This is Chris Halliwell, Executive Director of the Technology Marketing Center with a discussion of the mind blowing book Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler, and and some thoughts about what it means for industrial and technical marketing leaders.
If you read one business book over the holidays...
Two observations or "facts" came to my attention over the last few months that have me wondering about implications for effective industrial/B2B marketing. One: 70% of all B2B purchases start with a google search (here's a TMC Roundtable Discussion on that topic); and two: most B2B companies give their least mature and qualified leads to their most expensive resource...field sales.
The googlization of sales means that customers are gaining their own information and shaping their own opinions about options well before they actually engage with a live salesperson. B2B corporate response to these two observations is binary. Most management teams don't think much about these issues, instead continuing to place market development and growth bets on hiring new field sales people. On the other hand, SaaS sector players, particularly salesforce.com, have completely transformed the roles that marketing, inside sales, and field sales play in developing and closing new business.
The x-salesforce.com executives responsible for closing 6 figure deals without involvement from field sales (read that phrase again and think about it) have written Predictable Revenue, an easy-to-read playbook for marketing and inside sales to implement something they call Cold Calling 2.0.
Customer and Influence Definition and Identification
The book describes the Cold Calling 2.0 process mostly from the point of view of sales, but whats interesting to me is that as the internet moves traditional early sales tactics from offline to online, it thereby moves some traditional sales functions to marketing, at least demanding we take a leadership role.
The first step in CC 2.0 is getting clear on your ideal customer. If segment, customer and value definition isn't part of strategic marketing, then I don't know what is. This becomes an even more critical marketing function as we spend more time and resources on activities to drive website traffic such as "thought leadership" (note that blogs are critical here) and online content marketing.
The first step in any purchase process is "Should I focus on this problem?", and later, "Whose solution is best?" In an online world it is even more critical that marketing and sales are aligned on customer and problem characterization, and that marketing take responsibility for getting the "Why you should focus on this problem" message to the right influence peddlers and customers."
[Marketing automation hint: Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social]
Converting Suspects to Prospects to Leads
The Suspect list marketing must build comes from customer detailing and online/social media sleuthing. As soon as a Suspect shows any interest in your company's information they become a Prospect. The key online tracking tool for Prospects is capture of website visitor registration via content download or event/webinar registration. With the Prospect list in hand, the marketing "sales" tool of choice becomes an effective email marketing campaign.
Predictable Revenue tells us that the internet has drastically shifted power from sellers to buyers," so the goal is to make it easier for prospects to choose their own adventure in how they get to know a company -- we are urged to give customers multiple routes and to remind them if they stall. We know from sales literature that it takes 7-13 touch points to fully qualify a sales opportunity, so it makes sense that marketing automate and implement a good number of initial touch points through email marketing. The book is very practical and includes great detail on what makes for an effective email.
"Permission based direct email marketing is still the most important marketing technique to both develop new leads and to nurture old ones." You can establish expertise, build trust, and promote with this tool." Full disclosure: the book assumes that the Marketing Department exits the sales cycle after Suspect ID and Prospect capture and it is Inside Sales, rather than Marketing, who designs and implements the email campaign. It's a point of debate, but I don't see why professional Marketing people cannot step into this role -- it seems natural to me as we are authors of the value proposition.
[Marketing automation hint: Hubspot, Marketo]
Handoff to Inside Sales
The handoff from Marketing to Inside Sales (assuming you have an Inside Sales department) is another critical juncture of alignment across organizations. At some point, with some specified and agreed metrics (like a scoring system), the email marketing touch points yield a qualified Lead which is then transferred to Inside Sales. The bulk of Predictable Revenue is a detailed manual for running an incredibly effective Inside Sales organization. Inside Sales takes Leads and provides much more personalized (E.g. phone calls) and tailored touch points to qualify them to Opportunities, worthy enough to be given to expensive and limited bandwidth professional field sales people.
[Automation: The Cold Calling 2.0 process, with actions, metrics and hand-off milestones, is defined and tracked through your CRM system.]
If you are interested in this topic, download Predictable Revenue. It is bursting with Best Practices and will make you think about how you can turn your Marketing team into a more productive, more measurable, and more effective part of the revenue generation process in your company.