Break Through B2B Marketing – Beyond R&R (Relationships and Referrals)

Behind virtually any successful B2B company I know there is a rainmaker. It’s usually the founder. We’ve all seen it before. They take it upon themselves to bring in the majority of the Company’s business.  For the most part, business development is based on relationships and referrals (R&R).

There is just one problem with this strategy – R&R is not scalable…

If we switch gears and think about the super successful B2B companies, the biggest difference is they’ve moved beyond R&R (relationships and referrals) and embraced a sales and marketing strategy capable of scale.

If you are looking to break out of the pack and bring some consistency to your B2B sales and marketing initiatives, you will need to move beyond B2B.  Easy to say… Not so easy to successfully implement.

The strategy we see most companies take when they realize they need to move beyond R&R is to go buy some AdWords.  In many cases, the belief is all we need is more leads.  In most cases this strategy lasts a few months, the organization doesn’t bring in new sales, and the take-away is “we cannot afford digital marketing – we need to go back to R&R.

Why does this strategy fail?

  1. Set and Forget – Over 40% of Adwords buyers embrace a “set and forget” strategy.  They set up a few keywords, several ads and turn on the campaign – If this is your strategy, save your money.  The only ROI will be from your pocket to Google’s bank account.
  2. Hi, Let’s Date – You’d be amazed at how many companies think buying Adwords will drive traffic to their site and the user will respond on their first visit (hint: this doesn’t happen)
  3. Don’t Forget Sales – We sure hear a lot of people that want to help with B2B marketing with the belief that the job is done when traffic comes to the site or a retargeting cookie is placed – not the case.  Making sure the sales and marketing team are absolutely aligned is the ONLY way a full-funnel strategy works (we’ll go into detail how this is done)

You would be amazed at how often this happens.  However, there is a difference between companies that retreat back to R&R and ones that break through as industry leaders.  The true leaders understand they NEED TO WIN scale to be industry leaders and they look for solution to win at the B2B sales and marketing game (notice I didn’t just say B2B marketing).

The first step to a successful B2B sales and marketing program is to have a strategy IN WRITING.  In our case that involves knowing EXACTLY what needs to be done at every step of the funnel.

At MarketSense approach B2B sales and marketing using a three-pillar approach.  We then break it down to a six-step funnel.  It is predictable, transparent and repeatable.

We’ll describe how it works today and then break down each piece of it in subsequent blogs to help you put together a predictable and winning strategy.

To start off with, here are our three pillars of B2B sales and marketing success.  Nothing earthshaking here, however it is the foundation of our six-stage funnel…

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Think of these three pillars like dating.  First you have to meet someone (awareness).  You’ll (almost) never go from meeting (awareness) to converting (married) without dating (nurture).

If you tried to accelerate this process in the dating scenario you would more than likely be dropped like a hot potato.  B2B sales and marketing is no different.

Now, let’s drop into the six-stage funnel.  As much as sports analogies are way overdone, I can’t help but use one here.  Virtually no successful sports team starts the season by only focusing on winning the championship.  The certainly want to have that as a goal, however to ever get there they need to roll up their sleeves and take things one game at a time.  Again, B2B sales and marketing works the same way.

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1 – AWARENESS

The first step in our funnel is awareness.  100% of the people that don’t know about you won’t buy from you.  Everything we do in this step is to drive traffic to your site – that’s it.  We use digital marketing, outbound emails, social media and content marketing in the AWARENESS stage.  Again, our sole focus here is move people into the lead stage.

2 – LEAD

It wasn’t that long ago that marketers needed to capture an email address to have any chance to moving a lead to an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead).  Thanks to retargeting (being able to targets digital ads at those that visited your website) our only goal at this stage of the pipeline is to get an individual to our website.

Once the individual visits our site we are able to engage in a “retargeting campaign”.  Have you ever gone to Amazon to look for new product only to have it show up minutes later when you visit Facebook?  That is retargeting.  At this stage in the game we need to have digital campaigns to bring the user back to our site.

Why?

Users returning to our website are typically 4-10 times more likely to move to the next step in our funnel.  Our focus in the LEAD stage is to get engagement.  Engagement happens when the user enters their email to receive a valuable piece of information.  In our case this may be a GUIDE, a CHEAT SHEET or a CASE STUDY.  You organization will be developing CONTENT with enough value that a certain percentage of users will enter their name and email to get the downloaded document.  When they do, the user becomes a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead).

3 – MQL (MARKETING QUALIFIED LEAD)

Cool.  We are now at the third stage in our funnel.  There is no guesswork here.  The only way someone can become a MQL is for us to capture their email.  Our job at this stage is to nurture the relationship.  Our system tracks virtually every digital engagement (email opens, site visits, links clicked on, etc.)  Every interaction with your ogranization increases that users LEAD SCORE.  When the lead score shows us that this is truly an interested party, they become an SQL (Sales Qualified Lead).

This is a major milestone in our funnel.  Up to this point, everything has been done by marketing.  Now it is time to pass this person off to the sales team with a high level of confidence they are a potential buyer!

The age old tension between sales and marketing pretty much stops when a lead has been over-qualified.  We rarely hear sales complaining about the quality of the leads using this process.

4 – SQL (SALES QUALIFIED LEAD)

Yeah! We now have an SQL (Sales Qualified Lead).  In a subsequent blog we will go over the specific steps that happen when the sales team is provided a SALES QUALIFIED LEAD.  The pass-off from sales to marketing is one we spend a significant amount of time working to ensure success.  Quick fact:  Those companies that follow up within 5 minutes of an SQL becoming qualified are 100 times more likely to connect.

5 – PROPOSAL

We are now in the bottom of the funnel.  Our SALES QUALIFIED LEAD is ready to receive a proposal.  Based on our efforts to data (educating and building credibility) there is a good chance we are close to having a new client.  Having a sales team that understands the dynamics of this conversion (whether it be a call or in person) is key to a successful presentation and natural progression to a new client.

6 – CLIENT

Our experience shows that if we do a good job in the first five steps of the funnel, actually closing the deal is actually just the last step in the process – not a huge ask!

Hopefully this gave you a decent overview of a process we know works.  Having said that, there are several additional layers of detail to turn this into an actionable initiative for your organization.  I totally understand that and am committed to giving you the details you need to helping to make your B2B sales and marketing initiative an absolute success.

If you have any questions, don’t be shy about reaching out.  Shoot me an email at tom@marketsense.com

About Tom Poole

2015-11-27_14-14-23 Seattle based MarketSense was founded by Internet pioneer and award winning entrepreneur Tom Poole. Poole has been involved in data driven marketing since he started selling banner ads on the website he launched in 1995 and eventually sold to Compaq Computer. As the Internet has grown and digital marketing has become increasingly more sophisticated, Poole’s concept has been to help companies predictably grow with accountable ROI based digital marketing.