04 Sep The Paradigm Shift in Lead Scoring
When did the selling process turn into the buying process?
One result of the digital economy is the rise of the resourceful and educated audience. Your B2B product or service is subject to a new level of scrutiny through the heavy reliance of decision makers and stakeholders performing due diligence at influential review sites, social sharing, and other resources.
Today’s customer will seldom make a purchase without gleaning specs and pricing first. They comparison-shop and search until finding the best option. If your competitor has the edge in positioning, pricing, timing and ROI, you may be facing failure.
A good way to think about this shift in the buying cycle is to throw away everything that once worked in traditional sales and marketing. There are technology companies worth $10 million who still think they can get leads though the Yellow Pages. Other tried-and-true methods for lead generation like cold calling and trade show advertising are proving to be highly ineffective, on their own.
Once B2B technology companies that still rely on traditional distribution sales channels scrap their playbook for a cohesive inbound marketing approach, the opportunities will unfold. That is, if they focus on the big picture. Successful inbound marketing strategies typically integrate content marketing (SEO and social media), lead generation and nurturing, and marketing automation.
The challenge is found in moving away from fragmented lead generation to a comprehensive marketing automation solution. All resources, from your people to your technology, need to be merged and in sync, all engaged in the same dialogue, and part of the same process.
Back in the day, scattered communication between departments at technology companies wouldn’t necessarily result in stifled growth and eventual failure. The ramped-up pace at which information moves right now requires your employees to have the right tools in place to stay informed and share information in real-time.
The dialogue between sales and marketing is critical to your success. The sharing of information between the two groups leads to a greater understanding of your customers buying cycle and adopting a language that resonates in your messaging. Questions to inform this conversation include:
- Who is your customer?
- How do prospects interact with your brand?
- What criteria determine a qualified lead?
Don’t stop there. Keep sales and marketing talking. Encourage collaboration and transparency in all departments. Build up to the first campaign and then meet regularly to review what is working and what isn’t. An ability to break down and build up new buyer personas to target should be a result of this collaboration. Data, ideas and stories are shared and used for fodder to fuel messaging and future integrated campaigns.
The intelligence that results cannot be spun into gold without the right tools in place to harvest. If you have resisted the use of marketing automation (MA) this long, you may find yourself plateauing. This is an unwinnable war. You need marketing automation. The majority of your competitors are undoubtedly winning. You’ll create more problems down the road if you are patching together social media, blogs, analytics, and conventional email campaigns.
What you’ll also need is the right leader and team in place to execute and succeed in spite of constantly-changing software and evolving customers. A leader that encourages experimentation and learning within a culture that embraces adaptability has staying power. A collaborative spirit fosters confidence to contribute ideas that may have never percolated in an environment that stifles creativity. Brainstorm independently, then in a group for the most productive uses of time. Time management can be tracked and improved using any number of online collaboration tools.
Spend time with them to get them to spend on you
There is no way to achieve business growth without investing in talent, technology and processes. With the non-stop evolution of the online economy and the resultant degree of sophistication from purchasers, the magic is in the nurturing. Time, patience and authenticity of the lead nurturing cycle you execute will determine a positive or negative outcome. Just as every decision to buy is unique to a company’s needs, being able to provide a solution to the pain points of your personas is key to growing sales. Through the collaboration and information exchange of your sales and marketing teams, and well-timed delivery of valuable content, you can hit the right note in nurturing your buyers to make the purchase with you.