Many of the lead gen teams in our portfolio are highly productive. They are hitting, if not surpassing their daily/weekly/quarterly productivity metrics, and pumping their sales teams’ pipelines full of fresh new opportunities. I’m very, very proud of their efforts — theirs is no easy job, and the appointments/opportunities that they generate should be treated like gold by the sales and marketing teams. A LOT of blood, sweat and tears went into that hunt.
What I am seeing pretty consistently amongst most of the teams that I’ve worked with is that they are great when it comes to initial touch points and content sharing with leads that are just becoming “aware.” At this point, no hand-off to sales reps has occurred. Once the prospect becomes interested, and he/she is open to the next step, then a second call, most likely with a field sales rep, occurs. If on that call/demo/meeting the prospect shows signs of closing in the next 30-60 days, the sales guys are usually ALL over it.
If not — and if there is not a true sense of urgency on the buyer’s end — it’s likely the sales person won’t develop a true feeling of ownership over the account. This is when things start to fall through the cracks. The touch points (human and/or marketing) can run dry. Email blasts can go out with content that has NOTHING to do with that particular target buyer persona or what their needs are at that particular stage of the buying cycle. Garbage.
In order for the sales engine to run as efficiently and effectively as possible, those “gray zone leads” — which I’ve referenced in many previous points — need to be touched consistently, and they need to be touched with messages that are going to resonate with their particular situation, ultimately to keep them moving toward the buying stage.
This is no easy feat, and I wish I had all the answers. Your expansion stage company’s relationship marketing program is going to be very specific to your target segment, it’s buyer personas and the direct marketing channels that make the most sense given the buyer’s preferences. That said, I’ve outlined a series of questions that will at least get you thinking about how to implement this type of program so that you can get the MOST out of all of the prospects that have entered the buyer’s journey.
- Who will be responsible for managing your relationship marketing program?
- Where does this stand priority-wise with other goals that he/she may have?
- Have you clearly defined your target market segments?
- Have you clearly defined your buyer personas (pains, needs, buying criteria, who influences them internally and externally, etc.)?
- Okay, if you don’t have these first four questions answered, but you’ve got a Lead Qualification team prospecting already, I’m a little nervous for you. THANK GOODNESS you are reading this post, because you need to act fast (but be smart about it). There’s no time like the present to analyze your historic data (i.e. closed deals, pipeline, etc.) to FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS on that segment (or two), and those buyer personas you are confident you can completely win-over and you can continue refining your messaging and product roadmap around. But I digress.
- Do you understand the key milestones in your personas’ buying journeys? (Aware –> Interested –> Paying Customer)
- What direct marketing channels are going to make the greatest impact with your buyer personas?
- Who influences your buyer personas, and do they have content that is readily accessible that can be repurposed?
- What existing content do you already have that can be repurposed?
- What new content do you really need based on buyer personas pains and what it will take to move them through the buyer journey?
- What will be the frequency at which you touch your buyer personas with messaging as they move through their buyer journey?
- What technology do you have/need to invest in to best manage and track your marketing efforts and the responses they generate?
- How will your marketing automation tool be synced with your CRM?
- Is the CRM set up in a way that is conducive to properly categorizing leads based on where they stand in their buying cycle and what their particular pains/needs are?
- Who will train your lead gen team on the right questions to ask to determine which bucket the lead belongs in for relationship marketing as well as the overall process — where the human touch point falls into the equation?
- What is the quick hit relationship marketing program that you can use to test and execute your messaging and touch point model for a specific buyer persona?
- How will you measure the success of your relationship marketing efforts and your quick hit program?
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