In my book, The Radical Pipeline Strategy, I discuss the strategies and best practices I have used to build effective Sales Development organizations with regards to appointment setting. These teams, commonly known as Business Development (BDRs); Account Development (ADRs); and Sales Development (SDRs), consistently help your sales teams to achieve pipeline and revenue targets.
How difficult is it to set a meeting?
Over the years, Sales Development has come a long way. It is no longer disparagingly thought of as “Telemarketing”—a group of junior people whose primary role is appointment setting, or register people for seminars and events.
The SDR role is, however, still considered an entry-level position: their job is to generate a sales qualified meeting otherwise known as an SQL. The reason why companies hire junior-level people is because they think, “how difficult is it to set a meeting”? This is a pivotal question that I explore fully in my book.
In this blog, I will outline common misuses of SDR teams as appointment setters that I have encountered while retooling client SDR teams at over 65 companies.
Role of SDRs
To start, consider this: companies hire junior SDRs as their first line of defense. Their job is to call valued prospects who have 10 or more years of experience in their field. However, most junior-level SDR’s haven’t acquired the skills to speak to these seasoned professionals in a meaningful way, nor have they been given the tools to support their qualification efforts. In other words, “junior” SDR’s are the first point of contact with the most valued prospects of your company. This is an ineffective strategy for appointment setting that simply doesn’t work.
Junior SDRs don’t know how to speak to executives, and executives—who receive hundreds of calls from the same type of people—will tune them out. As a result, few qualified meetings are set and pipeline goals simply aren’t achieved.
To make up for the lack of quality meetings, companies hire more SDRs to help them squeeze out more appointments needed to meet their qualified meetings quota. In doing so, companies just build larger, more unsuccessful teams. This, in turn, costs companies a lot of money and frustration as they continue to miss pipeline targets month after month.
Next, consider this: billions of robocalls (over 50 billion in 2021) are made to the same seasoned professionals which lowers your SDRs chances of getting the target to answer their calls. And when they do actually answer, SDRs aren’t prepared to talk to the potential prospect. SDR’s need extensive training—in B2B appointment setting—to have conversations that provide prospects with the “valued” information for making informed decisions. Without this training, no one (prospects or sales) gets what they want or need.
Below are some examples of how SDRs are misused.
SDRs are NOT:
A panacea! If your company doesn’t have a viable solution, or your executives haven’t identified your best targets, or if your messaging is off the mark, SDRs won’t be able to generate a quality sales process and pipeline. Don’t force your SDRs to make up your messaging—they will fail.
A cold-call engine. Our research shows that it takes around 2,000 cold call dials to generate one closed deal. I don’t know any company that can afford a resource just to make dials. Instead, give your SDRs enough MQLs (marketing qualified leads) to meet your stated objectives. Then, set up a Target Accounts program, which are key accounts that your Sales Executives want to close, during the year. Market to these specific accounts using ABM, for example. Next, assign a handful of these accounts to your SDRs each quarter and arm them with content to give to prospects as they work to make contact. Finally, provide your sales reps with SDR marketing solutions, like FrontSpin and Outreach.io, to enable them with the skills to send personalized and targeted messages.
They are also NOT:
Your Chief Marketing Officer or VP Marketing/Sales. Every team I retooled allowed their SDRs to create emails and sales tools, which were not effective. SDRs are not product marketing executives or writers. Effective SDRs are good on the phone, but most are not good at writing. Marketing and Sales should consistently provide the right tools and fresh content with the desired messaging to their SDR team members. I tune out emails that are regurgitated and sent to me week after week… your prospects will too.
Your Sales team. Don’t expect your SDRs to close deals. Instead, educate them to uncover basic needs and pain. In addition, let them focus on generating quality SQLs and appointment setting with viable prospects. Have your sales and inside sales teams close the deals.
Admin support for your sales team. Many of the companies I have worked with loaded their SDRs with admin work. When this happens, SDRs who don’t enjoy making phone calls focus on admin work, and the SDRs who like making phone calls won’t do the admin work. So, SQLs are not being generated, nor is admin work being done. Remember, SDRs are there to develop a quality pipeline for your sales organization. Give them one job: generating highly qualified SQLs and sales appointments.
An after-thought. The SDR operation works best when it is considered an integral component of a company’s overall marketing and sales strategy. Companies that just “plop” in a SDR team without providing the right infrastructure, or with effective marketing or sales strategies in place, waste a lot of time and money. It takes careful thought and planning to build a SDR team that will generate a quality sales pipeline.
Often the first live personal contact your prospects will have with your company. This first conversation needs to be spot-on and meaningful in order for your prospects to stay engaged with your company.
An effective method for delving into your prospects’ needs and building pain for your solution. Teach your SDR’s how to ask the right qualifying questions that build pain and need.
A sales pipeline development engine.
Most effective when supported by MQLs, or have an effective Target Accounts program in place.
Opportunity builders. Every communication with a prospect increases your company’s chances to create a viable opportunity. Make sure every call counts. Train your SDR team to take full advantage of every prospect interaction through efficient lead generation. Provide them with the right tools and proper training. Help them learn how to keep your prospects engaged throughout the qualifying process.
A great way to stay in touch with key or Target accounts. While field reps are closing deals or chasing warmer opportunities, someone needs to stay in touch with the key accounts or else you may lose them to the competition. (Some years back, one of SOMAmetrics’ clients had Comcast™ listed in their database as a Target Account. Comcast™ had been in their database for a while. Our SDR discovered that Comcast™ was going to acquire NBC. She called them and generated an enormous opportunity for our client. The field rep was unaware of this new information. This might have been a missed opportunity if our SDR had not contacted Comcast™ when she did).
In touch with the same prospects every month. These prospects often provide useful market intelligence which your company can mine to perfect its messaging and targeting.
Building a quality sales pipeline
To answer the previous question, “How difficult is it to set an appointment?”: it is very difficult to set an appointment. This is why so many SDR organizations fail. Every connection with a prospect needs to be treated like gold. Today, most people don’t pick up the phone to speak to anyone who is not on their contact list. When they do, the SDR needs to be armed with the right messaging and understanding of both your targets and your ideal customer profile (ICP). They must know how to qualify for pain and how to identify compelling prospect events, which align with your solutions.
In short, the role of your SDR team is to build a quality sales pipeline. They do this by setting highly qualified meetings with the right targets in the right market. Pipeline is always king. If you view this team as a strategic part of your pipeline build and set it up properly, you will hit your pipeline and revenue targets consistently.
There’s a few different ways we like to categorize buyers. Though they are by no means fool-proof indicators of any individual’s behavior or preferences, these classifications can help us organize the strategies we use to educate different prospects at a more broad, macro level.
In this discussion, we’ll be looking at three different categorizations of buyers, each of which will influence the content and strategies we use to educate them and move them along the funnel;
Psychographic Buyer Types
Psychographic Buyer Types
The Psychographics of a B2B buyer tells us that person’s internal attitude towards change. Different people have widely varying openness to change一 from those who are the first to try something new, to those who will never willingly try something new, and to those in between.
Geoffey Moore, best selling author and leading B2B high tech marketing thought leader, describes three types of B2B buyers in his classic book, Crossing the Chasm.
Visionaries actively seek change and are constantly looking for a significant competitive advantage, a capability that does not exist yet, or a “game changer” that nobody else has. They like to see improvements in order of magnitude (5X, 10X) and cost is rarely the priority. Unlike the following two types, they are willing to accept projected ROI.
The messages that engage Visionaries are things like; game changer; dramatic; the first; the only; X times faster/better; cutting edge; “X factor.”
Pragmatists take pride in being rational, practical, and objective in their decision-making process. They accept change as inevitable but do not precipitate it, and they don’t believe in “game changers.” They consider themselves rational and objective and are willing to take some risk for a proven level of reward. When researching solutions, they look for demonstrable incremental improvements, case studies, and quantifiable ROI. Importantly, the cost is not the primary concern, but it is factored in the ROI calculation.
The messages that engage Pragmatists are things like; proven; verifiable; demonstrable; incremental; have x number of the top 10 companies as customers.
Conservatives hate to change unless forced to do so due to regulation, customer demands, obsolete products, etc. They do not believe that things will get better. In fact, they really believe that things are getting worse, more complicated, harder to use, and expensive.
For this group, cost and brand are everything. They typically buy the cheapest of something they already use all the time. They hate taking any risk, resist change, and deeply believe that the best things in this world have already been invented. They want things to remain the same—forever if possible. They don’t trust or like technology and hardly ever willingly embrace it.
The messages that engage Conservatives are things like; oldest, most used; most popular; most trusted; award-winning; since 19XX.
In addition to the psychographic element of a B2B buyer, generational differences add a significant layer of complexity in designing our marketing campaigns. The three dominant generations in the workforce today are Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials, all of whom have had majorly different experiences and involvement with technology and culture. These differences will influence the type of marketing that will most engage them.
Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers tend to be highly individualistic and grew up in an era when “A-type” personalities were highly admired by employers. They are therefore generally very competitive in the workplace and not as collaborative. When buying, they generally prefer vendors that have extensive networks, and that are willing to let them access those networks.
Compared to the two other generations, they do the least amount of online research, preferring to use their networks to find new vendors. Unlike later generations, Boomers are more likely to want to talk to someone in real time, so it’s important to be reachable by phone by displaying contact info readily on your website and having a live person on the other end to answer it. Boomers also prefer conferences and webinars because these present venues that allow them to network.
Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers like to see data or evidence of a claim before moving forward with a solution. They seem to be more focused on improving organizational outcomes and become the most interested in productivity increases, process improvements, and revenue gains. In accordance with this, they will need to see demonstrable evidence of any claims you make during the Marketing process.
Gen Xers are tech-savvy and don’t have a problem with any digital channel; they will comfortably chat, email, text, and call. They also don’t mind attending conferences and other physical events to learn about solutions. Importantly, while communication doesn’t have to be formal, Gen Xers expect it to be professional.
Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials make up over 70% of the workforce today. Roughly 51% of all B2B decision makers today are Millennials. When searching for a vendor, they tend to look for characteristics surrounding a company’s values. They want to understand the vendor’s vision on that particular subject and whether it is something they can support. In fact, a survey from Deloitte found that 90% of Millennials today view the success of a business through more factors than simple performance; they’re likely to take into consideration the employee satisfaction, the company’s integrity, and environmental concerns where applicable.
Millennials prefer to engage digitally, preferring a Zoom meeting to a live one because they find it more efficient. They need lots of content in all types of digital media—documents, videos, podcasts, recorded and live webinars, and more. They’re also much more receptive to chatting casually and virtually than other demographics. As such, chat boxes on website pages can go a long way with them.
As explained in our white paper on Prospect Education, a third way to classify Prospects is by the stage of buyer readiness they’re at in their buyer’s journey. The levels of Buyer Readiness indicate how aware they are of their problem and how engaged they are with finding a solution for it. We can use this classification as a way to further narrow down the messaging we should be sending to Prospects, as not every Prospect is at the same level of Readiness as others, and will therefore need messaging that reflects how far they are along the buyer’s journey.
Level 1: Prospects with No Clue
These prospects are oblivious and unengaged, just beginning to feel and take note of a pain point in their business. However, they may not know that it’s a problem yet or, if they do, they won’t know how to fix it. They’ve begun some light research into the symptoms of their problem and are starting to understand the various potential options they have to solve it down the line. For those that are clueless, the marketing challenge is immense. You need a way to deliver messaging to them, which generally comes from Lead Generation content such as blogs, infographics, or online ads.
Level 2: Exploring Prospects
Exploring Prospects are interested but not yet engaged. They’re fully aware of the problem they’ve been experiencing and are actively seeking to solve it. They’ll be researching all of the products available to them and interacting the most with those whose content is the most informative and relevant to their needs.
At this stage, they should have ample access to relevant and helpful information in order to learn more about how they may solve their problem. They likely won’t be ready to talk with Sales until they’ve learnt enough about the issue and their options to solve it.
Level 3: Actively Searching Prospects
Actively searching and fully engaged prospects are deep in their buying journey and have likely narrowed their list down to a few options that have stood out to them along the way. They’re now searching for the final information that will let them decide on which solution to employ to solve their original problem.
Content at this stage should be targeted for those at this advanced level of buyer readiness, like comparisons between your product and your competitors’ or more in-depth content like case studies and white papers.
It needs to be pointed out that a “Contact Us” form will not cut it here. You must provide them with a way to schedule either a demo or a call with one of your sales reps, on their own and see that the meeting is set on their calendar as confirmation.
These three categories (Psychographics, Generations, and Levels of Buyer Readiness) should greatly inform how you target your messaging when educating Prospects. Though we covered the essential information of each category and what messaging works best for them here, you can read a much more in-depth profile of these marketing strategies and possible solutions for your company in this white paper.
As email marketing has become the most effective way to initiate contact with leads today, thoughtfully coordinated and targeted email sequences can drive curiosity and engagement in prospects — which will prepare them to eventually schedule an appointment with a Sales rep. Understanding your audience when crafting email marketing campaigns is vital to sending out content that will engage leads. As the bridge between Sales and Marketing, Sales Enablement can play a functional role in managing and automating these emails.
Email Sequences and the Pandemic
During the pandemic, as the push towards virtual business incentivized Business Development Reps (BDRs) to transition their work online, email marketing became the new strategy for contacting leads before calling them. Though email marketing is certainly a wise choice for this, many BDRs were not adequately trained to write compelling emails to connect with leads, especially given how sudden the urge was to shift to virtual engagement.
Many resorted to sending out overused (and, as a result, ineffective) template emails from their prospecting tools that garnered little attention. The result was a series of unpromising emails that didn’t reflect the full selling potential of the company. Worse, they lacked the compelling content needed in emails to spark interest in leads.
Centrally approved messaging and email sequencing are now the most effective ways to help BDRs meaningfully connect with leads through email marketing. These strategies save the BDR from having to create their own messaging and content and instead will equip them with a library of targeted messaging crafted by Marketing and Sales Enablement.
Email Sequencing That Makes an Impact
To craft impactful email marketing campaigns, the customer must come first. Sales Enablement should use an intimate understanding of the target audience (e.g., busy executives) to craft compelling emails that will stand out from the rest. High-level decision makers budget their time and read emails on the go; hence, email content should be highly scannable, focused, and bring unique value to the recipient.
Each email should also use numbers, easily scanned bullet points, and short-form content (e.g., checklists, infographics) to share meaningful information. Each email should be connected to 6-9 emails that altogether educate and inspire trust in the recipient gradually.
Prospect engagement content should also be distributed with these email sequences, resulting in a streamlined catalog of messaging for BDRs that supports approved positioning. The end goal for any communication should be to educate the recipient enough on the product to encourage them to call or meet with a Sales rep.
Sales Enablement’s Role in Email Sequencing
As a liaison between Sales and Marketing, Sales Enablement’s primary role in email sequencing should be to ensure that the right content is created and is targeting the right persona profiles. There should be a robust and continuously updated library of content available to BDRs, and Sales Enablement should ensure that BDRs are comfortable accessing key content to share with leads.
To build on this training, Sales Enablement should also educate BDRs on the various persona profiles they’ll be contacting in order to help them locate which emails and email sequences they should use when initiating contact.
On the technological side, Sales Enablement should oversee that these emails are collected into thoughtfully arranged sequences with specific personas in mind, as well as including differentiation between inbound and outbound audiences to deliver specific and on-point messaging.
Operational support in Sales Enablement will also play a large part in automating the sending of each email a sequence. This will give BDRs more time to focus on what matters most in their role: connecting with leads.
Email sequencing is an important part of email marketing in today’s world. Writing engaging emails and making sure they get sent in the right order and to the right people are both roles that Sales Enablement teams can adopt. To read more about how Sales Enablement can drive sales through email sequencing, click here. You can find more resources like this on the SOMAmetrics website under resources. Or click here to schedule a call if you would like to speak with one of our associates.
Engaging online content is quickly becoming one of the most important resources available to Business Development Representatives (BDRs) today. As email marketing has become the most efficient way to initiate contact with leads, BDRs are turning to prospect engagement content to get attention and pique interest when sending out emails. In the following sections, we’ll look at why content is so important today, as well as what types of content BDRs need and what roles Sales Enablement can adopt in managing and creating content.
Why Content is So Important for Engagement Today
Because emailing is the rising medium for lead engagement today, one of the most effective ways to pique interest in any communication with a prospective customer is to share compelling, high-quality content.
Email marketing is used to connect with leads before calling them over the phone. During this stage of the buyer’s journey, relevant and helpful information should be shared with leads over email to educate them on the product and inspire a willingness to meet with a Sales rep. The goal is to engage leads enough over email so that when a BDR calls them, they’ll already have the information they need to want to book an appointment to talk with a Sales rep.
BDRs, then, will need an array of engaging and compelling content to send to leads over email. This content should be specific, highly targeted for specific persona profiles, and come in multiple mediums to reflect the modern trends of today. Additionally, having set email sequencing available to BDRs can streamline and optimize this process. Click here for more information on email sequencing.
The Types of Content That Best Engage Leads
In a hugely virtual world today, having modern and interesting content is essential to stand out from the crowd. We once lived in an era where PowerPoint seemed fresh and modern, but nowadays, the content that’s most likely to pique a lead’s interest will look a little different.
Sales Enablement will want to make a wide variety of content available in various mediums, many of which should be easily shareable online. Types of content in this area can include blog posts, white papers, webinars, videos, ebooks, product demo decks, podcasts, infographics, presentations, mobile apps, articles, social media, websites, games, online demos, and tutorials. The key is to have content that’s targeted to the specific industries and personas it will be shared with and to create it with engagement in mind.
These bits of informational content are designed to move curious but unconvinced middle-of-the-funnel prospects to a level of high interest and a willingness to meet with Sales. To read more about the type of content that will engage leads, click here.
Sales Enablement’s Role in Content Management
With a robust library of content available to them, BDRs will be well-prepared to engage with more leads and with more success. However, it’s just as important that BDRs be well-versed with what content they can and should send and to whom. For Sales Enablement, a vital part of BDR training should cover content awareness. Additionally, sales coaching should highlight which content to use for which persona profiles.
The content should also be stored in an easily accessed and organized content library, which can be facilitated through the use of content management tools like Google Docs.
Finally, Sales Enablement teams should track the dispersal of their content and enforce what content needs to be sent out by BDRs to promote better sales. Using KPIs in CRMs like SalesForce can aid Sales Enablement in the collecting of this information.
As email marketing has become more efficient in lead engagement today, the content that BDRs use to pique the interest of their leads should be of vital importance to the Sales Enablement team. Modern engagement content includes persona-targeted items in varied mediums to stand out. To read more about the type of content that will engage leads, click here.
The primary role of Business Development Representatives (BDRs) has always been to be ‘tele-prospectors,’ using the phone to find, qualify, and set appointments. Until recently, BDRs have always used cold calling to initiate contact with prospects, but various shifts in buyer behavior have made the phone call a much less effective medium for connecting with leads. Nowadays, BDRs will find the most success by connecting initially through email marketing and nurturing interest in leads before engaging over the phone.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss why this transition has occurred and how BDRs can use email marketing to connect with leads more meaningfully in the modern selling environment.
Why Cold Calling Isn’t as Effective Today
As you’ve probably noticed, the influx of robocalls over the past couple of years has led most people to stop answering the phone to unknown numbers — and this includes the people BDRs are trying to connect with. A recent study found that 90% of high-level executives report never responding to cold calls. Unfortunately, most people simply filter out sales calls or reject any calls they weren’t expecting, meaning that connecting with leads over the phone is now much harder than it ever was before.
Another major reason for the switch has to do with broader generational shifts in the workplace. Millennials now make up most of the workforce, and they’re no longer working entry-level positions — reports now show that they have accumulated about 73% of all the decision-making power in business. What this means is that what they want goes, and millennials are known to dislike talking over the phone, favoring more efficient forms of communication. BDRs will need to adapt how they connect with their millennial leads if they’re going to thrive in today’s market.
Connecting with Leads Through Email Marketing
In response to these changes, BDRs are initiating connections with leads through email marketing first, using engaging content to nurture a relationship before reaching out over the phone.
This has proven especially effective because the modern buyer is now used to doing most of their product research before meeting with a Sales rep, meaning that guiding them with information during their buyer journey can feed into their natural buying preferences.
Successful email marketing turns otherwise unaware leads into curious prospects, engaging them with content that’ll come to them in thoughtfully prepared sequences. They should be persona-oriented and highly targeted, with the end goal always being to foster a willingness in the lead to speak with a Sales rep. If done right, email marketing can be one of the most powerful ways for BDRs to connect with leads, but unfortunately, many BDRs have struggled to adapt to this new mode of communication.
With the sudden push to email marketing, especially during the pandemic, many BDRs were not adequately trained to write compelling emails to connect with leads. Many resorted to sending out overused (and, by result, ineffective) template emails from their prospecting tools that garnered little attention. The result was a series of unpromising emails that didn’t reflect the full selling potential of the company. Worse, they lacked the compelling content needed in emails to spark interest in leads.
Thoughtful, professionally crafted email sequencing is now the most effective way to help BDRs meaningfully connect with leads through email marketing.
Email Sequencing to Connect with Leads
Email sequences are internally regulated chains of nurture emails that make sure messaging being sent out is effective and planned out. Thoughtful email sequencing empowers BDRs to make better connections with leads by providing them with approved messaging and related content to send out. It gives them the right templates to send for specific personas and the coordinated messaging that will drive curiosity and engagement to increase appointment setting. Click here for more information on how Sales Enablement can boost BDR success through email sequencing.
B2C marketing these days is all about buyer psychology. When marketers create campaigns, they consider their intended demographic at every step of the way一 and tailor their approach to maximize their impact. They use the latest neurological and behavioral insights available to them to psychologically influence their exact audience, which in turn increases engagement, piques interest, and optimizes the marketing process.
But these tactics are tragically overlooked when it comes to B2B marketing, where we forget just how prominent a role the individual’s psychology plays in the buyer decision-making process for larger companies. While it is true that the ‘buyer’ in a B2B sales interaction is the business, with its own agenda or challenges that it may need to be solved, it would be a grave oversight to assume that the human representative of that business does not play an equal or even more important role as the target audience for marketing. It is, after all, an individual who’ll be deciding whether to (or not to) sign that deal.
It is crucial, then, to understand who you’re marketing to, what drives them, and how to optimize your marketing campaign for your target audience. Fortunately, psychology research has shown that there are three fundamental and distinguishable types of buyers in B2B marketing whose unique motivations give us insights into which approaches will most effectively speak to them.
Buyer Types and their Unique Motivations: Why this Matters
Decision-makers are people first and decision-makers second. That’s why, when creating campaigns in B2B marketing, it’s essential to keep the individual一 specifically, their unique needs and driving factors一 in mind. What psychology tells us is that there are set motivations that drive people to act; whether it be the need for achievement, the feeling of belonging, or even the desire for security. As Will Leach demonstrates in his book, Marketing to Mindstates, these motivations and others are deep-set driving factors that psychologically incentivize people to act, and it’s been shown that different people respond the most dramatically to different motivations.
On the other hand, as Geoffrey A. Moore illustrates in his best-selling book, Crossing the Chasm, there exists three fundamental buyer types in B2B marketing who each consider unique priorities in their decision-making process. When we merge these two theoretical frameworks (that is, the psychological motivations that incentivize people to act, paired with the archetypal breakdown of the three buyer types), we can create a powerful, multi-faceted approach to typifying and understanding the major demographics we market to in B2B marketing. Further, we can apply these ideas to ultimately optimize the marketing approaches we use for each of the groups.
Type 1: Visionaries
As their name suggests, Visionaries are incentivized to work in large part for the pursuit of an often-lofty dream. They’re the ones who are willing to take a risk with an unproven start-up where others won’t一if they think it could result in an innovative, brand-new advancement that’ll make them and their company stand out in their industry. They are looking for “game-changers,” for order-of-magnitude improvements, not measurable, repeatable results that have already been implemented by competitors. Visionaries will take risks, and cost is not generally an issue if the product falls in line with their desire for innovation and cutting-edge advancement.
As such, the key psychological motivations we can associate with Visionaries will be achievement, autonomy, and engagement. What this means in the context of marketing is that they will be motivated by messages that highlight how a given product will (respectively):
Promise to give them a sense of accomplishment or ingenuity, preferably connected to how innovative and unprecedented the product is.
Allow them the feeling of independence from the pack, or the feeling of being unique due to their singular willingness to back a newer technology.
Give them a sense of engagement with the newer product. It has to be something that excites their interest, particularly because of its novelty.
Type 2: Pragmatists
As somewhat of a counter to Visionaries, Pragmatists form the largest group of the three and inhabit the more neutral center ground. They understand that change is inevitable, but they do not go out of their way to quicken it or to beat it to the chase. In business, Pragmatists prioritize dependability and realistic growth; they want to see proof of the product working well in the past and a presence of it in other businesses in their industry. Flashy insinuations like products being “game-changers” or “cutting-edge” won’t impress them, but proven, incremental improvement and reasonable promises will. Pragmatists will take risks when they see fit, but they measure and manage them heavily.
Pragmatists are most generally associated with motivations for competence and empowerment. Accordingly, the marketing that speaks the most strongly to their incentives will:
Give them the feeling of having made a rational decision that will ultimately make them feel qualified and prepared in their decision-making role. This can be assured through the case studies and quantifiable ROIs they’ll use to come to a decision.
Make them feel in control of the outcome of their decision; they want to feel empowered when deciding on a product and want the sense of being authorized to make strategic decisions for their company based on their solid, pragmatic decision-making skills.
Type 3: Conservatives
As a polar opposite to Visionaries, Conservatives resent and fear change or innovation; they view it as solely negative and do not believe things can get any better than they already are. Additionally, they tend to reject new technology if it requires personal change or growth on their part. They’d much prefer to stick with what they already know than have to step into a new way of doing things. As such, they generally buy what they already use, what is simple, and what costs the least. Cost, in fact, is likely the only way a Conservative will be willing to switch to a different product.
Given these ideas, we can most reasonably associate Conservatives with the motivation for belonging and security. The marketing that will most likely incentivize them to act will be that which:
Assures them that the products they’re interested in are trusted and used by their peers, particularly other Conservative types in their industry. This is best paired with the idea that the product has also been used and trusted by those before them.
Assures them that the onboarding process is simple, painless, and risk-free. They crave the security of an easy, low-adaptive transition (if there must be one at all). Additionally, products that solve all the issues in a given domain or that come with all the necessary infrastructure appeal to them as it simplifies the integration process.
Once we understand the psychology of these fundamental buyer types and their motivations, we can optimize marketing tactics to speak to them in the ways they’ll find the most engaging or persuasive. Studies cited in Marketing to Mindstates suggest that optimizing marketing in this way increases consumer engagement, brand recognition, and memorability of the product. With these effects in mind, it’s beneficial to learn how to use psychology to tailor your marketing approach to each of these buyer groups in order to increase the efficacy of campaigns. Click here to learn more.
Although millennials generally have a stronger fluency in and preference for the use of technology in the workplace, it’s only been due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and the need for high adaptability that it demanded) that they’ve actually seen a widespread professional and preferential transition to virtual technology in business. In B2B marketing, both buyers and sellers have had to adapt their interactions to the virtual realm, a temporary fix that many now agree shows promise. It’s likely that this trend towards doing business virtually will continue even after COVID-19 no longer necessitates it, and that could be because millennials, the most tech-savvy demographic in the workforce today, are also the most influential decision-makers in the current business landscape.
Millennials and Technology
Millennials have always been much more closely connected to technology than have older generations. For the most part, today’s millennials grew up using technology that didn’t exist for the generations that came before them, and their natural familiarity with the virtual world has given them a leg up in the gradual global trend towards the use of technology in all sectors of life.
As compared to gen-Xers and baby boomers, the other major generations in business today, millennials are generally much more comfortable and proficient with technology, simply because of the exposure they’ve had to it throughout their lives. That being said, they also haven’t had all that much influence over business practices in any sector (including B2B marketing) until fairly recently, as they’ve only been coming of age in the business world within the past five or so years.
Though millennials have been proponents of integrating technology and digitalization into the workforce since they first began joining its ranks, it’s only been due to the unprecedented new demands of the pandemic that B2B marketing has made the switch; essentially, the industry has been forced to conduct a global experiment to see just how effective virtual selling can be一 and they’ve found that it works.
With these new changes in place, many may be wondering whether they will remain once COVID-19 no longer necessitates virtual business practices. For those who have been hesitant about the extended use of technology brought on by the pandemic, reverting to the old way of doing things may seem like a much-desired reward after an uphill battle with COVID-19.
Regardless of your stance on the matter, it’s highly unlikely that B2B marketing will revert back completely to what it was pre-pandemic. The issue is complex, and there are many reasons backing this theory, but the one most relevant to this discussion involves the new influence millennials now have over the market and the business sector, and what they’re going to be most likely to do with it in the wake of COVID-19.
Millennials’ Decision-Making Influence Today
The gradual increase in the millennials’ global importance may be easy to overlook, but the current data shows us that 73% of all decision-making, or influencing of buying decisions, in business today is done by millennials, who now also make up the largest generation in the workforce. As to be expected, they also like using technology and virtual communication more so than any other generation, with 41% reporting they actually prefer to communicate electronically than in person.
It’s difficult to facilitate industry-wide change, especially in something as significant as the medium through which we communicate, which is likely why the millennial population was not able to drive this transition before the pandemic necessitated it. That, and the fact that millennials as a group have only now gained influence in the business world as they’ve come of age within the past few years. However, now that the entire B2B marketing industry has been spurred to adopt digital platforms due to the pandemic, it’s likely that millennials, as the critical generation in the role of decision-making today, will have enough influence to maintain this new way of business. Today, they have the numbers, the decision-making influence, and the special interest in keeping virtual business around, and so it’s likely we won’t be seeing a reversion to the old tactics even after COVID-19.
With the influence of the highly powerful millennial generation in the workforce today, it’s likely that the shift to virtual buying and selling in B2B marketing will continue even after COVID-19 no longer makes it logistically necessary. What’s important to take away here is that B2B marketing will look different moving forward and that marketing teams should be equipped to do business virtually with success. What’s more, millennials also hold much of the power in business today, and so, as marketers, having a solid grasp of what appeals to them will be key for future success.
We know that optimizing your marketing approach for each of the fundamental B2B buyer types leads to higher engagement and better brand recognition, but how can you choose the right approach一with the most effective words and the most influential underlying messages一to best speak to these audiences? How do you choose which aspect of your product will most interest the buyer, and how will your delivery of that information pique their interest and close the most deals?
When crafting your marketing approach, choosing the optimal framing, words, and motivational drives for each of the buyer types in your target audience is important. In order to speak to them the most directly, you’ll need to understand what values they hold in the decision-making process, what particular things they desire in products, and which ideas are the most likely to make them act. Merging the theories from Will Leach’s book, Marketing to Mindstates, and Geoffrey A. Moore’s book, Crossing the Chasm, we’ll take an in-depth look at what drives each of these buyer types and how to optimize your marketing approach for these factors.
Visionaries: What they want
For Visionaries, the cost of the product is not as important as the substance of the dream it promises. As such, marketing for this type should not focus on cost or economy but instead on how innovative, cutting-edge, or game-changing the product will be. Visionaries want to buy into something that has never been done before, and so past evidence or “proof” that the product has worked elsewhere is not particularly useful, and might even get in the way. In the same vein, they’re willing to accept projected ROI, as long as it’s substantial enough to pique their interest. Generally, they also want to see impressive promises, like big milestones being passed, or impactful change happening quickly.
The words that speak to Visionaries’ values the most clearly are those like:
Game changer; dramatic; the first; the only; X times faster/better; cutting edge; “X factor.”
In sum, anything that promises a large pay-off by way of a new technology will speak the most directly to what they desire in products.
Visionaries’ motivational aspirations are for achievement, autonomy, and engagement. To support these values, marketing content should underline how investing in the product will fulfill these psychological needs. To cater to the desire for achievement, content should promise them the feeling of being accomplished or tech savvy for choosing your product. This is best applied when it relates to their willingness to back an innovative or game-changing option.
When it comes to autonomy, your marketing approach should suggest an independence from what everyone else is doing, and feed into their desire to feel unique in their decision-making process. Highlight the elements of the product that stand out, and suggest that choosing your more novel product over a mainstream one will communicate a sense of originality in the Visionary’s decision-making process. An excellent example of this comes from Apple’s highly successful 1997 ad campaign, whose slogan read, “Think different.” In presenting the idea, Steve Jobs said it was about “honoring the people who think different and move this world forward.” The campaign’s call to those who desire to feel “unique” from the mainstream population ended up pulling the company out of its economic slump, highlighting the efficacy of marketing to a specific audience and optimizing your messaging to isolate what motivates them.
As for the need for engagement, make sure the product is marketed in such a way as to excite their interest, particularly because of how novel or unconventional the product is. Visionaries need to feel excited about the choices they make, so an effective approach to market to them will rely on engaging content.
Pragmatists: What they want
For Pragmatists, cost and proof of concept are important, but they are more so factors in their decision rather than the basis of it (as is the case with Conservatives). Pragmatists will want to see how these factors will relate to the overall likelihood of success if they decide to choose your product, but when sharing this information with them, it’s wise to optimize the frame in which you choose to share it in order to best address their values and desires. As such, they’ll respond best to demonstrable incremental improvements, case studies, and quantifiable ROI. They want to see detailed analysis or case study as proof that your product has worked for others in their industry, and they appreciate realistic promises over the far-fetched claims that’ll be the most exciting to Visionaries.
The words that speak to Pragmatists’ values the most clearly are those like:
Proven; verifiable; demonstrable; incremental; have x number of the top 10 companies as customers
In sum, anything that assures a reliable, evidence- and community-backed solution will speak the most directly to what they desire in products.
The motivational aspirations that most generally drive Pragmatists are competence and empowerment. To optimize for their desire for competence, marketing approaches should give them all the details they need to feel confident in their decision-making process. This can be facilitated through compelling case studies and realistic ROIs. The idea is to make them feel they are competent (even pragmatic) decision-makers who may level all the pros and cons before coming to a decision.
To inspire the sense of empowerment, it’s important to make them feel in control of the outcome of their decision to move forward with your product and to highlight their authority in the decision-making process. As such, try to underline the strategic merit in choosing your product over others and frame any associated risks as manageable or easily-calculated. A solid strategy here would be to offer them a compelling, fact-based argument that will assure them that their decisions are well-informed and level-headed.
Conservatives: What they want
For Conservatives, cost and brand are everything. They need to know that others in the industry, right now and in the past have used your product without any problems. Even at that, they’ll generally only be incentivized to take on a different product if it’s cheaper than their existing options. To market to them, your approach must highlight your product’s acceptance by their larger community or industry and its ultimate dependability. To build on this, it must also assuage the Conservative’s fear of difficulty or of having to struggle through the transitionary process of learning new features. Market your product as easy-to-use, painless, cheap above all else, and as the industry standard.
The words that speak to Conservatives’ values the most clearly are those like:
Oldest, most used; most popular; most trusted; award-winning; since 19XX; zero-risk; simple
In sum, anything that assures a traditional, well-endorsed, and cost-effective product will speak the most directly to what they desire in products.
Conservatives’ main aspirational motivations are for belonging and security. As described above, the way to market to those who value a feeling of belonging would be to highlight how many other professionals in their industry use and have used your product successfully. This is made stronger through messaging that suggests that other Conservative types also trust your brand. The idea is to communicate that, if they choose your product, they’ll be joining a vast array of peers who have already judged this product as reliable and hassle-free.
To cater to their motivation for security, market your product as the most simple, painless, and risk-free option out there. Conservatives crave the security of an easy, low-adaptive transition because they dislike change, so communicating the simplicity of your onboarding process will speak much louder to them than many other approaches. Additionally, since Conservatives generally believe that things aren’t getting better— perhaps only getting worse with time— suggesting that the product will simplify their lives, that it only takes a few minutes to get started, and that there is a 24 hour hotline ready to help at any time is a strong idea.
Having a nuanced understanding of the buyer types you’re selling to is essential when optimizing your marketing approach. However, just as essential is understanding which proven online marketing strategies you can use to cultivate high-quality leads within these three groups.
According to research from Gartner, only 6% of chief sales officers (CSOs) report that they are extremely confident in their team’s ability to meet or exceed their revenue goals. This means that for the vast majority of sales leaders, reaching revenue growth targets is a high-priority challenge.
At the same time, the B2B purchasing process has changed entirely in the digital era. To stay competitive, companies must adapt and keep up with their dynamic customer bases. But how can companies do this, as their buyers navigate the digital world on their own terms?
To answer this question, here are five factors affecting revenue growth that will elevate your company to the next level.
Factor 1: Choose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth
First and foremost, choosing the right market focus for your company is the single most important factor impacting your revenue growth. It’s the keystone of your marketing and sales activities; the one crucial element that can make or break your revenue growth.
Simply put, a well-chosen and narrow market focus can result in millions of dollars in the sales pipeline. Not only that, but you will see more high-quality leads each month. Of all of the five factors, this segmentation and focus has the greatest potential to increase or decrease your revenue growth from the previous period.
So, how does this work? A narrow target market empowers you to focus on excelling in a specific area. You can develop in-depth knowledge of your target market that would be impossible to develop otherwise. Consequently, this specialized knowledge increases efficacy and boosts the number of high-quality leads generated by your marketing efforts.
Factor 2: The Sales Process Is the Buyer’s Process
Next, the old sales process is out of date. The tactics that may have worked in the past—like cold calls and mass email marketing campaigns—are quickly becoming obsolete.
To be clear, today’s buyers spend only 5% of their time with a given sales representative during the purchasing process, on average. They spend more time researching solutions online, preferring to discover for themselves whether or not a vendor is well-suited to fulfill their needs.
But in the new buyer’s landscape, you must meet buyers on their terms. This involves creating highly individualized content to demonstrate what you have to offer your target market. To capture the attention of this new brand of buyers, sellers must align their sales and marketing processes with their buyer’s expectations and preferences.
Factor 3: Tightly Align Sales and Marketing for High Growth
To facilitate revenue growth, marketing has to be directly linked to sales outcomes. It’s not enough for marketing to simply generate brand awareness anymore. Marketing strategies must result in high-quality leads that are likely to start a conversation with sales.
To align sales and marketing, make sure that your sales goals are the motivation behind your marketing efforts. Uniting sales and marketing with a common goal will change the way you approach marketing. Read on to discover how to transform them from a cost center to a revenue generator:
Factor 4: Leverage Intelligent Sales & Marketing Data for Revenue Growth
How do you ensure that your marketing and sales departments are in alignment with the overwhelming amount of data present? Well, the answer is simple—use intelligent sales data to guide your strategies, rather than historical data and experience-based knowledge.
One goal of intelligent sales data is to keep your strategies as up-to-date as possible. You should be responding to industry changes and accommodating new buyer preferences in real-time, not years into the future. This makes intuitive sense—with historical data, you are responding to buyers’ past preferences and not their current needs. Intelligent sales data keeps your strategies cutting-edge. This will keep your company from falling behind.
As such, the targeted capabilities of intelligent data enables your sales team to more effectively speak to leads and prospects, increasing the likelihood of their conversion into buyers over time.
Factor 5: Importance of Managing Sales & Marketing Operations by Metrics
Additionally, you can’t fix what you can’t see. That’s what the final factor is all about—to successfully increase revenue growth, you must track the right metrics and use them to build effective strategies for sales and marketing.
To generate revenue growth at a faster rate than costs, companies should invest in tracking the performance of their marketing campaigns. And from Factor 3, we know that marketing is just as important—if not more important—than sales at generating leads and revenue growth.
Thus, using metrics to manage your strategies will provide you with an objective understanding of how your sales and marketing efforts are performing. The right metrics will expose where you can improve, where you’re already excelling, and everything in between. This is essential to increasing revenue growth.
Factor 1: Choose the Right Market Focus for Revenue Growth
Successful marketing isn’t about reaching the broadest audience possible—it’s about reaching the right audience for your company.
Let’s say you have a limited marketing budget, which means that you have to maximize the ROI of each dollar you spend. Without a defined target market, you will waste your resources reaching market segments that aren’t the right fit for your product.
Because of this, the real challenge is to target and reach customers who are most likely to convert into sales. You don’t want to waste your money on anything else.
By targeting a narrow market, you can increase your depth of understanding in a specific industry. So when you offer more individualized information that is relevant to potential customers, you stand out from the competition.
Remember, your goal is to get on the shortlist of vendors the buyer will contact. Buyers want to know that you can offer the right solutions for their specific pain points.
To do this, you’ll need to develop an in-depth understanding of your buyers. And not only do you need to understand their industry, but you also need to understand what motivates your buyers as individuals.
Also known as persona development, this process involves conducting thorough research to create a profile of the types of customers that are most likely to purchase your product.
Now, let’s solidify the concept of choosing a market focus with an illustrative case study.
Without a specific industry target, your marketing efforts could draw the attention of companies in any number of industries. Not all of these companies will be the right fit for your product.
In this instance, the client was a digital technology services provider that built digital capabilities for its clients. They provided services to any incoming request and did not target a specific industry. Even though company executives knew they had to focus on a specific industry sector to execute its outbound strategy, which one was the right one?
Well, we helped the client analyze its track record to determine which industries were the ideal targets. Then, we conducted in-depth industry research to narrow down the top industry that was worth targeting.
With one specific industry in mind, the next steps were to create content for this industry and generate targeted demand through email campaigns and phone prospecting.
As a result of this digital content strategy, the client generated 16 high-quality leads per month, increased name recognition, and brought 4 million dollars into the sales pipeline. This success story demonstrates the value of focusing your marketing efforts on a specific industry.
The Right Market Focus: Key to Success
With a narrow target market, you can develop your understanding of your target market to a greater degree. You can devote more of your resources to specializing in this industry, to refining your knowledge of their pain points, current and future challenges, and crucially, how your company and its services can help.
And there’s a reason that finding the right market focus is Factor 1—it’s the first thing companies should nail when developing a strategy for increasing revenue.
First, it will make your company stand out. Next, market focus increases the effectiveness of the following factors—starting with the buyer’s process in Factor 2.
Factor 2: The Sales Process is the Buyer’s Process
Does this story sound familiar? A salesperson blindly calls and emails through a list of contacts, hoping that someone will respond so he can convince them to schedule a meeting. On the off chance that he is successful, he will conduct the meeting as follows: First, he will tell the prospect all about himself. Then, he’ll ask the respondent about their company. Regardless of the response, he will then launch into selling his product.
This clunky, sales-centered approach is the old sales process that prioritizes the salesperson’s preferences. There’s a reason this process is ineffective—despite its name, the sales process is not really about the salesperson. Buyers aren’t interested in working on a salesperson’s schedule—they have their own priorities to fulfill, and they appreciate salespeople who anticipate and respond to their needs and work with their schedule.
So, calling it “the sales process” is a misnomer. Your focus should be on the buyer’s needs, desires, and timeline, making it more accurate to call it the buyer’s process.
To fully understand the buyer’s perspective along their journey toward making a purchase, let’s look at the purchasing process from their point of view.
The Buyer’s Process
Today’s buyers start with research. Once they recognize the problem that needs solving, a team member begins looking for answers online. They’ll comb through blogs, articles, industry reports, and other sources, all in search of the best possible solution to the problem at hand. Your job is to stand out amongst this crowded market and make it to the shortlist of vendors they will contact.
To stand out, your content must address exactly what your buyers are looking for. This is where your in-depth knowledge of your target market comes into play (as you already know from Factor 1).
Then, buyers make the crucial decision of whether or not to include your company on the shortlist based almost entirely on your content. So, you must ensure that your content is highly valuable, relevant to their needs, and surfaces on search results pages.
Personalized Content Fitted to the Buyer
Not only is it is an opportunity to demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge of the potential buyer’s needs at every stage of their journey, it is the key to standing out in a crowded market. This approach works with the buyer’s preferred process—conducting independent research—and provides them with useful information to substantiate their purchasing decision.
Ultimately, the key to building a successful marketing and sales strategy is to focus on what the buyer wants. Your focus on a single target market will shine through your content and encourage readers to set up a meeting. Now the question becomes—how do you ensure that the right people are finding your content? Read Factor 3 to find out.
Start with your revenue goal and work backward from there to determine the targets your sales and marketing efforts should strive to reach. This process will align sales and marketing in pursuit of a common goal: growing revenue.
To achieve this goal, marketing has to deliver the right kinds of leads. It’s not just about branding and spreading the word—it’s about finding highly motivated leads interested in purchasing the product you’re selling, capturing their attention, and nurturing them along the funnel toward sales.
Here is an infographic that illustrates the process of funneling prospects toward sales.
But for every highly qualified lead that is likely to convert into a sale, there are plenty of less-qualified leads who will find their way into your funnel. Maybe they’re students researching a project, or an HR manager creating a job description. Whatever the reason, they’ve come across your content, shared their contact information to download it, and are not at all interested in purchasing your product.
So as not to get stuck in the funnel, you should choose targeted keywords to filter out as many of these leads as possible, but you will probably still receive some low-quality leads. After that, it’s the marketing department’s job to sort through these leads and separate the promising ones from the rest.
To do this, automation is key. Your marketing department is busy with strategic high-level tasks, and separating leads manually is time-consuming. If you automate the process, you receive more of the job titles you want while minimizing the number of low-quality leads.
That’s why the ultimate goal is to streamline the lead generation process to deliver the highest quality leads possible to your sales team. To accomplish this, both departments must be on the same page in terms of their goals, progress, and how these indicators will be measured.
Factor 4: Leverage Intelligent Sales & Marketing Data for Revenue Growth
Since we have established how important marketing is, how can we quantify our findings? Traditionally, sales planning relied on account segmentation, driven by historical knowledge of the market rather than up-to-date facts. But things have changed.
But in a post-COVID-19 world, historical data may not be relevant at all. More importantly, the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly have long-lasting effects on consumers and companies alike. Using outdated data to develop your sales strategy will leave you struggling to keep up with buyers’ needs in real-time.
Looking towards the future, experts predict that smarter, more responsible, and scalable AI will be key to growing revenue from sales in today’s world. Access to constantly updating information about your target markets and their industry trends will be essential to developing effective sales strategies.
And where exactly does this data come from? Automated sales and marketing tools will provide you with the information you need to develop an effective and dynamic strategy for increasing growth. Automated tools simplify the process of collecting useful sales data, which makes it easier to put this information into action.
Using Intelligent Sales Data: Good Things Take Time
In response to a drop in sales, the sales department might be too eager to make adjustments without taking the time to review performance and properly diagnose the issue affecting sales. A sales diagnosis is key to determine what went wrong and how to fix it.
After conducting a sales diagnosis, the data you gather from practices like these should form the basis of your sales and marketing strategy. Rushing into a quick fix without uncovering and addressing the root of the problem will lead to more issues down the line.
Taking the time to implement intelligent sales data tools, interpret that data, and apply it accurately to your situation is essential to developing the strongest possible sales strategy. This is similar to the process of managing by metrics, the subject of the fifth and final factor affecting revenue growth.
Factor 5: Importance of Managing Sales & Marketing Operations by Metrics
To effectively foster growth, you must know exactly what is and isn’t working and why. This is what managing by metrics is all about—to develop growth-minded strategies for sales and marketing, you must track the right metrics in real-time.
Below, you’ll find some examples of critical metrics to track:
Average deal sizes
Average discount given
Quota attainment rate
MQL to SQL ratio
SQL to closed deal ratio
Sales budget per sales dollars
Marketing budget per sales dollars
As seen above, metrics provide you with crucial information that you can use to substantiate your strategic business decisions. They give you an objective and evidence-based measuring stick to use to foster your company’s growth.
Let’s take a look at a case study that demonstrates the power of metrics in action.
This client was a software vendor targeting the financial services industry. Their goal was to increase the number of clients served and bring in more new business from completely new customers—a crucial challenge for any company.
So, how did we go about strategizing for this level of growth the current period?
Measuring the right metrics was key to developing and implementing a sales plan that could double sales from new customers in 12 months. To achieve this goal, all salespeople had a set number of activities to complete each week, including calls, emails, and demos.
Furthermore, the proof is in the results. After 90 days, the company saw a 620% increase in outbound sales calls and achieved 246% growth in the sales pipeline. The result was a 67% increase in the number of deals closed each month.
And this level of growth wouldn’t have been possible without regular and accurate measurements of strategic sales metrics. As this case study demonstrates, setting attainable, evidence-based goals for growth is a key step toward building your high-growth lead generation strategy.
Managing by metrics can expose areas of weakness in your sales and marketing strategies. This provides useful data detailing what you can improve on. That’s why metrics are crucial to any sales and marketing strategy today.
Through these five factors, we’ve provided a comprehensive overview of the key practices that impact revenue growth in today’s world. This knowledge will form the basis of a sales and marketing strategy that delivers revenue growth now and into the future.
Among other changes, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred the marketing and business industries to adapt quickly to an online-only working environment. This transition is something that B2B marketing has been hesitant to do for years, even though B2C marketing had largely already taken the leap. However, many of the changes to the industry brought on by the pandemic have proven successful, and so even as day-to-day private life may be returning back to the “normal” we saw in the days before COVID-19, it’s highly unlikely that the virtual evolution of the B2B marketing field, and business in general, will see a similar reversion.
What B2B Marketing has learned during COVID-19
The world has been slowly integrating the use of technology in many sectors of life over the past few years. Unsurprisingly, B2C marketing has taken advantage of this fact, transitioning the majority of its marketing materials online in order to target a population increasingly preferential to virtual business. As to be expected, this technological update has been met with great success. However, we never saw a similar shift in B2B marketing until the dramatic transition brought on by the demands of the pandemic.
This hesitancy to go virtual has largely been due to the assumption among B2B marketers that e-commerce is only feasible for small-ticket items, many of which you’d see in B2C online selling. However, as we’ve begun to see in the post- COVID-19 landscape, 70% of B2B decision-makers are willing to buy products worth up to $50,000 in a fully self-serve and remote setting, with 27% being willing to pay up to $500,000 (Mckinsey). The evidence here suggests that the once-dominant notion (that fully virtual buying and selling should be reserved for the B2C realm) may be unnecessarily limiting.
In fact, since the transition to virtual business, we’ve seen that the possibility for highly effective virtual B2B marketing may be a lot more promising than we once thought. Not only is virtual marketing the most efficient and cost-effective, but it’s also shown promising results in its recent debut in B2B marketing. On the seller’s side, 96% of sales teams have shifted to online remote selling since the start of the pandemic, 65% of which report it to be equally or even more effective than previous methods (McKinsey). B2B buyers also agree that remote selling is as effective as in-person interaction, with three-quarters of them reporting to actually prefer digital self-service and remote engagement over in-person communication.
Overall, around 43% of all B2B revenue today comes from e-commerce and remote communication, both of which cut down on travel costs and expand products’ reach of engagement. Unsurprisingly, 79% of the companies who were prompted to transition their marketing and sales teams fully online during the pandemic say that they plan to continue this trend for twelve or more months after it (McKinsey).
Why Virtual Business is Likely to Stay
Many of the changes we’ve had to make due to the pandemic will not outlive it, but this isn’t going to be the case for all of themー especially not for those that we’ve found work better than our previous practices.
In business in general, the virtualization of our work has proven efficient and effective. As discussed earlier, the implementation of virtual work has already shown success in B2B marketing, but there are plenty of other shifts in general work habits and practices that will also ensure that B2B marketing, and business more broadly, will continue its virtual trend even after the pandemic stops necessitating it.
For one thing, the transition to remote work has already displayed a number of benefits. On the finance side, studies have shown that switching to remote work could save companies up to $11,000 a year per employee (Forbes). Hearteningly, this transition wouldn’t likely come at the expense of efficiency; another study found that 94% of employers believe that productivity was not impeded by the switch (CNN).
Employees have also shown a preference for remote work that makes it unlikely that they’ll want to revert to in-person work once things go back to normal. A poll found that two-thirds of remote workers said that they’d like to stay remote even after the pandemic (Forbes), citing increased time for family, the lack of commute, and the comfort of being at home as prime reasons for keeping the new practices around. In addition, the flexibility of location that remote work allows employees has highlighted yet another unexpected benefit of virtual business that will presumably keep it relevant post-pandemic.
New data surrounding the efficiency of virtual interviewing and conferencing also provides promising evidence of its likely longevity. A study of hiring recruiters found that 74% said that video (as opposed to in-person) interviewing is more efficient for their work. Additionally, companies who held virtual conferences reported that they were significantly cheaper to organize than in-person ones, an efficiency that parallels the doubtless saving of travel expenses by those who attended the conferences.
Lastly, the recent increase of decision-making power among millennials in the workforce will likely influence the continued support of virtual business in the coming years; millennials are the most tech-savvy generation in business today, and seeing that they now hold 73% of the decision-making power in the professional world, their preference for virtual work will likely be a powerful driving force behind why virtual business will see continued support in the post-pandemic landscape.
What this Means for the Future
People rarely change old habits unless they’re forced to, and the pandemic certainly pushed the business world to change like it never had before. The switch to virtual work brought about new practices that will likely outlive COVID-19 because they’ve proven to be more efficient and effective than previous ways of doing things. Even as we start reverting back to the daily routines we held before the pandemic, these new practices will remain, precisely because of their recently proven success.
In the world of B2B marketing, this means that those who don’t adapt, or who try to revert to majority in-person business post-pandemic, will likely struggle to remain relevant. In a market fresh off an almost two year online-only stretch, decision-makers are going to be choosing those companies that function in the ways we’ve now found to be more successful and efficientー and that’s going to be, in many ways, through virtual business practices.
We know that it’s important to optimize your marketing strategy for each of the B2B buyer types if you’re going to make an impactful marketing campaign, but which specific strategies yield the best results for each type of buyer?
What’s important to know here is that the way you’ll reach each of the buyer types is going to be dramatically different; you can’t use the same strategies you would use for a Visionary, who would take little issue conducting all business digitally, and a Conservative, who may be hesitant to even use a computer unless absolutely necessary. When optimizing your marketing strategies for each of these groups, it’s crucial to make sure your message doesn’t get lost in the medium.
Who You Should be Marketing to
Before we get into it, it’s important to get a sense of which of the buyer types will respond best to your product. Keep in mind that a product’s maturity, or the stage it’s at in its life cycle, will determine which buyer category will find it the most appealing.
In general, Visionaries just need to see a working demo with enough allure and they’re in; they don’t need (or want) to know that the product has been used elsewhere, because they’re looking for something new.
Pragmatists, on the other hand, won’t show interest in a product that hasn’t been taken on successfully by a peer company. You’ll generally only be successful marketing to a Pragmatist type if you have convincing key accounts, which typically might come from Visionaries.
Only once your product has matured past these stages and has been tested and trusted by many will it become interesting to Conservatives. When figuring out your marketing strategy, make sure to take the life stage of your product (and its associated desirability to each of the groups) into account. To learn more about each of the buyer types in B2B marketing, click here.
Strategies that Work for Visionaries
Visionary buyers are at once the easiest and the hardest to reach. That’s because you can’t really find them; they find you. On the one hand, they’re exceptionally tech-savvy, and so they know how to scout out the newest products on their own and will reach out for more information if they see a fit. Most of the time, it’ll be the Visionary buyer who initiates contact with you, not the other way around.
On the other hand, however, trying to find them on your own can be a lot more difficult. Visionaries exist in all industries, and because their claim to fame is largely that they are unique, it’ll be rare to find them in a definable group in any setting. When marketing to them, your best bet will therefore be to take a relatively horizontal approach, as long as it prioritizes online exposure. Visionaries are horizontally focused, meaning that they don’t care about which industry the product is intended for, as long as they think it could fit their own use. So, focus on highlighting the features of your product most likely to engage someone looking for something new.
Anything online is a good way to go with Visionaries; blogs, posts, forums, ads, and organic or paid searches of any type will all raise your chances of getting their attention. You don’t need to package anything specifically for them just yet; they’ll ask for more information once they’re interested in the product.
Strategies that Work for Pragmatists
Pragmatists, on the other hand, do need to be targeted, and your strategies for them should reflect a nuanced understanding of their needs. It’s important to note that Pragmatists are typically vertically focused, meaning they stay within their industry when looking for new products. More specifically, they’ll want to see not only proof that your product has worked for others, but also that it has worked for companies in the same industry, of a similar size, and of a comparable level of complexity as their company.
To market to a Pragmatist, you’ll need at least a few key accounts to grab their attention一 most of which will come from the Visionaries who took on your product first. In transitioning from marketing to Visionaries to marketing to Pragmatists, make sure to work with companies that are of a similar size and complexity of those of the Pragmatists you’re targeting; they’ll want to see proof of concept in companies that are similar to theirs.
You’ll need a more tailored marketing strategy when working with Pragmatists, the majority of which will be online. Materials such as case studies, detailed analyses, white papers, ebooks, buying guides, and even webinars can all prove impactful as long as your product is appropriate for the Pragmatist’s company.
Strategies that Work for Conservatives
The strategies you’ll use to market to Conservatives will be very different from those previously discussed. Because they’re not exceptionally tech-savvy, online marketing strategies will not engage them nearly as well as they would buyers from other types. Face to face is what Conservatives prefer, though this method is only as effective as is your brand recognition among their circles. Conservatives like to go to conferences in person in very familiar venues; your success in this sector will rely heavily on whether they recognize you and associate you with their industry. Become a presence in their spaces and gain acceptance by their peers in order to get their attention.
Besides having a physical presence in the conferences they attend, the most effective marketing strategies for Conservatives will be those that are not limited to the online realm; printed handouts s, phone calls, print publications, and in-person speaking engagements are all effective options for this type.
The marketing strategies you choose to reach your buyers will vary depending on which of the B2B buyer types you intend to attract. As with anything in marketing, it’s important to understand who you’re speaking to and what will incentivize them to act. Click here to learn more about how to optimize these strategies for each of the buyer types一 you’ll learn what words and ideas will speak the most to them and how to frame your information in a way to cater to their unique motivations.
After Identifying Site Bottlenecks, Delivering Solutions, and understanding Measurement tools, we can now begin the deeper data analysis and provide tangible meaning to the data presented. Benchmarks also ensure that we are comparing apples to apples when looking at data. For our purposes, as we are looking for performance improvements for a site element, webpage, or the site entirely. Also, we are looking for key business KPIs, such as page views, clicks, average session duration, conversions, etc. Subsequently, we need to look over a period of time to create an average or a median metric benchmark that will reflect a business’s prior success.
For businesses that have seen significant growth in a short period, it may be difficult to look at, for example, a year-long web report and take a rough average.
Long-run Historical Benchmarking
Long-run historical benchmarking is a method of benchmarking that looks at a lot of past web performance data to create benchmarks. This method works with websites that have existed with web data capabilities for a reasonable period, websites that have seen steady web performance, or sites that do not directly drive most business growth/sales. To create an annual performance benchmark, a company can compare the number of years’ data and create an average/median benchmark for web metrics. It is key for an annual benchmark to be compared against other years to account for any external variables that affect web performance.
This method is the easiest method to create benchmarks for web performance because they do not require intensive calculations or models, and these benchmarks can easily be created even just by looking at graphs. If a business is focused on e-commerce or it is a major channel of business growth, then the business will obviously make constant efforts to increase web performance through marketing efforts. The second caveat for this model is that if the first round of solutions delivers a positive change in web performance, then the first version of the benchmark will no longer be relevant, and another benchmark will need to be developed. But, because the “new performance” values are relatively new and there is not enough data to measure through an entire year or possibly even for a month.
Thus, if there is a significant change in performance after the creation of the first benchmark, new data will need to be analyzed to create a new benchmark.
Forecasted Growth Rate Benchmarking
Forecasted growth rate benchmarking is another method to create benchmarks for web performance. For example, companies with constant site performance growth, B2C businesses, and sites that drive most business growth/sales will benefit more from using this model. The specific KPI that will show a high correlation with changes in website performance depends on business intelligence analysis, and businesses will need to invest their own time into finding the most relevant KPI.
Insert a trendline with the following conditions
Now, with a trendline that now closely mirrors the empirical data, we can use the trendline equation to compute a KPI growth rate. By taking the function’s derivative, we can find the KPI growth rate. For functions that have an order greater than two, you will notice that the independent variable will still exist in the KPI growth rate, and that is completely normal. With this KPI growth rate, we have developed a benchmark that your solution deliveries should outperform.
First, creating an assumption that a business KPI and web performance is a very large assumption, and there is very little research to prove this assumption can be made soundly. Second, this model only works for companies that are B2C and depend on online sales to drive growth. Now that we have understood the two foremost methods of creating benchmarks, we can now try to assess meaning from the solution delivery data. If we can see that, after the time that the solutions were implemented, that there was a clear positive change in performance, then it can be concluded that the solution delivery works.
But most times, there are 2 drawbacks to trying to analyze website performance data. First, it is very rare to see an obvious change in site performance simply by optimizing a website’s front and back end. Second, it is very difficult to see obvious changes in performance if the website has very low page views. Arguably, that is a very significant increase in performance.
The key to understanding the data is to ensure that any changes in performance are sustained and consistent over a reasonable period most times