B2B Sales Enablement: How Marketing Can Help Sales Sell More
by Matt Heinz
Marketing organizations worldwide are partnering more deeply with their sales counterparts than ever before, driving significant improvements in lead conversion and closed business. In this fast-paced presentation, we’ll outline several best practices, tips, hacks and other recommendations to increase how effectively your team converts leads & opportunities into closed sales.
All right. Well, thanks very much everyone for joining us here today. I'm very excited to be part of this social sales conference. It's such a great lineup of people. It's such a great set of content. Very excited to be here talking about B2B sales enablement. I believe firmly that whether you are in sales or in marketing from an operations standpoint, you can have a significant impact on the ability for your sales team to sell. This relates to social selling. This relates to every element of sales engagement as far as I'm concerned, and we're going to walk through a number of very specific things to help get there.
First of all, quick housekeeping. If you want a copy of this deck, if you want any copy of any of the best practice guides or ebooks we put out recently, please go ahead and email me with what you like and I'll get those to you.
I want to start with a chart, and this is from Demand Metric, and this indicates what the relationship is between sales and marketing integrating their systems and working together and the likelihood of achieving revenue goals. What I love about this is, one, it's quantified and, two, it's not black and white. You can see from the right to the left the level. Underneath the bottom you can see the level to which sales and marketing in each systems are integrated. And you can see the degree to which those companies are likely to achieve revenue goals. It is incremental and it is very direct and very specific. I love this chart. It shows off that you can start doing some basic things that can start to impact how well you're enabling the sales team, how well you're integrating sales and marketing efforts together. You'll see a dramatic increase in results fairly quickly.
For me then when you define sales enablement, what that looks like for either marketing or sales doing this is revenue responsibility. Traditionally, sales operations has been more of an administrative reactive group. I think today they have the opportunity to be very strategic, very proactive. I believe sales operations in the sales enablement group can be the most impactful part of the sales organization. When marketing teams take on that revenue responsibility, when they feel the terror with their sales counterparts at the end of the month, when they are measured not based on leads, not based on click, not based on likes, but based on sales pipeline contribution, then you know that both teams are actually working together to achieve the same result.
A key part of this is how you approach these prospects. The nice thing about social selling from an enablement standpoint is it largely focuses you on people, on interactions between people. I have yet to meet a building that writes checks. There's always people inside that building that are the decision-makers, that are the people that are posting on social, they are the people you are listening for. Try to understand what they care about, what they're interested in. It's extremely important to make sure you've got that distinction. We'll talk a little later about how to differentiate your messages across different personas and different titles and different roles within the organization.
Now before we get to execution, before we talk about exactly what you can do within your organization, it's important to make sure you got the fundamentals down. For me the fundamentals start with doing the math, quantifying what success looks like. Everything you're doing from a strategy on to a tactic should have a measurable goal and you should be able to measure the outcome at the end of the day.
For me, marketers need to start with a spreadsheet. How many deals are we required to close? How big of a pipeline do we need to get there? What kind of lead volume do we need to achieve that as well? Calculating that can be fairly straightforward. This here is a version of a model that pivots on the number of leads an organization is receiving, as well as certain assumptions around average selling price, conversion rates, and even cost per lead. This calculates what the organization can expect in terms of net new revenue.
You can do this on a quarterly basis. You can do this on a monthly basis. You can pivot on the leads or you can pivot on the sales. Let's say you say, "Okay, I need to hit a certain number." Okay, well, to hit that sales number, how many deals do you need? How big a pipeline do you need? And you can make assumptions around the size of that. If you haven't done this map, a couple problems come up. One, you will find very quickly that marketing is doing a bunch of great stuff, but it has no bearing on what the sales organization is trying to achieve. So giving marketing a target that is tied to your sales pipeline is extremely important.
If you haven't done this map and you're assuming that everything is going to work out, what I find is that many people that do this math realize just how many leads are required to hit a certain number. I've got 33% and 10% conversions here in terms of opportunity to close and lead to opportunity respectively. But more often these days, I'll find a 5% or 7% lead to opportunity conversion rate and sometimes it's closer to a 25%, 30% opportunity to close. I mean we're still talking about somewhere between 1% and 2% if leads that actually close. The activity volume has to be high to make this work.
So the first step is to do the math. The second is to have a very clear profile of who your customers are. So many companies put a focus on themselves and their products and services. So many companies and so many sales organizations end up creating training that is focused on the company and focused on the product, and not focused nearly enough on the customer. Who is this customer you're selling to? Why do they care about what you're doing? What are the objectives that they have for themselves and for their organization, for their team? What are the obstacles keeping them from getting that?
If you can't clearly articulate what the problem is you're solving, what the outcome is that your product or service represents, then it's going to be difficult to build rapport at the beginning of the sales process. So that's two.
Number three is to make sure that your sales process is actually mapped to the way your customers buy. If you don't understand what steps they go through and you can't customize the way you sell to that, you're artificially introducing friction between your sales and the buyer.
Number four is to plan to fire lots of bullets. Even if you're integrated well between sales and marketing, and this especially is true on the social selling front, we are still so early in the growth and maturation of social selling. There are plenty of things that we're finding don't work as well as we thought they would. There are things that people are stumbling upon that work far better than we thought they would. It's important to have the end goal in mind. It's important to know what you're working towards and to prioritize your efforts accordingly, but also know that a lot of things you're doing aren't necessarily going to work.
Now the analogy here of firing lots of bullets comes from Jim Collins, who wrote the book Good to Great, and one of his latest books is called Great by Choice. And so he talks about the difference between phenomenal companies and mediocre companies, and one of the big differences is the companies that do phenomenally well fire a lot of bullets. They know that not everything is going to work, and so they only want to expend small and expensive bullets on those initial tests. Of course when they find that something works and it achieves a certain result, fire bullet a couple more times and make sure it still hits the mark.
But then you put down the gun and you pick up a cannon, because now you want to have a lot more firepower. Now you want to do a lot more damage. Now you want to create a lot more results more efficiently. Now we all need cannons in our business but the mediocre companies build the cannon first. Assuming they know what they're doing, and in many cases they don't, we need to test and learn first. The problem is once you build the cannon, if the cannon doesn't work, you've spent so much time and effort getting the cannon into operation that instead of giving up on that and moving to something else, you keep firing the cannon hoping that it will eventually work.
So the point here is mediocre companies go right to the cannon. The successful companies test first knowing a lot of stuff isn't going to work, and then validate those successes before they put down the gun and they pick up the cannon.
All right. Just to reinforce the point again really quickly. A lot of the marketing we do, when you're thinking about the way that you're enabling your sales team, look across how often your leading with your products, look across your email templates, your scripts. How often are you starting your conversations with "I" or with "we" as opposed to you? Make your marketing, make your sales materials, make your social selling approach about the people and problems that exist in the marketplace, not your individual products.
So it's very easy then to start building your marketing plan, build your social, build your content plan that you're going to use and look for in the social selling world around questions that specifically address your customers. I fundamentally believe that if you do the math up front understanding the economics of what you're trying to achieve, and if you then answer these questions about your customer, your marketing plan will start to materialize. It's not "What should I do on Twitter? What should I do on LinkedIn? How many emails should I send?" Those are the wrong questions. Those may be the tactical questions, but you answer after it's filtered through "What are the numbers that I need?" and "What do I know about my customer?"
The key to all this is knowing that the customer just doesn't care about you. The customer cares about the outcome they are trying to achieve. So often times this is kind of a common buyer progression, right? We start with the pain or problem, we identify a solution, and then we achieve an outcome or objective. That's all fine and good except for the buyer thinks about this very differently. The buyer starts with a pain or a problem. They start with something that is challenging their status quo that is getting them to do something differently. They will commit to change, they will commit to doing something differently when they're able to quantify and value the outcome or objective that they're working for. It's only then do they actively go and look for a solution.
So with this simple model, the solution is the end of the process. Not even the middle. Especially not the beginning. Too often as sellers we start with our solutions, we start talking about our product or service, and we may be in love with what we sell, but the problem is your prospect isn't in love with it. Your prospect does not necessarily understand the context into which you are selling. So unless you can convince a prospect that they have problem worth solving, they're not as interested in your solution. Sometimes I'll describe this as selling the whole, not the drill.
If your sales process was two stages today, it would be, one, believe, and two, believe in me. Make sure you understand which stage you're in with particular prospects.
All right. Now I want to talk a little more about integration across sales or marketing organizations and what that can look like. Common funnel approach here, next step accelerators, this is pretty common stuff. It starts with your understanding of the customer. If I start from the bottom up, it's pretty self-explanatory, right? I've got an active sales cycle, I get to new customers.
Well, we know from tons of research that for every one prospect you identify that is qualified and ready to buy, you will have at least three to five prospects who aren't qualified and not ready to buy. This is why you do the drip marketing. This is why you engage in social selling because it's your opportunity to engage people in relationships and get their attention and awareness, get engagement with them before they're ready to buy.
Key to doing that is knowing exactly what they care about, the things they're thinking about that aren't related to buying your product but related to what they're doing. If anybody wants a copy of this spreadsheet or anything in this presentation that looks like a spreadsheet, I'm happy to send that to you as well. Just email me and I'll send you a copy.
This forces you before you enumerate what your topic is, what your story is, this spreadsheet forces you to first talk about the drivers and then talk about the pain points inherent with your prospects. And it forces you to do that across different audiences in a particular company. You will have a CFO, a CIO, a CMO, a CTO. All of these roles may be impacted by your product but in different ways. They think about the impact it's going to have in very different ways. If you think about the content you want to put in front of your prospect, if you think about the content you are going to listen for in a social selling environment, this will help you identify what those things are.
Another tool you can use if you take these personas, take these individual roles, and you can do a generic's or a driver's pain points model like this or do something that enumerates the different stages of the buyer journey. If all you do to engage prospects is think about the first two stages of what serious decisions to find is the buyer journey. Stage one, loosening of the status quo. Stage 2, commit to change. Neither of those stages have anything to do with you. They have everything to do with your prospect and what they're trying to get done.
So if you do those and if you focus on what it's going to take to get the prospect to believe that they have a problem, what it's going to take for them to quantify that problem, quantify the opportunity costs of not solving that problem, now you start to get to where prospects are going to be committed to doing something. They're committed to change. They're committed to changing the current path that they're on.
Now whether or not they choose to work with you is a different story. But there's plenty of research that shows that the company that gets them to that point, if you have enough insight and provide enough value to your prospects that you get them to the point where they have committed to change, those prospects will assume you have something that can help make them more successful.
Let's talk about how do we actually do this from a sales enablement standpoint. Like how do you start to enable this level of customer-centric understanding, this construct of a content strategy behind your content, behind your social engagement?
The first two stages here are extremely important, the common objectives we talked about, common definitions are important. Let's talk about what a lead is for your sales team. A lead, some people think, is someone that filled out a form and downloaded a white paper, and that may be fine. But there's got to be some element of right company, right individual doing that as well.
But what about someone that exhibits a buying signal on a social channel? Is that a good lead? It's worth talking about, right? Because they haven't filled out a form. They haven't told you their phone number. But you got a prospect in the market that is the right person, is the right company that has said something is broken. I can tell you right now we worked with a company who was an email service provider a couple of years ago and our best source of leads were negative references to their competitors on Twitter. And we would further look forward just from those same individuals complaints about email marketing, whether it mentioned the competitor or not.
Now if I have the right person at the right company that is exhibiting some pain around what they're trying to do, that pain and that activity is something that I can help them with. Now do I go to them and say, "Hey, I'm sorry you're having a problem with that other system. I'd like to sell you something." No. But you can engage and share information, share an article, share a blog post, share a best practice guide. Engage in a conversation.
Now that's a good lead. It doesn't look and smell like the typical lead that sales organizations are used to getting. So when it comes to social selling, when it comes to lead that your sales team is engaging with on the social web as well as lead of marketing that you are finding for your reps, having definitions around what those leads are and what follow-ups are going to look like becomes really, really important.
Now let's talk beyond definition. Let's talk beyond lead. Let's talk about beyond the social channels. Number seven here is really important especially when it comes to new channels and new ideas. It's really important that you build rapport not just with your buyers, not just with your prospects, but between sales and marketing. I think it's extremely important that you make sure you build rapport with that organization relevant to what you're doing and just in general. The fact of the matter is, whether we like it or not, whether it's logical or not, if people like you, they will listen to you. They will follow you. They are more likely to go down a path they don't understand because they believe in you.
I can't tell you how important it was for me in past roles when I was in house, run demand generation, how important it was to go grab beers with the sales team every once in a while. Worked at a company We were in Bellevue, which is across the lake from Seattle. We were across the parking lot from a place called The Pumphouse, and it was one of the greatest bars ever. Back when you could still smoke in restaurants in Seattle, in Washington, it was smoke-free. They had great cold beer, had great nachos, sports on TV. It was fantastic. You go there like 4:00 or 4:30 in the afternoon, and most of the inside sales team is there.
I learned so much more about what they were dealing with, so much more about what they needed over Bud Lights. Sorry, that's what we were drinking at the time, but pitchers of Bud Lights, than I would learn in a conference room when we had our CMO in the room and everyone's trying to posture with each other.
So that offline relationship building really matters when you're back in the trenches, when you're firing bullets, when things aren't working well, as opposed to saying, "Well, they're not trying hard enough. It's not working." or "I'm not going to give this anymore time." There is a very material impact of making that work. Talked about leads and opportunities, again this is one of those spreadsheets that I'm happy to share with folks. Really, really important that you have very clear definitions of leads and opportunities.
Now what you probably can't see because it's kind of small here is you've got the enumerated lead and opportunity stages. You've got enumerated definitions of what it means to be at each of those stages. You also have a definition of specific sales and specific marketing roles at each one of those stages. I highly encourage you to build something like this between your sales and marketing organizations. It will be extremely important.
I think also if you were developing a lead management process, if you are doing lead scoring, if you've got a system that says certain leads go to reps at this point, and if they don't follow up, it goes to this point. If you've got a lead scoring system set up that identifies different number, different types of leads, it is critical that sales is involved in helping you just create this. Even if marketing creates this, and this relates again back to how we're scoring social leads, these are not leads that have necessarily filled out of form. These need to be reflected in your lead scoring.
If sales doesn't agree to this, how you can possibly assume that they're going to actually follow it when they see a lead as a certain type and you think it's a good lead, they think it's a bad lead? The A1 lead are easy, right? This is a perfect fit. The B18 leads that are not a fit are easy to flush out. It's middle ground that is the most important. What's the difference between an A4 and a B1 lead? Are some converting better than others? This is a living document that needs to incorporate definitions of social prospects now as well.
All right, let's talk a little bit about sales using our content, and this includes content that we're creating. This includes content that we're curating. This includes content that they're sharing in their social networks. So we've gone beyond the fact that your prospects are engaging and prospects in social web. You're creating content. First of all, how does that content help them make money? A lot of sales reps I know don't understand why they should be feeding content into their Twitter account, into their LinkedIn account. And it's not because they're not smart enough to get it, it's because they just don't think about that on a regular basis. Walk them through why that's important. Show them examples of why that's important. Tell them stories of sales reps that have content that was curated and drips through their social channels and these Bluebird phone calls they would get back saying, "Hey, I really appreciate your content."
I remember I had one sales rep tell me said like, "I had a prospect call me and thanked me for the content I'd been writing for him," and I didn't write a stitch of content. What they finalize realize is that they had set it up so that LinkedIn was automatically updating every time his company published something to their blog and his prospects thought that he was writing that. So he was able to correct them, but it didn't change the fact that you now had a phone call, a live call for a prospect that was the right place at the right time.
So you've got an enormous opportunity to engage and get your sales reps to leverage your content and share it not as a channel for you, but as a tool to help them engage more with their prospects. You got yourself leadership behind this first, right? They have to understand why this is important, but then to demonstrate those early success stories, to demonstrate the proof of concept is extremely important.
I think number five here, perhaps the most important, because if this becomes hard, if you make it difficult for reps to semi-automate this, they won't do it. There's some great systems out there you can use. The company called dlvr.it will automatically take new content and publish it on whoever's/whatever's LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc. You can make it so that as soon as you publish something new, everyone on your sales team has already shared it. You can use the tool called GaggleAMP that can give your sales rep an email on a regular basis with the content you want them to share. All they have to do is click the button and it goes because it's already logged in. Super, super easy to do.
Last but not least, how you measure this collaboration. The fewer metrics you make, the better. I would highly recommend you isolate social leads in your marketing automation. In your reporting identify those leads separately so you can see the impact they're having. These are extremely low cost leads that in many cases may convert in a lower rate, but that's okay because the time and effort required and the cost for acquisition on there, those leads are going to be extremely low. Make sure you understand what that looks like.
Before and after satisfaction of the sales team cannot be overlooked. When we're talking about younger organizations, millennial sales reps, experience and recognition is a huge part of what they consider a good working environment. If they feel like they're being supported, they feel like you're providing them a set of tactics that can help them be successful, they're more likely to see that as a reflection of what the company is doing to engage with those prospects, what the company is doing to ensure their success.
All right, I knew this was going to go fast. There's a ton of other great content in this. I'm going to hope you'll take advantage of it. If you want more from me, here's some of the offers that we talked about in the beginning. I wrote a book a couple of years ago called Successful Social Selling. I tried to write less about specific tactics and more about strategies like you've seen in here. Last year I published a book called The Modern Marketer's Field Guide. We'd love to hand that off to anyone as well. And, jeez, thanks so much. I mean if you want any of these, feel free to email me. We'd love to get a copy of this deck or any of these materials to you. We'd love to have you as a follower on Heinz Marketing. And, yeah, on behalf of everyone here, thanks you so much for the opportunity. Thanks for listening. Enjoy the rest of the summit and look forward to hear from you soon.