In the digital era your buyers are performing their own research online before engaging with your salespeople. Your sales team is no longer the first point of contact, so it’s essential they adapt their selling techniques to fit in with the new customer journey.
Unfortunately too few sales teams are managing to do this. According to the World-Class Sales Practices Report, just 56.9% of sellers achieved their forecasted quota in the past year.
Sales enablement empowers sales teams
To close more deals, a modern day sales team needs access to new types of content, training and communication. They need to be sales ‘enabled’ i.e. there needs to be a sales enablement strategy in place.
A good sales enablement strategy requires sales and marketing to collaborate. Marketing needs to create high quality content then teach sales how to apply that content at touch points in a prospective customer’s journey. Make sure you check out our in depth guide to sales enablement – Sales Enablement: The secret to predictable sales revenue growth.
What is sales enablement?
In brief, sales enablement is a function within an organisation that strives to make sales people more effective. It’s a strategy whereby all content is streamlined and tools are readily available throughout the sales process.
By implementing a sales enablement strategy your sales people can spend more time talking to prospects; and less time creating presentations that your target audience find irrelevant.
Content plays a big part in a sales enablement strategy
As part of a sales enablement strategy your sales team will need to have access to customer-specific content. This will help them initiate conversations and help inform buyers along the buying process.
And lots of content is required (it’s been estimated that the number of decision makers involved in a sales cycle averages out at 6.4).
These decision makers are spread across many roles and departments, all with their own unique pain points and interests. To successfully engage with each individual, sales need to tailor their messages carefully.
How to create content for sales enablement
Marketing is usually tasked with creating content for the top of the sales funnel (i.e. a one to many approach). Sales reps however need to access one to one messaging. Since reps are constantly speaking to prospective customers they have a unique understanding of a target account’s content requirements.
Sales input is crucial to content creation
Sales’ input is crucial to help marketing create content that will resonate with prospects.
For example a prospect may ask one of your reps for an ROI analysis to share with their CEO. If your salesperson doesn’t have that kind of content available, they may have to throw something together quickly. Or even resort to sharing the wrong kind of content with them e.g. a case study.
The result: The prospect will become frustrated – leaving the door open to the competition.
Elements of a successful sales enablement strategy
These 5 elements are essential to the successful implementation of a sales enablement strategy:
1. Sales must be 100% onboard with sales enablement
Your sales team need to understand the value sales enablement will bring to your organisation. They need to see that the need for content will have to increase – so that they can share specific materials with prospects. Content includes onboarding docs, training videos, product specifications and so on.
2. Your company board should see the value in sales enablement
Sales enablement will inevitably require new investment in technology in order to make the strategy work efficiently. You will need to identify current gaps and opportunities and present them to senior management to illustrate the benefits of the strategy.
3. A documented enablement plan
This is another key element of a sales enablement strategy. It’s essential to review both the sales cycle and individual sales team members to identify where new training materials or coaching is required.
4. A cross-departmental approach
Sales must be able to communicate at all levels of the organisation. For example they may need to provide feedback about products (with product development) or connect with the legal team to clarify language. Collaboration across all teams is crucial to ensuring sales get what they need, seamlessly and efficiently.
5. Investment in technology
There are several types of sales enablement technology available e.g. HubSpot that can help structure a program. It’s a place to hold content, training resources and playbooks as well as share content with specific prospects. By simplifing your sales team’s activities it will make it easier for them to find what they need.
In adopting a sales enablement strategy you are illustrating a commitment to giving sales the processes and resources to help them sell more.
With a successful sales enablement strategy in place your sales team will be better placed to fulfil their potential and convert more leads into customers.
Account-based marketing software and tools are at the core of ABM success, from the core componenets of a CRM, through marketing automation and ad management. According to the ABM Leadership Alliance 73% of marketers plan to increase their account-based marketing budgets this year.
If you, too, are planning to make Account-based marketing part of your marketing strategy you’ll need to be prepared. To succeed you’ll need to align your strategy with technology and consider investing in account-based marketing software.
Lead generation company TechnologyAdvice describe the importance of ABM technology
The software and platforms you opt for will depend on which ABM tactics you’re intending to pursue. Choose wisely – and you’ll see a number of significant benefits:
The benefits of account-based marketing software
Greater account-level personalisation: ABM software gives you the ability to engage target accounts with content and offers that reflect their individual attributes. According to Marketo 82% of prospects value content based on their specific industries – so the more personal you can get the better.
Account-level analytics: ABM technology enables you to perform closed-loop reporting so you can trace your efforts to specific revenue outcomes.
Strategic alignment: With the right tech stack you’ll have the power to track, target and engage key accounts so that marketing can support the sales team.
More successful prospecting efforts: ABM software can help you research and develop processes around target accounts. Then you can build in-depth profiles and identify the steps you need to take in order to win new business.
With so many platforms out there, selecting the right ABM software can be difficult. In this post we’ll run through the three main categories of account-based marketing software. And also offer some tips on what to look for in a new system .
The three categories of account-based marketing software
1. Predictive Analytics Software – Data mining for accurate target account lists
Over half of B2B marketers are using predictive analytics tools. Predictive ABM software mines your existing customer data and uses pattern recognition so you can build ideal account profiles.
The software works by identifying ‘firmographic’’ patterns. Criteria used to build these patterns include: industry, size of company, location, revenue, technical infrastructure and lifetime value potential.
Most predictive platforms can analyse your CRM and databases as well as pull in new data from directories, social media and third parties.
By creating a list of qualified accounts you’ll be able to see where sales and marketing should be focusing their efforts.
2. Marketing automation – Segmenting and nurturing personas
These software platforms generally serve as an operational hub, where data management across all marketing campaigns takes place (ABM included). All data generated from predictive tools, advertising automation tools, emails, events and direct mail is gathered together. You can then track performance and see, for example, which accounts require following up by sales.
Some marketing automation tools can be integrated with your CRM. This prepares you to run custom nurturing campaigns and measure their effectiveness across multiple channels.
3. Ad Management Software
Personalised advertising and retargeting is essential at the beginning of the sales cycle for building awareness. This type of account-based marketing software enables you to manage the offers and messages you serve to target accounts. This includes both when they’re on your site as well as when they’re at other locations.
By directing key decision makers to pages on your site by showing them relevant messages you can start to build engagement. Many of the advertising automation platforms also include a reporting feature so you can track digital engagement at account level.
How to choose your account-based marketing software
Does the proposed platform give you straightforward metrics that you can create actionable plans from? Even if a software can slice and dice data into fabulous-looking charts they must be clear and easy to understand. Then you can use them effectively.
Does the software have the flexibility for you to create your own customised in-depth reports? Once you’re up and running and familiar with your data requirements this ability is invaluable.
Since the aim of ABM technology is to automate routine tasks a good ABM solution should help you manage contact and lead information. Does the software have the ability to update contact information or map new contacts into the right accounts?
Does the software provider include customer support? Depending on your organisational set-up you may require customer service – including real-time support, consultancy or the opportunity to attend educational events.
Does the ABM software integrate with your existing solutions? ABM tools that integrate with e.g. Salesforce or Marketo will ensure smooth communication between sales and marketing.
ABM systems can provide all the essential tools you need to power up your marketing efforts.
You can use software to automate and reduce the amount of time it takes to identify prospects.
Technology can also help you craft personalised journeys and increase customer retention rates .
If you’re thinking about implementing Account-based Marketing strategy or plans are already underway take stock of your existing solutions – and consider aligning them with a specialised ABM software platform. Don’t add to the tech stack without due consideration, however, or you could inadvertently make life harder, not easier, for marketing and sales.
Consider an all-in-one ABM platform
As you can see, there are multiple approaches to building out your tech stack to make ABM more manageable. However Salesforce and now HubSpot have added ABM functionality to their platforms with HubSpot already offering class-leading CRM, Marketing, Sales and Service hubs, they have now added ABM functionality across the platform to align all teams around this approach.
A customer relationship management system (CRM) is a great way to keep all the information you need on a prospect or customer in one place. This will include the basics such as their name, email phone number and their address.
As your business grows and the details you collect on customers grows ever larger, it is likely that you will need somewhere to store and access them easily, this is where a customer relationship management system will help you stay organised.
‘That sounds like little more than a contacts book?’
Well, CRM systems have a few special features which help to unlock your full marketing and sales potential. Forever striving to be helpful, CRMs manage, organise, track and store all the interactions your customer has with your company and website.
It can be used for contact management, sales management, marketing and content strategies as well as boosting your productivity.
This can help you to streamline and tailor your communication strategy towards a company or customer by tracking your interactions and conversations over time. Therefore, you can deduce what their contact preferences are, i.e. time and medium, and how they respond to certain marketing strategies.
A CRM software system can then automate some of your marketing and sales tasks to improve your efficiency and the effectiveness of your customer relationship management and other campaigns you may be working on.
In time, you should begin to convert more marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads because your marketing efforts will be much more precise and well-tuned. Your customers should be much happier with your interactions and are therefore more likely to come back and buy from you again.
Essentially, a CRM allows a business to deepen, strengthen and reinforce its relationship with customers, users, partners and suppliers. According to Gartner, CRM software systems will be the single largest revenue area of spending in enterprise software by 2021.
But how exactly can each department use customer relationship management systems to help them?
By having access to a wealth of information a salesperson can use a CRM to better understand their sales funnel and at what stage their prospect is at. They can then perhaps change or tailor their sales technique based on which customer they are dealing with, increasing their chances of making a sale. Salespeople will also have much less admin to do and will therefore have a lot more time to spend on selling.
Furthermore, a sales manager can use the CRM system to keep track on how individual salespeople are performing in terms of matching their targets. It can also help them to see how products and campaigns are performing so that they can identify any areas for improvement. Read more about Inbound Selling tactics here.
One of the big benefits to marketing teams is that a CRM makes forecasting much simpler and more accurate. This is because they have clear visibility on the behaviours of every opportunity or lead and can see the whole buyer’s journey from start to finish. This makes them better informed when they are outlining their next marketing campaigns or strategies. They can even pull in activity from the prospect’s social media activity to see their likes and dislikes and even their opinion’s on certain brands and companies. Essentially, your marketing team should be much more cost effective and efficient when devising marketing campaigns as they will have a wealth of information to call upon.
Customer Service Team:
One of the benefits a good CRM can bring to your customer support team is that they can track conversations across different channels. For instance, a customer could start a query or complaint on Twitter but might want to resolve it in live chat. This makes the customer’s experience much more enjoyable as you have tailored their query to best match their needs.
Furthermore, if a customer has made a complaint, your customer service team could use the CRM to access information about their habits, like and dislikes to best tailor how they will handle their response. Ideally, this would lead to any unhappy customers turning into happy customers who feel as though your company really do care about them and their experience.
Benefits of a customer relationship management system:
Improved cross-team communication
Better contact management
Empowered sales management
More accurate sales forecasting
Better sales metrics
More efficient and precise marketing, leading to a better ROI
Improved products and services
Better customer satisfaction and retention
What’s a good customer relationship management software to use?
While there are many customer relationship management software systems out there, not all of them perform to the same level. Here at DME we would suggest HubSpot CRM as being the best as it groups together everything you could need on a customer in one place. It also allows you to manage and analyse each contact and gives you the ability to automate some of your marketing actions, saving you time that can be better spent in other areas.
However, not everyone has the same preferences and there are many out there which you could use. Salesforce, Nimble and Pipedrive are some well-known CRMs which you could use to store your customer information. But have a look around and see what works best for you.
A CRM will genuinely help your business grow and will save you a lot of time and money. Hopefully, reading this has persuaded you that they are more than just a contacts book, and you will begin to realise all the benefits a CRM can bring. However, you don’t have to take my word for it, do some further research and maybe do a trial period with a CRM software system to make sure they are right for you and your business.
By now, you’ve probably heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which must be kept in mind when uploading content. So, why is it important, how does it work and what are the benefits your business stands to gain when you have good search engine optimisation?
Before we start, the aim of SEO is to essentially make your content or website rank higher on a Google results page. The further up the page your piece appears, the higher the SEO. But how does Google determine your SEO score?
Well, the first major change to how Google calculates SEO came in 2013 with the introduction of the Hummingbird algorithm. Hummingbird aimed to calculate where posts would rank by placing greater emphasis on natural language queries, considering context and meaning over individual keywords; while also looking at content on individual pages of a website to best direct readers.
Following Hummingbird, the RankBrain algorithm was confirmed to be in use in October 2015. RankBrain was the first machine learning based algorithm and helped Hummingbird to make quicker and more intelligent search results by making educated guesses on what people will search based on familiar words. It is considered as the third most important algorithm behind content and links.
Shortly after in January 2016, the Panda algorithm was incorporated into Google’s core algorithms to help filter out bad content from web page results. To do this, Panda assigns a content quality score to pages and down-ranks sites with spam, thin or poor content.
When put together, the three algorithms make life much easier for customers to filter out the bad content and keep the helpful or useful stuff. Handy for them, right? However, while it is useful for those in buying positions, it makes life a bit more difficult for those who are trying to market or sell.
This is because more emphasis now needs to be placed on factors such as the quality and meaning of the content, the length (800 words are suggested) and, essentially, how ‘human’ the interactions are. While meta descriptions, featured photos and other web pages linking to your page are also important factors.
Therefore, businesses and likewise are now having to put more time and effort into their web pages and content production in order to improve their SEO.
In the world of instant information it is essential to get a good SEO ranking to make your business stand out form the rest of the crowd. We’re all guilty of clicking the top result and not properly browsing through the Google results page.
However, as previously discussed, there is good reason for doing so. Getting as far up the results page as possible is a great way to attract new customers and become a trusted source in your industry.
Remember, 74% of people tend to buy from the place that first provided them genuine value and 93% of a buyers’ journey is completed online online. Therefore, if you can couple a good inbound marketing strategy and good SEO, you are creating the perfect concoction for a successful business. Read more about the buyer’s journey.
Look at it as a snowball effect. The better your SEO, the further up the results page you are, the more customers you attract, the more reviews you get, which leads to more customers. It really is a good way to organically grow your business and maximise your selling and marketing potential.
Even if your web visitors don’t become customers instantly after visiting your site, you can view them as marketing qualified leads and get to work on trying to attract them back and moving them through the sales funnel.
However, focusing on improving your SEO, website and content creation is almost pointless if you’re not tracking how well they are performing. By doing this, you can see what is working well and helping to boost your site up the results page and where you need to pay more attention to or even stop production altogether.
Through a content management system, you can track how many visits your site receives, when you receive them and even how long people are on your site for, helping you to really channel your resources into the right area.
If you’re not sure on which customer management system you want to use for your business, then HubSpot may be worth a look. The marketing system allows you to do an array of things related to content production and SEO and really helps you to focus your efforts on what you need to do to improve your place in Google’s search results.
Tips for improving your Search Engine Optimisation score:
Make sure you have a good META description and try to include the keyword from your title
Make your blog posts at least 800 words
Create pillar pages and link your blogs to them, the more links you have the better
Make your content interactive and meaningful; remember Google values ‘human’ interactions
Include featured photos in your post
Try asking your customer’s for feedback get good reviews, this will really help boost your SEO
Unfortunately, improving your SEO score isn’t a quick and easy job. It will take time to lay the foundations and you’ll need to continuously build upon them and even change the entire structure at times. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your business be.
What is the difference between Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing ? The simple truth is that traditional outbound marketing is becoming very outdated with the message your are broadcasting designed to interrupt your prospects and force your message on them, this is a costly method and yields much lower ROI than Inbound Marketing. Inbound Marketing is the process of creating and sharing relevant and valuable content to prospects who are looking looking for information to solve a specific problem.
According to Forbes, the average person is exposed to around 4,000 – 10,000 ads each day which, as you can imagine, is rather annoying for both the consumer and you as the seller – the consumer doesn’t want to be inundated with useless information, while you wish to bring in new leads and generate sales, and not push potential customers further away from your brand.
With all these adverts and modern technology, it’s now easier for people to ignore and only focus on the messages they wish to engage with.
Outbound Marketing relates to the old traditional methods of marketing, these methods actually disrupt and obstruct any potential customers as messages being pushed out via businesses are intrusive and often impersonal to the customer.
HubSpot definition of outbound marketing: a traditional method of marketing seeking to obstruct potential customers. Outbound marketing includes activities such as trade shows, seminar series and cold calling. It is costly and the ROI (Return On Investment) is much lower than inbound marketing.
These methods are classes as outbound marketing as marketers using these techniques are pushing their message as far as they possibly can, hoping that it will resonate with someone, somewhere. These messages are broad and generalised so they don’t necessarily cater for an individual’s needs, and with so many options out there for us as consumers, it’s easy to simply ignore messages.
But these methods no longer work. Why?
Well, as already mentioned previously, people are inundated with thousands of messages and emails every day and it’s become far easier for us to just block them out via spam, or people can simply just opt to unsubscribe to annoying emails, unless it’s a brand or product we are actually interested in. This is also just as easy with cold calling, the use of caller ID on phones has allowed for us to identify exactly who is calling, and if it’s someone we don’t recognise, we tend to simply ignore the call. If those calls continue to obstruct and disrupt us – we can simply block numbers.
As far as consumers are concerned, it’s now also fast, easy and cheap to search for things via the internet. If a consumer has a problem or pain point, they can simply search for answers on the internet which will then present a whole world of possibilities through search engines, blogs and social media. Without even leaving their house, their answers are presented to them so quickly, and this is where you come in…
Why you and your business should adopt an Inbound Marketing mindset:
With inbound marketing, you are putting the customer at the centre of everything that you do, you are attracting customers like a magnet. Rather than pushing out your message and disrupting potential leads, you’re using your industry knowledge as a way to pull these potential customers in by attracting your best prospects who are out there looking for solutions to their problems.
How you can do this:
Your website should act like a hub for your industry, not just shouting about what you do as a business or what your products offer, but by utilising content, such as blogs, to answer any potential customer questions. That way, you are nurturing them through their buying process and by the time they get to the all-important decision stage, they are left with no questions and both yourselves and the customer will know that they are ready to make that purchase.
Why inbound marketing?
More cost effective
Make use of content such as blogs to draw customers in
Draws 3x as many leads as traditional outbound methods
Build trust between you and the customer by providing knowledge and answers to their questions/pain points
Engage and interact with your audience/customer
So now you understand the difference between inbound marketing vs outbound marketing – which are you going to master and focus on ?