Quadrant 3: Customer Retention and Upselling to Drive Sales

customer retention

Quadrant 3 is all about encouraging existing customers to buy new products; generally upgrades, add-ons, and bundles. In general, the goal is to increase the number of products your customers use by about 15-20% per year. It may seem like a big ask, but keep in mind that, apart from Quadrant 2, these buyers have the lowest perceived risk — they’ve bought from you before and are going to be a lot more willing to buy from you again, studies show. Meanwhile, the chances of selling to a new prospect are between 5 and 20%; selling to an existing customer skyrockets to as much as 60-70%. 

It’s crucial to invest in 3rd Quadrant prospects as it’s been proven to yield massive ROI. Bain & Company found that even a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-95% ROI. That’s a five-fold return. In the following sections, we’ll be looking at the strategies industry leaders are using to drive Quadrant 3 sales. 

customer retention

Customer Support Strategy

The reduced risk factor for Quadrant 3 prospects is dependent on their elevated trust in your company. Make sure your customer support strategy continually renews their trust in you and keeps you fresh in their minds. 

This can be facilitated by having a scalable support infrastructure like chat and self-help portals that can offer painless and quick support to customers as they learn and use your products. You should also maintain good communication with customers in order to stay relevant and keep them educated on your products and updates as they come out. 

Keeping close contact with customers also yields valuable insights into their buying behavior, which can help when it comes to pitching new products to them down the line. Knowing your customers well (including their needs and pain points) translates into knowing what to suggest to them to make their processes more efficient. 

Customer Retention Strategies 

Quadrant 3 sales rely on offers like bundles, packages, and deals that incentivize customers to buy more products from you. Make sure you figure out which products are best paired together and create promotions that offer added value to the original products your customers want to buy. 

Automation can play an important role here, too. Use it to promote targeted marketing campaigns to customers based on what they’re already buying. For instance, if a customer is already buying product X, use marketing campaign A, and if they’re already using products X and Y, use campaign B. 

Sales reps should also be invested in these strategies. Train them on which products are to be recommended together and on how to pitch an additional product without coming off as too sales-y; customers want to know that you’re on their side and trying to add value to their purchase rather than simply selling to them. Management can build a compensation plan around account penetration to encourage Sales reps to fine-tune their upselling capabilities. 

Upselling Strategy

Everything discussed previously has essentially been strategies that support upselling, which is the main goal in Quadrant 3. Upselling is when you recommend additional products that will complement those the customer is originally buying. HubSpot has outlined some key strategies that support upselling and will ultimately drive Quadrant 3 sales. 

First, determine which product combos get the best results, both in sales and in customer satisfaction. You want to find combinations that make sense to customers when pitched (and can be backed up by proof, like with case studies or infographics) and that will ultimately add value to the customer’s original purchase. Tracking KPIs and asking for customer feedback can give some direction to these efforts and highlight which pairings you should be pushing. Oftentimes, segmenting customers by personas can help fine-tune which recommendations to provide and to whom.

Make sure your upselling strategy is based on integrity; you’re only hurting yourself if it’s done with anything less. Though upselling is generally very profitable, if customers sense they’re being taken advantage of or don’t find added value with the extra purchases you recommend, they’ll lose faith in your business and might churn. The products you upsell must be chosen with customer experience in mind, with the main goal of making them better, easier, or more efficient. 

To support upselling, make sure to consistently introduce new products that can complement one another. Releasing a new product every 2-3 years is recommended in order to keep complementary items current and relevant. 

Recapping

Quadrant 3 is a great place to invest selling resources and if your customer retention and upselling strategies are well-thought-out, it can bring in considerable ROI. Driving sales in this Quadrant is all about investing in an excellent and helpful customer support strategy that will build trust between your customers and your brand. Some key customer retention strategies can also help boost your upselling capacities to reach your maximum Quadrant 3 selling potential. 

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.

Quadrant 2: Customer Retention Strategy for Increased ROI

customer retention

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 retention

 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. 

Recapping 

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.

Quadrant 1: High Growth Sales Strategy

sales strategy

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. 

sales strategy

Content Strategy 

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. 

Sales Strategy 

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

Recapping

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. 

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.

Three Ways to Categorize B2B Buyers

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
  • Generational Differences
  • Buyer Readiness
buyer

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

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

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

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.

Generational Differences

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.

Baby Boomers

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.

Gen-Xers

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.

Millennials 

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.

Buyer Readiness

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.

Recapping

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. 

Additionally, 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.

How Prospect Education Can Drive the Sales Funnel

The Sales Funnel is a way of defining the process Prospects will go through when getting educated enough to want to meet with Sales. In the following sections, we’ll be breaking down the three stages of the Sales Funnel that make up the buyer’s journey. Additionally, we’ll highlight which Prospect Education content will be the most helpful to Prospects at each stage. Content is becoming increasingly important in the B2B Marketing world today. Studies have shown that the use of Prospect Education content is now one of the top strategies for 77% of B2B marketers. 

Because these stages relate to different levels of engagement and awareness, the content that should be sent out to buyers will differ depending on what is the most relevant to their interest level. What’s important to note here, too, is that actively searching and fully engaged prospects will enter the funnel from the top like everyone else一 but will then progress through the stages very quickly, hence why it’s so helpful for Marketing to nurture Educated Prospects to meet with Sales.

Prospect Education is the best way to drive the Funnel; attracting more prospects to the Top and helping others advance to the Bottom and eventually on to meet with Sales.

prospect education sales call

Top of Funnel (TOFU)

The Top of Funnel (TOFU) is where your prospects begin their buyer’s journey. Depending on what level of Buyer Readiness each individual prospect is at, the speed at which they progress through the funnel will vary. 

Before prospects can reach the TOFU stage, they must first get acquainted in some way with your company. Demand Generation content is broad, less targeted content that’s meant to attract new prospects to your funnel. This type of content should be created to attract the most people possible and to be broadcasted easily to a large population. The emerging strategies Marketers use today are mainly SEO (optimizing access to blogs, podcasts, or other content) and online ads (perhaps on Google, Facebook, or YouTube), which can all attract attention to, or at least spark awareness of, new products. 

In engaging with this material, the Prospect is sent to a landing page that describes the asset and if they are interested, they’ll fill out their contact information (typically start with just first name, last name, email, and title). Then, they’ll get added to the top of funnel. 

For these unaware Prospects, having online content readily available is the only way for them to find their way into your funnel. Additionally, for Prospects who are already aware of their problem and are close to purchase-ready, letting them find your content is the best way to escalate them quickly through to the Sales level.

Once a prospect is added to the top of funnel, they’ll therefore need quite a bit of education and nurturing before they may graduate to later funnels, and they often repeat the cycle in TOFU a couple of times before progressing. 

What prospects need at this stage is lead generation content, which is generally shared with them through email nurturing. This will still be very broad and educational in nature一 no need to give them the hard sell just yet. Instead, it will build up trust over time as they slowly start to recognize their problem and realize the power of your solution. Light, easily digestible content like relevant blogs, short quizzes, or engaging infographics can all educate buyers at this level. 

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) 

As TOFU prospects engage with the content you send them in their targeted nurture emails (clicking, downloading, etc.), they’ll eventually work their way down the funnel to the middle, at which point the marketing content to be sent to them will become a little more specific and targeted. 

MOFU prospects make up about 20-30% of your target market and have generally already begun to have conversations with Sales to assess their options. At this point, Marketing’s job is to give them all the information they need to see why your company is their best option. This content will be more specific to your solution in particular and can take on a more aggressive sales approach. Content like buyer guides, case studies, white papers, third-party analyses of your product, and competitor comparisons are all good options for prospects in this range.

Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)

Once the prospect has narrowed down their options to a select shortlist and has started looking at pricing, they can be moved to the more Sales-oriented level at the bottom of the funnel. Clicking on the demo/meeting request button will also instigate this. BOFU prospects represent around 3-5% of your target market and are already fully aware of their problem and of their options in resolving it一 they just need to find which product is the best fit. 

Actively searching prospects will advance to this level quickly if Marketing educates them effectively when they initially reach the TOFU. Otherwise, prospects can reach this level through extensive prospect education during their buyer’s journey. 

BOFU engagement will lean more towards the Sales side of Marketing, with the ultimate goal being to book a chat with a Sales rep and sign a deal. Chats about pricing, appointments, and deliverables, and customer testimonials will all be relevant to BOFU prospects at this point.

Recapping

Having the right content in Prospect Education available to Prospects during their buyer’s journeys will help them advance down the Funnel and encourage them to eventually meet with Sales. It’s important to have content available that will meet them where they are in their buyer’s journeys. To read more about this type of Prospect Education, and why it’s so important post-Pandemic, 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.

Educating Prospects: Why It’s Crucial in 2021

The Pandemic changed how we do business in countless ways, and the business leaders who have thrived post-Pandemic have been those who have adapted their strategies to the new demands of their clients. In any business world, but especially that which we’re seeing today in the wake of the Pandemic, educating prospects is crucial in order to ultimately meet with a Sales rep. In the following sections, we’ll be talking about how buyer behavior has changed due to the Pandemic and how the savviest (and successful) thought leaders in B2B Marketing have adapted their Prospect Education to thrive in today’s new business landscape. 

educating prospects

How the Pandemic Changed Buyer Behavior

When the Pandemic hit, the business world was pushed almost completely into the online realm. This reshaped how B2B buyers and sellers interact with each other and business in general. Since much of the buying process went virtual, many buyers shifted their approach to online buying. Reportedly, 68% of B2B buyers now prefer to do most of their product research online—before ever meeting a Sales rep, and even partly as a prerequisite to meeting one. 

When Prospects start realizing they have a problem in their business, they’ll go online to research what it may be and how they may solve it. Often, they’ll come across a variety of products and will then research each promising one to narrow down the ones they’d like to talk to a Sales rep about. During this buyer’s journey, they’ll engage with different types of content that they may come across online; blogs, white papers, videos, infographics, and more. 

Buyers today are used to finding most of their product information online and independently, meaning that they’ve taken much of the Prospect Education you need them to have about your products into their own hands. This can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you react to this shift. If you have an abundance of relevant, helpful content out there for them to find in their research, this could actually optimize your Sales process. However, the content they use to make a decision could just as easily be that which they find on your competitor’s site… 

What this means for Marketers is that it’s important, now more than ever, to meet Prospects at every stage of their buyer’s journey with relevant, helpful content that will give them the information they need to advance down the Sales Funnel. 

The Three Levels of Buyer Readiness

One way we like to classify Prospects is by the stage of buyer readiness they’re at in their buyer’s journey. As Prospects move along the buyer’s journey, they follow a fairly predictable route that begins with them being oblivious to their problem and eventually ends with them realizing their issue and actively searching for solutions. It’s crucial to understand and break down the various levels that each buyer traverses along this journey to target them with the correct content for the stage they’re currently at. In other words, someone who isn’t currently sure of what problem they’re having isn’t going to want to see a case study just yet. 

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, but 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 messages 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 to learn more about how they may solve their problem. They likely won’t be ready to talk with Sales until they’ve learned 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.

Why it is Critical to Educate Prospects

As mentioned above, prospects these days like to complete the majority of their buyer’s journey before they meet with a Sales rep. In fact, a study found that around 70% of B2B buyers both define their needs and locate various solutions before agreeing to meet with reps, meaning that what buyers today want is not to be sold to, but instead to be assisted along their purchasing process with the right information that will supplement what they already know. 

It is critical to educate prospects along their journey so that they have all the information they need to want to book a meeting with Sales. We already know that this is the case with B2C; it’s been shown that consumers are 131% more likely to buy after being exposed to early-stage educational content. Keeping in mind the human behind a B2B decision-maker, we can apply this knowledge to the B2B realm to understand just how important prospect education is. Indeed, a study found that 96% of companies agree that customer education is important, whereas another study showed that 69% of B2B marketers point to relevant content as the most effective tactic for lead nurturing. In short, the more educated prospects are when they meet with a Sales rep, the higher the likelihood that they’ll make the deal. It’s up to marketing to educate prospects so that the leads that Sales receives are all actively searching for solutions and are fully engaged with the product. 

In a day of a majority-virtual purchasing process, the products with the most relevant content will win the most meetings with Sales reps and ultimately earn the most closed deals. Since actively searching and fully engaged prospects are the readiest to buy, the only question now is from whom.

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.

Millennials in the Workforce: Why Virtual B2B Marketing is Here to Stay

Millennials in the Workforce: Why Virtual B2B Marketing is Here to Stay

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. 

Recapping

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.

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.

Five Factors Affecting Revenue Growth

Factors of Revenue Growth

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 as their buyers navigate the digital world on their own terms. But how can companies do this?

The following five factors offer insight into the key elements that impact your company’s revenue growth.

Factor 1: Choose the Right Market Focus

Choosing the right market focus for your company is the single most important factor impacting your revenue growth. It’s essentially the keystone of your marketing and sales activities, the one crucial element that can make or break your revenue growth.

A well-chosen, narrow market focus can result in millions of dollars in the sales pipeline, as well as more high-quality leads each month. 

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. This increases efficacy and boosts the number of high-quality leads generated by your marketing efforts. 

Read more

Factor 2: The Sales Process Is the Buyer’s Process

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. 

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. 

In the new buyer’s landscape, you must meet buyers on their terms—which involves creating highly individualized content to demonstrate what you have to offer your target market. 

Read more

Factor 3: 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. 

In fact, at least 50% of sales that close should be a direct result of your marketing strategies

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, transforming it from a cost center to a revenue generator. Read on to discover how to accomplish this.

Read more

Factor 4: Use Intelligent Sales Data to Grow Sales

How do you ensure that your marketing and sales departments are up-to-date and in alignment? 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—using historical data, you are responding to buyers’ past preferences, not their current needs. Intelligent sales data keeps your strategies cutting-edge. This will keep your company from falling behind.

Read more

Factor 5: Importance of Managing by Metrics

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.

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. 

Read more

Revenue Growth: Focus on Buyers

One key element all five factors have in common is a focus on the buyer. At every stage of the process, successful sales and marketing strategies place the buyer front and center. 

This is what B2B buyers expect in the current era. They want to work with vendors who understand their industry and anticipate their needs, preferences, and habits. To put it simply, today’s buyers have higher expectations than ever before. The companies that deliver revenue growth in this environment are prepared to meet and exceed these expectations.

Further Resources:

To learn how to best leverage these five factors to reduce costs and grow your revenue, download our full white paper

Read more about revenue growth strategy here

Schedule your free value prop analysis here

Factor 1: Choose the Right Market Focus

Successful marketing isn’t about reaching the broadest audience possible—it’s about reaching the right audience for your company. 

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.

The 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. By offering 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. Not only do you need to understand their industry, but you also need to understand what motivates your buyers as individuals. This process is also known as persona development, which involves conducting thorough research to create a profile of the types of customers that are most likely to purchase your product. 

Let’s make the concept of choosing a market focus more concrete with a case study. 

Case Study: Establishing Market Presence with Digital Content Strategy

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. Company executives knew they had to focus on a specific industry sector to execute its outbound strategy, but which one was the right one?

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. 

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. It will make your company stand out, and increase the effectiveness of the following factors—starting with the buyer’s process in Factor 2

Resources:

5 Ways to Reach Your High Performance Marketing Goals

Case Study: Establishing Market Presence with Digital Content Strategy

Persona Development & Targeting 

The Creative Content River White Paper

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). 

The reality is that buyers only spend 5% of their time with a given sales rep during the purchasing process, on average. As they spend less time with sales reps and more time researching online, your content is becoming increasingly important

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. 

As you can see from the following infographic, marketers use a variety of content types designed to appeal to buyers at different phases of the process. 

Content to demonstrate your comprehensive knowledge of the potential buyer’s needs at every stage of their journey 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. 

Resources:

The Creative Content River White Paper

Content That Converts White Paper

Fixing a Broken B2B Sales Model

Digital Marketing Mix Infographic

Factor 3: Align Sales and Marketing for High Growth

Marketing and sales should work hand in hand to increase growth. Ideally, marketing efforts will deliver about 50% of the leads that the sales department will convert into buyers. 

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.

The following infographic shows exactly what we mean when we talk about funneling prospects toward sales

However, 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.

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. Now, it’s the marketing department’s job to sort through these leads and separate the promising ones from the rest. 

Automation is key in this instance. Your marketing department is busy with strategic high-level tasks, and separating leads manually is time-consuming. Automate the process so you receive more of the job titles you want to receive while minimizing the number of low-quality leads. 

The 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. 

Read Factor 4 for more information about automating intelligent sales data to grow sales.

Resources:

Fixing a Broken B2B Sales Model

High Growth Lead Generation Cheat Sheet

3 Prospecting Strategies and Why They’re Effective

Four Funnels Infographic

High Growth Lead Generation Playbook

Factor 4: Use Intelligent Sales Data to Grow Sales

Traditionally, sales planning relied on account segmentation, driven by historical knowledge of the market rather than up-to-date facts. But things have changed.

In a post-COVID-19 world, historical data may not be relevant at all. The COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly have long-lasting effects on consumers and companies alike. So, using outdated data to develop your sales strategy will leave you struggling to keep up with buyers’ needs in real-time.

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.

As we discussed in Factor 3, sales and marketing should work hand in hand to deliver sales growth. Intelligent data is the way to ensure that this process is working as it should be. 

But where 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.

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. 

Resources:

Fixing a Broken B2B Sales Model 

SOMAmetrics Sales Strategy

The Importance of Performing Regular Sales Diagnoses

Sales Diagnosis: A Sales Game-Changer

Factor 5: Importance of Managing 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:

  • Closing ratios
  • Sales cycles
  • 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

Metrics like these 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.

Case Study: 246% Sales Pipeline Growth in 90 Days

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?

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. 

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.

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, providing useful data detailing what you can improve on. This is crucial to any sales and marketing strategy today.

Final Thoughts

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.

Please contact us with any questions or thoughts. We are here to help.

Resources

Case Study: 246% Sales Pipeline Growth in 90 Days

SOMAmetrics Sales Metrics & KPIs

High Growth Lead Generation Playbook

The Growth Marketer’s Cheat Sheet: How to Drive Sales Growth

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:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Checklists
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

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:

  • White papers
  • Maturity models
  • Webinars
  • Solution guides

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:

  1. It can be designed, made, and distributed for mass consumption.
  2. When completed, it has a significantly greater value than the sum of its parts.
  3. Although it has a limited shelf-life, it can be stored and distributed on-demand.
  4. It has a learning curve—those who do it more will learn how to produce it at a lower cost.
  5. 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.

Sales Growth by the Numbers

Sales Pipeline Value

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.

Current Metrics Improve by Improved Metrics 
Avg Deal Size ($) 100,00025%125,000
Avg Closing Ratio 25%25%31.3%
Avg sales velocity (days) 12025%90
Impact of Improved Average Deal Size and Closing Ratios 
Current Sales Improved Sales 
Avg # of Monthly Meetings 1010
Avg Closed Deals/Month 2.503
Avg Sales/Month 250,000390,625
Increase in Sales 140,625
Increase Rate 56.3%

Impact of Sales Cycle Reduction  
Current Sales Improved Sales 
Annual Sales ($) 2,250,0003,906,250
Increase in Annual Sales ($) 1,656,250
Increase Rate 73.6%

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.

The Importance of High-Quality Leads

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:

  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Checklists 
  • Videos
  • Newsletters

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:

  • White papers
  • Maturity models
  • Webinars
  • Solution guides

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.

Next Steps

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.

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To read more about the impact of high-quality leads on sales growth rates, download this white paper