Before sales development representatives existed, remember telemarketers? Without caller ID, we didn’t know who was calling until we picked up the phone. We were trapped in by someone on the other end trying to sell us something, not taking “no” for an answer. We hated it.
And so did the telemarketers. They mostly got yelled at for wasting their time or simply hung up on. It was a job for the desperate and paid very little.
Sometime in the 1980s, someone went to B2B companies and proposed to set appointments for their sales process teams. They hired good candidates (better than the telemarketers) and trained their “tele-prospectors” well on the prospects they were calling into
Eventually, the client companies thought they could save some money if they brought these skills in-house. They started hiring “Business Development Representatives” (BDRs) to take inbound calls and set appointments. They hired “Sales Development Representatives” (SDRs) to make outbound calls and do the same.
And that’s where things started going wrong. This was a cost-saving initiative and most executives had “B2B telemarketing” in their minds when they posted these job descriptions. They hired junior sales reps—many from retail or financial services— and gave them basic training (mostly on their own products). They let them loose to make phone calls on their prospective customers.
What could go wrong?
This is typically a path to increasingly lower returns. Using junior-level people results in a dismal sales pipeline built, which means that more have to be hired to meet the desired quota, which leads to greater resistance of hiring skilled people at higher rates and trying to find even less expensive ways to staff this critical operation.
There is a better way.
If you are going to hire junior SDRs and BDRs, then you must use effective time management to train them and arm them with the tools they need for success. Use sales prospecting metrics (start with pipeline as your top metric), arm them with a strong understanding of the business marketing and personas they are calling into, and change the process from a phone-first to an email-first approach.
Brand your company as a source of valuable insights and information—a thought leader. Craft each email that goes out by making sure:
Your company name and the BDRs name are in the “from” part of the email
The subject lines are informative (and not, “Jim, quick question?”)
Leave well designed and customized voice mails making it clear which company and which BDR left the voicemail
Don’t forget to make sure your company name shows up on the caller ID
Brand your emails and calls separately from your competitors until your prospects recognize you—and want to pick up and talk to your sales executives.
Don’t do what others do. Do what is in the best interest of your prospects by not wasting their time and ensuring each email and call is worthy of their attention.
Hubspot has shown that customer acquisition costs have skyrocketed by as much as 60% in recent years, making the customers that you do have that much more profitable to your business. As McKinsey notes, if you’ve already spent a sizable amount of time and money to acquire a new customer and they churn early in the process, you’ve lost out on the full potential revenue of that customer. Their study goes on to show that what’s separating top-performing companies from their competitors today is how efficient their customer retention strategies are.
Customer retention is hugely important in today’s business world. Falling under the 2nd and 3rd Quadrants of the Four Quadrants of High Growth model, customer retention is all about encouraging existing customers to buy more一 either of what they’re already buying (Quadrant 2), or related products (Quadrant 3). Optimizing your customer retention strategy can lead to considerable perks.
Many companies tend to take their paying customers for granted, placing most of their marketing budget in Quadrant 1 and favoring customer acquisition over retention. Invesp found that 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer acquisition whereas only 18% focus on retention. It’s only when unsatisfied customers churn (and their revenue is halted) that these companies realize how crucial it is to invest in Quadrants 3 and 4. More importantly, they see how important it is to see all the Quadrants as important sources of revenue rather than just the first. In a study by Invesp, 70% of informants reported that it is cheaper to retain than acquire a customer, and indeed, existing customers are both 50% more likely to try new products and 30% more likely to spend more on them than new customers. Customer retention can be a game-changer if you invest in it. Bain & Company found that even a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-95% ROI. That’s a five-fold return.
Fortunately, there are a series of proven strategies that today’s industry leaders are using to boost customer retention and drive Quadrant 3, all of which will be discussed in the following sections.
Customer Support Strategy
Your target audience in Quadrant 2 already uses your products and is familiar with your brand. In order to promote the likelihood of them ordering more from you down the line, make sure you have excellent customer support. You want to develop their trust in the idea that your company is helpful and easy to work with. That way, they’ll be incentivized to become more involved in your offerings and might even become open to buying other products (i.e., joining Quadrant 3) down the line. If customers are unsatisfied with your company after purchasing from you, they’ll be highly unlikely to order any more from you. Conversely, customers that feel well-connected to you through good customer support will be all the more likely to engage with promotional offers or discounts to buy more.
Remember that, from your customers’ perspective, everyone who works in your company is there to support them一 that includes Marketing, Sales, and everyone else, for that matter.
Also, remember that the best support strategy is to continuously educate your customers on how to use your product better to realize the returns they are looking for.
Customer Journey & the Buying Process
Current customers who have already vetted and approved your company are among the most valuable contacts for marketing campaigns. Make sure to keep your brand at the top of their minds even after they’ve made their initial purchase with you. The best way to do this is through email marketing一 by offering them promotions, discounts, or even premium services as a perk for buying more. Try to send at least one promotional email a month to keep connected with your customers and make sure these campaigns incentivize them to buy more. Update customers on new features that increase ease of use and efficiency and let them know about related products they may be interested in.
The buying process in this Quadrant should be as simplified and easy for the customer as possible. On your end, too, it should be very low-touch and standardized; automate as much as you can and shoot for the majority of your purchases in Quadrant 2 to be completed without the direct involvement of a Sales rep. The operations should resemble a self-serve portal where customers can easily order more of what they want and have those orders fulfilled immediately. Automate pricing, contracts, and order fulfillment to ensure the buyer’s journey stays as seamless as possible.
KPIs & Strategy Sharing
As with any business strategy, the best way to improve your effectiveness is by measuring and analyzing the right Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). McKinsey found that customer retention success is best measured through customer-oriented metrics, such as website traffic, customer engagement time, response time, and conversion rate. However, other figures matter quite substantially here. The customer experience is important and metrics in customer frustration (perhaps with bugs on the website or with the products), a slow load time, or a poor onboarding experience can all highlight crucial areas that may need improvement.
As these KPIs are analyzed and improvements are made based on them, make sure these valuable sources of information are not limited to just part of the company. Make sure that customer insights are shared across the entire organization, and specifically mutually updated by the Sales, Product, and Marketing teams. Feedback of this type will ensure an overall and constant improvement in customer retention that is propelled by a concerted effort across multiple departments.
These days, it’s becoming increasingly more costly and time-consuming to acquire new customers, making it all the more important for companies to tap into the full potential of their existing customers in Quadrants 2 and 3. Quadrant 2 is all about encouraging customers to buy more of what they already use, and the key to maximizing this customer retention can be found through the following steps:
Grow trust in your company through excellent customer support
Simplify and incentive the buying process
Track KPIs and share customer insights across the company
Considering that even a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-95% ROI, customer retention is a great place to commit resources and boost sales. 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.
According to Hubspot, customer acquisition costs have skyrocketed in recent years, increasing by as much as 60%. What this means for B2B companies is that it will be crucial, now more than ever, to have an effective Sales strategy that will optimize customer acquisition and drive down costs. Customer acquisition falls within the first Quadrant of the Four Quadrants of High Growth model, which is a highly effective sales strategy that helps B2B companies optimize their Marketing and Sales resources through segmentation to achieve the highest ROI.
Quadrant 1 is all about attracting new customers to the customer base, with a general goal of growing it by 15-20% each year. This is normally where companies throw the most money, especially as compared to the other three Quadrants, and because customer acquisition costs have only gotten higher in recent years, it makes sense to invest in a highly effective strategy that will use these funds as efficiently as possible. In the following sections, we’ll look at the strategies industry leaders are using today to drive growth in Quadrant 1.
Since Quadrant 1 is largely about attracting new customers to your company, content will be the most important element of a successful high-growth sales strategy. The Marketing and Sales teams should come together to define what marketing content needs to be created to drive prospects through the various levels of prospect awareness, which range from completely unaware to engaged and actively searching. This content should be created with the goal in mind to produce the desired amount of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), and so a level of automation is required here to provide prospects with the right content as they engage with entry-level materials. To read more about the Funnel Framework and how prospects progress through their buyer’s journey via content, click here.
Hubspot has outlined the best content strategies we can employ to drive growth in Quadrant 1. Content marketing is quickly emerging as one of the most effective ways to reach new customers. Not only does it alert them to the existence of your company and expertise, but it also offers valuable, free, insights to them that will build their trust in your brand. Within this area, you can provide blogs, content offers such as ebooks or guides, and even videos that will all surface when prospects research their company’s pain points online. To drive results here, search marketing (both paid and organic) can be used to ensure your online presence makes an impact on your Quadrant 1 growth.
Additionally, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to directly reach and engage a customer base. Nurture emails can help convert new subscribers by delivering helpful information and slowly increasing brand awareness, and in later Quadrants, new product information and discounts can increase customer retention.
On the Sales end, having a broader, formal strategy is crucial to ensure you meet that goal of increasing the customer base by an annual 15-20%. This is done best by defining the qualification criteria that make a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) and then by mapping these criteria into the Sales Operation and Sales Automation system. The automation of this process will ensure that Sales immediately follows up with SQLs, and a thoughtfully-designed compensation program can incentivize agents to drive the Sales Cycle through lulls.
Onboarding & Customer Support Strategy
Once we’ve reached a sale, the customer experience becomes only more important. The goal here is to turn new customers into happy and satisfied ones within 2-3 weeks一 and having a strong onboarding and customer support strategy can help here.
Learning how to use a new product can be tricky, especially for working professionals who may not have much time to dedicate to their understanding of your process. According to Salesforce, a great thing to keep in mind when crafting your onboarding strategy is to keep it simple; streamline your instructional content so that only the most essential items are present during the first steps of the onboarding process. That way, new users won’t be deterred or overwhelmed when interacting with your products for the first time.
Additionally, have an abundance of various materials available to them to reference during and after the process. This can include blog posts, video tutorials, instructionals, or even email sequences delivered over a set period following the purchase. To ensure things are going smoothly, it can be helpful to send out a follow-up email a couple of months down the line, which has the added benefit of delivering customer insights about the onboarding process.
Overall, the process must be as quick and painless as possible for the new customers. At a broader level, it can be helpful for the onboarding team to be organized around facilitating an efficient process for the customer; at the start of the process, outline each key component and assign agents accordingly. This will allow them to complete the onboarding process efficiently and with the highest level of accuracy.
After the onboarding process is complete, make sure that the customer support is there to keep customers happy and loyal to your brand, important needs that fall under Quadrants 2 and 3.
Quadrant 1 is all about attracting new prospects to your customer base, and creating a high-growth sales strategy can drive ROI in the face of increasingly expensive customer acquisition costs. Having an optimized content strategy, an automated sales strategy, and a simple, easy-to-use onboarding process can all drive sales Quadrant 1 and prime customers to remain for Quadrants 2-3.
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.
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.
As potential customers increasingly rely on online research to substantiate purchasing decisions, your content is becoming more crucial to sales growth than ever before—which is why you must efficiently create a high volume of high-quality B2B marketing content to reach your future buyers.
Content Types: Demand Gen vs. Lead Gen
First, let’s establish the types of content you need to fuel your marketing efforts.
Demand Gen Content
Demand generation (demand gen) content is the kind of digital marketing that increases overall brand awareness. This type of content should drive traffic to websites where prospects can learn more about a given brand. With this in mind, demand gen content should be easily accessible and shareable, which means it should not be gated. Your goal is to distribute your content as widely as possible to get more people interested in your brand.
The following are the content types necessary to drive successful demand gen campaigns:
All of these types of content offer relevant information in an engaging and accessible way. They should be entertaining and enlightening at the same time, which requires in-depth research presented with a conversational tone. The most effective demand gen content strikes a careful balance—it is packed with information while still being entertaining to read.
Additionally, content like blogs, infographics, and videos should be shareable, often linking to other content on your website to keep viewers engaged. Remember, the goal at this stage of the process is to generate interest by demonstrating your value to potential customers. Your demand gen content must spark and maintain the viewer’s interest.
Lead Gen Content
After generating interest with your demand gen content, it’s time to turn that interest into action. This is where your lead gen content comes into play. This type of content is used to capture contact information for outbound nurturing, which means it is typically gated. This means that viewers must see the content as valuable enough that they are willing to share their contact information to access it.
However, many potential customers are protective of their personal information. They must be convinced that this piece of content will provide them with a comprehensive understanding of a valuable topic.
Below, we have provided a list of the most important types of lead gen content that you must continually generate to be considered on the shortlist of your potential buyers:
Generally, these types of content are longer and more detailed than demand gen content, requiring more in-depth research than their attention-grabbing counterparts. At the same time, these articles must be engaging and interesting to read. Additionally, remember that these types of content should be informative—and not just a product pitch.
To summarize, demand gen content is designed to provide small chunks of teaser information in an easily digestible format to catch users’ attention. On the other hand, lead gen content builds on that positioning to bring your product closer to the front of mind—as something to really consider in the short term.
Together, both content types should position your company as a thought leader in your entire ecosystem. This process lays the groundwork for sales growth through your content.
Sales Growth Through Marketing Content
Content is a Product
Now that we’ve established the main types of content fueling your B2B marketing campaign, how can we streamline the content creation process to increase sales growth?
The key is to consistently create fresh content that sparks and maintains potential buyers’ interest. However, maintaining a content cadence that keeps up with the demand of your customers and facilitates sales growth can be both challenging and expensive.
Thankfully, by reframing your perspective on content production, you can increase the speed with which you create and publish content—effectively increasing sales growth in the long run.
Think of it this way: content is essentially a product. Here’s why:
It can be designed, made, and distributed for mass consumption.
When completed, it has a significantly greater value than the sum of its parts.
Although it has a limited shelf-life, it can be stored and distributed on-demand.
It has a learning curve—those who do it more will learn how to produce it at a lower cost.
It has an economy of scale—the more you make of it, the less the unit cost.
Knowing this, you can start streamlining content production in the same way that products are manufactured in a factory.
Factories excel at making large quantities of a product at a high level of speed, accuracy, and quality at the lowest price possible. At the same time, factories can make many different products to order using strategies that allow them to make many things out of a small set of fundamental units that can be recombined to make many “products.”
By applying this framework to content production, you can accelerate your demand and lead gen content cadence, drawing in more potential customers in the process.
The Creative Content River
As an example of this idea in action, consider SOMAmetrics’ Creative Content River. The Creative Content River leverages modern manufacturing principles to produce high-quality content at a higher speed and lower cost that is difficult or impossible to match using internal content creation teams.
Through three key phases—designing, making, and delivering—the Creative Content River maximizes content output in a cost-effective fashion, which increases sales growth from marketing in the long term.
Download this white paper for more information about the Creative Content River and how you can drive sales growth through your content.
The value of your sales pipeline is the single most important factor impacting your sales growth rates. Therefore, increasing the value of your sales pipeline increases your company’s sales growth rates — it’s as simple as that.
Before we explain why, let’s take a step back and define what a sales pipeline is and what it does for a company. A company’s sales pipeline provides employees with a representation of their prospects’ progression through the sales process toward making a purchase.
With that said, how can a company determine the value of its sales pipeline?
According to HubSpot, sales pipeline value can be defined as “The total value of every qualified opportunity in your pipeline.” Here, the emphasis is on qualified leads — leads that have the right budget to purchase, the authority to make purchasing decisions, and the motivation to purchase your product or service. Qualified leads are valuable because they are more likely to convert into sales than unqualified leads.
Unqualified leads, on the other hand, lack the key characteristics we highlighted above. This means that they are less likely to work with your sales team and move through your pipeline toward making a purchase.
All of this is to say that high-quality leads are crucial to increasing your company’s sales growth rates. To illustrate this point, let’s crunch the numbers.
Sales Growth by the Numbers
If you improve three key factors by 25% — your average deal size, average closing ratio, and average sales cycle — the result is a 73.6% increase in annual sales. The charts below provide a visual representation of this strategy.
Avg Deal Size ($)
Avg Closing Ratio
Avg sales velocity (days)
Impact of Improved Average Deal Size and Closing Ratios
Avg # of Monthly Meetings
Avg Closed Deals/Month
Increase in Sales
Impact of Sales Cycle Reduction
Annual Sales ($)
Increase in Annual Sales ($)
As these charts demonstrate, these relatively small 25% increases add up to a sizable difference in sales growth over time. Ultimately, these charts illustrate that sales growth rates are impacted by a variety of factors, each contributing to the number of closed deals.
However, the keystone to increasing sales growth rates is increasing the number of high-quality leads in your sales pipeline. We’ll go into more depth regarding why this is true in the next section.
High-Quality Leads = Higher Sales Growth Rates
As we discussed above, sales growth rates depend on the number of high-quality leads in your sales pipeline, which means you need more of them to increase your sales growth rate. But how do you attract more high-quality leads without also attracting a ton of unmotivated, low-quality leads?
Never underestimate the impact of your content. Content plays a crucial role in reaching your potential customers — from catching their attention, to directing them to sites where they can learn more about your product, your content acts as the foundation of a more robust sales pipeline.
In part, this is true because buyers today expect to find all the information they need to make an informed purchase through vendors’ websites. Increasingly, buyers prefer using content and self-serve methods to make purchases, rather than speaking with sales reps. With this in mind, your content must provide useful and highly relevant information to your specific target market. This will encourage prospects to see your company as an authoritative resource and to seriously consider making a purchase.
Similarly, because high-quality leads are motivated and have the right budget and authority to make a purchase, they are more likely to close faster, at a higher rate, and at full price. All of these elements add up to a sales growth rate that is significantly higher than one that relies on low-quality leads.
To learn more about the value of high-quality leads and their impact on sales growth rates, download this paper.
Which would you rather pass along to your sales team: a large number of leads of varying levels of quality, or a select handful of high-quality leads?
At first glance, a large number of leads might seem more valuable than a mere handful. More leads mean more opportunities to make sales, right?
In reality, it’s not quite that simple. Experienced marketers know that the quality of a lead is the most important thing when it comes to increasing sales growth rates—far more important than the number of leads generated by your marketing efforts. In this case, less truly is more.
Sales Pipeline Value—Quality is More Important than Quantity
Your sales pipeline value is the single most important thing impacting sales growth. Increasing your pipeline value is guaranteed to increase your sales growth rates.
But how, exactly, can a company increase the value of its sales pipeline? The answer is to increase the quality of leads in its pipeline.
Hubspot defines sales pipeline value as “The total value of every qualified opportunity in your pipeline.” As you can see, this definition excludes unqualified leads entirely. The focus is entirely on qualified, high-quality leads who are likely to convert into sales.
To illustrate this idea, let’s refer back to the two scenarios we introduced above. What is the value of your sales pipeline in these two instances?
Scenario 1: Your company has a large numberof leads of various quality levels in its sales pipeline.
With such a large number of leads, chances are that your pipeline is clogged with low-quality leads that are unlikely to convert into sales.
This results in a low-value sales pipeline. Deals are unlikely to close as your salespeople waste time on leads that only result in dead ends.
Scenario 2: Your company has a smaller number of high-quality leads in its sales pipeline.
These leads are genuinely interested in purchasing your product, which means that they are more likely to speak with your sales team and eventually purchase your product.
The result is a high-value sales pipeline. Without low-quality leads sapping your sales team’s time, your salespeople can focus on the handful of high-quality leads that are likely to convert into sales, which will increase your sales growth rate.
As these scenarios demonstrate, the key to increasing the value of your sales pipeline is to find leads that will actually convert into sales. The rest—all of the low-quality leads that are unlikely to talk to sales—will end up wasting your sales team’s limited time.
But how can you separate the high-quality leads from the rest? What are the signs of a high-quality lead? And how can you ensure that you generate high-quality leads through your marketing efforts?
What We Mean By “High-Quality Leads”
Let’s define what we mean when we talk about lead quality.
The hallmark of a low-quality lead is a lack of interest in talking to sales. Your lead generation efforts might capture low-quality leads for a variety of reasons—perhaps the lead was simply researching your product or industry with no intention to buy. Maybe they simply don’t have the budget to purchase at this time. Whatever the specific reason, these leads are unlikely to make a purchase, no matter how effective your sales team is.
So, what defines a high-quality lead, then? A high-quality lead is highly motivated and well-informed and is therefore ready to act sooner rather than later. High-quality leads have the organizational power and influence to find the budget to make a purchase. Both the motivation and the power to act must be present at the same time.
With these key characteristics, high-quality leads will be responsive to your sales team’s efforts. They are more likely to purchase faster, at a higher rate, and larger average deal size, all of which ultimately increases your sales growth rate.
High-quality leads are crucial to increasing sales growth, which means successful marketers must know how to attract this type of lead through their lead generation strategies and decision-enabling content.
Why is lead generation so important? In today’s digital-first environment, B2B buyers prefer spending more time researching products online and less time speaking with salespeople, which means that they rely more heavily on content to make purchasing decisions. And this isn’t changing anytime soon—only 20% of B2B buyers say they hope to return to in-person sales in the future.
Plus, buyers want to make purchasing decisions based on up-to-date information. One survey reports that 47% of executives recommend that B2B vendors use more data and research to support their decision-enabling content.
For any company to make a lasting impression on prospects in this environment, high-quality decision-enabling content is essential to capturing leads and nurturing them toward making a purchase. Next, we’ll discuss how to create decision-enabling content to accomplish these goals.
Creating Decision-Enabling Content
Decision-enabling content takes two forms: demand generation and lead generation. These two content types work together to form the basis of your digital marketing campaigns. Generally speaking, demand gen sparks a user’s interest, and lead gen makes that interest more concrete.
Both types of content require in-depth research presented in an engaging style, but each type is designed to appeal to buyers at different phases of their purchasing journey. Below, we’ll discuss the differences between each type of content, and why they’re both important to increasing your company’s sales growth rate.
Demand Gen Content
Demand generation content is the first impression your brand will make on new prospects. Its main function is to increase brand awareness, spark interest, and drive users toward sites where they can find out more.
With these goals in mind, demand gen content is designed to grab readers’ attention as they research a topic related to your company and its products or services. So, demand gen content must be useful, fresh, and tailored to the needs of your target market at that moment.
Here are some examples of content that falls into this category:
With these relatively short forms of content, marketers can introduce a useful idea to the reader quickly and engagingly, thus proving their company’s value and piquing the reader’s interest in a short time. The goal is to engage readers enough that they are interested in reading your lead gen content, which brings us to our next section.
Lead Gen Content
After your demand gen efforts have generated interest among potential customers, your lead generation content steps in to seal the deal.
The goal of lead gen content is to capture leads’ contact information for outbound nurturing. This means that lead gen content must be seen as highly valuable, to the point that users are willing to share their contact information to access it.
This is no small feat—many users are protective of their personal information and wary of irrelevant marketing messages clogging their inboxes. With this in mind, it is crucial that lead gen content not only appears useful, but that it delivers on its promise of providing fresh, interesting, and useful information as well.
Here are some examples of lead gen content:
These types of content are more in-depth than your demand gen content, providing more well-researched and curated decision-enabling information to establish your value to your target market.
Together, these two types of decision-enabling content will draw in more users and generate more high-quality leads to pass along to your sales team. By creating content that is uniquely useful to your target market, you can demonstrate your value to them and encourage them to consider working with you sooner rather than later.
In this blog, we’ve explained why lead generation is key to increasing sales growth, why high-quality leads are crucial to that process, and how to generate high-quality leads through decision-enabling content. We clarified the difference between demand gen and lead gen content and explained why each of these types of content is essential to any marketing campaign.
With this foundation of knowledge, you can increase the number of high-quality leads you generate, which will increase your company’s sales growth rates as well.
The old way of making a sale was to make sales calls and send out mass emails, hoping for a response, which is ineffective for many reasons. Thankfully, there is a more effective way to spark interest in your products—lead generation.
The goal of lead generation (lead gen) content is to capture contact information for outbound nurturing. Lead gen content must be valuable enough that the reader is willing to share some personal information to access it.
To accomplish this, your job is to create content that is sufficiently comprehensive in a specific subject. In the short term, your goal is to capture leads. In the long run, your goal is to establish your company as a thought leader. Your content should be the go-to resource for the entire ecosystem—this is what will ultimately increase revenue growth from your marketing efforts.
In this blog, we’ll give you the tools to build a highly effective lead gen campaign. Read on to discover the four types of content you’ll need to fuel your lead gen engine.
The Four Key Content Types For Your Lead Gen Engine
White papers offer an in-depth discussion of an issue and how to solve it. In marketing, white papers introduce a new big idea: what it is, why it’s important and game-changing, an example of its application, why you are a highly qualified candidate to implement this on your customer’s behalf, and how customers can begin to explore this new idea.
Why are they called white papers, you might ask? White papers originated as government reports, which used color-coding to indicate distribution. White was designated for public access. The concept was adopted by other sectors to describe any report that teaches readers something new.
To create a white paper, start by conducting thorough research to support your big idea and the claims you’ll make in your paper. Incorporate visual elements to illustrate your ideas and clarify them to readers.
Prioritize organization and clarity in the writing process. White papers should be less casual than blogs, but still engaging and exciting to read. You don’t want it to be dry. In terms of length, approximately 10 pages are necessary to fully cover a topic, but highly visual designs can make for much longer papers.
Maturity models are another type of content that takes an established concept and applies it to a specific industry. A maturity model is a tool that was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of an organization against objective benchmarks of growth. The goal of this content is to show the reader the maturity level of their organization and how they can advance to the next level—with your help, of course.
Maturity models are powerful because they provide users with a real description of where they are and where they want to be, growth-wise. With this type of content, you can share objective information that is directly applicable for companies at any phase of growth. At each level, you can offer valuable information about how companies can advance to the next level, which will broaden your appeal to a greater range of potential buyers.
Webinars are like video versions of a white paper. They provide viewers with a comprehensive description of a specific concept. They must discuss powerful new ideas and how they apply to the audience—and, crucially, how you can help viewers with this process. Remember that a webinar is not a product pitch. For this reason, you should keep product demos short and ensure that your content is informative beyond product descriptions.
Keep in mind that most of your audience thinks of webinars as longer video recordings that are available on demand. Most viewers register for a webinar so they can watch on their own time. With this in mind, make sure that your webinars are just as engaging when watched on-demand later. To account for late viewers, measure total engagement by combining your post-webinar recorded viewing and the real-time attendees.
Solution guides are intended for prospects who are closer to the product evaluation stage, based on their marketing activity level. So, solution guides are more “salesy” than the other marketing content we’ve discussed.
Solution guides should fall somewhere between a white paper and a product brochure. They should start with the big idea and its application, and then show how your solution stacks against competing solutions concerning achieving that big idea. While it may compare specs and features, it should still be engaging—it shouldn’t be dry.
Be careful to speak respectfully and objectively about your competitors and their products. Remember, your audience is not yet sold on you—you shouldn’t alienate them by disparaging your competitors and their solutions.
Why Is This Important?
These four types of content are the fuel to your lead gen engine. But building your lead gen engine is just one step in the process of driving prospects toward sales to increase revenue growth. Before the lead gen process begins, you must familiarize users with your company in the first place—which starts with demand generation (demand gen).
Ideally, demand gen and lead gen should work together in a two-part process to increase revenue. The process starts with demand gen content, which generates interest among your target market. This content should put you on the long list of vendors that buyers are considering.
Then, your lead gen engine comes into play. This content should put you on the shortlist of 3-4 vendors your buyers are considering, thus increasing the chance that they will reach out to your sales team. Because the content fueling your lead gen engine is gated, it requires readers to give up something—their personal information—to access it. This is a good indicator that readers are seriously interested in what your company has to offer. With this in mind, your lead gen content must live up to their expectations if you want readers to contact sales. This is why we’ve provided you with this comprehensive overview of demand gen content to get you started.
Together, your demand and lead gen engines work together to generate and nurture leads toward sales. This is what will increase the revenue you generate from marketing.