Sales and Marketing Enablement
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Sales and Marketing Enablement
Increasing competitive pressure continues to fuel the demand for nimble sales and marketing organizations as they strive to succeed in markets defined by a digital consumer journey. New approaches in CRM and analytics technology can streamline the process if applied correctly. "Know your customer" has taken on new meaning as sales organizations strive to build stronger relationships and business development teams seek qualified consumers. This topic discusses tools and approaches that enable sales and marketing teams.
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Curating Content Or Creating It: Which Drives More B2B Conversions?

Curating Content Or Creating It: Which Drives More B2B Conversions? | Sales and Marketing Enablement | Scoop.it
Most marketers would say their top priority is to generate high-quality leads. Find out how to combine content creation and curation to get more leads and then drive more B2B conversions from them.
Tony Agresta's insight:

Here's a great article by Rachel Foster from the Content Marketing Institute.   Original content and curated content imparted with your perspective are both important.  In either case, a thorough understanding of your buyer’s needs and interests is needed.  You can develop this in a number of ways.   There's no substitute for getting involved in sales cycles or at least debriefing with sales to better understand challenges the prospect wants to solve.   Weave that input into the fabric of your content strategy.  Educational content focused on the "how to" aspect with specific recommendations will resonate.    A well planned agenda aligned with buyer personas and sales stages is a good way to lay out the content plan.  Maintaining an editorial calendar keeps you on track.


If you don’t have a staff of copywriters, you might consider a company called Brafton News which I've used in the past.   You provide the direction and insights on the types of content you want to publish.   Brafton deploys a team of well-trained writers to crank out articles and blog posts published based on your approval.  It’s all SEO based content at a reasonable price and automatically published to your site.   When I was using them we started to rank in weeks, not months based on a regular publishing cadence with internal and external links to related pages.

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Aligning with the Consumer Journey

Tony Agresta's insight:

David Edelman has spent a career creating innovative marketing strategies grounded in database marketing.   His insights on the Consumer Journey extend that work.

 

This article provides a detailed roadmap on how to address the needs of your consumers.   David articulates a process grounded in research about buying needs, communication channels and targeted content. 

 

Today, consumers are evaluating products and services through communities, on-line shopping, detailed specifications and experiences that other consumers have had.  They learn through comparisons, customer success and a continuous dialogue with prospects that share similar needs.

 

David provides precise steps that one company took to collect data about purchasing behavior, analyze emerging patterns and follow conversations - all before a plan was put in place.  The sales and marketing approach focuses around catering to consumer needs, understanding digital behavior, sharing specifications that matter, improving SEO and a well thought out content plan, the foundation for a positive consumer experience.  

 

For anyone struggling with longer sales cycles than you expected, it’s worth taking a close look at how you apply David's guiding principles to your business.

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How to Content Market (Better Than the Competition)

How to Content Market (Better Than the Competition) | Sales and Marketing Enablement | Scoop.it
Vocus guides provide experience-based insights into the day-to-day management of marketing, social media and PR campaigns. Download these tips today.
Tony Agresta's insight:

This link will require your contact info to download the guides but it is well worth it - especially for the guide on "How to Content Market".  This guide takes you through 8 best practices on the subject including how to:


  1. Use content to serve your audience and build your brand.
  2. Use competitive research to examine the marketplace and differentiate yourself.
  3. Exceed expectations by delivering a powerful experience.
  4. Integrate content, search and social.
  5. Creating and editorial calendar allowing for planning and content series delivery across channels.
  6. Develop quality content first.
  7. Weave content together.
  8. Measure success.


The guide is very well done and worth a read.

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Digital Marketing Talent Falls Far Short of Needs for Many

Digital Marketing Talent Falls Far Short of Needs for Many | Sales and Marketing Enablement | Scoop.it
A recent study called
Tony Agresta's insight:

How do readers of this post explain the gap by digital tactic?  If you look at each one closely, the gaps makes sense.  What do you think?

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What Not to Do on LinkedIn Groups - Advice for Sales and Marketing

What Not to Do on LinkedIn Groups - Advice for Sales and Marketing | Sales and Marketing Enablement | Scoop.it
Tony Agresta's insight:

This is a perfect recipe for working with LinkedIn groups and covers some important Hubspot features as well.  Mark, thanks for sharing this.  


If you've ever read any of David Meerman Scott's work, you'll recognize that many of the concepts are similar.  Why?   Because they work.   Creating compelling inbound marketing strategies through a modern approach to PR, blogging and the use of Social Media is all about "following the conversation" and adding value based content.    The Corporate Executive Board (CEB) has a fundamental principle they discuss in their insight based selling approach called "Give to Give."   Buyers today don't want pitches. They don't want e-mail solicitation. But they do value solid content that helps them do their job.   The practices that Mark dicusses in this post, the ideas that Mr. Scott has published time and again, the methods that CEB has documented through empirical evidence and practices espoused in Inbound Marketing by Halligan and Shah - all share the same fundamental truths.   I'll paraphrase - When you engage with prospects or customers through social channels, outbound or inbound channels, offer valuable insights that help them solve challenging problems.    If you choose to do this though multi-media PR, so be it.   If this manifests itself in the form of content marketing where the content speaks directly to buyer needs and guides a business decision, fantastic.  If this turns out to be a relevant post with a link to read more, your audience will appreciate this.   The channel should not matter.  In fact, a cohesive strategy will apply the same practices regardless of channel.


These days, customers buy from people they know and trust, people who support their efforts at all phases in the buying cycle, including after the sale.    But it's not as easy as it sounds.   This approach takes real work during the marketing phase, the lead development phase and all stages in the sales cycle.  That's exactly why sales methodologies like Customer Centric Selling explicitly instruct with tools focused on targerted conversations and solution development.   In other words, the same approaches documented by those mentioned in this post should be repeated across every stage in the sales cycle.


Now here's the rub.  It's hard work to create educational, relevant content.   Very frequently your material needs to have an acute focus on a specific topic, application or market.    When a lead is generated, your inside sales team needs to ensure the conversation continues with the same spirit and educational intent.    For enterprise sales cycles, ensuring demos, presentations, follow-up letters - every touch - is centered around the customer is of paramount importance.   There are proven methods for each of these phases but that's better left for a different post. 


For now, follow the conversation.  Understand your target audience and add value 100% of the time.    Don't be dismayed if your efforts don't instantly translate into a hot lead.  This can take time.   With perseverance, the recognition that you can help buyers solve tough challenges will jump to the forefront of a network's attention. 

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You're Doing It Wrong: Demand Generation

You're Doing It Wrong: Demand Generation | Sales and Marketing Enablement | Scoop.it
Based on insights coming out of a new study of 3,000 B2B buyers from CEB, I believe the conventional wisdom on B2B buying and demand generation is wrong.  It’s taking B2B marketers in the wrong direction.
Tony Agresta's insight:

This isn't a marketing-only problem.  It's a "sales and marketing problem."  Gaining consensus from all the influencers in the deal will increase your close rates and improve forecasting accuracy.   The demand gen process kicks the cycle off leading to a sales process that has to address concerns from a wider group.  Oftentimes each person has a different set of requirements.   Some may be interested in speed of implementation and technical capabilities.  Others may be interested in bottom line results.  A third group may be interested in usability. 


Diagnosing specific goals each of the influencers has and quantifying the current situation allows sales to develop a solution tailored for each buyer’s needs.  These solutions are often summarized in very different ways.  It's only when sales addresses specific needs of each buyer are you able to develop consensus leading to a shorter cycle and higher probability of close. 


In any event, this is a good article by Forbes.  I like the supporting evidence from the Corporate Executive Board.

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Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges

Six Visual Solutions To Complex Digital Marketing/Analytics Challenges | Sales and Marketing Enablement | Scoop.it
From your overall strategy to fantastic content marketing to conquering social media to best measurement incentives, learn how to truly rock digital.
Tony Agresta's insight:

Here's one more blog post that will help you with content development.  

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Infographic: All Email Marketing That Sizzles Is Not Spam - Marketing Technology Blog

Infographic: All Email Marketing That Sizzles Is Not Spam - Marketing Technology Blog | Sales and Marketing Enablement | Scoop.it
This infographic from LeadPages, a landing page solution, provides some great insight into email marketing and SPAM statistics. Key to this infographic is how many legitimate emails wind up in the junk folder.
Tony Agresta's insight:

Some interesting insights on how to get your e-mail opened and read are included in this graphic.

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SugarCRM Redefines CRM with the Individual in Mind - Why is this important?

SugarCRM redefines CRM with the individual in mind http://t.co/RIEcPQrDDE #crm #sugaruk1 #inside sales #marketing #sugarcrm #enableituk

Tony Agresta's insight:

Based on what's outlined in this release, Sugar seems to be making very nice progress.    Here's why these enhancements are significant:

  • User-first Design - Inline editing throughout the system, streamlined visual forecasting, and enhanced data quality and de-duplication.  Sugar UX offers a ubiquitous experience across devices, be it PCs and laptops, or tablets and smartphones.


Significance:  Easy, in-line editing allows sales teams to collect insights at different stages in the sales cycle.  What goals does the buyer have?   Why challenges do they face?  What's the perception of the competition?  Not only is this information essential in sales cycles, it's fuel for product marketing and product management .  Data quality is always important.  Ubiquitous access via smartphones and tablets not only provides pervasive access but, most importantly, saves valuable cycle times - instant transfer of knowledge about the deal to managers and others in the company means everyone's in the loop all the time.

  • Advanced Contextual Intelligence. Sugar presents contextual intelligence about every individual contact, company, lead, case, and opportunity, in an easy-to-consume, visual format that can be easily personalized. Users are empowered to make more enlightened decisions, guided by a richer set of data; from internal data such as financials and ERP, to third party applications and social channels such as Box, Docusign, Dunn & Bradstreet, IBM, and Hootsuite.


Significance:  In a word "context".  Contextual intelligence about the company, roles, technology used, the organization is invaluable in a complex sale.   It can provide the hook for a conversation that moves the deal forward.  With organization charts, identifying  those influential in the sales cycle is much easier.  I've used a product called "RainKing" in the past for this.  It works wonders for inside sales, direct sales and marketing for those interested in targeting IT buyers.  Rainking is "context personified" applied through the use of predictive scoring, details about current projects, spending, technology and the organization.    Contextual insight is a powerful way to craft messages, navigate organizations and identify influencers. 


  • Enhanced Collaboration. Sugar UX offers CRM collaboration with context-sensitive activity streams embedded into the user interface. Unlike “bolt-on” or third party streams, Sugar’s enhanced streams offer up the most relevant insight into the account, contact, lead or opportunity being viewed in a simple, effective manner.


Significance:  It's a little hard to say not knowing how comprehensive the activity stream data is.  Does it include website behavior?  Is e-mail activity part of the offering?   In any case, visualizing activity history and notifications are important.    I do like the idea of using the activity histories to foster collaboration across sales teams.  Did a specific piece of content resonate with a buyer?  Why?   Did a recent e-mail announcement make a difference in securing attendance at an event?   The potential for activity streams to be used in CRM analysis is enormous and I wonder which vendor will get their first?   Imagine if organizations used predictive technology to model activity stream data?  Imagine if they could predict which activities were driving sales?   The data is there to do this today - just look at the closed deals, lost deals and use the activity data as independent variables in the model.   Probably wishful thinking on my part.   Back to the point - simple, effective activity streams help everyone understand what's going on in the deal...and that leads to proactive support from the rest of the company.








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Why Relationships Matter More Than Ever in Social Selling [INFOGRAPHIC]

Why Relationships Matter More Than Ever in Social Selling [INFOGRAPHIC] | Sales and Marketing Enablement | Scoop.it
Social selling is at the core of what we do as marketers but one piece of the puzzle has been missing. We've forgot about the power of relationships.

Via Thomas Faltin
Tony Agresta's insight:

Skilled sales organizations apply social selling on a daily basis.  Advances in technology allow sales teams to do this cost effectively and efficiently.   "Context-Based-Conversations" which demonstrate you understand your prospects business can make a dramatic difference in sales performance.  Relationships and targeted conversations can be the difference between winning and losing.

To a large extent, the tried and true practices taught  by seasoned product marketers can be used here.  If you understand your prospects business problems, if you truly know the competitive challenges they face, generating high quality leads, higher conversion rates to opportunities and won deals will increase.  



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