The downside of sales hustle and automation

Are your sales reps hitting the phones and sending more cold emails? To drive growth, the mandate for sales organizations is to make more calls, send more emails. Sales reps are hustling and using automated tools to move faster. But sales hustle and automation have a downside: they can hurt customer experience and push people […]

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10 Most Popular B2B Lead Generation Blog Posts of 2017

10 most popular B2B Lead Generation Posts

January is a time for new beginnings.

To help you launch into a great year, I’ve compiled a list of the top ten most popular and shared posts on the B2B Lead Generation Blog in 2017.

This following list was compiled based on aggregate social shares across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and views.

The list starts at number 10 moving up.

#10: How to Improve Lead Routing to Skyrocket Sales 

lead-routingHave you intentionally optimized your sales lead routing and assignment process? If not, you could be losing sales, and marketing ROI not see it.

For example, LeadData’s new report, The State of Lead Management, based on a survey of 527 B2B sellers and marketers found an average 25.5 % of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong account owner.

Did you catch that? Over 25% of marketing-generated leads get assigned to the wrong person. In this post, you’ll get 7 tips to increase your lead generation ROI by improving how you route leads.

Read about How to Improve Lead Routing to Skyrocket Sales Results

 #9: Getting sales enablement right to increase results

sales_enablement

Sales enablement is intended to help raise performance, but a lot of efforts have backfired due to departmental silos. And now there’s growing gap between what salespeople need and what they’re getting to improve performance.

So how do you get sales enablement right?

I interviewed Dave Brock (@davidabrock), author of the Sales Manager Survival Guide, also CEO of Partners in EXCELLENCE. Dave’s brilliance is his focus on practical simplification.

Find out how to get sales enablement right to increase results

#8: How to do lead management that improves conversion

Have you looked at your lead management approach from the perspective of customer experience? If not, you may want to start now.

Here’s why: According to Forrester, top performers convert 1.54% of marketing qualified leads to revenue. This means almost 98% people who start the customer journey are lost.

Find out 5 areas you need to focus on to improve lead management and increase conversion.

Read more: How to do lead management that improves conversion

#7: Seven Tips to Boost Lead Nurturing Email Results

People aren’t looking for a reason to read your lead nurturing email messages, they’re looking for a reason to delete them. Think about it.

Marketers rely on email as the top lead nurturing tactic. And according to Econsultancy email is the best digital channel for ROI.

Read 7 Tips to Boost Lead Nurturing Email Results

#6: Stuck on words: how can marketing connect with customers better?

customer connectionHow can marketers better connect with people we hope will become our customers?

Why? Because the trust gap between marketers and customers has never been bigger.

For example, this survey by Hubspot showed that only 3 percent of buyers surveyed consider marketers and salespeople trustworthy. Yikes.

It starts with the words we use which ultimately affects how we think and act towards others.

Read Stuck on words: how can marketing connect with customers better?

#5: How customer-hero stories help you connect emotionally and sell better

customer-hero storiesJust 13% of salespeople produce 87% of revenue in a typical organization according to the Sales Benchmark Index.

You may be wondering: what do the 13% do differently?

They connect emotionally with their buyers.

I interviewed Mike Bosworth. If you don’t know Mike Bosworth already, he is a thought leader in the B2B sales/marketing space.

Read more: How customer-hero stories help you connect better

#4: New B2B Persona Research from Salesforce and LinkedIn Study

Getting the right content to the right people continues to be a challenge in B2B marketing and lead generation.

Salesforce analyzed more than 15 million data points, spanning a four-year period, from two of the most massive B2B databases: Data.com and LinkedIn.

The results will surprise you.

I interviewed Mathew Sweezey (@msweezey). Mathew works with Salesforce and is the Principal of Marketing Insights to talk about the report, B2B Personas: Targeting Audiences.

Check out the New B2B Persona Research from Salesforce and LinkedIn Study

#3: Lead Nurturing: 5 Useful Tactics to Get More Opportunities

Lead-Nurturing-TacticsLead nurturing is one of those things that’s easy to talk about but hard to do.

Find out how to apply lead nurturing to help advance leads through three stages of your lead generation funnel to get more qualified opportunities.

Learn 5 tactics you can use immediately to improve lead-to-customer conversion.

Read more: Lead Nurturing: 5 Useful Tactics to Get More Opportunities

#2: Why customer advocacy should be at the heart of your marketing

Customer advocacy marketing programs help you increase revenue by improving customer acquisition and retention (and they’re also your best source of leads).

I interviewed Mark Organ (@markorgan). Mark is the Founder and CEO of Influitive, and he’s been a thought leader in the space of sales/marketing technology and customer advocacy.

Read about Why customer advocacy should be at the heart of your marketing

#1: Who should own lead generation for a complex sale?

Who should own B2B lead generation: sales, marketing or both?

You might be thinking, “isn’t the answer obvious?” It’s not.

Let me explain.

Sales and marketing don’t do a great job of lead generation because they both believe it’s the others job.

I asked the 19,830 members the B2B Lead Roundtable LinkedIn Group about this topic. In this post, you’ll get a ton of actionable tips.

Read Who should own lead generation for a complex sale?

Conclusion

The single biggest issue for B2B revenue growth remains lead generation: increasing lead quality and quantity. This analysis into the most popular posts gives a glimpse into what subjects readers found most relevant.

Additionally, this list shows that increasing conversion, understanding customer motivation, managing and nurturing leads better, and improving sales performance are topics on the minds of readers.  At the same time, connecting and building trust with buyers has never been harder.

That’s why we need to go beyond rational-logic based marketing to understand how our customers feel. Empathy is not just a “soft” skill, it’s an incredibly powerful tool to understand customer motivation and increase lead conversion. I’ll be sharing more about how we can connect with customers better using applied empathy.

The post 10 Most Popular B2B Lead Generation Blog Posts of 2017 appeared first on the B2B Lead Blog.

7 Tips to Boost Your Email Nurturing Results Immediately

Email Marketing NurturingPeople aren’t looking for a reason to read your email messages, they’re looking for a reason to delete them.

Think about it.

You probably do this with your inbox too.

This is important because marketers rely on email as the top lead-nurturing tactic and according to Econsultancy, it’s the best channel for ROI. However, according to a MarketingSherpa survey of email recipients, 58% of those who stop reading, disengage or unsubscribe later cite “lack of relevance” as a key factor.

For example, I get emails often from companies that “know” me — in some cases, I’m their customer — but their emails don’t show it. I often get graphics-focused emails that are irrelevant, treat me as an object to convert or don’t speak to my needs or motivations at all.

But here’s the kicker. Each irrelevant message I receive programs and anchors me to ignore or delete future messages from that sender. The goal of this post is to share seven tips that you can use to boost your email marketing and nurturing results immediately.

Tip 1: Be human and use your empathy with emails

It’s funny when we put on our marketing and sales hats or walk into our offices how we can talk and write differently.

Let me explain. Do your nurturing emails treat people like objects to convert i.e. get a click? Or do they treat them like people you can help? As I’ve written before, the best marketing feels like helping (because it is.)

Focus on humanizing your emails to build a connection and actually offer help and value. It’s amazing the difference this can make.  Also, look at the tone of your email messages. Do you use a sales tone or an empathetic tone? Here’s how.

The following is an example of an A/B test from MarketingExperiments of an email that was sent to prospects who began a form completion but did not complete it. Note the difference in tone.

Sales tone vs. Empathetic Email tone test

The email on the left was “sales speak.”  The tone of the email on the right was changed to be more empathetic and yielded a conversion rate of 7% versus 1.5% for the control email. By addressing the customer’s anxiety (with empathy) through the tone of the email, they saw a 349% increase in total lead inquiries.

Test this yourself, and see if empathy wins.

Read more on How Empathy Will Grow Your Sales and Marketing Pipeline

Tip 2: Focus on what really matters and motivates them

In sum, treat others the way they want to be treated (not the way you want to be treated).

You might be wondering: why not “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”?

Let me explain.

Because if we do marketing and communicate the way we want, it may not matter to that other person. Marketing isn’t something you do to people. It’s something you do for people. Again it’s about them, not us.

Case in point, many marketers don’t get to talk directly with the people they are sending emails too. Often, it’s inside sales, customer service agents or sales people who are talking with potential customers live and/or in person.

Here are some ways to fix that:

  • Pick up the phone and have a conversation
  • Survey customers on your email list
  • Get out in the field with your sales team and meet customers face to face

It is critical to know what customers want to serve them better.

Read more on how to put your customers first in lead generation

Tip 3: Understand where they are in their buying journey

Be sure to provide different kinds of information to your prospect based on what point they are in the customer buying journey.

Here’s the thing: Our customers don’t see our funnels.

They only have the aggregate experience of what they see, hear, and feel from us. Still, it’s helpful to notice that all customer buying cycles fit into three distinct funnel stages.

Lead-Generation-FunnelTop of the Funnel (TOFU): People at this juncture are searching for ideas, tips, and resources to help them answer questions and get ideas for problems they’re facing. At this stage, your goal is to assist and provide enough value to get a conversion and move them from anonymous visitors to known people (i.e. name, company, email, etc.)

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU): At this stage, people took some conversion step to express interest (subscribe, register, or download, etc.). You need to learn if this person and/or their company is a fit and their level of qualification. You also want to learn about their motivation. During this stage, you’ll share content to help progress them from interest towards purchase intent.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU): People are moving through a series micro-yeses and decisions on their journey. At this stage, you’re moving them from being lead to a sales qualified opportunity. This is where the hand-off from marketing to sales takes place and where people ultimately make the buying decision.

Read more on Lead Nurturing: 5 Useful Tactics to Get More Opportunities

Tip 4: Use micro-segmenting for better relevancy.

With marketing automation, you can use behavioral information. What content have your recipients read, links have they clicked, content downloaded, videos watched, events attended, etc.

Personally, I use smart tagging on contacts with automated workflows in my marketing automation to do this. At first, I did this manually. Before you do this, I suggest you organize all your tags in a tagging schema. I use an Excel spreadsheet, so I don’t lose track, and stay consistent.

Contact Tags

Smart Tagging Contact Attributes

As you know more about your prospects role and the industry they’re in, you can then create messages based on industry vertical or company size.  

Industry information will most likely tell what pains your prospects are experiencing at an organizational level. At the same time, company size will give you a hint as to the resources they have available to tackle these challenges. Be sure to add this information to your marketing data often so that you can easily define your target segments based on these indicators.

Read more on Email Marketing: 3 lead nurture paths you should automate.

Tip 5: Map content and message based on personas

Effective lead nurturing starts with listening to customers to actually understand them, and then it requires identifying the key personas of your audience.

What’s their job function? What part to they play in the buying process (influencer, decision maker, information gather)?

For example, based on my experience, a decision maker is heavily involved at the very start and the very end of the B2B buying process but leaves the middle of the process up to the influencers.

You’ll need to investigate who gets involved at which point in the buying process so that you can segment your messaging. What content do your contacts need? What are the problems they’re facing?

Read more: Content Marketing: 4 stages to mapping your content strategy.

Tip 6: Leverage trigger events to your advantage

In all my experience working with complex sales, I’ve not seen a someone take action or buy without a trigger event driving their motivation.

I define a trigger event happening associated with a consequence so significant that it causes new behaviors, ideas, and new sales opportunities.

You will find specific trigger events that matter more to your audience than others because what you offer addresses different problems and emotional motivations.

Trigger events matter for two key reasons. First, they may indicate that the status quo in an organization is changing, and secondly, they can contribute to the development of timely and relevant sales and marketing messaging.

Read more on How to Use Trigger Events for More and Better Leads

Tip 7: Test your messaging and optimize.

This is the hardest part to get right. Why?

You do not just need to know how to test. You need to know what to test.

Try some of the following test ideas with your email messages:

  • Different email subject lines (this is my favorite relevancy booster — I find that the less marketing hype used, the better). Clarity matters.
  • Personalization i.e. name, company, interest, and pronouns you use.
  • Tone of the email: empathetic vs. sales speak
  • Different message copy (length and content)
  • Template style (graphics vs. simple Outlook looking emails)
  • Different calls to action
  • Naked links vs. embedded links
  • Timing (how frequently you email)

The response to your A/B tests will help you understand which message and approaches are most relevant and helpful and convert best with your audience.

Personally, I’ve more doubled my conversion rates by A/B testing. Also, I’m getting more personal four times as many personal replies. If your email system or marketing automation doesn’t support A/B testing, start using one that does now. You won’t regret it.

Also, when you do lead nurturing tracks A/B testing is extremely useful because you can leverage what you’ve learned to reuse that optimized message again and again.

Conclusion

You now know seven tips you can use to improve your marketing and nurturing emails to improve relevancy, engagement, and conversion. If you do one thing, do this: Put yourself in the shoes of the recipient of your email.

In sum, get out of your head and imagine that you’re a potential customer receiving your message. What are they thinking? What are they feeling? If you do this, you’ll be in the right place to leverage these tips to improve your email marketing and get better results.

It’s your turn. What have you found works to create better marketing or nurturing emails?

You may also like: 

5 Ways to Immediately Boost Account Based Marketing (ABM)

What Can B2B Marketers Gain from Growth Hacking?

Fast Growth Marketing: From 0 to 500,000 Users

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