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The Importance of Marketing & Sales Interlock
Tom Rousseau / Hanley Wood / September 16, 2013
Is your sales team always barking about their leads not being high quality?
As you may know—or not know—Hanley Wood in the past year has invested in demand generation and sales automation talent in a big way. (Our practice leaders have been doing this for more than 50+ years when combined altogether.) In addition, we have invested in new technologies around demand generation and marketing, and sales automation services. Now executing 30 or more new and successful demand generation programs, here are some of the most common conversations we have with marketers and their decision makers when consulting on their pipeline programs and lead workflow.
Marketing Executive Pain Point
How do you avoid the inevitable feedback from sales that the leads I worked so hard to deliver were supposedly not of high quality? Well, here are some tactics that we utilized when consulting with building product manufacturers (BPMs) around demand generation best practices.
- Did marketing sit down with sales management and define the business goals for the lead program and nurturing campaign? Without defining the business goal upfront, there is no way to accurately determine if a lead and nurturing program is working, or needs to be realigned. If sales states “leads were poor this week in the report you sent us” without defined goals how can you have a quantifiably conversations with your VP Sales?
- Lead campaign and nurturing goals should be achievable and reasonable. Before you start a new lead program, ask your sales management team what percentage of your leads typically become sales ready without nurturing? Use that figure or stat as your starting point, then nudge that percentage upward to define the goal for sales-ready leads.Don’t set a 75 percent goal for SRL’s when the current conversion rate is one percent and the industry rate is five percent for nurturing. That’s right, only five percent of your buyers are most likely ready to buy when you send them the first email, or make the telephone call. Your buyer has simply raised their hand, that’s all. Now you need to warm them up with a set nurturing re-contact strategy that is mapped to your buyer’s journey in purchasing your product.
- In all B2B industries, the industry standard in which the first batch of leads are not ready to buy is 95 percent. Why is that? Key reasons to look at are average sales price (ASP) and average sales length (ASL). ASP means if you have a low costing offer you sell faster; if you have a high price offer it takes longer. ASL means if your product takes four months or eight months to sell, do you really believe the first batch of leads are all ready to buy that day? Marketing folks need to work with their sales counterparts around the fact that their buyers are working on these key buying processes to purchase from you—known as budget, authority, need and timing (BANT).The two most destructive actions your salespeople can do when engaging a lead that marketing worked hard to get are, 1) sales do not understand their own product and its value story, and 2) continue to badger the buyer when the buyer is not yet ready to engage with your company’s salesperson face-to-face or on the phone.
- Right now a very scary statistic is floating around in many B2B industries that your VP Sales needs to be aware of. What is it? That 70 percent of your targeted buyers do not want to talk or be contacted by a “live” salesperson until they are deep into their buying journey. Why is that? Simple: there are easier and many points of entry to learn about your product than potentially dealing with a poor experience with a salesperson.Additionally, research shows that your buyers would rather engage first with third-party expert information from companies like us—Hanley Wood editorial brands, websites, print and newsletters—plus engage with your website, their friends, trade shows, video, social media, etc. Buyers have tons to access to learn about your product and get your content assets at the time when they want to engage with them. That is why they do not want to engage with your salesperson until they are ready, and 70 percent already down the research path on your product.
- More relevant questions for marketing executives to align with their sales leadership before demand generation and nurturing campaign begins:
- Agreement on what the definition of a contact lead, marketing qualified lead, and sales ready lead are.
- Percentage of sales volume required and how many leads will they need to capture at the top of the funnel to hit the sales goal for the launched product.
- Percentage of nurturing leads and sales ready leads you need to drive to achieve the sales volume goal. Remember, less than five percent of a total lead pool from any database you use will be only ready to buy or have all BANT qualifiers answer on your registration form. You need to date the other 95 percent of your leads and earn that right to go out to dinner with them again.
- If you use a lead scoring mechanism, it is especially necessary to define a sales ready lead. It is obvious when a lead is active. But what defines “active?” Some metrics that can be utilized to define active include number of unique form conversions, unique click conversions and frequency of website activity. Plus, with today’s automation products you can even do a nurturing map and track assets plotted to each stage of the buyers journey to measure the length in time the buyers spends with your information and asset. Was it a 60-second awareness video? A one-hour certified education course? Or did the buyer sign up to use your calculator for a make money or save money analysis of your offer?
- In aligning marketing to sales, make sure you have the conversation with your VP Sales about the importance of sales interlock. Nurturing does not close sales! It warms up the lead, qualifies them and can “pull” the lead data and engagement of the lead throughout the entire buyer’s journey. That is what marketing can provide in value to sales. Marketing sets up the sale for the final approach to the qualified lead. The right message, right time at the right place is what great marketing people strive to execute. Then sales management and their teams must engage with the buyer with the right talk track and messaging that should be on sales scripts or battle cards. Marketing warms them up and sales is the conversion animal.
Business, Marketing & Campaign Defined Goals Critical to Success of Your Pipeline
At Hanley Wood we are always driving our customers to have the measurement conversation with us. In fact that is the first place we start in our conversation. Our goal for each campaign is to understand our customers KPI’s and expectations on the return on investment. One other key point we share with our customers is that we are unique in our demand generation offering. Why? One word: specialization.
Hanley Wood spends millions of dollars every year providing the highest quality editorial to our database of readers. In fact, we have 3.4 million buyers using all of our products and brands monthly. These key buyers and decision makers perceive the value of Hanley Wood editorial products as a trusted advisor and source for third party information. Combined with the Hanley Wood brand equity and knowledge of the reader, we expect our demand generation programs to outperform most if not all campaigns that BPMs are executing themselves. Why? We feel that with the talent and experts in our email marketing departments who know how to write and emotionally connect with our customers’ targeted buyers, we will push our partners’ metrics higher! This in turn provides the marketer the ability to beat their current benchmarks for their lead generation, especially if they are using only email. We help our marketing partners with the fact that our strategic content we create for a nurture email is built to address the lead’s needs from an:
- Interest level
- Buying cycle stage
- Profiling lead and persona perspective
These three key attributes plus tracking the engagement frequencies and what exact asset the buyer is viewing will result in higher performance for our partners. So, Hanley Wood has a challenge for you. For your next major launch, why not invest in your current program execution, but this time take the same exact investment and place the program with Hanley Wood to market to our editorially owned and operated unified database of buyers. We’d love to help you with your measurement and metrics modeling. This type of pilot will provide the data to map back to your past programs, and more importantly leverage for future programs.
Why not learn what is working and throw away what is not working!
Tom Rousseau is the Executive Vice President of Hanley Wood Strategic Marketing Services. His responsibilities include leading the on-demand marketing as a service team at Hanley Wood. Tom is a subject matter expert on customer engagement programs that focus on ROI analytics for content marketing, demand generation, social media, mobile and sales enablement platforms. Prior to joining Hanley Wood, Tom held senior executive level positions at IDG Communications, Ziff Davis Media and UBM. After 28 years in the B2B marketing and advertising industry, Tom was inducted into Folio’s B2B Industry Sales Executive Hall of Fame in 2011.
Follow Tom on Twitter @TCRousseau