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3 Ways Marketing Automation Helps to Build Your Buyer Persona

Marketing Automation Helps to Build Your Buyer PersonaImplement successful marketing strategies and make the most of content-driven, scalable automation confidently through understanding your buyer persona. Marketing automation is a useful tool in gathering the analytics you need to build your buyer persona, strategically reach your target audience, and truly understand what they’re looking for.

According to an article by Tony Zambito, thought leader on the topic, buyer personas describe “who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, where they buy, when buyers decide to buy, and why they make buying decisions.” That’s quite a bit of information to gather. In the end, building accurate models of buying behaviors helps you to understand how your prospects expect and prefer to interact with your brand. Use marketing automation to build your buyer persona. Uncovering such knowledge will arm both sales and marketing teams with the information and assurance they need to seal the deal.

Integrate the Analytics

With features such as Lead Liaison’s Social Append, marketing automation allows you to gather data available from a variety of sources and channels and build a telling profile of your ideal prospect. Not only will you understand their social interactions, but you’ll also have a grasp of how they expect to interact with your brand and product. Another useful way to implement the numbers and stats you’ve gathered is to sort your prospects: what actions were taken by you that won a prospect over? What were the signs that you were about to lose a prospect? Building out a thorough analysis of this data will help to create a persona based on previous experience that will ensure a successful plan for the future.

Work with the Sales Team

Get insights from the sales team to refine the personas. They’re the ones with the most direct contact with prospects, so take advantage of their findings. When using marketing automation to build your buyer persona, marketers and sales teams need to maintain a two-way communication plan so that they can nail down the specifics- what questions are your prospects asking during their buying process? What are their goals, or what are their company’s goals? What are the signs that a prospect is ready to buy? Productive lead tracking and nurturing can provide the data you need to see what action steps the marketing team is taking that lead to higher success and ROI in the sales interactions.

Create a Range of Different Personas

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by creating and implementing just one persona. Recognize the common factors in your buyers’ decision-making process, and develop a few different personas that are testable. When thinking about a relevant range of personas, utilize customer surveys, case studies, and other tools and strategies already in place. Having a broader perspective allows you to try out various strategies to discover which works best.

How to Create a Successful Sales and Marketing Collaboration Plan

How to Create a Successful Sales and Marketing Collaboration PlanIt’s no secret: a well-oiled organization understands the necessity of inter-department collaboration and productive communication. In order to boost lead generation, keep leads nurtured and happy, and gain return customers, you must have a successful sales and marketing collaboration plan in place. Maintaining a healthy communication internally should translate to developing a strong engagement with the target audience which helps boost your rate of return.

Marketing automation, smartly implemented, can make this process easier and more efficient. However, without sales and marketing collaboration and alignment, your sales team will inevitably waste time following leads that just aren’t qualified (yet). By keeping both parties in the know on how to properly analyze your lead tracking practices, you’ll find it’s much easier to nurture leads and provide personalized marketing efforts. Cold calling everyone who signs up for your newsletter will probably deter leads from taking the next step and you’ll risk looking desperate. Strategize and implement a clear and concise protocol for points of contact to potential leads at the appropriate times.

Maintain two-way communication

Studies have shown that returning customers make up a significant portion of your revenue, so proper lead nurturing sets the stage for a lasting relationship. Ensure your sales and marketing collaboration plan includes guidelines on how and what is communicated between departments. This level of collaboration means greater customer satisfaction through better communicated ideas. Let your marketers set up sales for success through targeted marketing campaigns that communicate a positive message about your brand and delivers what the potential customers are looking for.

Keep tasks relevant and separate (don’t do the same thing twice)

While collaboration is key, it’s still a good idea to have tasks and responsibilities that the marketing team is responsible for, and tasks and responsibilities that the sales team is responsible for. This is the reason for the division—play up each department’s strengths. The marketing team should be able to create killer content that gives the sales team the upper hand when it’s their turn to reach out to qualified leads. Sales and marketing collaboration means communicating key points between departments, not consolidating the whole process into just one team or the other.

Strategic implementation of your marketing automation practices between sales and marketing is critical. Because most of your potential customers will find your brand through the internet, chances are they can easily find your competitors as well. Use the analytics from your marketing automation to draw up a plan of action for your leads as they request more information and take the next steps. The joint efforts of both departments will enforce this plan of action. The marketing team needs to head up key strategic, back-end development while the sales team can focus on maintaining lead (and customer) satisfaction. Keeping the customer in mind throughout the whole process means keeping everybody engaged and will provide the greatest return.

Boost Demand Generation through Sales and Marketing Alignment

Boost Demand Generation through Sales and Marketing AlignmentWe know successful deals aren’t created and closed by the sales team alone; there’s significant homage due to the marketing team in their demand generation efforts and kick-starting the funnel. To maximize outcome, the secret is to enable your business to boost demand generation through sales and marketing alignment. Don’t get us wrong—this doesn’t mean cutting the marketing team altogether and asking sales to take over (check out this case study); rather, have the two teams work harmoniously to achieve the best results.

Manage the Data

Between the two departments, data should be gathered and analyzed and best practices defined. When determining which strategies have proven most successful, keep in mind the four primary phases of demand generation: awareness, interest, preference, and commitment.

The goals here are to drive awareness and interest through successful inbound and outbound marketing that will enhance the sales cycle. In order to boost demand generation through sales and marketing alignment, both teams must be focused on determining the buyer persona. The marketing team gains awareness of and attention from potential prospects (suspects) through understanding who they are and what they want. This knowledge comes through the eyes of the sales team. By having a comprehensive profile of the current buyer persona, marketers can more directly target the audience and create more personalized campaigns, such as email marketing, which in turn drive higher return rates. Gather, analyze, and share the knowledge.

Guide Validation

Once the marketing team has generated demands, the next step is to convince the suspects that your solution is best through generating the leads. The marketing team has a plethora of ammunition to accomplish this: whitepapers, videos, blogs, reviews, direct mail, etc. Re-analyze and reuse the data collected from automated marketing solutions to further personalize each point of contact with the prospect to determine scoring and qualification, and pass only the qualified ones over to sales.

Nurturing the leads to the point of qualification comes when you boost demand generation through sales and marketing alignment. If the demand generation is low, activity in the pipeline is low, close rates are low. It’s key to have a solid grasp of the initial steps in order to maximize flow in the funnel to the closing steps. Implementing marketing programs that work together with a structured sales process will help to build awareness about your solution, remind prospects why your solution is better than others, and convert prospects into customers.

How to Keep Tabs on Your Leads

How to Keep Tabs on PeopleSo you’ve got your marketing automation software in place, but are you utilizing it to optimize lead scoring? Once a lead is qualified by marketing to hop into the sales ring, it is important for the marketing team to transfer all pertinent lead details to sales so that each lead’s score reflects their conversion readiness. Lead scoring is not all equal, and different actions by the lead call for different scores. Make use of social media marketing together with sales and marketing alignment to ensure your sales reps are as ready as can be. Learn how to keep tabs on your leads. 

Know Who’s Coming to Your Site

Identify your leads. Understand who the visitors to your site are by asking a few (not too many) questions when they take certain actions. Find a balance between requiring too much information and not enough—if you allow prospects to browse your online content and even download a white paper without filling in some identifying details, you’re letting the leads slip right out of your hands. On the other hand, prospects can tell when you’re being too nosey, asking for more information than necessary, sometimes even pushing them to click the “x” in the corner and close your page all together. There’s a balance in there somewhere, try implementing some A/B testing to find it.

To capitalize on multi-channel marketing and social media marketing, provide your lead the option for a social media login. It’s not only convenient for the user to simply click once without having to create a new password, but it also allows the opportunity to gather more information from the user via their social media profile and better tailor their experience with your brand. They’ve filled in their preferences and “likes” for the world to see on social media, why not use that information to better understand them?

Let your Leads Know you Appreciate Them

While you keep tabs on your leads make sure to offer special coupons, badges, and other rewards to your leads that take the next step or requested action in the conversion process. Giving them an incentive to provide more information (and potentially even share it with their own network) is an opportunity for your brand to reach new prospects without additional effort on your part. Freebies and other forms of recognition help to build trust and encourage more conversions. Ask your leads to share the love.

Maintain Sales and Marketing Alignment

Use lead scoring to bridge marketing and sales teams. Your marketing team can utilize all of this information—preferences from social media logins, incentives/badges leads have earned, how each visitor interacts with the site—to score each lead, input this information to the CRM, and provide a detailed summary of each lead’s buying readiness. Many features in marketing automation software make it easy to transition a lead from marketing to sales, and even drastically improve conversion because of the transfer of knowledge per lead and the ability to personalize each touchpoint.

Make the Most of Lead Scoring

Finally, be sure to use certain parameters when implementing your lead scoring system. When using the incentive method, let your leads know there’s a deadline or an expiration date on their “points.” Often, you’ll see this will push them to take an action sooner or make a decision about something they were previously on the fence about. Use your marketing automation software to help you keep track of lead scoring as well as the amount of time the lead has been in your system to avoid inflating the lead’s score. This will help authenticate each lead’s score and provide more accurate transferral of information.

Marketing and Sales Process: Web Chat Automation

Marketing and Sales Process: Web Chat AutomationIf you’re interested in engaging with users as part of your marketing and sales process, direct engagement from your website is a good way to do it using web chat automation. Users tend to have mixed experiences and reactions when it comes to web chat utilities, but for some, the ability to talk to someone right away without picking up the phone is a bonus. Giving customers the ability to choose whether or not they want to react with you is an important way of recognizing whether a web chat utility is a good option for your site.

Tracking Your Web Chat

Most full-featured web chat services have some type of analytics involved. You should be able to log into a centralized web chat dashboard to see a user’s history with you, their return rate and their activity on your site. Some of your users could be one-hit wonders – landing on your site once, never to return again – but it’s those return visitors you need to be paying attention to. If they’re coming back as prospects again and again, they want to be communicated with. Even if they don’t engage in web chat, they should be followed up with.

When you use marketing automation systems, you have the ability to integrate your web analytics in one. When a user hits your website multiple times and you’re able to see them coming back, you’ll be able to customize your greeting message and your reach-out to the potential customer. If your sales team has been in contact as a normal part of your marketing and sales process, automated marketing tools allow you to pull up that history, know where a potential lead is segmented and communicate with them appropriately. The right solution will be streamlined from start to finish.

Marketing and Sales Process for Webchat

Web chat is a great way to customize your responses to returning customers. When marketing automation allows you to segment customers and tailor your sales pitch to their individual experiences, you’re more likely to make a sale.

What happens when customers aren’t using your webchat? You may not need a fully-trained, full time person on webchat, but if customers aren’t using it, you don’t have to staff the chat 24 hours a day. Ask clients to leave a message with the chat – and if you’re using a system like Lead Liaison, the ‘away’ message will go to the client, while his or her query or information enters the system automatically. From there, simply follow up with the customer asap. Piece of cake!

If you’d like to see further engagement, try modifying the look and feel of your chat on your site or add specific greeting or away messages that may better suit the lead’s needs. Test out these different messages and ensure you are keeping track of those tests on your back end – or let automated marketing services do it for you!

Your marketing and sales process is integral to getting the right clients in the door. Let Lead Liaison help you track, automate and reach out to your target client with savvy webchat, email segmentation and advanced analytics tracking systems.

9 Points to Mull Over in Your Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement

9 Points to Mull Over in Your Marketing and Sales Service Level AgreementWant to know a great way to make your marketing automation platform  more effective? Align your marketing and sales departments with a service level agreement. But what should you include in your service level agreement? Here are 9 points to consider in your marketing and sales service level agreement.

The key to drafting any agreement is to clearly define objectives that must be fulfilled and the responsibilities of each party. The M&S service level agreement establishes the common ground that both teams operate under. Gaining common ground effectively typically requires both departments to contribute to the agreement. Companies we’ve engaged that have implemented an SLA tell us that a service level agreement provides a useful way to hold both teams accountable for commonly-held goals.

When you’re developing a service level agreement for your company, keep these 10 points in mind. It should save you some heartache during the process.

  1. Define important terms. Those who will follow this agreement must understand and agree to what a term means, such as “sales qualified lead (SQL)” and “Trigger Events”. Both teams should be on the same page when it comes to, as former US President Bill Clinton put it, “what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”
  2. Clearly define responsibilities – what is expected from each department? The SLA should include marketing response conditions when a lead is activated and sales response when a lead is passed through.
  3. Provide focused metrics. You can’t draft a successful SLA without clearly defined, timely metrics for each department. Metrics should include such parameters as “marketing will add X (number) contacts to the CRM database per month” or “sales will generate X (number) SQLs per month”.
  4. Incorporate team benchmarks – what are the minimums? As part of metric development, each parameter should have at least 3 hurdles that each department should leap over.
  5. Provide an ideal lead profile (customer) profile. Both teams should agree on who you’re targeting. The service level agreement should describe ideal profiles for your market(s). Typically, the profile should include factors from both a lead’s attributes (size, location, etc.) and its online behavior (white paper download, completed form, etc.)
  6. Insert a lead scoring model that ranks leads as they advance through the pipeline. Take each attribute and online activity and assign it a value that both marketing and sales can agree on. For example, using ‘title’ as a parameter, you could assign a 7 each time the condition ‘sales supervisor’ is satisfied as a result of a lead selecting that title through an online form. Don’t forget to include negative scoring!
  7. Establish lead routing rules. Lead distribution is a key component to an effective marketing automation platform; therefore, the SLA should outline which sales team or agents will receive certain leads and how generic leads will be distributed.
  8. Explain the lead nurturing process. Each team should know how leads that enter the marketing pipeline will be advanced towards marketing-qualified. Though this provision will often apply to automated marketing activity, the sales department’s lead nurturing responsibilities should be defined as well.
  9. Determine a meeting frequency for marketing and sales alignment. Each service level agreement should establish a meeting schedule and meeting goals and objectives to make sure that both sides are on target for fulfilling their end of the agreement.

If you would like to have a free service level template delivered via email, contact a Lead Liaison Revenue Generation Specialist today.

What Is A Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement? How Can It Help My Company Boost Sales?

What Is A Marketing and Sales Service Level Agreement? How Can It Help My Company Boost Sales?A fair number of companies we’ve spoken with have wanted to know “what is a marketing and sales service level agreement (SLA) and how does having an SLA in place help to increase our sales conversions, reduce customer buy cycles, and drive higher revenues?” The short answer is: it’s a document that inspires symmetry. The longer answer is:

What an M&S Service Level Agreement Is

A marketing and sales service level agreement is a binding agreement between the sales and marketing teams that specifies a lead generation and management process. The purpose of a service level agreement is to broker collaboration between both departments by defining a qualification process, lead scoring criteria, and accountability standards. Typically, the goal for executing an SLA is to generate an acceptable level of marketing-qualified leads (MQL) for the sales team to convert into sales-qualified leads (SQL) or sales opportunities.

Within a marketing and sales service level agreement there are requirements for how leads will be managed by marketing and delivered to sales. On the sales side, there are requirements for follow up responsibilities on marketing-qualified leads and converting MQLs to SQLs. In some cases, there may be parameters for how demand will be generated as well.

5 Ways an SLA Aligns Marketing With Sales

  1. Provides a defined pipeline that clarifies when a lead has reached marketing-qualified status.
  2. Provides clear stages for advancing leads towards sales-readiness
  3. Provides lead scoring metrics that reflect lead engagement levels with marketing assets (sales can see how effectively marketing assets are educating leads)
  4. Provides goals for sales to generate sales-qualified leads and opportunities
  5. Establishes that marketing is responsible for de-duping, filtering competition, and removing bot-filled forms

4 Ways an SLA Aligns Sales With Marketing  

  1. Provides defined follow up time for leads received by marketing
  2. Defines an automated lead nurturing process aimed at providing the highest quality leads at the earliest possible point
  3. Provides a criteria-based lead distribution process for sales optimization
  4. Provides goals for marketing to generate marketing-qualified leads and a percentage of leads that eclipse a lead scoring threshold

Operating without a service level agreement can reduce the efficacy of your lead generation/marketing automation system. Be sure to set the standards for both departments early to get the most from your MA platform.

Connect Your B2B Sales and Marketing Teams with Marketing Automation

Connect Your B2B Sales and Marketing Teams with Marketing AutomationB2B sales and marketing practices have different objectives but the same goal: revenue generation. While marketing builds awareness and begins the engagement process, sales connects directly with prospects ready to buy. Often the challenge for many companies is aligning sales and marketing to accomplish the goal.

Enter marketing automation. Sales and marketing departments can now be aligned through the use of marketing automation software, such as our Lead Management Automation™ solution. MA improves sales strategies and marketing strategies by providing a conduit that bridges both departments through data sharing. Sales can see current and past automated marketing campaigns while marketing can link campaigns with conversion rates.

A marketing automation solution like our Lead Management Automation software provides sales and marketing alignment in several ways:

  1. Lead Capture – Marketers and sales agents can identify digital leads by lead source, company attributes, geographic region, and other parameters.
  2. Lead Qualification and Scoring – Leads captured through digital marketing campaigns are systematically advanced through a qualification process that segments leads into hot, warm, and cold buckets, which sales and marketing managers can review to determine if the lead scoring model is effectively placing leads in the appropriate buckets.
  3. Lead Intelligence – Both departments can review data gathered through digital marketing campaigns to determine if marketing assets are collecting information effectively and sales is using this lead intelligence effectively to close sales.
  4. Lead Management – Sales and marketing teams can manage leads more effectively by coordinating marketing campaign delivery with sales activities.
  5. Lead Distribution – Tools like our real time alerts and sales activity scheduler allow marketing to distribute leads to sales through CRM integration, providing a seamless connection between both functions.
  6. Marketing Analytics – Our marketing automation software provides detailed performance metrics that allow marketing and sales to evaluate targeting, messaging, and lead generation effectiveness.

With the use of our Lead Management Automation platform, your company can align its sales and marketing practices to provide higher conversion rates. If you are struggling with how to effectively align sales and marketing, contact a knowledgeable Lead Liaison account representative today.

How Your Sales Department Drives Marketing Strategy

How Your Sales Department Drives Marketing Strategy

Learn how your sales department drives marketing strategy. Marketing and sales departments provide essential functions for company success. Marketing creates awareness and sales creates revenue. Each department has a distinct role, but in order to maximize effectiveness the two must operate in tandem.

So how can your sales force support your marketing people?

Through feedback from customers and prospects.

Certainly the marketing department can obtain feedback through focus groups, A/B testing, and other market research techniques. However, the feedback received by your sales force is invaluable, and should be used to shape your marketing strategy.

The marketing strategy primes the sales pump through the delivery of value-based messaging to your markets. The sales department operates under the umbrella of that messaging, but has a closer relationship with your customers and prospects, and has access to the real-world application of your products.

A reciprocal relationship exists that shouldn’t be overlooked. The reciprocal nature of the relationship provides opportunities for the sales department to support the marketing department. After all, without sales there is no product to market.

Your sales group can provide evidence of the success or failure of those messages. But what feedback provided by your sales staff can help the marketing department develop effective campaigns? There are five critical questions for marketing to ask sales that will help build a successful marketing campaign:

5 Questions Marketers Can Ask Sales

1. Is exposure adequate within each territory? – Ideally, the selected channels should reach targets frequently through effective channels in order to support the sales effort. “How did you hear about our company or product?” sheds light on whether the appropriate channels are being used effectively.

2. Do the markets understand the product clearly? – Messaging should express benefits, image, offer, and value. “Which features or benefits of our product are important to you?” can allow your marketers to understand if the messaging is clear.

3. What are the obstacles to closing sales? – Sales people receive valuable feedback from prospects about buying decisions during sales calls. “What can I do to make your buying decision easier?” often exposes overlooked objections that can be categorized for analysis by the marketing department.

4. How is the competition being received by your markets? – Your sales staff has the ability to determine how effective your competitors’ marketing activities have been. “Who else has a product like ours?” provides feedback about the competitive environment your company is working in. The marketing department can use this information to develop messaging that positions your product within the marketplace.

5. Are customers receiving the benefits they’ve been promised? – By checking customer satisfaction, your sales people can share with marketing whether the messaging is appropriate. “Is our product providing the solutions you need?” reveals how the product is being received in the marketplace. Sharing responses with marketing provides real-world feedback that will support or contradict your messaging.

By training your sales staff to generate feedback that will improve marketing, your company can develop messaging that is responsive, timely, and effective.

Remove Politics for Marketing Automation Success

Remove Politics for Marketing Automation SuccessThis is the final article on our blog series related to marketing automation obstacles. The last obstacle has to do with challenges inside an organization. Unfortunately, dealing with corporate politics is something we all have to go through. Politics are not as “thick” with small companies vs. large companies; however, it still persists to a certain degree. When it comes to having a hyper-efficient sales and marketing process, one political barrier that must be removed is communication between head of sales and head of marketing. It’s important to remove politics for marketing automation success.

Sales and marketing alignment is a vital component of a successful business. Although creating alignment is priority number one, maintaining alignment is equally important. Sales must work with marketing on demand creation activities to help create, qualify and nurture leads. After all, sales is good at selling, but they can’t sell if they have no one to sell too. That’s where marketing steps in. Marketing creates leads and sales closes them. Marketing must be equipped with the right marketing content, lead management technology and lead nurturing solutions to meet the demands of any sales organization. At Lead Liaison, we take sales and marketing alignment seriously; so serious that we’ve created a contract between our sales and marketing teams. The contract, or Service Level Agreement (SLA), gets our teams on common ground – providing them with a framework for common definitions, metrics and responsibilities. Let us know if you’d like a copy of it. As mentioned above, alignment is the first step and maintaining alignment is the second step. Make sure you have periodic meetings to review progress against your desired goals. Also, have a set of common/shared goals that benefit both teams and leverage the core competencies of each respectively. Matt Smith, Executive VP and Co-Founder of 3forward, noted there are four shared metrics for sales and marketing to follow to align their efforts.

1. Mutually define a sales-ready lead
2. Decide how many sales-ready leads must be created each month
3. Set a shared target % for how many sales-ready leads convert to qualified pipeline opportunities
4. Agree on the target % for how many qualified opportunities become new wins

What are the political barriers you face between your sales and marketing teams? How have you been able to remove politics for marketing automation success?

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