Sales leads play a big role in B2B marketing and sales alignment

A comment from someone who attended one of my workshops got me thinking about the role of sales leads in marketing and sales alignment from a business-to-business perspective.

Three critical factors came to mind:

  1. The definition of a qualified lead. This requires agreement between the marketing team and the sales team on the criteria that will be used to determine that a sales lead is qualified or “sales-ready.”
  2. The number of sales leads needed is determined by the company’s sales revenue goals. Here’s the question: If X percent of leads qualify, and Y percent of those qualified leads close at an average sale value of $Z, how many leads need to be generated?  My Sales Lead Calculator™ will help you determine your numbers.
  3. Lead generation activities must be planned with the length of the sales/buying cycle in mind. If your average sales/buying cycle time is six months from lead to purchase, you can’t generate a new lead today and expect it will affect this month’s sales.

Share your thoughts about the role of sales leads in the alignment of B2B marketing and sales with a comment below.

 

Pros and cons of in-person events for B2B marketing

In today’s hyper-connected world, there are good reasons for in-person marketing events such as “lunch-and-learn” seminars. The traditional style of building a relationship with a potential client required you to get in your car, get on a plane, or pick up the phone–and that’s what you need to do for an effective group discussion or simply to connect more directly with prospects.

If you’re choosing between remote or in-person, factor in the time needed to present the information, the needs of the customers or prospects you’re targeting, and the physical locations of attendees.

Live events can include:

  • Executive briefings
  • Breakfast meetings
  • Lunch-and-learns
  • Seminars

Pros of in-person events

  • You can hold your audience’s attention longer. Remote events should last no more than an hour, but with a live seminar or briefing you can provide more in-depth information. Users or technical decision makers who want to dive deep into the details of your solution may want that extra time. Live events are also effective for prospective buyers who are further along in their purchase cycle–they’re more willing to commit the time to attend.
  • You can show attendees more. Have an on-site tour, show how your product is made, or let attendees see how services are provided. If your facilities are impressive, prospects absorb the atmosphere of your company’s success. Alternatively, you can invite prospects to events at your customer’s site to see your products or services in action.
  • Your audience can meet you and your team, and vice versa. A live event gives prospects a chance to meet and make a personal connection with you, and to vet you and your staff.
  • Attendees can interact with your happy customers. You can invite satisfied customers to your live event and have them mingle with hot prospects. These customers often act as your ambassadors and help sell the prospect on the benefits of selecting your products or services.
  • You can gauge audience reaction. Are attendees staring into space? If so, you’re either moving too slowly or too fast. Switch your gears and now you’re connecting with them. At one seminar I gave recently, I saw two attendees whispering and nodding to one another when I made a key point. When I caught their eye, they told me that they understood the value of the recommendation but didn’t know how to “get there from here.” Their immediate feedback let me outline specific strategies and tactics, and it created the opportunity to talk later about how my services could help.
  • Your venue can be a draw. If you’re holding an event at an attractive facility–at a casino or on a yacht, for example–attendance may be higher simply because the venue itself is a lure.

Cons of in-person events

  • Live events can be more costly. Expenses for travel, meeting rooms, audiovisual equipment, attendee meals and refreshments, and parking can add up quickly. You’ll also need personnel to staff registration tables, meet and greet guests, and oversee event logistics.
  • They require a larger time commitment. Unless the event is being held at your site or your customer’s, you’ll both spend additional time traveling to and from the venue.

What factors do you consider? Please post a comment with any other pros and cons that have helped you decide to either hold a live event or “go virtual,” and I’ll let you know if I’ve got ideas on the topic.

 

How much new business do you need to drive with your marketing?

A great way to justify your B2B marketing budget is to show how your marketing contributes to your company’s sales revenue goals.

Say your company’s goal is a 25 percent increase in sales this year. If your company generated $4 million in sales revenue last year, how much new business do you need to help drive with your marketing? $1 million is the wrong answer.

Remember the business you will lose!

Why? Because it is important, when determining the new business revenue goals your marketing programs will support, that you consider not only the new business you need to grow to desired levels, but the new business required to replace the current business your company will lose during the coming year.

Most of the thousands of B2B marketers I’ve polled during my seminars say they need to replace somewhere between 10 percent and 30 percent of their business each year, just to stay even with the previous year!

So if your sales revenue last year was $4 million, and need to replace 30% of your sales revenue just to stay even, you will actually need $2,200,000 in new sales revenue to meet your 25% growth goal.

This larger, but more accurate number, justifies more marketing, a bigger marketing budget and perhaps more staff.

Get the “New Business Needed Worksheet”…

Help yourself to a printable one-page worksheet that walks you through this calculation. You’ll find it at New Business Needed Worksheet

 

Tight B2B marketing budget? A strategy to make the most of what you’ve got

If you’re like most B2B marketing professionals, you’ve never got enough money for all the marketing you’d like to do. I recommend focusing first on driving leads and sales.

By investing one-third on online marketing, one-third on database-driven direct marketing, and the remaining one-third on “everything else,” you’ll be able to provide demonstrable results when it comes time to determine whether your budget will go up or down.

Focusing on leads and sales

Yes, brand image is important to your company’s success. But unless you can spend a half-million dollars or so on brand advertising, such efforts probably won’t move the sales needle much.

The good news: If you spend a fraction of that amount on marketing designed primarily to generate leads, you should see a big impact on sales. And responding quickly to inquiries while maintaining the quality of your website and marketing materials also helps enhance your company’s image.

Invest one-third of your budget on online marketing

Your website is probably the initial stop for prospects who are new to your products and services. Invest time and thought into improving the messages to prospects and clients who are currently visiting your website. Stay cost-effective by focusing your goal on moving prospects from awareness to inquiry to consideration to purchase. Don’t just aim to give it more window-dressing. Instead,communicate and convert.

Search engines are, of course, the first place many prospective customers go to research solutions to their business issues.

Consider search engine optimization (SEO) before investing in sponsored links on search results. “Organic” or “natural” search engine results typically receive nearly 75 percent of clicks, with sponsored links getting the rest.

In many cases, fixing your website’s top 5 SEO problems makes a noticeable difference in your rankings. Perhaps not enough to unleash a torrent of traffic, but commit to continuous improvement and you’ll reap the rewards. If you don’t want to do the heavy lifting yourself, you can partner with a reputable SEO company.

Invest another third in database-driven direct marketing

Review your existing database, and identify the most profitable clients or customers. Create models for the best types to target with one-to-many marketing programs. Then acquire a database containing information on these kinds of companies through database marketing services.

Aim to communicate with your database contacts every month so you’re top-of- mind when they’re ready for solutions. But don’t rely solely on e-mail follow-ups; experts estimate that between 70 percent and 80 percent of opt-in messages are blocked from reaching the intended destination. If you don’t have e-mail addresses, or don’t have permission for e-mail contact, try contacting your best prospects via direct mail or by telephone.

Invest the final third in “everything else”

Now support the investments you’ve made in the first two-thirds of your budget. You might use the money to:

  • design, print and mail information kits, case studies or checklists
  • create a monthly newsletter
  • provide a series of webinars
  • arrange in-person events
  • keep improving your website’s conversion rate and resources
  • Exhibit at industry shows
  • invest in a few sales tools as well

Would this approach work for you?

A number of marketers would take issue with my recommendation to put branding on the sidelines in favor of leads and sales. How would you divide the always-limited marketing budget?

 
Need help with B2B lead generation, marketing and sales?
For more information, please call Mac McIntosh at +1-401-294-7730, send him email at or visit www.sales-lead-experts.com