5 Step Beginner’s Guide to B2B Cold Calling

5 Step Beginner's Guide to B2B Cold Calling

Photo from Pexels

Sierra Powell, Freelancer 

Cold calling is an essential part of generating interest for your business. The fact that it isn’t among the most popular techniques doesn’t change this. As the owner of a business, you’re going to need to step up your cold calling game. Here is a very handy 5 step beginner’s guide to getting you up to speed.

1. Make Sure Your Call Script is Effective

The most important part of B2B cold calling is to have an effective script. You don’t want to call someone and then expect them to sit there while you ramble or stumble over your words. The very second a busy office manager or owner senses you are wasting their time, they’ll hang up. You need to be prepared to make an effective presentation right away.

You can do this by verifying and testing out your script in advance. Try it out on your employees and have them share it with their friends. Test it against other scripts that rivals in your industry are making use of. You want to be sure that every element is as effective as possible before you put it into play.

2. Always Keep Your Main Goal in Mind

When you make a cold call, you need to be totally focused. The goal of your call may be to initiate a business deal or qualify a lead for future development. No matter what the point of the call may be, you need to keep solidly to it. Make sure that every element of your script lets you keep this razor-sharp focus.

3. Find the Pain Point of Your Recipient

There is a reason why you are making the cold call in the first place. This will be to exploit the pain points of a potential new customer. These pain points represent the reason why they can sorely use the goods or services that you offer to provide. Use them to their full potential.

The script that you use needs to address these points. Doing so will drive home the point of the call in a much more timely and efficient way. The sooner your prospect understands what you can do for them, the better. This will be the key to sparking interest. From there, you can arrange the next step of the process.

4. Make Sure to Call at the Right Time

How many times have you been woken up in the morning by a robocall? It may be an hour before you are ready to go to work. You are sleepy and very irritable about having to take the call. It’s almost worse when there is a real person on the other end. If they are cold calling you, you are sure to very curtly hang up.

This needs to be kept in mind when you are the one doing the calling. It’s a very good idea to be sure that you are calling at the right time of day. You want to call during the time when your target has the most social energy. This will usually be in the course of a business day, perhaps just after lunchtime.

5. Always Practice to Make Your Presentation Better

The last thing that you need to keep in mind is that practice makes perfect. You need to be able to read the whole of the script without it being in front of you. The sooner you memorize each detail, the sooner you can move on to freshen up your verbal presentation.

You need to read it off in a smooth, calm, friendly, and very natural voice. To get it right, you’ll need to practice. The reward is a flowing presentation that will be well received and influential in netting some new clients.

Cold Calling Can Heat Up Your Business

It will be up to you to make use of every new tactic that will create interest for your business. Cold calling is a tool that can help you move up to a whole new level of influence. Like any tool, you need to use it correctly. With a bit of practice, you can make cold calling a vital part of marketing.




Business Development 101: B2B Marketing Best Practices

B2B Marketing Best Practices

 

Sierra Powell, Freelancer

Several factors influence B2B marketing practices. A business always requires you to have enough skills for you to operate it effectively. It is always not wise to get involved in a company with the mind that you will try. That is because you have invested in it, and every business person fears losing.

Due to the advanced technology, how business people relate with one another continues to change, just like the customers’ demands. Nowadays, you have to invest more in technology to make your business successful. Although it is hard to get a perfect B2B solution, the following practices have been proven to work.

Build a Data-Driven Strategy

Every business must have a properly laid strategy for it to be successful. A business strategy acts as a business guide. It is what will guide you on what you are supposed to do and at what time. That will enable you to save a lot of time and strategy.

The most crucial thing in a strategy is the content it has. If you make a strategy with poor content, then it is evident that your business will fail. The best way to go about this is to build a data-driven system. That will enable you to make a faster decision, reduce wastage, and also increase customer experience.

Offer High and Interactive Content

In B2B marketing, the most important thing is the content of your strategy. When preparing the strategy for your marketing, it should be of high quality and also interactive. Customers usually do not have time to go through the irrelevant stuff. They usually go straight to the point. That means you need to go directly to the critical issues to avoid putting unnecessary content.

The content should also be interactive. That will ensure that the customers are involved. In every business, a proper understanding of your customers is one of the most critical factors that will enable you to go far. They need to get involved in most of the activities in your business. The only way to achieve that is to have interactive content. Through that, you will extract the essential information for your business. Customers usually speak the truth about their interaction with your business. If you involve them, you will get where you are not doing well and need to improve, moving your business to the next level.

Leverage Social Media as a Conversational Tool

The most important thing as a business person is never to forget about social media. Technology has advanced, and social media plays a vital role in businesses. Most of the business operations of companies are being done on online platforms.

The most important way to operate B2B marketing is by having open communication between the two businesses. That will enhance cooperation and transparency. Good communications between the two companies will enable them to solve issues affecting their customers, know whether there is enough stock, and identify first and slowly moving items. The only way to maintain a proper conversation is online because it is quick and effective. That will generally help to move your business to a higher level. 

Target Audience

The essential thing in every business is to know the audience you are creating the content for. Creating content without adequately understanding your target audience is a waste of time and resources. That is because you can create content for those who are not even interested in your products.

It is essential to understand the most important message about your target audience, such as what they like and don’t. That will enable you to create content that satisfies the needs of your audience. You can also get feedback from them to find out their experience with the products you offer. Whether you get negative or positive feedback should not discourage you. It should help you make necessary changes to fit the customers’ demands. You can also enlist the help of an affiliate agency to help connect your company to other businesses that will help you grow.

Invest in What Motivates a Purchase

You should always invest in what motivates a purchase. That is because the more the purchase, the more successful your business is and vice versa. Every business requires a proper strategy to be successful. You can apply the practices mentioned above, and you will be sure of the success of your business.

 




The 3 Best Tactics for a Successful B2B Sales Campaign

Maggie Bloom, Freelance Writer

Are you about to embark on your first major B2B sales campaign? If this is the case, you need to be fully prepared to reap the benefits of a positive outcome. The best thing that you can do under the circumstances is using tried and true tactics. Here are the 3 best methods for a successful B2B sales campaign.

1. Make Use of Services for Lead Generation

The first thing that you will need to do is make sure that you can generate enough new leads to keep your business fully supplied with new clients. This is an operation that you may not be able to handle on your own. If this turns out to be the case, you can employ the use of third-party lead generation services.

A third-party service can be very useful in garnering the leads that you will need to make use of to find new clients. This will be the primary purpose of delegating this duty to such a service. However, you should also be able to profit from the time and effort that you can now put into other areas.

The trick will be to choose the best service to provide you with a consistent number of top-quality leads. You will need to put in a bit of time and research before you settle on the third party that you can safely hire. Once you do so, you will be assured of a source of leads that will prove reliable.

2. Use Direct Messages on Social Media Platforms

Another proven way to mount your initial B2B sales campaign will be to make use of direct messages on all of the social media platforms that your business is currently making use of. This goes for such places as LinkedIn, Instagram, Google, YouTube, and the like. The more of these you reference, the better.

For example, using a platform such as LinkedIn to carry out a direct messaging campaign has many advantages for you to employ. All of the people that you contact through this medium know immediately who you are and what company you represent. They can quickly read through your profile to get the info they need.

Once they own this info, they can choose whether or not they care to respond to your message. The very worst that they can do is ignore it. But at the other end of the spectrum, a carefully worded and fully personalized direct message of this kind can be the start of a B2B relationship.

The same is true for the messages that you send from your other platforms. Try not to send out a giant mass of impersonal form letters. Make each note as fully personal as possible. State your aims and goals clearly and make sure to include all of your contact info. A well-worded intro works wonders for gaining a reply.

3. Email Marketing is Still a Viable Strategy

The reports of the demise of email marketing in the 2020s have been very much exaggerated. The truth of the matter is that this strategy is as viable as ever. Better yet, it’s still the most efficient and cost-effective way to reach a lot of people in a very short amount of time.

The key to a successful email marketing campaign is to carefully curate your current list. You should work on the principle of convincing people to sign up for your email list on your official website as well as all of your various social media pages.

Doing so will give you a list of names you can utilize in your next B2B sales campaign. They were gathered voluntarily and will have more interest in hearing what you have to offer.

B2B Sales Campaigns Are Easy to Plan

It’s easier than ever to plan for an effective modern B2B sales campaign. But what all too few business owners understand is how to deal with the results. You need to have a solid plan to garner and utilize the leads that you gain. Doing so will put you in the driver’s seat to expand your business.

 




Gilded Launches B2B Payment Solution for Coinbase

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Gilded, a company that simplifies B2B payments and accounting, has announced a suite of business tools for Coinbase users. With over 30 million customers worldwide, Coinbase is the most popular digital currency exchange. Today, businesses can send and receive instant digital currency payments directly to their Coinbase account while automating the accounting process.

Since 2018, Gilded has been a leading provider of non-custodial digital currency payments. In response to increasing demand, Gilded has launched a powerful solution for companies seeking the assurance and convenience of a custodial account.

While billions of dollars have been transferred through digital currency, standard digital currency wallets are not suitable for business use. A typical digital currency wallet makes it difficult to invoice and track payments with digital assets.

Gilded’s Coinbase integration allows any company to send invoices and accept payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or the USDC stablecoin. Payments are sent directly to the company’s Coinbase account, which is tracked and reconciled within Gilded. Businesses using Gilded for Coinbase need not worry about wallet addresses, custody of funds, or tracking payments. Payments can be sent around the world in minutes without incurring additional transaction fees.

Companies that transact internationally encounter high fees, delays, and a lack of transparency. Digital currency removes bankers and middlemen, allowing businesses to accelerate cash flow and keep more of their hard earned revenue.

“The benefits of digital currency are clear, but the experience hasn’t always been accessible or user-friendly⁠—especially for businesses.” Said Gil Hildebrand, CEO of Gilded. “Gilded changes that. Today, Coinbase’s 30 million users have gained access to essential tools for business.”

In addition to digital currency, Gilded also supports traditional payment options, such as wire transfers and credit cards. Each invoice allows the customer to choose their preferred method of payment.

“The digital currency economy is here,” said Hildebrand. “Soon, every business will recognize it as the most efficient way to transact globally with customers and vendors. But we also understand that companies might not want to eliminate other payment options entirely.”

Source: Blockchain Wire




3 B2B Marketing Trends To Embrace in 2020

Ronn Torossian, Founder, 5WPR 

Sales and marketing are innately dynamic. This dynamic nature requires that organizations in every industry keep abreast of steadily changing trends. Timing is key in marketing. An organization that’s dependent on last year’s sales and marketing blueprint will lag behind its innovative competitors. 

So let’s go over trends that forward-thinking organizations should embrace in 2020. 

3 B2B Marketing Trends To Embrace in 2020 - Ronn TorossianHigh-Quality Content 

B2B content converts. In fact, according to “The Future of B2B Content 2019” report, 98% of B2B marketers surveyed stated that they believed content performed well enough to justify its cost. 

On the same note, the report indicated that 65% of the B2B marketers surveyed stated that website content topped in attracting and engaging existing clients. 

All content isn’t created equal. Determining the type of content that’ll draw in clients and engage existing ones is key to B2B marketing success. To improve conversions and grow their brands, B2B marketers should create content that has purpose and substance. 

B2B marketers should also figure out what their visitors look for. By analyzing website traffic and industry expertise, they can create high-quality content that offers invaluable insight to busy professionals. 

Single Customer Views 

As entrepreneur Hamed Wardak noted, “Marketing automation will be important for B2B organizations in 2020. However, not all marketing automation strategies are equally effective. Hence, B2B organizations should consider Single Customer View (SCV) to create effective marketing automation systems. So what’s an SCV? A single customer view is an aggregation of data that an organization has on a particular client, presented in a manner that gives a clear overview of their specific data.” 

It allows B2B organizations to create a customer profile so they can get clarity on customer insights. 

Sending effective B2B marketing campaigns requires organizations to understand their customers. An SCV helps organizations create personalized and powerful use cases: like granular segmentation of an organization’s audience, and automated and personalized customer journeys. 

By implementing SCVs, B2B organizations can increase conversion rates, drive business referrals, and increase client retention and brand loyalty. 

Chatbots 

Every industry has unsung heroes. In marketing, customer service representatives fall into this category. They deal with all types of clients. However, customer service representatives can only deal with one caller at any given moment. This creates a manpower challenge for B2B organizations, in 2020 and beyond. To overcome this challenge, B2B companies should consider the adoption of chatbots. 

What are Chatbots? Chatbots are software designed to mimic human-to-human conversations. They’re built to assist businesses to automate communication with customers. 

Artificial-intelligence-powered chatbots enhance lead generation and qualification. Specifically, chatbots on an organization’s website provide personalized user experience by asking qualifier questions. This helps qualify leads, saving a sales team’s time. 

At the same time, chatbots simplify data mining. Data volumes in B2B organizations are high. Thus, the lack of effective data mining can affect the identification of qualified leads. However, AI-powered chatbots easily automate data management, and map-out data based on an organization’s needs. So implementing a chatbot strategy can increase a B2B organization’s close rates, web traffic and engagement, conversions of leads, and cause revenue increases, in 2020 and beyond.


3 B2B Marketing Trends To  Embrace in 2020About the Author: 5WPR Founder Ronn Torossian is one of America’s most noteable Public Relations executives.




Attention B2B Marketers: Why LinkedIn Rules

Mike Orr, COO, Grapevine6

With 650 million professional members, LinkedIn must be considered in any social marketing strategy. LinkedIn is often overlooked by marketers because its professional ‘personality’ does not lend itself to glitzy consumer campaigns that win awards and attract press coverage. As marketers we would be wise to explore the untapped potential of LinkedIn to drive revenue.

The starting point in any marketing strategy is to think about the nature of your customer’s journey. It matters less who you sell to (businesses, consumers, or governments) and more how your customers experience your company. Is it a one-off experience (transactional) or is it a long-term relationship (relational)?

Relational experiences in B2B is where LinkedIn shines brightest. In fact, LinkedIn is consistently ranked the number one source for B2B lead generation by marketers. The success of LinkedIn as a marketing platform is directly related to its success as a recruiting platform. Members are incented to complete detailed profiles to increase their attractiveness as potential job candidates. LinkedIn profiles give marketers an unparalleled ability to target a marketing message to a very specific professional audience, enabling ABM and other advanced marketing approaches.

But limiting your thinking to advertising misses the big opportunity in relational businesses. Marketing needs to think beyond the buyer’s relationship with the brand page on LinkedIn. As buyers begin to engage with your company they’ll start to check out your company’s leadership team and research the profiles of the sales people with whom they come into contact. LinkedIn is the platform that sales professionals use most often to research buyers. Understand that this goes both ways. Modern buyers are also researching those who represent your company.

Marcom teams need to help customer-facing employees, especially sales and executive leaders within your organization, project a professional brand image on LinkedIn, commensurate with that of your company. Instead of building one brand, marketers need to think about building hundreds or thousands of individual brands for those people who are in contact with your customer base. The common thread for all of those individual brands will be the content marcom produces. Marketing must get creative in producing and curating content that makes their customer-facing teams look smart.

What content strategy will drive value in social? According to Forrester analyst Laura Ramos, buyers are looking for short content, ideally from credible sources, and reflecting peer experiences. These principles apply to B2B content generally, but are also useful when creating content for your teams. Our clients also find that sharing third party content along with branded content generates the highest engagement rates.

When social marketing meets sales the result is a social selling program that produces the highest ROI for marketing spend. LinkedIn is B2B’s dominant network, hands down, as a gen source and ultimately as a revenue generator – Numbers don’t lie.  Case in point, SAP, a Grapevine6 client, attributes over two billion Euros in pipeline revenue to their LinkedIn social selling program!


Mike OrrAbout the Author: Mike Orr co-founded Grapevine6 with four long-time friends to make content valuable to sales. They developed the G6 mobile app and content engagement platform that applies AI to accelerate sales and marketing efforts. Mike applied design thinking to develop an app that delivers relevant content for business professionals, in an easy-to-use experience. Before launching Grapevine6, Mike worked with the team that would eventually found Grapevine6 to create a martech startup that was acquired by Cundari. As the strategic leader of Cundari’s digital team, Mike’s work won a number of global awards including two Cannes Lions, a Fast Company Innovation by Design award and Best of the Best in World from MAAW (Marketing Agencies Association Worldwide). Mike earned a B.A.Sc. from UW and an MBA from Rotman.  Contact Mike at Morr@grapevine6.com or https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeorr/

Social Handles:

Twitter: @mikeorr8

Twitter: @Grapevine_6 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikeorr/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/grapevine6-app/

 




Memes Mean Business for B2B Marketers

Aidan Paringer, Marketing Director, BNTouch CRM

For many B2B marketers, there’s a feeling of dread that comes with trying out of the box ideas. After all, search, display and LinkedIn have typically been strong drivers of quantifiable results. This is particularly true in industries that are generally regarded as slow movers. By way of example, Geico and Progressive are trying their hardest to make insurance advertising memorable for consumers, but there’s no “Gecko” or “Flo” in the worker’s compensation insurance market.

And maybe marketers are missing the point. 

We’re all familiar with internet memes, from the deluge of “One does not simply…” images (based on Boromir in Lord of the Rings explaining that ‘One does not simply walk into Mordor’) to the usage of Kermit the Frog explaining it’s “none of [his] business.” However, very few B2B companies have made attempts to understand how memes can play a role in their marketing initiatives.

With this in mind, the marketing team at BNTouch, a CRM platform that helps mortgage originators connect with their real estate broker partners, created a campaign to mirror the NCAA College basketball tournament; we launched March Memeness. The concept was simple, we’d post a new meme every business day, as a way to get our clients and prospects to smile a bit. Most of the images were created using common meme generators (you can find lots of options on Google).

The results were impressive.

On the social media side of things, our stats essentially doubled. Instagram follower count grew 160%, and our Twitter follower count also more than doubled as well. Organic daily reach on Facebook was also up more than 100%.

  • Perhaps more importantly, we saw dramatic upticks on web traffic as a result of the initiative. Organic web traffic was up 23% (driven by a 42% increase from social media traffic. Our quality leads measurement was also up more than 40%.

Of course, this all leads to the question, “is this replicable?” 

The answer is yes. However, to make it work, there are a few critical takeaways marketers can learn from our experiment.

The first is that operating slightly out of your generally accepted industry-wide comfort zone  can have a profound impact. For BNTouch, that meant trying humor in an industry that’s generally seen as buttoned up and slow moving. The same effect can be used in any number of industries. In car insurance, Progressive and Geico have incorporated humor for years, perhaps the approach an insurer can take focused on the serious nature of being protected when it’s necessary. The important thing here is to zig when others are zagging.

The second is that it will require consistency over time. For BNTouch, we created an image for every business day of the month. While a one-off image or .gif can “go viral,” it’s important to not rest your laurels on one positive result, and to realize that success builds upon itself.

Finally, it’s important to understand what the results you garner mean for your business. Our web traffic from Instagram went up more than 220%, but overall leads from that platform were still below those we received from LinkedIn. This means that there might be a tremendous opportunity on Instagram for a B2B sales cycle, but that we need to remember LinkedIn as an important component of our approach.

Make no mistake, March Memeness was incredibly fun for the team at BNTouch, but it also demonstrated how the willingness to go outside industry norms can have profound effects.

Full results of March Memeness can be found at https://bntouch.com/mortgage-blog/mortgage-memes-grow-business/


About the Author: Aidan Paringer is the Marketing Director at BNTouch CRM, the mortgage industry’s most feature rich growth platform, which operates as a standalone solution while seamlessly integrating into the day-to-day operations for enterprise, team and individual brokers. In the last two years, the company has worked with thousands of mortgage brokers, enabling them to close more than $43 billion in loans. BNTouch removes friction and increases agility in each touch point of a mortgage life cycle for customers, agents and regulators alike. For more information, visit www.bntouch.com

 

 




4 Ways to Effectively Engage Customers for B2B PR Efforts

Katie Creaser, Senior Vice President, Affect 

The earned media landscape is tough for anyone trying to secure positive publicity for a B2B company. It seems as if the same sort of stories are being told over and over again. So how can you differentiate your public relations efforts to stand out in a highly competitive and crowded field?

For B2B PR professionals, engaging customers and empowering them to become brand ambassadors or third-party validators is a critical part of any marketing strategy. However, it’s not always easy to convince customers to commit to anything beyond a traditional case study or partner announcement.

From customers that don’t want to be named, to a lack of data or measureable outcomes to bland uses cases – many companies end up with PR and marketing collateral that goes nowhere. Boring case studies, self-promotional press releases, low quality social content and blog posts are likely outcomes. But nothing is worse than media outreach that falls flat with no earned coverage in sight.

As PR professionals plan for 2019, here are four ways to powerfully engage customers to support B2B sales and marketing efforts:

  1. Identify the “Right” Customers. Closed sales and signed contracts don’t guarantee great stories. If you’re hoping to see ROI from customer engagement, it’s important to focus on the ones that are primed for media outreach. Customers that fit the PR profile are:
  • Well-recognized brands or executives
  • Innovative and using your solutions and services to disrupt their business
  • Seeing measurable results and impact
  • Able to provide prescriptive advice to the industry at-large
  • Willing to participate in thought leadership opportunities beyond traditional case studies, canned quotes
  1. Tell a Powerful Story: Traditional case studies are generally too bland to generate press interest – they’re simply not newsworthy (e.g. “our customer bought our product, it did what it was supposed to do…and they loved it!”) is not enough. A strong customer story has a compelling narrative arc – whether it’s a challenge that was overcome, a surprising outcome or discovery, an emotional journey or a lesson learned. It’s also critical to use data as proof points with key takeaways for readers.
  1. Go Beyond the Press Release: A press release is the least interesting way to tell a great customer story – and thinking outside of the box can generate stronger ROI. Inviting customers to be part of creative thought leadership initiatives is a powerful way to expand PR pitch efforts, this can include:
  • Q&A style articles or blog posts
  • Joint speaking opportunities, media interviews and byline articles
  • Participation in surveys and reports
  • Customer advisory boards and councils
  • Joint responses to breaking news and trends 
  1. Institutionalize Customer Engagement: B2B marketers should build customer stories into branding, content and thought leadership campaigns to directly support and empower sales efforts. It’s also important to put a formal customer engagement process and strategy in place and align with business development and sales teams to flag strong stories and educate customers on the benefits of PR participation.

To truly see ROI on customer engagement, it’s critical to think outside the box and bake it into an overall PR and marketing strategy. Institutionalizing the customer engagement process is a company’s best bet to extract as much mutual PR value from the relationship as possible. PR professionals have to be more creative than the traditional case study or customer announcement to move the needle in swaying public opinion, generating more business, and/or securing positive publicity.


Katie C - AffectAbout the Author: Katie Creaser is senior vice president at Affect a public relations agency in NYC that specializes in B2B technology, healthcare and professional services. She provides counsel to technology clients that are looking to bring PR and social media into their communications program as part of a thoughtful, holistic strategy. Follow her on Twitter or on LinkedIn.

 

 

 




6 Major Differences Between B2C and B2B Sales Strategies

Dan Sincavage, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Tenfold

One of the most crucial aspects of your work as sales manager is to come up with an on-target sales strategy. Your B2B B2C strategy is a make or break. You may have the best talkers, presenters and deal makers in your team. (Heck, you may have Don Draper and Jim Halpert in your team.) It’s going to be a long and difficult sales cycle if you have a mismatched sales strategy.

To get to a strategy that fits your business, your first step is to distinguish between B2B and B2C. The sales strategies that you employ are distinctly different, depending on your target audience. Here are 6 key differences to keep in mind.

B2B B2C Strategy Difference 1: Lead Pool

The lead pool size is a major differentiator between B2B and B2C sales strategies. With B2Cs, you are presumably targeting millions of people who need your product. Let’s say, as example, that you’re selling cornflakes. To zoom in on your target audience, just count the number of people who have breakfast every day. And, in case you want to broaden the market, you can get marketing to design a campaign that sells cornflakes as snack and dinner alternatives. Now, you potentially have a lead pool made up of billions of people.

For B2Bs, the lead pool size shrinks by the millions, and is more defined by the companies’ specific requirements. As example, let’s presume that you’re selling one of those cornflake/ oats making machines. This limits your lead pool to companies, such as Trader Joe’s, Kellogg’s and Nestle. You don’t even have those artisan cornflake makers in your lead pool, unless you can convince them to turn to machines.

Given this reality, a blanket approach won’t work. Similar companies will go after that puddle-sized lead pool. So, you need to be specific in your pitch to each of the companies in your pool.

For both B2B B2C sales teams, here’s a good reminder from SEOmoz CEO and co-founder Rand Fishkin regarding dealing with your lead pool: “Best way to sell something: don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect and trust of those who might buy.”

B2B B2C Strategy Difference 2: Required Product Knowledge

Your sales team needs to know about what they’re selling. This is the same, regardless of whether you’re B2B or B2C. As Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, says: “People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.”

Both B2B and B2C sales teams need to know their product like the back of their hand. They should know their features, design details, advantages and disadvantages. Competitor knowledge is necessary too. Buyers are more sophisticated these days – be it B2B or B2C. They will know some details about your product and ask questions.

The difference lies in the depth of knowledge required. Buyers in B2B and B2C have different information requirements. A mom buying cornflakes, for instance, will want to know the calorie and sugar count of the product, as well as its price and taste. Your sales team can train to respond to these queries in a day or two. After a week, they may be already be expert in your product.

Compare this to a B2B sales team. Your team needs to know the specifications and technical details of the product. They need to know how this would fit into the systems – hardware, software and human-powered – and processes of your target companies. And, it is almost always different from one company to the next.

Months of training won’t cut it. An effective B2B sales team needs continuous training, thorough product knowledge, and experience in product presentations and fielding questions from executive-level prospects.

B2B B2C Strategy Difference 3: Number of Decision-Makers

In a typical B2C buying scenario, you only deal with one decision maker. In our cornflake example, it is the mom, her tastes, budget and preferences that you need to consider. Perhaps, her hubby or kids will also factor into the cornflake buying decision – but not always.

In the case of B2Bs, the decision-making process is a lengthy process that involves several stakeholders. According to CEB (now Gartner) executive advisor and author Brent Adamson, the average number of B2B stakeholders is 6.8, as of 2016. This number has likely increased today.

There are several factors to explain this, such as globalization, the decentralization of decision making and solutions packages (instead of singular products). Whatever the case, your B2B sales team should employ a strategy that factors in several key decision-makers.

B2B B2C Strategy Difference 4: Expected Response

The response to your sales strategies is expectedly on opposite ends when it comes to your B2B and B2C efforts.

You strive for an emotional response from your B2C clients. Sure, you might offer some facts here and there. Perhaps you will tell your prospects that cornflakes are good fiber sources and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But, the end goal of your marketing outreach is to gain customer loyalty. You want them to love and prefer your product, even if there are better breakfast options.

It’s different with B2B clients. Corporate purchases – such as cornflakes/ oats making machines in our example – are usually on the top end of the price scale. They’re investments that need thorough consideration, especially when it comes to the expected costs, returns, advantages and disadvantages. These are things that shouldn’t be left to emotions.

B2B buyers are more likely to approach their purchasing decision with rationality. Keep this in mind when drafting sales strategies that target corporate buyers.

B2B B2C Strategy Difference 5: Decision-making Process

In the B2C scenario, the decision-making process is quick – in some case, even impulsive. People buy out of habit or they buy in-the-moment. Their decision is influence by advertising, word-of-mouth or habits/ cravings. To sell to this kind of audience, you need product awareness and presence.

With B2Bs, however, the wooing period is longer. There are several people making the decision, and you need to convince each one of them. You will go through a lot of phone calls, meetings and demos if you’re keen on closing the deal. And, this can take months.

B2B B2C Strategy Difference 6: Length of the Business Relationship

Typically, B2C business relationships are looked upon as one-off transactions. The focus is right there at the point of purchase. Outside that, preferences and loyalties can change. The cornflake-buying mom today may decide on another brand next week; or, she may choose to switch to eggs and toasts for breakfast.

With B2Bs, it’s different. The whole purchasing process is an investment for both sides. Your sales team puts in months of their time and effort attending to the requirements of the prospect. You nurture your lead, and provide necessary information and content. You follow-up, meet and present to all stakeholders. Your buyers put in their time and effort too to find the best-fit solution for their needs.

The underlying expectation of this mutual investment is that it’s for a long-term relationship. It’s never a one-off transaction because there’s going to be a consistent need for maintenance, support and upgrades. The stakeholder’s purchasing decision takes a long time because it’s a crucial one: that of choosing a business partner.

Of course, this can also apply to B2C transactions, at a lesser degree. You create relationships with your clients, whether B2B or B2C. This is where your business’ success lies. As speaker, writer and Chief Content Office of MarketingProfs, Ann Handley, puts it: “Make the customer the hero of your story.”




Why Emojis are Essential for B2B Enterprise

Annabel Maw, Marketing Communications Specialist, JotForm

Think for a second about a time when someone you didn’t know smiled at you. Not a fake smile—but a true, genuine, friendly smile.

How did you feel?

I’ll bet that you felt good—dare I say, even warm and gooey on the inside.

Smiles, laughs, goofiness—pleasant facial expressions in a nutshell—evoke positive emotions. And humans like to feel positive emotions.

We have and we always will.

It’s not a shock to you that our communication, especially B2B communication, has changed—it’s shifted from letters and memos to phone calls to what we do now, which is more typing and reading and less human connection.

Doing business with clients or customers through text-based communication isn’t a bad thing, but we do need to remember who we’re dealing with: humans. And you know what? The human disposition has and always will desire real, genuine human to human connection.

But how can we translate human connection into digital correspondence? What can we do to ensure our customers, clients, staff, and vendors understand the emotions we’re trying to convey? How can we make sure every person knows we’re “smiling” at them through our words on a screen?

My answer is simple: emojis. 

Emojis are in transit to becoming everyday life essentials. For B2B enterprises and customers—for companies and employees—for our new world. Emojis are making their way into mediums they haven’t traditionally been in, such as email subject lines, Slack channels at the office, new products, and customer service.

Emojis take “the edge” off of modern monotone digital communication and are bringing back the positive emotions we get from in-person connections. Whether we realize it or not, we’re using them more and more because we feel good when they’re included in written correspondence.

And for B2B companies, these friendly faces are essential because they reinforce positivity and enhance customer experience tenfold. They also make people feel good. And who doesn’t like feeling good?

My company, JotForm, is a catalyst in introducing emojis and icons to B2B interaction. We chose to do this not just because our team is all emoji obsessed, but because our UX research said that our customers like having the option to include them in their online forms.

Emojis also help our form respondents understand more clearly what’s being asked of them when filling out a form. Our research says:

“Iconic expressions reduce performance load and make signs and controls more understandable.”

Makes sense—smiles in real life have a knack for easing cognitive load, why would it be any different through an emoji online?

In our latest product, JotForm Cards, our team of developers made emojis a key feature to increase user experience. By creating a library of emojis and icons and a custom “emoji rating bar” form field, our form creators can now add human characteristics to their text-based questions. On the form respondent side, these emojis add a friendly and enjoyable touch to the form filling experience, and since they are similar to facial expressions, they make responding feel intuitive.

In fact, emojis are quite powerful when building and responding to online forms. We found that when form creators switched from a classic form with no emojis, icons, or human characteristics to JotForm Cards with all of the above, JotForm Cards increased conversion 36% on average. Not too shabby, eh?

I’m not trying to say that emojis are any sort of replacement for human to human connection, but in our online world of business, social, and personal interactions, they’re certainly not a bad way to make a conversation more humanlike and personable. I mean c’mon, look at this face.

About the Author: Annabel Maw is a Marketing Communications Specialist at JotForm, a popular online form-building tool based in San Francisco. Its simple drag-and-drop interface, along with conveniently sortable submission data, allows you to create forms and analyze their data without writing a single line of code. JotForm is the solution for online payments, contact forms, lead collection, surveys, registrations, applications, online booking, event registrations and more. Twitter: @AnnabelLMaw




Why Every B2B Company Should Consider an Industry Analyst Relations Program

By Donna St. Jean Conti, Founder, St. Conti Communications

Have you ever wondered why business-to-business companies should include an industry analyst outreach program as part of public relations activities? If so, you’re not alone. In the 20 years that St. Conti Communications has provided public relations services to high-technology and other business-to-business companies, we’ve been asked that many times, so many, in fact, that we created a primer on the topic. And, now we’ve decided to share.

Let’s start with what an industry analyst is. An industry analyst (not to be confused with a financial analyst who primarily makes investment recommendations) is an individual who follows an industry segment and writes about its ongoing advances, topics and trends. These analysts, as a group, are made up of individuals in the trade press as well as in market research organizations such as Gartner, Inc. and Strategy Analytics. There are dozens of such organizations—each with its own special focuses. Cormac Foster at readwrite best describes what these organizations do in his article, “An Insider’s Guide to Technology Analysts,” when he states that they, “provide educated gut checks before making major strategy moves, for help mapping competitive landscapes and to get the dirt on vendor features and pricing you can’t find anywhere else.”

Suffice it to say that industry analysts are highly influential in educating the markets on which they report about the merits of a company and what it has to offer. They do this directly by producing research reports that buying companies reference, and they do it indirectly by responding to editorial queries, which frequently influences industry trade publication content. For these reasons, every company should consider implementing a public relations outreach program—an industry analyst relations program—designed to keep them informed.

Sectors and Roadmaps

As mentioned, industry analysts define and report on a business sector to provide a picture of its boundaries, who the main competitors are, and where the sector is going. The intelligence gathered is useful to the editorial community as well as to potential investors and organizations looking to partner or form alliances. Industry analysts compile and publish industry reports for purchase by subscribing companies looking to use the information for their planning and purchasing purposes. They also sometimes publish their own articles. Additionally, editors and reporters reach out to analysts for their insights and comments on key industry players. The more industry analysts know about a company, its roadmap, and its place in a sector, the more likely the company is to be mentioned in reports and/or or in editorial query responses.

Because industry analysts are trying to gauge a sector and a company’s placement in it, briefings focus on the industry trends and market landscapes. In general, it is good to provide your product roadmap, otherwise known as a product/services timeline. Information also can include anything from planning to attract customers in a new vertical market and expanding product features to looking for companies with which to partner.

What to Provide

Industry analysts want up-to-date, information-packed materials–ones that truly explain what a company is about and what its products and services are while providing information about the technology behind them. This information includes company milestones or accomplishments that allow analysts to see a timeline of events, which helps them in creating profiles.

When preparing your presentation, write materials using clear, concise language. Industry jargon and acronyms must be explained. Limit your presentation length to approximately 25 slides, keeping company information to just a few slides. It is best to place executive biographies and frequently asked questions (FAQs) at the end of the presentation, so that what’s most important to the analyst—what the company is doing—is up front. This helps ensure that all of the key points are covered should the briefing run too long or get interrupted. Be prepared to provide a copy of the presentation and the company’s most recent news releases sometimes even before the meeting as many analysts like to prepare questions ahead of time.

Dan Richman at GeekWire provides additional, helpful information about what influences industry analysts is in his article, “Influencing the influencers: Where tech industry analysts look for expertise and information.” Richman mentions that, in essence, industry analysts get their information from other analysts and writers. Something to keep in mind is that, when a public relations agency is at work keeping key editors and analysts informed, it is a company’s subject matter experts who’ve provided the information to those analysts and writers via briefings.

So, now you should have a better idea of who industry analysts are, where they fit in the information stream, and why it is important for business-to-business companies to include industry analyst relations programs as part of public relations activities. For help in identifying what analysts to contact and brief and in creating presentation materials, consult with a seasoned public relations agency such as St. Conti Communications.

About the Author: As the founder of St. Conti Communications, Donna St. Jean Conti, has provided strategic and tactical marketing communications, public relations and social media services for 30 years. Her wide-ranging experience includes many technology industries, having worked with hardware, software, peripheral, component, and service providers. Her current focus is on assisting renewable/sustainable energy, green technology, non-profit and purpose-driven companies. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the College of Communications at California State University, Fullerton, plus a certification from the American Association of Advertising Agencies and an accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America. Contact her at dconti(at)stconticommunications.com




B2B Sales and Marketing – A Match Made in Heaven or on Separate Tables?

CommPRO Editorial Staff

Coherent sales, marketing and PR is key to lead cultivation

The B2B market unlike consumer sales, has a notoriously long buying cycle. When marketing, sales and PR teams are fragmented as they often are, the buying journey for a prospect can be one with no clear navigation support. Here, Jon Brown, Pitch&Place engagement specialist at IBA International outlines some unified tactics that sales, marketing and PR can employ to guide prospects down the decision funnel.

The modern B2B marketing department can reap benefits and brownie points by providing busy and often stressed sales teams with marketing efforts tailored not only generate, but encourage and cultivate prospects at every stage of what is usually a lengthy B2B buying cycle. 

From releases to articles, twitter to blogs – each has a role to play on the prospect journey

This means providing the sales team with content that can be used to aid them in their conversation with prospects, and social media support to encourage engagement. From the early stages of lead generation, a simple press release announcing a key customer win or an analyst report demonstrates momentum and industry leadership. These third-party endorsements are then supported by press placements of thought-leadership articles or company position papers that may finally influence a decision when a prospect is in the final stages of reviewing a bid. 

Jon Brown, Pitch&Place engagement specialist at IBA International

Jon Brown, Pitch&Place engagement specialist at IBA International

You have valuable content – use it!

The PR team I work with have a saying: “You might have written the best article ever, but if it doesn’t get used, you may as well frame it and hang it on the wall.” 

The same can be applied to all content and coverage generated through marketing and PR campaigns. The marketing team could be producing streams of on-message and useful content, the PR campaign could be achieving very good coverage, but if this goes no further then it’s only achieving a small part of what is possible.

First step of the journey – build the Asset Library

Start removing the silos of content. Simply centralizing all marketing content – press releases and media alerts, customer case studies, articles, blogs, marketing flyers, white papers, even webinar recordings – is the next step in breaking down departmental boundaries and encouraging a dynamic communications ecosystem.

Content has a long ‘shelf-life’ and often, with a few simple ‘tweaks’, can still be relevant over 12 months after its initial creation. Having all that history in an easily navigable central repository – I like to call it an ‘asset library’ – means busy sales execs can get their hands on the content they require on case by case basis. 

So now you’ve got your virtual travel case packed and are ready to support the prospect journey.

Share it – work together

Internal communication is a key element in making content available to the sales team. A short snappy newsletter with fresh relevant content, surprise news bulletins highlighting stand-out media coverage sales teams can use, tweets they can immediately use to support company success – all make them aware that marketing is a resource to draw on and use to nurture their prospects. 

It’s a marathon, not a sprint

B2B purchases are a long process. I’ve experienced pitches lasting anything from six months to upwards of three years before a contract is signed, let alone reach implementation and go-live.

Most marketers have heard the CEB statistic that 57% of the buying process is complete before a ‘customer’ even contacts the supplier, and that marketing-sales consistency will come in handy during the last third of the journey – but it’s sales and marketing’s job to get the prospect over the half way point.

A ‘bite-sized’ corporate narrative – nudging prospects along

According to GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media, 80% of B2B decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of targeted, “bite-sized” articles rather than a single intrusive advertisement.

A press relations strategy is a really persuasive tool to underpin marketing by exploiting the power of cognitive resonance – using different media to communicate the same message, regularly, building a consistent ‘corporate narrative’. Key news announcements, case studies, position papers and thought-leadership articles placed in industry media should carry unified core messages. 

Cutting through the social noise

This corporate narrative should extend to social media – in particular blogs, LinkedIn discussion posts and Twitter in the B2B space. Remember, this is often a direct engagement via a tweet or Linked In rather than a third-party endorsement in a top tier publication or website.

With 27 million pieces of content shared on social media every day, you need to craft your social media carefully to what’s relevant. Every social update needs to be written to engage a target audience – taking into account where that person might be in the decision funnel. 

For example, a tweet about the announcement of a new solution would need framing differently to a short LinkedIn piece talking about integration of your company’s solution aimed at a prospect further down the funnel.

Coherency, consistency and cultivation

These are just a few simple tactics that can bring together the often-separate sales, marketing and PR departments. By establishing a company position, producing content tailored for prospects at different stages of the buying cycle and then consistently pushing those messages from all departments – blockages in the decision funnel can be removed leaving organizations free to cultivate leads as part of a collective strategy.

 

About the Author: Jon Brown, Pitch&Place engagement specialist at IBA International.  As Pitch&Place engagement specialist at IBA International, Jon is responsible for media relations and PR strategy for many of the company’s business-to-business clients, spanning North America, Europe the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. Jon is a graduate of Sheffield Hallam University and holds a Master’s degree in Sports Journalism. 

 




B2B Marketers: Stop Spending Your Money in These 5 Ways

Hilary Baril, Account Supervisor, Inprela

Perhaps unsurprisingly, budget is the top concern for under-performing- to moderate-performing marketing teams, according to the Salesforce.com 2016 State of Marketing Report. But we didn’t expect the same report to find that budget isn’t even in the top 10 concerns for high-performing teams.

How can that be?

Salesforce attributes this phenomenon to company leaders prioritizing marketing budgets when it’s creating business impact. It seems like a simple concept: produce better results, receive more budget. But we continue to see B2B marketers make the mistake of only focusing on immediate gains, resulting in brief success and upholding the status quo.

There’s a time and place for quick wins to showcase the value of a new tactic or a proposed process change, and there’s value in failing fast. At the same time, you must be working toward aligning the larger marketing strategy with your business objectives and making decisions that will set you up for future success.
Start by eliminating band-aid solutions and unmeasurable activities, such as:

Focusing on one channel or trying to do too much

Putting all of your budget into one channel limits your reach, lowering the overall effectiveness of your marketing program. On the other hand, spreading your team’s time and budget too thin on a plethora of channels leaves room for errors and creates unnecessary work to the point where you can’t be successful anywhere.
Find the middle ground by assessing what channels your audience is using to find information at each stage of their buying journey, and prioritize those efforts based on your team’s capacity and budget.

Disjointed tactics and content

Just because you’re creating content and publishing it on your website doesn’t mean it’s reaching your target audience nor that it resonates with them. Publishing content without an effective distribution plan in place is not making full use of the content. Get into the habit of thinking about how each piece of content can be leveraged, repurposed and shared across paid, owned and earned media.

Instead of writing 10 blog posts or case studies a month, try writing three or four high-quality pieces and treat them as mini campaigns to get the most mileage out of them. That means sharing the content across your social channels multiple times with varying copy, pitching the topics to relevant trade media, linking to it in an email newsletter or nurture program, repurposing it into a SlideShare, etc.

“Low-hanging fruit”

Low-hanging fruit will only get you so far until it becomes a rotten strategy. Be careful about getting into the habit of chasing shiny objects and quick wins.
Say no to activities that don’t align with business objectives to protect your team’s time and stay focused on activities that drive results. You may be rewarded with more budget in the end.

Magic literature

When sales are down, reps can be quick to blame it on factors like not having enough leads along or lacking adequate marketing literature. Leads may be a legitimate challenge, but I’ve never understood the literature argument. Yes, a strong brochure that tells your company’s story and showcases its value proposition can be an effective sales tool, but a 35-page regurgitation of your website content won’t close more deals.

It’s important to draw the line in your literature library because it can become an expensive time-suck – not to mention difficult to maintain as your organization and product line evolves. When sales are down, focus on what can move the needle and what’s measurable.

Print advertising (unintegrated with digital)

Print advertising can be a great method of gaining brand awareness when there’s a high volume of placements over a long period of time that have clear calls to action to ensure the campaign is measurable. So unless you have a large budget to sustain a measurable and pervasive print advertising program, we recommend putting those dollars elsewhere. Earned and owned media channels can organically and authentically build brand awareness over time – and for a much lower price tag.

As you go into 2018 planning, consider what activities have held you back from producing more impactful results and becoming an even higher-performing marketing organization. Start by eliminating band-aid solutions and unmeasurable activities. Need help getting started? Inprela is a nontraditional B2B public relations firm creating integrated campaigns that move the needle with expertise in manufacturing and healthcare industries. Contact us today at connect@inprela.com.

About the Author: Hilary Baril is an account supervisor at Inprela with seven years of content marketing and public relations experience, specializing in digital efforts and lead generation. For more information, visit Inprela.com




B2B Blog Metrics: 4 Effective Categories to Measure Success

Frank StrongFrank Strong, Founder & President, Sword and the Script Media

Businesses that engage corporate blogging with professionalism and process can boost visibility, grow a community, and ultimately, have a meaningful influence on sales.

For example, I once worked for a company that found visitors that engaged the blog were 50% more likely to make a purchase. At another company, the blog was a touch point on a sales cycle for roughly one-third of enterprise deals with an average selling price in excess of seven digits.

The first measure came from a business with a marketing automation system implemented. The second measure was largely a manual effort: going back through the deals closed at the end of the year and identifying which ones had downloaded gated content featured on the blog.

When comparing these two examples, it’s easy to think a significant amount of attribution went unmeasured in the latter. I’m convinced marketing automation would have been enlightening.

Directional Indications of Success

Neither one of those companies saw sales solely because of a blog. Instead, the revenue was the result of a combination of efforts across sales, marketing and other departmental functions that included a blog.

More importantly, the sales were not immediate. There are few tactics in B2B marketing that lead to such direct effects. No prospect whips out a credit card to make an enterprise software purchase because of an indivdual blog post, or a webinar, or a phone call, or any other effort. Instead, both companies first experienced an indication of success: traffic.

Traffic is a directional indication of performance. For all the flaws we can find with traffic, when used in conjunction with additional measures, it can guide our thinking as to whether or not a program or initiative is headed in the right direction.

Components to Effectively Measure a B2B Blog

There are a lot of different metrics that can indicate performance, but that’s also one of the pitfalls. This is because trying to track too many metrics creates a bloated spreadsheet or dashboard with a lot of data nobody really looks at.

To keep things simple, I tend to categorize metrics into broad buckets: visibility, community strength, quality and marketing or business impact. All of these can be measured with freely available tools, as opposed to the army of developers (and budget) it often takes to implement marketing automation.

While there are some measures I like better than others, I will customize, swap or recategorize metrics based on the needs or capabilities of a client.

1) Measures of Visibility

Can people find your content? How well does your content move? Measures of visibility I’ve come to rely on include:

  • Visitors. The total number of people that visit a blog, including repeat visitors. Google Analytics (GA) today refers to this as “sessions.”
  • Unique visitors. A subset of “visitors” measure that filters out repeat visitors. Do you need both? I like to monitor both because I have a theory about a growing number of people are “read-you-later” visitors that scan during the day and read carefully at night. This is especially true with long form content. GA refers to “unique visitors” as “users.”
  • Backlinks. A backlink is created when one site links to another. A backlink can send referral traffic and improve organic search traffic. It is this measure that SEO and PR pros should collaborate for the greatest impact. The search experts at Moz say it takes about 10 weeks for backlinks to impact organic search; I like the Open Site Explorer by Moz as means to track this metric.

Social shares are sometimes a metric I’ll include in the visibility category, depending on the client. Sure, the volume of shares is interesting, but it’s also who is sharing that counts. Weaving relevant shares is an effective way to illustrate the value of a corporate blog and weave qualitative measures into quantitative reporting.

Professional tip: Want to capitalize on visibly sooner? Cookie the blog and then use it for retargeting (those ads that follow you around the web after visiting a site). This is a good example of integrated marketing.

2) Community Strength

Building a strong online community ought to be a core objective for a corporate blog. A business that spends any amount of advertising money should be able to see the value. Advertising is in effect paying to reach someone else’s community, so why not invest and build your own in the long run?

Three measures of community strength I gravitate towards include:

  • Returning visitors. Most websites will find the vast majority of visitors to a website are new. While it’s always good to meet new people, the foundation of a community is returning visitors. I prefer numerical measure for this metric rather than a percentage of overall visitors. This is because as a blog grows in traffic, the percentage may cloak the growth in repeat visitors.
  • RSS subscriptions. Social media has tempered RSS but it is still an important way to make content available. It provides people with a chance to join a community through a subscription without having to give up an email address. Yet it’s still a strong indication of community strength because someone is actively telling you they want your content. Services to provide an RSS feed include Feedblitz and Feedburner (by Google). I use Feedburner for this site you can see an example at the top right of this page.

Email subscriptions. A willingness to provide an email address is a solid measure of community. Some of the RSS tools like Feedburner enable you to provide an email-based subscription but don’t overlook capturing emails for the traditional newsletter either. Email is the original owned media platform and still the first and only killer app.

Too many corporate blogs skip the subscription mechanisms, which a little bit like forgoing the benefits of compound interest in a bank savings account. More importantly, if your blog is built on WordPress – and three-quarters of all blogs are – this very easy to remedy in under an hour.

3) Quality

Quality is enormously challenging to quantify. As the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. However, it’s still important to put some metrics around quality and monitor it over time. Two metrics I like to this end include:

  • Time-on-page. This measures how long visitors spend with on your blog. You will find – much like interest rates and the yield on a bond – an inverse correlation between visitors and time on page. Track this metric monthly, but monitor results over the long run. Look for trends in the topics and types of content that keep people engaged. The more time people spend with your content, the better the chances they’ll turn into a customer. GA refers to this as “average session duration.”
  • Organic search. Chances organic search is the leading source of traffic to your website. With trillions of searches a year, it also represents the biggest opportunity for growth. However, search engines want to return the best results in response to search queries, which is why I find this a useful measure of quality.
    Sometimes I’ll include backlinks in this category – as a measure of quality. Quality is in effect why links have a profound influence on search. If a business seems especially search savvy – usually the more metric driven organizations – I’ll sometimes break out another category called “search value” for measuring performance indicators.

4) Marketing impact

Naturally, we want to have measures that show a more direct impact on marketing and the business. Yet sometimes the ability to measure requires access to talent or systems in your sphere of influence. Here’s how to make the case, while demonstrating the contribution in the process:

  • Conversions. If your organization gates content – white papers, webinars and or demos – track the source of registrations. A spreadsheet makes this possible; a system makes it easier.
  • Referrals out. When using web analytics, be sure to look for data the blog sends elsewhere. In other words, look to identify where the blog sends traffic. If you are able to demonstrate how a blog has become a top source of referral traffic for product page – this opens minds to the virtues of B2B blogging.
  • Anecdotes. Document any anecdotes you hear in the course of doing business – a customer that compliments a blog at a trade show, a comment noted in an NPS survey, or an enablement story from sales. If you’re disciplined about recording these, a few seemingly disparate anecdotes will over time, turn into a spreadsheet of evidence.

* * *

While these metrics have proven effective for me, the list is suggestive rather than prescriptive. For some, this list of metrics will seem overwhelming, while for others, it’ll feel incomplete. You’ve to find what works for you and your organization – and then continuously improve it over time. If you can do that, you’ll wind up with sales as the measure of success.

About the Author: Frank Strong is the founder and president of Sword and the Script Media, LLC, a veteran-owned PR, content marketing and social media agency in greater Atlanta.

This piece originally appeared on the Sword and the Script blog.




The State of Sales & Marketing at the 50 Fastest-Growing B2B Companies

By Mattermark

There’s a lot of information out there for sales and marketing professionals. In fact, as our friend Erik Devaney at Drift.com points out, a quick search of the term “sales and marketing advice” yields more than 90 million results on Google.  What’s more, there are tons of industry influencers who, on a regular basis, share their views on everything from content marketing and sales, to pricing and customer success. It’s a noisy conversation, and for many, a confusing one.

So, how do you make sense of it all?  By focusing on the sales and marketing efforts that actually produce results, not flash-in-the-pan engagement. But finding those results is a little challenging. That’s why we decided to put together our latest report with Drift.com, The State of Sales and Marketing at the 50 Fastest-Growing B2B Companies.  Using Mattermark data, we were able to identify the fifty high-growth companies in the U.S. and evaluate their marketing activities to understand which practices really moved the needle. In order to make the qualitative portion of our research more tangible, we evaluated each company on the list in light of how they approached content, customer communication, path to purchase, and pricing. What we and the team at Drift.com discovered was surprising, to say the least.

The State of Sales & Marketing at the 50 Fastest-Growing B2B Companies from Mattermark

 




B2B Influencer Marketing Activation (Presentation)

Editor’s Note: This presentation offers insight into the art and science of romancing B2B industry influencers to collaborate, co-create and advocate content using leading influencer marketing tools. Presented at MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2016 by Lee Odden, TopRank Marketing.

 

B2B Influencer Marketing Activation – Lee Odden from TopRank Marketing Agency



Customer Experience: The Secret Weapon in The B2B Sales Process

david-richardsonBy David Richardson, Director of Marketing Strategy, Spire Agency

B2B is complicated. Industries like technology, manufacturing and professional services are highly complex, jargon-filled beasts with deals costing millions and taking months to close.

And B2B products aren’t marketed; no sir, they’re sold by rainmakers working their network. Understandably, a cool logo, clever tagline or glossy print ad isn’t going to move the needle in the same way it does for a soda, smartphone or new car, right?

Of course, that’s the perspective we hear time and again from sales departments. We don’t blame them for thinking this way – B2B sales is a very different process compared to selling a B2C product, requiring a hands-on element to nurture and guide the customer through the entire sales process. But instead of relying on marketing as an equal partner, often times sales views marketing as merely a vendor to create support materials.

However, there’s one thing the marketing department can do to make the sales department’s life infinitely easier: focus on the customer experience.

The customer experience begins long before a potential customer even realizes they have a problem or that your product is the solution. This is where branding is key: clear positioning of what your company provides, creatively and consistently articulated, creates the awareness needed to make sure your product is on the shortlist when it comes time to research solutions. It also ensures that when your salespeople call, the first question on the other line isn’t “Who?”

B2B companies want to do business with a leader, but leadership isn’t a product attribute. Leadership is something that must be demonstrated, over and over again. To become a leader in the product marketplace, you must become a leader in the mental marketplace of your customers. And just as no one follows the quiet guy in the corner, you need to make some noise to let people know who you are, what you believe in and why others should believe in you.

Once a potential client enters the sales funnel, the marketing department must still keep their focus on the customer experience. This doesn’t just mean creating sales brochures and landing pages; it’s about sustaining a true understanding of your customers. Marketing shouldn’t just talk. They need to listen: not only to what your customers have to say about your company and its products, but also to what they have to say about the industry, their personal challenges and the challenges of their own customers. Marketing must then bring this intelligence back to your engineers, product developers and executives to make certain the customer is represented in the development and delivery of the product.

Finally, marketing ensures that the customer experience continues to be delivered after the sale. Just as the B2B sales process is driven by relationships, marketing can be used to consistently nurture and engage with customers post-sale at scale, delivering the leadership positioning and the relevant content needed to help them get the most out of your brand. This in turns fosters the recommendations and referrals the sales teams rely on for gaining new leads.

Don’t sell the customer experience short. Good will, positive impressions and reputation all play a role in a company’s positioning as a leader. Everyone has a part, not just one department.

By improving the customer experience before, during and after the sale, marketing can give sales the secret weapon they need to start making the sale long before they ever pick up the phone.

About the Author: David has built his career around aligning marketing and sales teams and moving them forward in one cohesive direction under one unified company goal. “Grow always, in all ways” is the motto he lives by, and his passion around developing marketing strategies that are tied directly to revenue has been successful with start-ups to Fortune 500s.




Digiday Media Acquires Tradestreaming, B2B Fintech Publication

Digiday Media Acquires TradestreamingBy CommPro.biz Editorial Staff

Digiday Media announced the acquisition and relaunch of Tradestreaming, an online B2B publication and media brand exploring the changing nature of money, its future, and the institutions that service it. The fintech media brand offers daily editorial, industry newsletters, podcast, branded content and an event.

According to CB Insights and KPMG’s Pulse of Fintech 2015 in Review Report, $13.8 billion in VC funding was deployed to fintech companies globally, more than double the value of VC investment in fintech in 2014. Fintech investment has continued its ascension in 2016. According to Accenture, global investment in fintech startups in the first quarter of 2016 grew 67 percent year-over-year to $5.3 billion. Since 2010, over 2,500 companies have received $50 billion in investments to change the flow of money.

“Financial models must iteratively evolve to remain competitive, and no one covers the rapidly changing fintech space better than Zack Miller and Tradestreaming,” says Nick Friese, CEO of Digiday Media. “Tradestreaming offers the expertise and editorial rigor required to uphold the high standards our readers have for Digiday Media properties.”

Tradestreaming is for those interested in the changing nature of money including banks, asset management, brokers, collaborative finance, fintech investors and lending institutions. The media brand will chronicle, analyze and understand technology’s impact on finance and how it’s changing the business through creating content, services and community that foster interaction between finance and technology industries.

“As a consultant, entrepreneur, and investor in next-generation finance companies, Tradestreaming represents a professional viewpoint on technology’s massive impact on the financial industry,” comments Zachary Miller, editor-in-chief of Tradestreaming. “We’re excited to be joining the growing Digiday Media family as we build the preeminent trade brand for professionals in the financial industry.”

Tradestreaming was founded by Miller and lists entrepreneur and angel investor, Amiad Solomon, as a shareholder. Tradestreaming’s editorial will continue to be led by Miller as editor-in-chief.

Tradestreaming will premiere its first annual event, the Tradestreaming MONEY Conference, on November 14, 2016 in New York City. The conference will feature the financial technology startups stealing the thunder from Wall Street as earnings remain down and entire business lines evaporate.

Editorial and sales operations will continue to be based in Israel, with staff to be added in New York City later this year.




Accelerating B2B Sales During Slow Months

Yulia VereshaginaBy Yulia Vereshagina, Head of Marketing, Skaled

Like most sales, B2B selling, for the most part, is a cyclical activity. Buying decisions can often be dependent on the time of year, including holidays, seasons, and quarters. However, does a cyclically slow sales period mean that salespeople should put in less effort or focus on non-selling activities?

The answer is a resounding NO. Salespeople should never stop selling; it’s eponymous with their title and should always remain the focus. That said, there are three essential steps to take during slow months to accelerate your overall sales – here they are:

Look back to sell ahead

The first and most important step of selling more during slow months is to figure out exactly what’s causing the downturn. Blaming it on summer or the holiday season is easy — and might be accurate — but just to be sure, research and find insights on why these specific months lag in sales.

Look at previous years’ sales and find trends on who said “no” and why. Then, find out if there were customers that were closed during the slow months. Compare closed clients to rejections or prospects who were unsure and see if there’s an underlying pattern. Use that analysis to see who’s still on your outreach list that fits that same pattern. At worst, you’re likely to have a smaller, better-qualified outreach list, and at best, you will sell more in slow months and have a system to replicate it in the future.

Use downtime to create long-term relationships

Winter holiday season and the lazy days of summer can add up to a lot of downtime for B2B businesses. People are taking time off to travel, celebrate, and spend time with family. It seems then, that trying to reach out to clients and prospects at this time would be fruitless. With traditional sales strategies and an “always be closing” mentality, selling anything during this time will be difficult. However, turning this downtime into an inclusive experience for the people in your sales pipeline will lead to creating long-term relationships with clients and prospects alike. To do this you could:

  • Invite key prospects to your holiday party
  • Coordinate a golf outing, yoga retreat, or cooking class where prospects are teamed with senior leadership
  • Host a charity event honoring causes that are meaningful to your prospects

A study by Oracle showed that 81% of buyers are willing to spend more money for a better customer experience. And, 85% of all consumers have a positive opinion of a company that supports a cause. Ask yourself this question: “Is there a better customer experience than welcoming prospects into a relationship as if they were already a client, team member, or family member? Making a positive impression on your prospects is a great move forward in the sales process.

Dial-in your sales focus by partnering with marketing

So far, we know that clients and prospects are less likely to buy during certain months, ultimately slowing down the sales cycle. But those months should never slow down marketing. Marketing has its fair share of peaks and slumps, but unlike sales, the time of year has less of an impact.

It’s no surprise that when marketing and sales teams are aligned, retention and revenue grow. But did you know they both increase by over 30%? So, why not use the downtime to align the two teams even more? Work hand-in-hand with marketing and develop a list of prospects and personas to target in the upcoming months. Your marketing team can then create an inbound strategy to bring those prospects into the sales funnel for you to initiate conversations and close.

Slow months don’t have to be the bane of salespeople’s existence. We have to accept they are simply part of business. What we don’t have to do, however, is allow them to set us back. By staying proactive, positive, and collaborative, we can make slower months work in our favor, all while managing to squeeze in a fun fitness or cooking class.

How do you make the most of the ‘slow’ months?

 About the Author: Yulia Vereshagina is the Head of Marketing at Skaled, a modern sales-consulting firm that helps companies optimize their sales processes, people, and technology to accelerate business growth for scaling success. Responsible for all marketing operations and lead-generation efforts, she joined the company in September 2015 and is based in its SoHo office in New York City. Specializing in B2C and B2B marketing strategy and analytics, she brings to the role a passion for emerging technology and innovation.  

 

 




What is B2B Marketing?

 Understanding the Strategies and the Advantages of Business to Business Marketing 

Lalit SharmaBy Lalit Sharma, Director, Ranking By SEO

Most marketers often find themselves suing the term B2B marketing. But the truth is, some of these people do not know what B2B marketing really is. B2B which is Business to Business Marketing involves marketing goods and services which will help other companies operate. Some common B2B markets are resellers, manufacturers, government and nonprofit organizations.

In layman’s language, we can say that Business to Business Marketing is a marketing strategy that works to ensure that the needs of other businesses are met. Businesses buy products and services with the goal of adding value to another business.

B2B MarketingBusiness to Business Marketing is now becoming quite popular in the field of marketing. It is for this reason that every sales and marketing expert out there should not only understand but also apply the principles of this kind of marketing.

As B2B marketing consultants, you must know that your marketing initiatives should at all times be based around your potential customers’ needs, wants and expectations. Also, when creating a marketing campaign, it is imperative for you as a business to business marketer to remember that communication is important. Therefore, your key to a successful B2B marketing campaign is connecting to your target audience.

That said, business to business marketing is a discipline that is totally different from business to consumer marketing or B2C marketing as it commonly known. Whilst Business to Consumer marketing caters for the customers’ needs, B2B marketing aims at meeting the needs of other businesses.

What Makes Business to Business Marketing worth Considering – the Advantages?

  • With B2B marketing, the buyers become long term buyers.

Though very rare, some consumers do buy make long term purchases like buying a car or a house. These kinds of purchases are very common in business to business markets because here, capital machinery and consumables are more prevalent.

In addition to this, long term purchases need service back up from the products and services suppliers; something that the consumer market cares less about. Also, unlike consumers, business customers are regarded as long term customers. Therefore it is for this reason that marketers are beginning to appreciate the value of B2B marketing.

  • With B2B marketing, the decision making process is more complex unlike it is with business to consumer marketing. This is because the target audiences for B2B are constantly changing and their motivations are interests are always different.
  • Business to business products and their applications are far more complex compared to consumer products. When marketing to consumers, the individuals will be drawn to the products and services because of the emotional component they hold. With business to business marketing, the buyers are normally trained professionals who are very much concerned about the quality of products, their revenue benefits as well as their cost saving benefits.
  • Business to business (B2B) marketers’ aim at addressing a much smaller audience. However, the smaller the audience, the larger the consumption rate of products; something that is not noticed with consumer markets. In the business industry, few consumers are known to dominate the sales ledger and the lives of businesses. It is the small number of customers that distinguishes Business to Business from Business to Consumer marketing.
  • With Business to Business marketing, personal relationships are very important in the industry’s markets. Fact is, a customer base that buys regularly from B2B suppliers is easier to talk to. For this reason, personal relationships begin to grow and they develop to trust with time. Now, how good would it be for you as a B2B marketer to have loyal, trustworthy and committed customers? Great, right?

What B2B Marketing Strategies will make you successful?

First, you need to understand that B2B marketing is not something that will make you successful through radio or TV advertisements alone. You must embed your business in the industry and make your products look like a staple. Here are some helpful marketing strategies that will make your company look good in the eyes of your niche buyers.

  • First and foremost, bring yourself up to speed with what B2B marketing really is and how it is going to affect your business
  • Give buyers the right information by hosting webinars
  • Send out as many emails as possible indicating that your business is proficient in the industry
  • Set up your company booths at popular tradeshows
  • Ensure that your social media platforms are active – with internet taking over everything, your buyers should notice your presence via social media
  • Even with remarkable social media presence, you can also generate more traffic to your business through sponsored social posts
  • Ensure that you attend networking events that are relevant to the industry
  • Maintain strong and healthy buyer relationships
  • Concentrate on guest blogging as a form of advertisement

Three B2B Marketing Trends as of 2015

B2B Marketing Trends

For years, B2B marketing has experienced a major shift in both tactics and strategies. However, these tactics and strategies focused mainly on attracting a target audience. Last year was not any different—the B2B marketing continued to experience this shifts thanks to this amazing marketing rends.

  • Mobile Domination

Owing to the fact that mobile scene was on the rise in 2015, it is only logical to say that mobile environments will continuously play a very significant role in B2B marketing. Moreover, most business executives are using mobile devices to research and communicate via web. Therefore, to meet these executives, you must come up with a functional and responsive website. In simple terms, mobile experience became a big priority back in 2015 and it will still be for many more years to come.

With content marketing on the rise, it is safe to say that most business to business companies now know their way around content marketing as a reliable B2B marketing strategy. For companies that are still not aware of content marketing, be prepared to give your target audience in-depth content and complete briefs of what it is you are trying to achieve.

  • The Micro targeting concept

This trend requires a more personalized approach towards content generation and building good relationships. It entails using data and analytics to understand your audience. 

Conclusion:

Marketing strategies and trends will definitely come and go. But me, there are those that are here to stay. Judging by above information, B2B is here to stay. So, focus on generating engaging content to your target audience now more than ever.

About the Author: Lalit Sharma is an SEO consultant who runs a SEO house called Ranking By SEO. He is specialized in link building and other SEO related activities. You can also find him on Twitter, Google+ and his personal blog.