Demand Generation Fundamentals to Convert Inbound Interest into Revenue

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Today, buyers have widespread access to information through the web. As a result, interruptive “outbound” tactics are losing their effectiveness. In this new buyer-centric world, the best way to engage with prospects is on their terms. The “inbound” approach enables target buyers to find you organically, converting site visitors into revenue and aligning sales and marketing efforts.

Get Buyers to Find You

Since buyers use google to research, compare, and eventually purchase goods and services, search engine optimization (SEO) is essential. The popularity and specificity of Inbound links determines your search ranking. In order to rank higher on the results page, it’s important to create quality content and participate in relevant social media discussions on a routine basis. In terms of SEO strategy, The Long Tail Theory describes how targeting long-tail keywords yield the best results. Targeting a small population of individuals looking for very specific topics will allow you to rank higher for the things that matter to your company (and your customers). Creating a content production team will help keep your posts smart and consistent across platforms. A good content production team will include a journalist (expert staff writer)or someone capable of delegating writing responsibility and editing content before publication. The best way to ensure that your posts provide real value to visitors is to form a “thought leadership committee” of knowledgeable employees who can be interviewed as subject experts on a weekly basis. When you have quality information, you can turn a one hour interview into multiple blog posts, ebooks, and social media messages.

Converting Inbound Interest into Revenue

In order to convert inbound interest into revenue, both marketing and sales play a key role.

Marketing’s role can be expressed in four practices:

  • Do not pass all the leads to sales! Define what constitutes a quality lead & filter each new lead based on that standard criteria
  • Avoid the lead scoring trap. Use the buyer’s journey and buyer personas to develop a buyer matrix and prioritize leads based on their lifecycle stage.
  • Use the Buyer Matrix to determine when to pass leads to sales. Define the stage in which this handoff should happen for each persona, then measure the lead conversion success over time so adjustments can be made to improve success.
  • Become a buyer matrix expert through microsegmentation. Adding another matrix to a row can help account for complex behaviors, such as having multiple “influencers” or industries for a single buyer persona.

Sales’ role in converting inbound interest into revenue can also be broken down into four practices.

  • Scrap the elevator pitch and lead with context. Rather than sounding robotic and reading from a script, be educational, insightful, and personable.
  • Call low, then call high. If the person you reach is not a decision maker, ask questions to develop more buyer-specific context. Then call “high” to the decision maker using this information to personalize the experience.
  • Prioritize prospecting by level of engagement. customers that have interacted with content most recently should take priority over last touch
  • Specialize sales by inbound vs outbound. Dedicate half your sales team to inbound leads and the other half to outbound leads. Think about having your top salesmen rotate inbound leads to help develop tactics that work best.

Aligning Sales & Marketing: The SMarketing SLA

Develop a sales and marketing Service Level Agreement (SLA) to establish concrete connection between departments. Account for different lead qualification levels by focusing less on raw numbers and more on their implied dollar value. Use the buyer matrix discussed earlier and:

  • For each buyer state, calculate the average rate at which leads become customers
  • For each segment, calculate the average purchase price for each customer generated from these classes of leads
  • Multiply conversion rate by average purchasing price.

These numbers will allow marketing efforts to be tied to revenue rather than raw numbers.

A sales SLA will define strict parameters for an “effective” interaction with leads. Since timing is imperative, the SLA defines when to follow up with a new lead and the number of times a lead should be “touched.” Analyze each buyer persona by touches and profitability. Whichever call attempt volume yields the highest profit will establish the sales SLA standard call cadence. A daily dashboard helps ensure no leads fall through the cracks.

Create a graph displaying marketing’s “planned lead value generated” and compare it to the actual lead value generated. You can also draft a “Do Not Be On It” dashboard listing any salesperson in violation of your key SLA measures. Make sure to distribute these reports daily to hold both departments accountable.

At the End of the Day

Allowing buyers to find you results in less expenditure on cold call lists and other interruptive outbound tactics and positions you as a thought leader in your industry. Once established, marketing will usher leads down the funnel and pass them off to sales at the right moment, maximizing customer acquisition. If sales and marketing goals are both tied to revenue, the teams will operate like a well-oiled revenue machine.

Lead Generation Guide

Tackling Your Biggest Challenges: Increasing Website Traffic & Leads (Part 1)

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According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017, “marketers today find generating traffic and leads to be their biggest challenge”. There is already a multitude of tactics to implement for B2B SaaS companies to generate quality traffic and leads on their site. As this list grows, and as strategies change it becomes increasingly difficult for marketers to excel across the board.

So we decided to put together two posts detailing some of the key levers you can pull when increasing website traffic and lead generation are at the top of your priority list. Part 1 (which you are actively reading) covers the how to’s of increasing traffic because without it there is no lead generation. In Part 2 we’ll dive into the ways in which you can build a B2B website that converts those visitors and generate leads.

Start Blogging on a Regular Basis

A blog is a long-term marketing asset that will bring traffic and leads to your business. It introduces you as a thought leader in your industry and allows you to earn people’s trust. Marketing data clearly shows that blogging is a critical piece of the inbound marketing methodology and directly correlates to better business results. B2B companies that blog get 55% more visitors and 67% more leads than those who don’t. At New Breed, we were able to double our blog lead generation in 6 months.

That being said, blogging for the sake of blogging won’t dramatically transform your marketing. Your blog has to be well-optimized and promoted, and most of all, rich with content. The frequency of blogging plays an important role in this equation, too. Companies that blog 20 or more times in a month see the biggest return in increasing website traffic and leads.

Practice Search Engine Optimization

Aligning search engine optimization with your blogging and overall content marketing strategy is critical to being found on search engines like Google, Bing,  and Yahoo. When creating impactful content for SEO, consider what long-tail keyword you want to target for on-page optimization. You can optimize the post around this keyword by incorporating it into your title tag, URL, meta description, anchor text, and page content. Once you have a fully optimized piece of content, make sure to use off-page SEO tactics to share it online, build links to your site, and increase your domain authority.

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Expand Your Reach with Social Media

It was not that long ago when it used to be difficult, if not impossible, for companies to reach a wide target audience without paying for it. The game has changed in this regard with channels like Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter enabling business to promote their content. Social media can be leveraged to attract both new and returning visitors to your site, and foster relationships by starting one on one conversations with customers and prospects online.

Invest in Paid Search

While SEO is the BEST way to rank at top of search engines like Google, Bing & Yahoo, paid search is the quicker and easier route.That being said, paid search should not be considered an alternative to SEO, rather it should complement your SEO efforts and fill in the gaps. Pay Per Click (PPC), or Cost Per Click (CPC) tools like AdWords, and BingAds give marketers the ability to control, test, and optimize the content that is displayed in search engine result pages while directing visitors towards relevant landing pages. 

Use Retargeting to Bring Visitors Back to Your Site

If you have ever wished for a second chance to convert someone that visited your website, then remarketing is for you! Retargeting (sometimes referred to as remarketing) ads are those pesky images on the edge of your browser that have been following you around online from all of the websites you’ve visited in the past. While these ads may seem intrusive, they have proven to be highly effective. With retargeting, not only can you serve ads to people who visited your website, but you can create segments of people who visited specific pages, performed certain actions, or fit into particular demographics. For example, you could choose to target anyone between the ages 25 – 34 who visited your pricing page but did not convert.

Target Your Buyer Personas with Paid Social

The final piece of the paid advertising puzzle, paid social, is growing the fastest due to it’s potential to be the most targeted and effective channel. Social media is perpetually collecting data on its users which makes it more potent every day. This makes paid social an extremely valuable tool for segmenting and targeting potential customers. Marketers can use information on users’ ages, demographics, web histories, trends and location to essentially build their buyer persona and serve them highly relevant ads.

Host A Webinar for Thought Leadership

Most people would rather listen to a subject matter expert and ask them questions than read through a piece of content. Hosting a world-class webinar has all of the benefits of blogging in terms of thought leadership and trust, but they take it to the next level. They help you understand your target audience, create business relationships with potential customers, and cement your authority within the industry. Webinars can also be used an avenue to partner with other companies which can give you access to their customer database.

Tying it all Together

Increasing website traffic may never leave your priority list, but it doesn’t have to be a constant challenge. Marketers that invest their time into these strategies will be setting themselves up for success. Once implemented, the maintenance required to keep them running smoothly will become easier to manage over time. This will enable you to identify opportunities to make iterative improvements for continued optimization.

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20 Ways World Class B2B SaaS Companies Grow

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Every SaaS business experiences some challenges as they try to grow. The landscape is constantly evolving making it difficult to predict the best ways to move the company forward. To help companies navigate through this complexity we identified the top 20 activities best in class SaaS companies are doing today to grow their business. 

1. Cultivate Positive Company Culture

This has less to do with hosting a dynamite office party and everything to do with the perspective and values you cultivate within your workforce. Mutual respect goes a long way in forging strong and productive alliances. In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the need for esteem and belonging are key motivational determinants of our behavior. Lack of recognition is cited as the number-one reason most Americans leave their jobs (ranking above money, conflicting opportunities or increased flexibility). Furthermore, when we feel supported and appreciated we’re more productive and likely to stick-out difficult challenges rather than jump-ship.

2. Encourage Innovation

These days, everyone’s talking about the power of grit. According to a plethora of recent studies, grit, more than natural intelligence, is a more accurate indicator of an individual’s likelihood of achieving success. Similarly, perspective plays a key role in how we approach new challenges. If you encourage employees to approach obstacles as opportunities for innovation and a chance to collaborate with peers, you’ll actually foster grit and promote teamwork at the same time.

3. Hire the right people

It’s always good to have smart, qualified people at your company— but it takes more than just technical acumen to be an asset to a team. The “right” person means someone with good qualifications and the kind of personality that will enable them to succeed and adapt in a highly collaborative, tech-driven and client-facing industry.

4. Have Amazing Backend Tech

Having a solid yet malleable technical architecture can do wonders for your business in the long run. No matter how innovative your ideas are, you’ll be crippled if you don’t have the technological capability to realize them. So what makes for amazing backend tech? Make sure your system is scalable, secure, easily integrated with other platforms, has a highly customizable user interface and is capable of conducting automated tests and other touch-free functions.

 

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5. Fast Product Iteration

Growth driven design, or GDD, is founded on the idea that rolling out small changes in real-time (rather than a multitude of changes, say, biannually) will help you grow by informing your marketing and sales approach moving forward. This trial-and-error model requires that you pay attention to how customers engage with your product — and quickly respond to any user frustrations. The payoff? You’ll have happier customers and minimize the risk to your business by pinpointing the exact variable that led to a given outcome.

6. Think Strategically

In the same vein, the best B2B Saas marketers have a comprehensive short-term and long-term strategy to meet their goals. In the example of GDD, a short-term strategy would involve quickly executing a small change, whereas a longterm strategy would entail using data feedback from a multitude of small changes to inform how you grow, invest and engage with customers in the future.

7. Focus on the Customer Experience

It’s truly a buyers market — today’s consumers have more choices and more access to information to inform those choices. The result, is that most people already have an idea of what they want before they’re ready to make a buying decision. That leaves you with one area to really shine and demonstrate your integrity as a business — the customer experience. A customer-centric approach to marketing is thus a win for businesses and consumers alike.

8. Balance Form and Function

Good web design has a whole lot of intention behind it. Think about how you’d like visitors to interact with your site and what kind of experience you’d like them to have. The best design is not only simple and beautiful, it’s also driven by functionality. There’s no point in having a stunning web design if it inhibits engagement with your site or doesn’t help convert visitors into leads.

9. Understand the Market

It’s hard to sell a product if you don’t know who you’re selling to or how big of a market they represent. Different potential buyers will have different pain points — and will thus be searching for slightly different solutions. If you know who you’re selling to, you’ll be able to speak more directly to their needs and convert more leads into customers. If you know the size of your market, you can also create more accurate business forecasts and predict your ROI for various marketing campaigns.

10. Price it Right

The “freemium” model is a little tricky to master, but works well for Saas when executed correctly. The freemium idea is that you target the individual first, then they find value in the product and then share it with their peers. It’s important that you’re seeing some kind of value from your free user base (to justify the investment), even if that value isn’t dollar signs. Value can mean referrals and exposure for your brand in the short-term. A successful freemium model will also work towards a long-term goal: forging a link from the individual to a team account, where your sales opportunities live.

11. Reduce churn

It’s important to adapt to your customers’ schedule and desired level of communication and not expect them to adapt to yours. Customer satisfaction surveys are a great way to get feedback on how you’re doing and make changes accordingly. Be available to prospects and customers on multiple web platforms, so that when they do want to communicate or ask a question, you’re there to help. Email campaigns that offer value in the form of e-books, webinars and infographics are a great way to keep communication open without adding empty clutter to someone’s inbox.

12. Build a Value-Added App

At the heart of value-added services and capabilities is the notion that you can use your industry know-how and connections to provide additional value to your customers — or enable them to do something they would unable to do on their own. The “value-added” refers to any services that you provide in addition to the actual product you are selling. A prime example of this would be a free one-year support warranty attached to the purchase of an electronic or appliance. Most Saas companies are web-based, so developing a mobile app would be a logical way to add value to your company and convince customers to “stick.”

13. Sync Revenue and Costs

When it comes to finances, the more you know, the better off you’ll be. Raw data and metric-tracking software is your friend in this regard. Know your monthly recurring revenue, cost per customer acquisition, cost of sales, average revenue per customer and average customer lifetime value. Once you know these things, you’ll be able to determine if a new lead is worth pursuing or if you’ll see more ROI by nurturing existing customers.

14. Outline a Lifecycle Funnel

To ensure that you’re landing the most leads and snagging the most sale opportunities, it’s important to have a system in place for moving visitors through the various stages of the buying process. If you identify separate stages of the buyer’s journey, you’ll be able to determine where a potential customer is in that process and what kind of interaction they’d be most receptive to. You can also customize Calls-To-Action (or CTAs) to engage, convert and offer reciprocal value to visitors for proceeding down the funnel in a prescribed way.

15. Know The Forecast

Generating business performance forecasts will give you an idea of future numbers, characteristics and trends in your target market — and allow you to estimate what the demand will be for your product(and where to focus your energy). A comprehensive analysis of the market should help you develop a strategy inline with that market and determine how to position yourself therein. In addition, forecasts can help you generate more accurate timelines for projects, so you can deliver on previous promises and know how to structure your sales strategy.

16. Give Gifts

Who doesn’t like getting a gift? Giving prospects a free gift is a great way to generate goodwill and move them down the funnel. Furthermore, gifts can be given at any stage of the lifecycle as a way to evangelize current customers.

17. Create Quality Content

This is the Inception moment of this list. At this very moment, I’m striving to practice what I’m preaching — essentially, I’m providing you with valuable information on how to provide valuable content to your customer. If that’s too meta to follow, just know this: quality content will not only increase organic traffic to your website, it will also help establish you as an industry thought leader (and source of authority).

18. Offer Product Trials

Product Trials are a great way to generate leads in the Saas industry — especially if you’re selling a tech or data tool. There’s no better way to show prospects what you have to offer than letting them try it for themselves. Just be sure to set them up for success so they walk away with a positive feeling. This might mean scheduling a call before the trial to show them the ropes or providing a video guide for using the product.

19. Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is content marketing’s trusty sidekick. Once you’ve created great content, it’s important to ensure that people can access it. As far as SEO is concerned, that means making sure that you’re using specific keywords, creating inbound links, writing clear and accurate titles/captions and ensuring speedy page-loading times. All of these things will help your content rank higher on search engines like google, thus increasing organic traffic to your site.

20. Referral Marketing

Referrals are low cost and are usually primed for a quick sale. Think about a time when you learned about a product from a friend — that friend likely shared their positive experience with the product and maybe even suggested ways in which the product could serve as a solution for you. Since that initial “pitch” is coming from someone you trust, you’re more likely to act on it, propelled down the funnel by their assurance. In Saas, referral marketing take the form of incentivised referral programs or a landing page with a built-in referral/share option.

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3 Reasons to Keep your Blog on your Primary Domain

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A common question we get at New Breed is whether you should have your blog and marketing site on one or multiple domains. For some situations it might make sense to separate your domains but if you’re trying to use your website as a marketing tool (and we think you should be!) then there’s no reason to use more than one domain. The benefits of a primary domain overcast any reasons as to not have them on multiple domains. Let’s get into a few of those reasons.

1. Ease of Use

The single most important reason to keep everything under one domain is ease of use. If you only have one domain and URL string to remember, managing the various content across your website will be far easier to understand for your team and any future employees. Since there is only one domain/CMS/platform to manage, it’ll be significantly easier for you and your team to master. Instead of having to go into multiple systems and spend hours trying to figure the best ways to work them, you only have to learn one. And with only one to master you can quickly become experts in efficiency and allow you more time to focus on what’s important — growing your business.

2. Unified Reporting

Succinct reporting is key to making data-driven decisions. But when you have to export and look at multiple systems to get the full picture of your data, generating insights can be a very time-consuming process.

Imagine if you had to build a report for your C-Suite visualizing how your visitors are engaging with your blog. First, for some initial insight you’ll have to look at your Google Analytics to analyze your website traffic data. But if your blog is on a separate domain, you won’t get exact numbers on the visitors from your primary domain that go on to visit your blog. Since it’s on a separate domain your form submissions are held on an entirely separate system. To build this report up to the expectations of your Execs, you’ll find yourself spending more time looking for the data than actually reporting on it.

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And we haven’t even brought up cookie tracking yet! With multiple domains, your cookies won’t have the ability to be visible throughout the whole site, limiting your ability to successfully track users.

Not only is reporting easier but you also only have one platform to maintain, resulting in cheaper ongoing development costs and time savings for your team as well. This also includes renewing domains. Instead of taking the time each year to send off payments for your multiple domains and their different price points, you only have to write one check.

3. Greater Top-Level Domain Authority

From an SEO perspective, containing all of your content on one domain increases the overall authority of that domain. For example, if you have a blog on a separate domain any of that content isn’t related to your website content. If you are writing about the reasons one of your products helps solve a problem for your prospective customers, wouldn’t you want Google to equate them? Any gains you get from your blog also uplifts the contents on your actual site, it’s a win-win!

It may seem like a complicated process in migrating domains and switching the way your website has always been set, but in the long run it will be completely worth it. Imagine if all of your content, reporting, cookies, and engagement data were held under the same roof and all you had to do to grab the info was click the export button… it almost sounds almost too good to be true! Luckily for you, it isn’t. Reach out to us today on implementing any changes to your domain.

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Lifecycle Marketing Tactics to Attract, Convert, Close and Delight

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You’ve seen the chart before, “Attract, Convert, Close and Delight”.  It’s the classic inbound marketing visualization tool to show how your prospects are intended to move down the funnel — from first touch all the way through to customer acquisition and retention. Lifecycle marketing plays a huge part in this “big picture” diagram, helping to move potential buyers down the funnel from one level to the next. But what are the core actions that insight this movement?  You need to focus on a few key lifecycle marketing tactics at each stage in order to be successful.

Attract

As you know, this stage is all about bringing in strangers, making them aware of your business, engaging them with your website and turning them into visitors. You need to attract someone before you can get them to convert on anything. But how will they find you?

  • Blog – Keeping up your blog with relevant, persona-optimized content will continuously create visitor traffic on your site. Speak to your primary buyer personas’ pain points and create helpful, informative content and you should have no trouble attracting visitors to your site.
  • SEO/Keywords – Making sure your site is Search Engine Optimized is going to ensure that the strangers looking to visit your website can actually find you. With the right keyword strategy in place, you’ll be able to tailor your attraction messaging to exactly who you want visiting your site. Do some keyword research and find out what your primary buyer personas are searching for most frequently in order to adjust your marketing strategy and increase organic traffic.
  • Social – There’s a saying, “fish where the fish are biting.”  You know plenty of strangers are sifting through their social feeds for hours a day, so why not leverage social media as a means of attracting visitors? Find out which social channels your ideal “fish” are swimming in and drop a line. Having a recognizable social presence is a great way to bring visitors to your site and position yourself as an industry thought leader.

Convert

So you’ve gotten people to visit, but if you want that visit to matter, then you need to shift your focus to some good ol’ fashion lead generation. You’ve spent time carefully luring visitors to your site — make sure when they get there they have something to consume.  

  • CTAs – Speaking of fish, a CTA, or Call To Action, acts as the visual bait that’s going to get your visitors to convert into leads. Strategically placing CTA’s throughout your blog and your website will give your visitors a logical next step to continue their journey. You’ll want to prompt them with interesting and relevant offers that can help them become more aware of the problems they’re facing. Consider using a mix of inline and visual CTA’s to provide options for your visitors to click and continue their journey.
  • Landing Pages –  They took the bait! Now make sure the bait tastes as good as it looks (yes, I’m going to continue with these fish analogies). What I mean is, your landing page is the next thing your prospects will see after clicking a CTA and if the offer doesn’t match what it was built up to be in the CTA, then you probably won’t get a submission. Make sure your landing page follows best practices and outlines the exact offer the visitor was expecting to see when they clicked on the CTA. 
  • Forms – Your form strategy needs to be solid in order to get your visitors to convert into leads. Whatever you’re offering, make sure the level of questioning on your forms matches. In other words, if you’re giving your visitors the third degree on a form for a TOFU (Top of Funnel) free eBook, you might be deterring them from submitting because the level of information you’re asking for is worth more than the offer itself.  Consider this on all of your forms and you’ll soon master this give-and-take game with converting leads.

Close

Once they’re really — and I mean really — in the system, the most important phase involves closing the lead as a customer. This is the phase where leads spend the most time because there’s an enormous amount of interaction happening from marketing and sales between these two points. As a marketer at this stage, there are a few core areas to narrow in on.

  • Email – Email marketing continues to be one of the most effective methods for obtaining ROI from your efforts. Make sure you have consistent email campaigns set up to nurture your contacts throughout the funnel.  If you’re hosting a webinar — launch an email campaign. If you’re launching a monthly newsletter — introduce it with an email campaign.  If you’ve released a new premium content offer — share it through an email campaign. The more you can be warming your prospects’ inbox with valuable and relevant information, the better. The words valuable and relevant are key, as there is a fine line between spamming versus nurturing your leads. 
  • Workflows – Use your marketing automation platform to the fullest by setting up workflows to automatically nurture leads throughout the funnel with content and emails. Chances are, you’re marketing to hundreds or thousands of people at a time, so you can’t possibly be successful with continuous real-time nurture. You can also think about setting up internal workflows to trigger leads to the next lifecycle stage and communicate this movement down the funnel with your sales team.
  • CRM – Utilize your CRM tool to gain as much information as possible about your leads in order to communicate the appropriate message to them. They may have downloaded one of your offers, but are they a good fit for your company? Having a good understanding of the quality of the leads coming into your funnel will help you, as a marketer, understand how effectively you and your team are operating in the previous Attract and Convert phases. Leveraging the tools in your CRM will not only aid in the test of lead quality, but will also help guide the marketing discussion and act as a sales enablement tool for potential customers.

Delight

They took the bait, they swallowed, and you’ve reeled them in (I told you I wasn’t finished with the fish). They’re a customer, but you’re job’s still not over. You want customers to transform into ambassadors of your brand or evangelists to speak high praise of your company. Furthermore, you want them to see continuous value from your company beyond what they’ve already bought into. So how can you do this.

  • Surveys – Just ask. Find an appropriate time to ask your customerswhat they thought of their experience with you.  What did they like?  What did they think could be improved? Is there anything else that they are interested in that you can offer them? You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
  • Smart Content –  Your customers want to feel like they’re part of your elite club (the in-crowd, if you will) and want to be treated as such.  If your customers are receiving the same email and website messaging as an ordinary lead, they’re not going to feel the favoritism they’re seeking. Using SMART content in emails and CTAs will help you differentiate how you market to your customers so that the messaging is more personal. Custom-tailoring your marketing is one of the many ways to delight a customer and turn them into an evangelist of your company.
  • Social Monitoring – Do you have customers continuously sharing your social content with their industry peers? Are they commenting on all your posts and referring people to your site via social media? This is a good indicator of a customer that is going above and beyond to sing praises of the work your company does.  Be sure to monitor their social activity and don’t let the relationship become too one-sided. Send them some love to reward them for promoting your business.

It’s important to know this chart like the back of your hand — but remember to think practically and comprehensively about the work that each phase involves. If you don’t focus on the actionable steps within each stage of the buyer’s journey, then you’re missing the boat on lifecycle marketing. Utilize the tools and information you have available to focus your efforts on nurturing your prospects throughout the funnel in the most efficient and effective way possible.

Lead Generation Guide

7 Steps to Leveraging an SLA for Marketing and Sales Unification

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If you’ve ever worked in marketing or sales you might have experienced what can sometimes be described as a contentious relationship between the two departments. This past week we held a Webinar on leveraging SLAs to bridge the gap between the two teams and move further toward unification. It featured an awesome panel of New Breeders including:

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To best understand why and how each part of an SLA enables marketing and sales unification, we highly recommend listening to the webinar in fullBut if time is short, we’ve compiled a step-by-step guide reflecting the process we used to create our Service Level Agreement. Along with insight into how a company, in this case New Breed, actually operates within an SLA. Let’s get started!

1.Build your Buyer Personas

For teams that work in siloed departments, it’s quite possible they’re working to capture two entirely different types of leads. The sales team might define a qualified lead as one type of individual, while marketing might think the definition of a qualified lead is someone else entirely. The case for buyer personas, according to Olivia Perek, is that —

“Buyer Personas leave no room for interpretation. That way, both teams can focus on the right individuals while also improving the buyer’s journey by providing a holistic experience with consistent messaging.”

To determine New Breed’s ideal buyer personas, we leverage a combination of demographic and firmographic information. This info is based on data we’ve collected from prospects and customers, along with conversations with our Inbound Advisors regarding the roles, industries and company sizes that are the best fit for our services. We then build this information into our form strategy so we can know a prospect’s persona as soon as possible. 

2. Define lead stages

Naming conventions are important for every marketing activity, but especially so when it comes to defining lead stages. Set a meeting with your full sales and marketing teams and ask — what is an MQL to your team? What actions or characteristics define an SQL? Hopefully you’ll find these working definitions to be similar across teams, but you might come to see that they’re vastly different. As you work to standardize these stages, flow the finalized definition into your SLA. That way, everyone will remain on the same page going forward.

At New Breed, we leverage a very process driven approach. Lifecycle stages (lead, MQL, SQL, Opportunity) are used in combination with a Fit and Interest Matrix that we call Marketing Status. Fit and interest help us to better define which types of leads the sales team should be following up with and establish priority. Fit refers to the target industries that have proven to be in our wheelhouse. While interest is gauged based on the amount of interaction a prospect has had with our content, along with several other digital body language factors. These Marketing Status stages are as follows:

  • Good fit, interested (the very best leads – follow up quickly)
  • Good fit, less interested (marketing team will nurture to stimulate interest)
  • Bad fit, interested (outside our ideal buyer personas, but a smaller solution could still be sold)
  • Bad fit, not interested (sales will never receive these leads)

3. Establish a set of unified goals

Marketing and sales are already working toward the same goal — generating new customers. But by further distilling that goal into an actual revenue number for the collective team, each individual will have a better understanding of where to spend their time in order to make the most impact. This revenue goal can then be used to get your reporting structure in place, define the KPIs you’ll need to report on and the growth stack to get you there.

Download our Marketing Goals Calculator Template to find out just how many  contacts you need at each stage of the funnel.

New Breed arrives at our unified goal by starting with a revenue target and then each team is measured on contribution to that bookings goal. We use benchmark data from Hubspot and SiriusDecisions along with our own historical data to set that target amount each month. Our legacy conversion rates enable us to see how many customers, opportunities, SQLs, etc. we’ll need down the funnel to meet that goal. Everyone’s efforts are then aligned to the areas that are needed most.

4. Define marketing and sales handoff

Once you defined lead stages and revenue goals, you should begin to define when and how a lead should pass between marketing and sales. Without this process, it will be extremely difficult to measure lead velocity or make progress toward your goal. We recommend using a lead handoff automation process within your Marketing Automation platform to notify and send over qualified leads from marketing to the sales team. Otherwise, leads tend to get stuck and marketing is unable to progress them any further down the funnel.

At New Breed, we use a round robin lead rotation based off of certain criteria in our SLA. We then use that same criteria to route each lead to a sales team member, with various types of notifications based on lead stage to inform which prospects they should follow up with right away.

5. Establish a lead managing protocol

Without a clear definition of responsibilities, leads will inevitably fall through the cracks. In the past, marketing held very distinct marketing activities and sales had very distinct sales activities. But now, who’s responsible for lead generation? Who’s responsible for nurture at the top of the funnel? Who’s responsible for nurturing sales qualified leads?

As part of your Service Level Agreement, determine each stage, what the responsibilities are at that stage and who should be responsible. At New Breed, marketers are geared toward top of funnel activities including lead generation, initial MQL qualification, etc. An MDR is next down the funnel, and is responsible for performing additional research to further qualify MQLs into SQLs and ensure they’re a good fit to schedule the lead a call with an Inbound Advisor. The Inbound Advisor is then responsible for creating proposals to address an opportunity’s needs and ultimately close them at the bottom of the funnel.

6. Track and measure performance

Attribution models can be the bane of a marketer existence, but are necessary to gauge the performance of each team member’s efforts. At New Breed, we use a time decay multi-touch attribution model that applies more weight to a touch point that occurs closer to a sale. According to Guido Bartolacci, if he were to generate a lead with a paid search campaign and that lead ultimately became a customer, he would receive a 15 percent split for his efforts. Meanwhile the Inbound Advisor who closed the opportunity would get an 85 percent split, as his efforts were much closer to the opportunity closing. 

In order to accurately track this attribution, we rely on our growth stack consisting of HubSpot, SFDC, and InsightSquared. Patrick Buono breaks down how we use our growth stack as follows:

“HubSpot marketing automation is in place to track particular assets that our marketers use throughout their initiatives down the funnel and throughout a lead’s lifecycle. Salesforce is used to assign tags and track the movement of dates between a standard object. SFDC then tracks the lead and related opportunity to see which marketer’s have assisted the opportunity closing. Those tags are what’s ultimately used to assign splits to individual team members. InsightSquared is a great addition because it provides transparency to individuals and team goals, so everyone always knows where they stand.”

7. Review SLA over time

Be sure to assess each of the above steps, at the very least on a 6 month basis. It’s extremely important to take a proactive approach, but reactive reviews are often necessary as well. Here are a few indicators that your SLA is in need of a review:

  • low lead to MQL conversion rate
  • Low MQL to SQL acceptance rate
  • First-response lag time ratio is less than two day

An SLA should be dynamic. Nothing stays the same over time, as is true with most Inbound Marketing activities. Take a moment to bring all of the team together to review and ensure your still fully aligned. 

Leveraging SLAs webinar recording

Top 7 Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017

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HubSpot has released their State of Inbound 2017 report and as we’ve come to expect, it’s packed full of analysis regarding the top challenges and priorities faced by business within the scope of marketing and sales. It also serves to highlight some new trends and obstacles that loom on the horizon. So we wanted to take some time to give you our list of the top 7 takeaways from this year’s report and why you should care.

For some context, the report is conducted using an online survey over a 3 month period. This year’s report consists of data from over 6,399 respondents in 141 countries across all industries and company sizes.

Marketing Challenges

Proving ROI of marketing activities is listed as the top marketing challenge for 40% of companies, the second biggest marketing challenge behind generating traffic and leads.

top-marketing-challenges

Why You Should Care?

More and more marketing departments are being measured on their contribution to revenue. In order to prove they are actually having an impact on the bottom line, marketers need a method of tracking their efforts and an attribution model to assign credit to those efforts. This data indicates that there still remains a gap related to internal processes and operations that is preventing marketing from measuring their success.

Sales Challenges

64% of respondents are spending more than 30 minutes a day on data entry or other manual tasks.

sales-challenges

Why You Should Care?

Every minute a salesperson spends on data entry, is a minute they could have spent engaging with prospects. Unfortunately, marketing automation and CRM platforms rely heavily on data to run efficiently. However, if you find that your salespeople are doing the heavy lifting in this area, then it could be time to realign responsibilities. 

Leadership & Staff

69% of C-level executives believe marketing strategy is effective, while only 55% of individual contributors feel the same way. 

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Why you should care?

These results are a clear sign that a disconnect exists between leadership and staff. The vision set forth by leadership needs to be clearly communicated to those that will be executing on it. This not only informs staff what they should be working on, but it helps them understand why they are spending their time on it in the first place. On the other hand, this could could be an indication that barriers exist which prevent a bottom-up approach to sourcing organizational changes and improvements.

Inbound Vs. Outbound

68% of organizations that have adopted the inbound marketing approach say their marketing is effective, while only 48% of companies using outbound marketing say their marketing is effective

inbound-outboundWhy You Should Care?

Buying habits no longer align with traditional forms of marketing like print, telemarketing, direct mail and outdoor advertising. This is especially true in the B2B space, where prospects are spending more time gathering information before making a decision than ever before. The inbound approach to marketing has taken this shift into account by building trust and authority with prospects upfront through the creation of valuable pieces of content. 

Marketing Effectiveness by Alignment

Companies that are tightly aligned with an SLA between marketing & sale are 3 times more likely to say their marketing is effective than those that are misaligned. 

aligment-marketing-effectiveness

Why You Should Care?

An SLA between marketing and sales is a contract that holds each team accountable to specific, agreed-upon expectations that align to the same goal – driving revenue. Marketing and sales teams working under an SLA have a better understanding of how each team is driving revenue, and greater visibility into their performance.

Company Growth by Alignment

Companies that are tightly aligned with an SLA in place are 34% more likely to be increasing the size of their sales team.

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Why You Should Care?

When marketing and sales are working together to drive revenue, it leads to company growth. Need I say more?

Access our Webinar: Leveraging SLAs for Marketing & Sales Unification

Top Lead Sources by Alignment

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Why You Should Care?

The main goal of your marketing team should be to generate leads that sales can close. If your sales team does not trust the leads that come from marketing, than they will be forced to spend more time sourcing leads and less time closing deals. Companies with an SLA in place hold marketing accountable for handing off quality leads to sales, and they ensure that sales follows up with them appropriately. This approach enables sales to invest more time into each opportunity, increasing their chances of winning the deal.

Evolution of Sales

Salespeople have listed the leads they source directly as their top source for the past two years.

evolution-of-sales

Why You Should Care?

You may have noticed in the previous section that only companies that are tightly aligned between marketing and sales list leads sourced from marketing as their top source. Unfortunately, only 22% of companies characterize their marketing and sales relationship in this way. So while leads from sales are rated as the top source overall, it does not mean that it is the best approach. We believe this will bear itself out in overall results as more companies work towards aligning marketing and sales.

BONUS: Disruptors

The way we consume content is being disrupted, and videos appear to be the culprit. HubSpot reported that 1/3 of all online activity is spent watching videos, and 90% of users report that product videos are helpful in the decision process. This means that when it comes to content creation, marketing needs to shift their focus away from being so heavily weighted towards written content.

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