built in isolation from each other, and the results are predictably disjointed. What is surprising though, is the introduction of robust processes do not deliver any of the benefits we'd have expected. In this blog, we will focus on just one chapter from our landmark 2014 report into alignment. Chapter two looks at why the introduction of sales processes improves marketing outcomes, adding marketing processes improves sales outcomes, and building shared processes lifts the outcomes for both. We'll also show you how to get the whole report, for free, at the end of this video.
Inbound marketing for B2B requires the same skills as for B2C, plus a few. In B2B, the inbound marketing lead is often not a lead at all, but a nurture opportunity. So we need inbound marketing tactics for both early-stage and late-stage buyers. We've just found a great new B2B marketing tool to share with you. HitTail analyses your existing search phrases, then finds those you are not well-optimised for, compares them against traffic and competition before making concrete recommendations. This not only helps you find long tail phrases to optimise for search, it is especially useful for giving you a list of phrases to blog about if you are stuck for ideas.
Training your marketers does little to help them generate leads that are more 'acceptable' to Sales, nor does increasing the training of your salespeople improve their ability to close. If this is the case, why bother investing in training at all? In this week's blog, Hugh explains why investing heavily in training for Sales and Marketing does deliver benefits, but not where you'd expect. Keep watching to find out how to get a copy of this landmark report - for free!
Is Marketing automation really worth the effort and expense? In this week's blog, Hugh delves into findings from the 2013 Sales and Alignment report to show how marketing automation delivers scale, but not always confidence. Even firms just planning to automate marketing have improved efficiencies in marketing's contribution to revenue and customer retention. That's got to be something to consider. Keep watching to find out how to get a copy of this landmark report -- for free!
It's hard enough to get a buyer to commit to a sale. Now try to imagine a buyer who doesn't even know what they're buying from you. Do you think you could close that deal? With any deal, including the situation above, your focus should shift away from closing and to opening. If you open a deal correctly, your buyer will know exactly what you're selling them and why they need it. Closing the deal will be the easiest part. In this week's blog, Hugh shares six steps to closing a deal by ensuring you open properly.
It’s inevitable that prospects will leak from your funnel. But just because they aren’t ready to buy from you now, doesn’t rule out the possibility they will buy from you in the future. The success of your funnel is not shaped by your wins, but how you handle your losses. In this week’s blog, Hugh shows you how to build a robust recycling program. Staying positioned with leaked buyers is crucial so that when the time comes to talk to them again, they are perfectly groomed for your offering.
It’s more than 20 years since Geoffrey Moore published the first edition of “Crossing the Chasm”. Since then, it has become a classic, and has cemented its position as the one must-have book that every B2B technology marketer needs to have read. But the world has moved on in a number of significant respects, and the recently published 3rd edition reflects this. I want to use this article to showcase some of the fresh thinking that has emerged in the latest edition.
What makes closing a deal a bit like proposing marriage? Well, neither of them should really come out of the blue. There’s a lot of groundwork to lay down before that final decision. Signing the contract and closing the deal might seem like one huge step for you and the buyer. But it doesn’t always have to be. In this week’s blog, Hugh shares how to break down the process into a set of small, quick tactics that will eventually lead to one logical conclusion for everyone – closing the deal!
Last year, content marketing spread like wildfire. Now, over 91% of B2B marketers are currently using content marketing, and even more excitingly, content marketing has been proven to be one of the most effective tactics for lead generation. Despite this, businesses are somewhat lost when it comes to the numbers. In this blog, we’ll discuss the specific costs you must incur for content marketing.
Your offer is on the table, but it would be silly to assume the deal is done and dusted. At such a late stage, how can you ensure you aren’t Steven Bradbury’d, and that your offer gets accepted ahead of the competition? By now most of the hard work is done, but this doesn’t mean you can’t stumble and fall at the last hurdle. You haven’t won the race just yet. In this week’s blog, Hugh gives substances to numerous tactics you can employ at this late stage to make sure your offer comes out on top.
If your prospect is looking for anything other than the proposal you put on the table – you have already lost. Stop reading, go home, and promise to never do that again. Your buyers have a certain concept of what they need. Whatever that concept is, is rarely shaken at the proposal stage. If someone other than you shaped that concept, then walk away. Nothing we can share with you will undo the stupidity of failing to invest that time up front, and no magic in your proposal will undo the foolishness of letting your competitors shape your buyer's concept. Assuming you HAVE been the one to shape their concept of what they are looking for, in this blog, Hugh will show you how to put your most persuasive proposal on the table.
Riddle me this. What can lift the probability of Sales accepting Marketing’s leads by 31%, increase the probability of closing these marketing qualified leads by 56%, and increase Marketing’s contribution to revenue by 62%? Planning. More specifically, assigning the right owner to planning. To accelerate your growth, it’s as simple as that. In this week’s blog, Hugh reveals some of the cutting-edge insights from the 2014 Sales and Marketing Alignment report. He delves into who should own planning in your organisation, and backs up his argument up with some pretty impressive statistics on why this is the case.
Advances in technology and communication coupled with access to an unparalleled amount of information and data has created a world of empowered customers. Even in the complex B2B buying environment, your customers have access to enough information to get to the point of sale without you - as a marketer the more you know about the journey your target customer takes the more capable you are of meeting them along the way.
All customers love a freebie! Right? But, what happens when your good intentions backfire, and you’re left looking like the bad guy, as well as being out of pocket? This week, Hugh shares a few personal stories and examines the relationship between discounting and customer service. He looks at the common mistakes companies make when trying to provide deep discounts, and how to offer these discounts without disappointing your customer.
Buyers buy what they think they need. Rather than focusing your efforts on selling the qualities of your solution, why not shape buyers’ need for your product, and let the product sell itself? Yes, that’s right, let your solution sell itself. In this blog, Hugh shows you how to differentiate yourself before the sale, without discussing your product, or its virtues, at all.
What is the primary role of B2B marketing in today’s business environment? It’s certainly no longer just about the traditional “awareness and preference”, or how many website visitors you attract, rather in this environment, B2B marketing must surely be measured primarily on the value it adds to the qualified sales pipeline, and the impact it has on converting that qualified pipeline into revenue.
Being the nice guy to customers is always a good idea. But with prospects, we need to really upset them. Seriously! A prospect might engage with you if you’re nice, but that’s not why they’ll buy from you. They will only buy from you (or anyone) if they think they a problem that needs fixing. And they will only buy from you if they think you can solve the problem better than the other guy. In this week’s blog, Hugh shares his ten favourite tactics to get your prospects in a lather.
When Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm” first appeared 20 years ago it became an instant hit - Moore explained that the adoption curve for new technologies is marked by a profound disruption in customer behaviour between early adopters and the pragmatic buyers that represent the vast majority (and all of the profits) in most B2B markets. In the release of the 3rd edition this month Moore answers the question: How can any book remain relevant in a world that has changed so substantially over the past two decades?
“What am I expecting my audience to do differently tomorrow?” If you can’t answer this question after consuming a piece of content, then what was the purpose of the communication at all? All too often we finish building our content piece, summarise what we have written, and then fizzle. Or we deliver a vague or unrelated product pitch. In his latest video blog, Hugh demonstrates how to reach a convincing and persuasive conclusion with your content. He shares a sure-fire method to building compelling content and stresses how important it is that your content takes your buyer one step forward in their journey.
There’s abundant evidence to prove that today’s internet-savvy customers are much better informed and far more empowered than they were a generation ago. And it’s affecting B2B every bit as much as it is B2C. Your prospects are able to learn about issues, find out about the experiences of others, research potential solutions and establish buying criteria without ever feeling the need to speak to a salesperson.
Many people are discouraged to produce their own video blogs at the risk of looking cheap and nasty. However, video production technologies have improved so drastically over the past few years that it no longer requires large monetary or time investments to produce high quality video blogs. No longer can the excuse of poor production capabilities be used as an excuse not to tell your story! Direct from Frankfurt, Germany, Hugh demonstrates first-hand the ease and effectiveness of producing video blogs on a limited budget. He shares with you an array of products, tools, and tips you can use to aid your own production process.
Most organisations are critically dependent on their ability to find and win new business. So why is it that so many prospecting efforts fail to uncover enough of the right sort of opportunities? Why is it that so much effort is being wasted targeting “prospects” that are never likely to buy?
Quite frankly, it doesn't matter what buyers think about you or your brand, if they don't think about you or your brand. It doesn't matter how much better you think you are than your competitors, and it certainly doesn't matter how enthusiastic you are about your own business and products. So the question remains, how DO you get buyers interested in your brand? The answer - you don't. In this blog, explains why you need to get buyers interested in a conversation, rather than in your brand. Earning the right to help your buyers with their challenges is paramount. He also outlines a number of tactics you can implement to help enable this privilege.
Sales training traditionally encourages B2B sales people to “call high” - in fact, it’s hard to keep track of all the articles and publications focused on selling to the C-level (a simple Google search reveals over 100 million hits). “Thought leadership” is no less fashionable amongst the B2B marketing community (over 200 million hits). But if you want to engage at the right level, and stay there as opposed to being bumped down the decision-making stack, you need to bear one simple principle in mind at all times: you’ll end up talking to the person you sound like.
We get this wrong all the time. Businesses seek "brand awareness" in order to position their brand prominently in a given category. Unfortunately, while this is all fine and dandy in theory, it is inevitably followed by salespeople complaining about the marketing departments feeble attempt at positioning the qualities of their products and services relative to competitors. Getting your image right sounds like the over-riding priority, but the issue for many businesses is having their brand considered by buyers at all. In this blog, Hugh helps you think about positioning a little differently, and suggest two approaches and eight tactics you might want to consider.
I love those crazy Youtube videos where dozens of (usually nerdy) students have spent weeks crawling around on hands and knees laying out hundreds of thousands of dominoes, all in preparation for the big moment that kicks off one almighty chain reaction. A great B2B content marketing strategy should have exactly this effect on your target audience.
So your tactics have garnered such rave reviews as, “ingeniously rhythmic,” “a real contender for Tactic of the Year,” and “smart, sexy, and completely gripping… your funnel won’t know what hit it.” But what is this all worth if these tactics aren’t presented to the right buyers? In this blog, Hugh argues why it is critical that we think clearly about who our audience should be, and then offers some pearls for finding the best names, from the best businesses.
For three years in a row, the highly influential benchmark and advisory firm Sirius Decisions has reported that the number one revenue inhibitor in complex B2B sales environments remains the average sales person’s inability to communicate value. I believe one of the reasons that we haven’t made more progress in solving this is that most of the effort has been spent focusing on the value of our solutions and not on the cost to the prospect of not dealing with the problem.
Building a blisteringly clear content strategy is repeatedly put in the ‘too hard’ basket. Taking its place is a substandard shell of a strategy that delivers underwhelming, yet passable results. What many Sales and Marketing professionals don’t realise is that they simply need to focus on their buyers and building a content strategy that facilitates the journey of those buyers through the Sales funnel. In this blog, Hugh demonstrates how to build a content strategy that can move a buyer through each stage in their journey. He shares a solid framework for choosing tactics and stresses how essential it is for these tactics to be centred around the most important thing in your business – buyers.
I know I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but the research we read from many marketing research firms such as Forrester, Gartner and IDC tells the same story over and over again. Today's buyer OWNS the buying cycle more now than ever before. Salespeople are losing control and being pushed further and further down the buying decision process.
Salesfunnelitis (noun) – a degenerative condition that causes disorientation in the Sales funnel, withering Sales utilisation, and lacklustre closure ratios. If left untreated it can lead to serious complications, including death. Assessing the health of your funnel is just as important as considering your own wellbeing. Your funnel conveys a number of basic indicators indicative of its health, but more often than not, these indicators go unnoticed. Do you continuously measure the health of your funnel? Or do you wait until it’s really sick before seeking help? In this blog, Hugh walks you through the major elements of assessing the health of your funnel. He also shows you how to prioritise those elements you need to fix.
"There is a digital disconnect in executive ranks, a leadership vacuum created by a mismatch between expertise and authority." This pithy summary hits the nail on the head. In many, many of our meetings with prospective and current clients the senior team are aware, in principle at least, of the potential of digital, inbound marketing to drive increased revenue, improve sales and marketing efficiency and a reduction in their cost of sales. But they don't know what and how to change.
A murky sales funnel is about as useful as teats on a bull. The reality is that most Sales and Marketing professionals get so bogged down in the micro-measurements that surround the funnel that they begin to neglect the sales funnel as a whole. I have no doubt that your click-through rates are etched in the minds of your marketers, but what about the click-to-revenue rate? And your sales people might be celebrating like it’s 1999 at the sound of their closure rate, but how many dollars per inbound lead are actually contributing to revenue? In Hugh’s latest blog, the magic number is four. He outlines the four basic numbers you need to build a valid sales model and then shares four tips on how to do this on the back of an envelope. This doesn’t mean you should forget those micro-measurements altogether, but promoting clarity in the funnel requires Sales and Marketing to take control of the big picture.
Content marketing has emerged as one of the key growth areas for B2B Marketing in 2014. It seems like everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. And yet, we are in the process of drowning in a deluge of drivel masquerading as thought leadership.
Newsflash: Dangerous fugitive ‘Last Year Plus Ten,’ known to many as “Sales Quota,” is on the run. He is armed and extremely dangerous. Do not approach! Ok, so maybe I’m getting a little carried away, but the reality is, if you don’t entirely understand it, setting a Sales quota can be rather ambiguous to approach. Let’s think about it. What’s considered a normal quota per sales rep? And are you talking revenue? Or gross profit? Is it lifetime value or one-time value or one-year value? But what you do know, at least, is that if you want to improve yield, you just hire better reps. Right…? Unfortunately, the longer you remain confused, the harder the elusive Sales Quota becomes to catch. In his latest blog, Hugh captures Sales Quota in an ultimate show down and simplifies the whole approach. He explains why you need to focus on inputs (or more specifically, meetings) and comparing these inputs to the outputs required to run your business. He demonstrates how alignment of inputs to the Buyers’ Journey facilitates clarity in the Sales quota model and ultimately helps improve the overall yield from Sales.
Return on Investment (ROI) projections are often regarded as a critical element of B2B sales proposals, particular for high-value considered purchases. There’s no arguing that they have a role to play - but your sales people would be very unwise to rely on them. In fact, I’ve become convinced that over-reliance on ROI calculations is one of a number of key factors that are driving the high level of “decisions to do nothing after all” that so bedevil many long and complex sales cycles. Are you keen to find out why?
By now you should know that just because your buyer doesn’t want to progress right now, doesn’t mean they never will. Recycling is mandatory, and in order to make the most of your list and establish a successful funnel, leaked buyers must be carefully nurtured through this process. What many Sales and Marketing people don’t realise is that recycling can actually be the difference between a 2% and 20% share of the market. The reality is: if you aren’t doing it, you should be! In this blog, Hugh explains the four keys to effective recycling. He emphasises how important it really is to revisit and nurture your original list in order to gain traction. It may not save the Earth, but there is no doubt that successful recycling of buyers can have a long term impact on the fertility of your funnel and overall market share.
In today’s global market, webinars are a great marketing tool as they have the ability to erase the barriers of time and geography, making it easier for everyone to access content no matter the time or place. Webinars can we be watched live or for those that are time poor, on-demand at a time that suits them best. More importantly, they’re a great medium to directly interact with your clients and prospects on a large scale. And as the cost per head is lower than traditional face-to-face event marketing, your marketing dollar is well spent. Read on to find out how webinars can be useful to you and what is the best way to plan and implement them.
Say this three times fast: The first foot forward for a fruitful funnel falls firmly on the focus of failure. Translation: Focusing on the number of failed or leaked deals is more beneficial to a successful funnel than relishing the successful ones. The top of your funnel can have the lowest leakage rate in the world, but what usually follows are massive leakages at the bottom - after you've spent valuable time and money getting them there. The inability to identify deals that are destined never to close is costing you thousands of dollars, and will continue to do everyday you fail to recognise this fact. So, what is the key to closing more deals efficiently? Reducing leakage at the bottom of the funnel by identifying and leaking those funnel zombies early! In Hugh’s latest blog, he offers practical tips for reducing your bottom of funnel leakage and demonstrates why you should be focusing your energy on opening, not closing, a deal.
Many sales leaders believe that having a sales process is important - as evidenced by the over 300 million references on Google to the term. But in most complex sales environments, having an over-prescriptive sales process can actually damage your chances of winning. Thinking that a rigid, prescriptive sales process will improve performance in a complex sales environment appears simple and clear, but it is unquestionably wrong. Have you been adapting your sales process for complex sales? Or are you simply repeating the same process over and over again regardless of the type of sale?
As we all know, timing is everything in love and in B2B Marketing, but mostly in B2B Marketing. But when it comes to knowing how long one should wait before making a move (to progress the buyer further through the funnel) most Sales and Marketing people don’t have a clue. Without insight into how long the right amount of time between buyer progressions should be, you’re operating blind.By making a move at the wrong time you are likely to push your buyers away - and they’ll turn to your competitors instead. That’s why an understanding of the effect of lag on your funnel is so important! So, how long does it take your buyers to move through each stage of the funnel? In Hugh’s latest blog, he explores the impact of time on buyers and reveals a simple strategy for accelerating progression. He also demonstrates the painful cost of getting this wrong.
Research shows that B2B buyers are completing 60 - 90% of their buying journey before contacting any vendors. But you know this. You're constantly seeing such 'scary' stats. You also know that LinkedIn and other social media platforms, blogs and search engine results are doing most of the work to ignite buyer interest and provide them the information they need to make a purchase decision. You hope at least some of this is leading the buyers to your website and your salespeople. However, armed with these statistics and yet shrouded in stubbornness, companies are failing to acknowledge that marketing now owns a much larger part of the revenue generation cycle. Many companies allocate their Sales and Marketing budgets based on where revenue is seen to be generated, overlooking how they arrived at a point where revenue could be generated. The heavy lifting of revenue generation typically takes place with Sales, but ask yourself, how am I attracting and engaging leads in the first place? Does your budget reflect this?
1. The probability of closing a marketing lead is 28% higher for companies that let their marketers change their CRM stages. 2. The probability of closing a marketing deal is 46% higher if those new CRM stages are buyer stages and not seller stages. 3. Only 24% of marketers make this change. Have you failed to take advantage of this simple fix? In this week’s blog, Hugh Macfarlane walks us through his brainchild – the Buyers’ Journey. He challenges you to put yourself aside for one moment (deep breaths) and consider the buyer instead. Aligning your CRM stage names to a buyer’s position in their journey means you are providing the right content, having the right discussions, at the right time. Are you part of that 24% closing 46% more marketing deals through this alignment? If not, shouldn't you be?
Precious resources are continuously being wasted trying to close uncloseable deals. Much like poker, knowing when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, and when to run is highly applicable to Sales. Recognising the signs of a ‘zombie’ deal may sound straight forward, but many salespeople are strangely unwilling to acknowledge that a deal is well beyond any hope of resurrection. Even more troubling, the problem often starts much earlier in the Funnel, and these 'zombie' deals, which have been eating up your resources and clogging up your pipeline, should never have been progressed to begin with. Ask yourself: is this deal ever going to close? If you 're hesitating even a little, it may be time to fold your cards and move on.
For 30 years, marketing and the 4 Ps have been thought of as synonymous. Putting into context just how outdated this is, the 4 Ps are about as old as Sony’s Walkman. You probably don’t even still own a Walkman. So, why are you using an irrelevant, simplistic, wholly consumer concept to base your marketing strategy on? In this video blog, Hugh Macfarlane illustrates what you should be considering when strategizing your marketing in a B2B context, and discusses how to spend your effort in relation to three things: getting the market ready, getting the channel ready, and getting the two talking.
One of the key principles that should underpin your B2B marketer’s mindset is that your marketing messages – and your sales conversations – need to lead towards your solution rather than with your solution. The obvious conclusion is that both your marketing messages and your sales conversations need to “sell the problem before you sell your solution” - it’s a matter of leading the prospect through the critical sequence: Why change? - Why now? - Why us?
Marketing can often be too nice, but being nice doesn't get you anywhere with your buyers. We need Marketing and Sales to identify, debate and agree the one problem that will reward the business the most richly. Then, make your buyers aware of their problem, and get them troubled about it. In this video blog, Hugh explains why your plan needs to be built around just one buyer problem, and how to choose the best problem.
The evolution of the buyer's journey whereby newly empowered buyers conduct their own research before talking to a sales person, means that marketing teams are taking on an expanded scope of responsibilities. More than ever, marketing should have a permanent seat at the board room table. Is your marketing department contributing what they should to your business growth goals? Here are 5 key indicators of a high performance marketing team.