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The Power Of ‘Wartime Technology’ In Today’s Current Climate




/2020 has proven to be a difficult year for B2B markers, requiring them to pivot strategies and reallocate budgets amid our new reality. Technology is now playing an even greater role as marketers work to achieve revenue success.

Demand Gen Report sat down with LeanData’s CEO Evan Liang to gain a perspective on how marketers can use “wartime technologies” to adapt quickly to the rapidly changing landscape.

Demand Gen Report: How would you define “wartime technology?”

Evan Liang: In his bestselling book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, one of Silicon Valley’s most respected venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, made the distinction between the characteristics needed to be a successful “peacetime” versus “wartime” CEO — and in many cases, they are polar opposites.

Through much of the last decade, we’ve enjoyed a long stretch of economic growth and prosperity that has fueled innovation and opened up new market opportunities. This all changed, of course, as the COVID-19 pandemic transitioned businesses across all sectors from peacetime to wartime with dizzying speed.

As businesses pivot to meet new market realities, marketers are realigning their go-to-market strategies and programs — and their tech stacks are a big part of that. As we move into wartime mode, what are your “must-haves” versus the “nice to haves?” What already exists in your tech stack that you can leverage for additional value? Do you need to fill in any critical gaps?

We’ve already seen this trend taking shape with our customers — a clear set of go-to-market tech essentials is emerging. And we believe this “focus-on-what-matters” approach will only accelerate in the months to come.

DGR: What are the wartime technologies for marketers?

Liang: According to TOPO Research, one of the top analyst firms actively working with B2B clients to navigate changing market realities, the new wartime martech essentials have four key attributes:

  1. Mission-critical only
  2. High impact (ROI)
  3. Quickly adopted
  4. Versatile

We were really pleased that TOPO recently named LeanData the leading vendor for one of the highest-impact technologies in the sales and marketing tech stack: Lead-to-Account Matching and Routing. Their analysts have also since labeled this emerging tech category as one of the new wartime essentials for marketing and sales.

The mission-critical nature of our go-to-market solutions play out every day with our customers. And the recent crisis has brought their value into even sharper relief by enabling these companies to pivot go-to-market in days or even hours instead of quarters, as business conditions change. This level of agility has quickly become critical for business continuity and execution in these uncertain times.

DGR: What do marketers need to do to adjust during the present COVID-19 crisis?

Liang: The impact of this crisis on B2B marketers, and how they must operate moving forward as revenue leaders, has been profound. Major market segments are changing at breakneck speed, requiring marketers to immediately refine and often rewrite go-to-market game plans. Early evidence shows this is well underway. Recent TOPO research revealed that 92% of high-growth B2B companies have already revised core messaging. And 73% of marketing leaders have made adjustments to their target markets.

TOPO’s research also revealed 70% of B2B companies expect a 20% (or higher) decline in Q2 pipeline. Peacetime pipeline had been abundant, but now every lead is precious. “No lead left behind” has always been our motto. While this has always been important, it’s even more vital in this economy that every lead is managed with maximum speed and efficiency.

DGR: What is Lead-to-Account Matching & Routing? And why is considered a “wartime” technology?

Liang: Leads are the lifeblood of any organization. And companies invest a lot of time and money to generate them. Yet, if they aren’t managed effectively, their ability to power the revenue engine quickly diminishes.

Based on our experience in recent years, we’ve estimated companies commonly lose around 10% of their leads — they simply fall between the cracks. When companies were growing really fast, that wasn’t too bad. But now in wartime? They need that 10% — and those black holes are not okay.

With greater competition and fewer leads, the faster companies can act on a lead by routing it to the right rep for follow-up, the better chance they have of winning that deal. We can’t throw more people at these challenges any longer but must automate this process for accuracy and speed.

“Even in wartime,” said TOPO Chief Analyst Craig Rosenberg, “We expect this market category will grow 2X at a minimum in 2020. The use cases are very compelling and will soon become more widely known.”

DGR: Can you give a real-world example of automated Lead-to-Account Matching & Routing being mission-critical to a brand during this crisis?

Liang: It’s been a busy time for our team, as we’ve been supporting our customers through this crisis. And we’ve seen interesting dynamics across our customer base — all of which point back to the mission-critical nature of our solutions … especially now.

With nearly three-quarters of B2B companies expecting a substantial decline in Q2 pipeline, it’s not surprising many of our customers have already seen lead volumes decrease. And thus, their ability to manage every lead like its gold has become that much more important.

But LeanData also supports companies whose technologies enable remote working and they have been flooded with new leads. A few of these customers had lead volumes jump 3X to 5X nearly overnight — with one even seeing daily leads topping six figures! LeanData proved mission-critical to their business continuity and execution — ensuring they could effectively manage this unprecedented volume of leads (and potential new business) while supporting the global workforce in its transition to remote working.

On the flip side, we see a lot of customers downsizing and needing to adjust quickly to ensure leads aren’t routed to recently departed reps and then left untouched. If territories are not adjusted and routing rules updated to adhere to the new organization’s structure, 10% of leads falling into a black hole can easily become 20%. In good times, companies could spend several months updating these processes, but in the era of COVID-19, companies need technology that allows them to do this overnight.

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Marketing Strategies

AI marketing and business growth



30-second summary:

  • AI is not only used for understanding data, but it is also used for understanding human behavior.
  • Businesses should look at AI as a means to problem-solving rather than a tool for understanding numbers.
  • Since this is an omnichannel world, AI can help with integration by creating an impactful experience.
  • A consistent message using AI will meet the audience in a natural way. Businesses that create consistency throughout the buyer’s journey will be able to generate growth.
  • Businesses can humanize AI by integrating it with storytelling, which helps connect the robotic function of AI to the emotions of your audience.
  • Audience behavior will always be a massive push for AI. So once businesses understand what goes into solving a problem from a marketing and customer perspective, they will be able to grow in a world drastically evolving in an unknown climate.

By now, everyone has heard of artificial intelligence (AI). From search engine algorithms to new tools for optimization, marketers are jumping on the AI bandwagon to understand how it all works together.

But AI is not only for understanding data alone. When implemented correctly, it can help you to grow your business by creating a personalized experience for your target audience.

Why AI is more than data

With the current health climate, artificial intelligence is more data-hungry than ever. The reason for this is the lack of historical data concerning COVID-19. But as we advance AI, the future will be less about data integration and more about solutions.

For example, Google incorporates AI into its algorithm to help understand search intent.

In 2019, Google announced an algorithm change that would impact 10 percent of queries because of its use of Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. The change is there to better understand the reason for the user’s search.

AI looks at more than data. As this technology understands intent, AI marketing will be used to discuss the reasoning behind a task. AI will become a primary tool used for problem-solving rather than a tool for understanding numbers.

Visualize a world where robots conceptually understand as much as humans. Some marketers are afraid of AI while others are embracing it to help improve business operations.

Instead of thinking of artificial intelligence as a form of “The Terminator”, marketers can look at it as a partner by guiding a user down the modern-day funnel.

There are some companies working with robots that utilize AI to understand everyday tasks, communicate naturally and handle unexpected situations.

Imagine what advanced artificial intelligence could have done for the world during COVID-19. AI could have helped with understanding human behavioral patterns in a short time, thus tracking the spread of the virus.

AI and your marketing strategy

Artificial intelligence helps gather insight into your target audience, which is why marketers must understand how data integration works to figure out the intent for doing a task.

An integrated marketing approach is essential in today’s omnichannel world, so AI can help marketers produce that integration.

You need to be consistent in producing the same experience and messages through each channel. A consistent message using AI will meet the audience in a natural way. Businesses who create consistency throughout the buyer’s journey will be able to generate growth.

The buyer’s journey includes the modern-day funnel, and it has many stages, such as awareness, consideration and decision. A user can enter the funnel at any stage because of all the many channels to receive a message.

Successful marketers will be able to grow a business by understanding how to create engagement and personalization at each stage of the funnel while turning leads into loyal customers, thereby constantly nurturing the relationship.

The funnel includes a flywheel approach. HubSpot believes that the funnel is failing businesses because the flywheel model is the better way to go.

However, when looking at a website, the funnel helps identify each web page according to the stage within the funnel. Every keyword that is added to a web page has an intent for search.

A user in the awareness stage will use different keywords than a user in the consideration stage. Therefore, you can look at the funnel as including the flywheel.

The funnel uses momentum to create a relationship with your customers. It is simply saying that business keeps spinning. But, if you look at the customer reentering the funnel, you will see that there is a circle or flywheel within the funnel.

The experience should never stop, and this is where artificial intelligence comes in handy.

AI can be used for comprehensive engagement in your marketing strategy. By constantly evaluating intent, your customers’ interactions will be determined across channels to create a true omnichannel experience.

Marketing is already analytically driven. AI can help businesses to grow by taking business back to focusing on what matters – the customer experience.

Elements of creativity will never go away

The businesses that utilize AI correctly will be the ones that stand out and grow. Storytelling helps connect with an audience on an emotional level. Businesses can humanize artificial intelligence by integrating it with the art of storytelling. Therefore, elements of creativity will never go away.

Storytelling will help businesses to create a memorable experience. But, the growth of audience engagement is not storytelling. True content creators will look at storytelling as a narrative to demonstrate what a business represents.

Marketers will look at what the business represents and how it fits into creating a solution.

As AI evolves in society and redefines the reason for producing solutions, the nature of creativity in marketing will continue to evolve. The measurement in marketing is the value of output, thinking more like innovators and less like advertisers.

Marketers must understand how the buyer’s journey incorporates both the funnel and the flywheel to properly make use of AI.

Relevancy is not a new concept. Rather, being relevant in the moment is a new concept. To provide a good experience, you must adopt an agile mindset for the process of problem-solving.

Audience behavior will always be a massive push for AI. So once businesses understand what goes into solving a problem from a marketing and customer perspective, they will be able to grow in a world drastically evolving in an unknown climate.

Ashley Schweigert is the owner of Marcom Content by Ashley, LLC. 

The post AI marketing and business growth appeared first on ClickZ.

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Marketing Strategies

Online reputation management: Seven steps to success



30-second summary:

  • Apparently, it’s crucial to track your reputation in order to prevent PR crises. Moreover, monitoring your reputation enables you to discover valuable customer insights.
  • Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario, Aleh Barysevich, shares a strategy to tackle the challenges of online reputation management. 
  • Right from setting up your online reputation management (ORM) protocol to becoming proactive about getting reviews, there’s more to discover. 

There’s no need to explain the importance of reputation for businesses. The good word of your customers, potential or existing, is the best promotion tool you have. Meanwhile, scandals and criticism can ruin companies. Reputation becomes even more important during the times of crisis when emotions are heightened and any mistake can lead to a full-blown scandal. 

The internet really just amplified the importance of reputation: news and rumours travel fast, but on social media, they travel even faster (and reach more people). Who among us hasn’t checked the reviews before purchasing a product or hasn’t checked out a brand after seeing a friend praising it on social media?  No matter the size of your business, people are talking about you online, sharing their opinion on social media or leaving a review on Yelp and the likes of it.  

It would be wrong to think about online reputation as something separate from your “real-world” or offline reputation: with three billion social media users and counting your online reputation is simply your reputation, it affects purchasing decisions both online and offline.  

For example, Gillette’s polarizing campaign “The Best Men Can Be” gathered a lot of negative feedback (as well as some positive). Social media users publicly denounced the company and promised to stop buying Gillette razors. That wasn’t the first time a social media scandal led to calls for a boycott of the company, Nike and Uber being other notable examples.  

Besides the obvious need to track your reputation in order to prevent PR crises, monitoring your reputation enables you to discover valuable customer insights. Once you start paying close attention to your reviews and mentions online, you’ll learn what people love about your product, what they think you could improve, and what influences their decisions the most.  

All this makes reputation management more relevant than ever. You simply can’t ignore online conversations around your brand if you want to have a successful business. Luckily, the digital world gives us a lot more tactics and tools to monitor and actively improve our reputation than the offline world ever could. This article covers online reputation management step by step, giving you specific guidelines to follow.  

How to manage your reputation online 

Most businesses already conduct some type of online reputation management (ORM), for example, answering customers’ comments and posts where they were tagged. But to make your reputation crisis-proof, you need a robust workflow, and that’s what this article is all about. You can use these steps to revise your existing ORM workflow or build a new one from scratch. 

Step one: Set up your ORM protocol

Before you even start going through your online reviews, you need to establish some guidelines. These will help you and your team to know when to respond to reviews, do it appropriately and quickly, and know the best way to act if there’s a threat of a reputation crisis. This protocol can be as thorough as you like depending on how much you are synced with your team, but here are some questions to answer to figure out the guidelines: 

  • How fast should you answer? Obviously, the quicker your response, the better, but it’s a good practice to establish the minimum response time required for your team members. 
  • How transparent are you willing to be? This will help you determine if you want to go into all the nuances when responding to a customer or simply reassure them that you’re working on the issue. The recent trends prove that transparency is very much appreciated by customers.  
  • What tone of voice should you use? This, of course, will depend on your brand. Should you be cordial or professional and straight-to-the-point? Can you make jokes? Oftentimes a funny response to a complaint can go viral. For example, Oatly is one of the brands that heavily uses negative reviews in its marketing putting an ironic spin on them. But would it fit your brand’s image? 
  • Who will be the spokesperson(s) in case of a crisis? If the need arises, who will be giving the official statements on behalf of your brand? Is it the CEO, or the PR manager? Again, you can decide on the answer based on your company’s image — if you’re trying to build authentic relationships with customers and/or have a charismatic leader, it’s only logical that your CEO will do the talking.  
  • Should you automate your responses? Automation cuts your response time to seconds and allows you to save on staff, but can you be sure it won’t anger your customers? In the example below, the customer grew frustrated after trying to solve their problem on Twitter and getting the same scripted message from Amazon. 
  • Should you always respond? Some brands take their pride in the “always respond rule”, and for smaller brands, it’s actually a must — the more engagement you get, the higher your brand awareness, especially on social media. But once you start getting a ton of mentions at once, you might need to start prioritizing. Besides, sometimes negative reviews can just become trolling — and if there’s one rule you need to learn on the Internet, it’s “Don’t feed the trolls”.  

By answering the questions, you should have a clear outline of dos and don’ts for your social media, community, and PR managers. 

Step two: Choose and set up a monitoring tool

You could try tracking your online reviews and mentions manually, but without a specialized tool, it’s practically impossible. Online reputation management tools enable you to find mentions of your company on social media, in the news, and on review aggregator websites. There is an array of monitoring tools for different needs and budgets, such as AwarioBrandwatchReputology, and others. How do you choose the right one? 

As with the previous step, there are some questions you could ask yourself and your team to decide which tool to settle on: 

  • Platforms it covers. Of course, when we are doing online reputation management, the more feedback we find, the better. But for some businesses specific websites or social media platforms are crucial: for example, TripAdvisor for tourist guide companies or Instagram for clothing brands.  
  • Sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is one of the core features in ORM. It helps you focus on dealing with negative reviews first and see the overall share of negative and positive mentions of your brand.  
  • Special features. Are there any particular requirements that your team might have? Do you need influencer analytics to quickly prioritize reviews with the biggest reach first? Or do you maybe need a tool that could easily be integrated with your CRM/task manager?  
  • Pricing. Reputation management tools vary greatly in pricing going from Enterprise-level analytical powerhouses that cost thousands of dollars, to much more affordable options for mid- and small-sized businesses. Make sure the core features you’re looking for are available in the plan you’re ready to pay for! 

Most tools offer either free trials or demos to get you acquainted with them, so you can investigate before you are ready to invest. 

Once you settle on a tool, you need to set it up to start monitoring. You can monitor your brand name, the name of your products, the names of key public figures in your company. Don’t forget to include common misspellings of these words and phrases – it’s a common mistake that brands make when monitoring their reputation which results in missing a lot of feedback. 

Most tools allow you to choose some filters for your monitoring efforts: to find reviews only in a certain language, from certain countries or platforms.  

If there’s a topic that causes particular concern for your reputation (for example, Shell and oil spillage), you can create a separate monitoring alert for it using a Boolean search mode.  

Most reputation management tools have a notification settings tab where you can choose when and how you want to receive notifications. 

Now that you’re finished with your setup, it’s time to check your online reputation! 

Step three: Check sentiment analytics and mention spikes

The first thing to do every time you go to your online reputation management tool is to look at the dashboard. This is typically where all your analytics are visualized so you can notice if something is out of the ordinary right away.  

sentiment graph - online reputation management (ORM) tool

First, look at your overall sentiment and see the shares of positive and negative mentions. This will give you an understanding of your overall reputation. You can select different time frames to get a closer look at a certain moment in your company’s history, or vice versa choose as big of a time frame as you want to get a historical perspective.  

mentions graph

Other important graphs here are the number and reach of mentions, specifically, sudden spikes in it. A sudden spike in the number of mentions means that a lot of people are talking about you (hopefully, for a good reason) and a sudden spike in reach can also indicate that some influential account or website mentioned your brand. A lot of stories nowadays emerge on social media and paying attention to spikes allows you to get on top of the story right away.  

Step four: Deal with the social media mentions

Now that you’re sure that there are no reputation crises unfurling at the moment, it’s time to deal with individual mentions. I suggest focusing on social media first since it’s the media with the biggest “sense of urgency”, that is, the medium where people expect you to answer the quickest. According to the study by The Social Habit, 42% of social media users expect a brand to respond in 60 minutes or less.  

Most tools have some kind of a feed that gives you access to individual mentions. For now, filter out everything but the mentions from social media platforms: we will deal with the rest a bit later.  

Usually, social media mentions are sorted by date with the newest mentions displayed first. You can filter them to see negative mentions only to make sure you respond to the unhappy customers first, and then take a look at the neutral and positive mentions, thanking users and sharing favorable posts. Testimonials are an extremely powerful way to promote your brand, so don’t neglect the positive reviews you get, use them. 

The mentions, both positive and negative, can be a great source of customer insights as well. Pay attention to constructive feedback, you can even tag them to come back to them later or share them with your colleagues. 

Step five: Check review sites

Now that social media are dealt with, let’s move on to other types of review platforms: Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Amazon, and any industry-specific platforms you might come across.  

To find these reviews, do the opposite of what we did in the previous step: filter out all the social media mentions as well as the news. Some tools like Awario even offer a whitelist feature which is used to prioritize certain domains — this could come in handy if you want to make sure you’re getting mentions from specific websites popular in your industry. 

Most websites allow you to respond to reviews once you verify your brand’s account — as with social media, start with the negative ones. You can also share the positive reviews on your website and social media through plugins or screenshots. 

If you allow reviews on your own website (if you’re running an eCommerce business, for example), now is a good time to go through them as well. 

Step six: Check mentions from the media 

Granted you haven’t noticed a sudden change in the sentiment or number of mentions at the third step, media outlets and blogs can wait until you’ve dealt with social reviews. Of course, if you’re in the midst of a PR scandal, the news becomes a much more important source. Also, these steps could be tackled by different teams – social and reviews sites can be taken care of by community managers and news and blogs can be handled by the PR professionals. Nevertheless, they will still be using the same online reputation management tool. 

Filter out everything but mentions from news and blogs. Then the workflow is pretty much the same: check the negative articles first, then the rest. You can reach out to bloggers and journalists to try to swing their opinion in case of negative coverage or thank them and possibly build lasting relationships.  

Step seven: Become proactive about getting reviews

Some communication specialists may treat reviews as a headache: the truth is people are much more likely to leave negative reviews than positive ones. This discrepancy can create a feeling of despair when it comes to online reputation management, but this only means that you need to become more proactive about getting reviews from your customers. 

The secret to getting more reviews is asking for them! You need to set up a consistent system of encouraging your customers to leave reviews on social media and review platforms. You can do it manually or use automation tools (Buffer, Mailchimp, Delighted) to schedule social media posts and emails encouraging users to leave reviews and add review-requests plugins to your website. Resharing positive reviews on social may also encourage other users to post praises to your business. You can even run a social media contest focusing on positive reviews as the main challenge for your followers. Get creative! 

To sum up

With proper preparations, online reputation management becomes a piece of cake. Once you have clear guidelines in place (which can be perfected over time) and set up a reputation management tool, there should be no trouble for you to make your reputation crisis-proof. 

Aleh Barysevich is Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario.

The post Online reputation management: Seven steps to success appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Marketing Strategies

How do I increase my close rate and speed up the sales cycle?




There’s really no need to bury the lede here. I won’t waste our time with a long anecdote or some analogous intro filled with buzzwords and sales jargon.

The solution is truly simple.

The faster you can build trust with your prospects and buyers — the more sales you’ll close, and the less time you’ll spend answering the same questions about your products and services, over and over again.

So, the follow up question is this: How can I build trust faster with my prospective buyers?

Just think about it as a consumer yourself. What brands have earned your trust, and why? What did that company do or say to make you feel confident in your decision to buy — before, during, and even after your purchase?

At IMPACT, we coach our clients to build this long-term trust with their customers and prospects through a proven digital sales and marketing philosophy.

Using They Ask, You Answer as our playbook, we teach organizational leaders to step into the shoes of their buyers.

What concerns, problems, and challenges do they have? What questions do they need answered in order to build trust and make an informed buying decision?

How are you answering these questions and sharing that knowledge with prospective buyers in every stage of the buying process?

While the solution might be simple, it takes time to develop an honest and transparent sales and marketing strategy focused on educating your buyers.

Whether you’re in sales, business development, or customer service, building trust quickly begins and ends with educational content — in the form of blog articles and videos. 

If you’re looking to build trust faster with your prospective buyers, follow the steps below for effectively creating, organizing, tracking, and using informative content throughout the sales process.

Think about the following five questions. Can you answer these with your current sales and marketing strategy? 

  • How are you helping to create content within your organization?
  • Is that content organized and easy for buyers to find?
  • How are you tracking the way buyers interact with the content on your website?
  • How are you using that content in the sales process?
  • How are you using personalized video to share your content directly with prospects?

How are you helping to create content within your organization?

Consumer research shows us, on average, 70% of the buying decision is already made before a prospect even speaks to a company. 

If we know that to be true, think about where your buyer’s are finding their information to build up that 70% knowledge base.

How much faster could you establish trust with a prospect if that educational material was coming directly from your company? 

As a sales rep, no one understands the concerns and questions of your potential buyers better than you.

You hear these questions in daily exploratory calls, in-home visits, email exchanges, and good old fashioned networking opportunities at events and trade shows.

Share this knowledge with your marketing team and help them create educational content that calms concerns and answers the questions you hear every day.

Where should I start with creating content?

Sit down with your organization’s content manager and get involved in the content development process. Spend at least one hour a month brainstorming and working directly with this content writer.

Use this time wisely and imagine your writer is the most important prospect you’ll meet with all month

Start with the most common questions, which will ultimately be rooted in The Big 5 topic buckets of price, problems, comparisons, reviews, and best in class.  

Each subsequent month you should meet to discuss the most recent questions you have been asked by prospective buyers. Are there new questions and therefore new topics to cover and include in the content calendar? Do older pieces of content need to updated?

Is that content organized and easy for your sales team to find?

Now that you’re working with your marketing team and helping to produce educational content that is honest and unbiased, do you know how to find those articles and videos when you need them?

Organizing this content on your website in a learning center is extremely important for your customers, prospects, and general site visitors — and perhaps even more importantly, for your entire sales team.

A great learning center makes it easy for visitors to find content that will answer their questions. Filters and searches can be integrated into the functionality, allowing users to easily jump to the content they’re looking for. 

Along with a catalogued learning center, your team can create an internal repository spreadsheet, organized by categories such as publication date, topic, specific product or service offering, and a link to the respective article or video. 

If you’re looking for a template, you can always use your marketing team’s content calendar as a repository document. This will allow the sales team to track and organize all the most recent content, and better understand what topics are coming down the pike.

Here are some great content calendar templates to get started.

Where should I start with organizing content?

Work with your marketing team and content writer to create an organized Excel spreadsheet or Google sheet. Include links to all the educational content on your website so your entire sales team can easily access this information as soon as they need it.

How are you tracking the way buyers interact with the content on your website?

If you’re working with marketing to help create educational content and you have an organized repository of articles and videos that are easily accessible — you’re off to a great start.

Before you begin sharing this great content with prospects in the sales process, do you know how those prospects are interacting with the content on your website? Can you see the website and landing page history of these potential buyers — which blog articles they have read and videos they have watched?

If you want to have a deeper understanding of your potential buyers, use a robust CRM (customer relationship management) tool to track these engagements for actionable, lead intelligence.

Tools like HubSpot allow you to better understand a prospect’s specific needs.

If they’re reading articles about a particular product, you know you can focus your conversations and learning material around those product reviews, problems, and prices — tailoring your communication to their unique concerns.

When we learn how our buyers are interacting with our articles, videos, webinars, and ebooks — our sales teams can better prepare before interacting with each prospective buyer.

Where should I start with tracking content?

Is your content helping your company make money? If you struggle to answer this question, start by reading this playbook: “Get the Most Out of Digital Sales & Marketing Technology (& measure ROI)

Schedule a meeting with your marketing team to discuss your marketing automation and CRM capabilities. Are you getting the most out of the tools you’re using now?

If you’re using HubSpot, but not sure where to get started, schedule a HubSpot CRM training with your sales and marketing teams to establish a culture of understanding your buyer’s behaviors.

How are you using that content in the buying process? (Hint: assignment selling is the key)

Now that you have high-quality content that answers your prospect’s questions, how can you use these educational articles to help build trust?

Remember that every email sent out by your sales team, and any communication with a prospective buyer, is a teaching opportunity. Intentionally using these articles to educate customers and prospects before you ever pick up a phone — that is what we call assignment selling.

Sharing this educational content before you speak with a prospect will help you be seen as a teacher first and a sales person second.

Now that you can track a prospective buyer’s history on your website, you can identify the specific products and services they are interested in.

When you reach out to that prospect directly, you have the ability to help resolve their major concerns so they are much more prepared for a sales appointment. 

Imagine how much less time you would spend answering those common questions if a prospective customer already had the knowledge they needed to make an informed buying decision?

What if they read all those articles you helped create about the problems, reviews, and product comparisons — before you spoke with them? 

By sharing content and educating prospects in the buying process you can spend more time teaching before the appointment, and less time convincing during the meeting.

Not only does sharing this educational content with prospects help speed up the sale, but it will also improve your average closing rate. 

Marcus Sheridan shares proof of these increased closing rates in They Ask, You Answer. When he began tracking the way visitors were interacting with his website River Pools and Spas, he noticed something interesting about the number 30.

When a prospective customer who requested a sales call had read 30 pages or more on his website, Marcus found his closing rate to be an average of 80%.

Compare that to the prospects who had requested a sales call and read less than 30 pages, where his closing rate dropped all the way down to 25%.

In addition to learning about products and services, these prospects have also come to know Marcus and his company. They’ve gotten to know the voice and tone of the brand, and this leads them to know and trust the company before they buy.

Marcus’ research proves that knowledge and education are powerful tools for the sales process. Sharing this knowledge with your prospects during the buyer’s journey, through your content and videos, can help you dramatically improve your closing rates.

Where should I start with using content in the buying process?

Create a plan to educate your prospect before and after the initial sales call. What content did they consume on your site before filling out a form or clicking “request a quote?”

Share additional resources with them about those topics to help them prepare for your call.

After the call, follow up with additional educational resources rather than sending those standard salesy emails like “Just checking in. Let me know if you have any questions.” Instead, include a few links to specific articles and videos on your website that will continue to educate and inform your potential buyer.

🔎Check out this article: “5 examples of assignment selling in action

How are you using personalized video to share your content directly with prospects?

As IMPACT’s Video for Sales expert Myriah Anderson likes to say “video isn’t just a tool for marketers anymore.”

When it comes to building trust quickly with your prospective buyers, there’s nothing quite as effective as the sales team using personalized videos.

93% of all communication is nonverbal. That means if we jump on an audio-only call with a prospect before meeting them, we’re introducing ourselves with only 7% of our communicating ability. We’re trying to win over their trust, and yet we’re only operating at 7% capacity. So how do we improve our odds?

What if we introduced ourselves to prospects with 100% of our communicating capacity? When people hear us AND see us, they know us and start to trust us. Using one-to-one personalized videos to communicate with prospects will help you dramatically increase the odds of building trust quickly.

And we’re not talking about Spielberg-quality videos with high-production value.

You don’t need expensive video equipment, high-tech lighting, and a personal makeup artist to shoot effective sales videos. Imagine you’re recreating an in-person conversation and you’re speaking directly to one person. In fact, it can actually be more effective to use your computer’s webcam or even your phone to produce these videos.

There are great software tools like Vidyard that allow you to record videos and share them directly into your emails. You can even record a video that includes a unique GIF image, along with a specific URL to your video message, followed by a custom title and message.

Where should I start with personalized video?

Before you start typing out your next email to a prospective buyer, think about how much more impactful your message would be coming as a personalized video. You can get started for free using Vidyard’s simple software solution — and share that custom video in your email.

Here are a few helpful tips to use when including one-to-one videos in your sales emails.

  • Use “Video” in the subject line (“Mark, I made this short video message for you”)
  • Let your viewers know the length of the video
  • Spark the viewer’s interest with the lead for your video
  • Get creative with your video thumbnail
  • Include links to your website content that will educate the prospect further

🔎Learn more about personalized video and when to use it: “1-to-1 video vs. 1-to-many video: When to use each in your sales process [+video].

Playing the long game to build trust faster

In order to increase your company’s close rates and shorten the sales cycle, go back and think about the brands that have earned your trust. What brand’s do you interact with that give you the confidence needed to make an informed buying decision?

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and create a step-by-step plan for your sales team that will help you build trust faster. Focus on educational content and use this guide to effectively create, organize, track, and utilize informative content throughout the sales process.

Take the time to plan out this process with your marketing and sales teams, understanding that the end-goal is to build trust faster with your customers.

This long-term strategy will ultimately result in more knowledgeable customers, shorter sales cycles, and higher closing rates.

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