Posts related to B2B marketing and sales

Do I Really Need Marketing Automation?

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Marketing Automation is of particular value when pursuing a higher volume lead generation or demand generation model.

In a recent Quora post, we answered a question about the value of marketing automation. If you generate – or seek to generate – a high volume of leads (100+s) from the web from self-directed buyers, then yes, you will value having a Marketing Automation platform.

Consider Marketing Automation as part of a broader “technology stack” – there is the “Martech Stack” and the “SalesTech Stack” – we look at these together as the “RevTech Stack”

Their are a number of leading players in marketing automation – Marketo, HubSpot, Eloqua, Pardot, SharpSpring, Act-On, Infusionsoft, Mautic and others.

Prices range from a few 100 per month to many $1,000s – a lot is based on volumes (size of lists etc), but there are also a wide range of feature sets.

It is difficult to recommend any one system. We use SharpSpring, Pardot, HubSpot and Marketo. All of these are solid systems. Consider the integration and platform ecosystem (e.g. Pardot is part of the Salesforce Cloud).

An objective assessment can help you decide. Consider the features outlined below (and there are others and these change a lot):

  • Channel customer lifecycle support?
    • From lead generation, ‐ nurturing, onboarding, to up-sell/cross-sell…
    • Manage locations, advertisements, blog, chat, email, forums, inbound calls, social media, newsletters, sales, seminars, sem/ppc, software download, telemarketing, tradeshows, paid, listings, etc.
  • Advanced segmentation for targeting?
    • Segment around prospects, customers, partners, analysts and influencers.
    • Create and refine lists from the customer database, design campaign elements, and test offers.
    • Segmentation on external data source, or custom data object
  • Support campaign workflow?
    • Campaign content management / asset library to manage marketing and sales assets — such as marketing content, collateral, copy, templates, video, images, and logos.
    • Collaborative development, version control, localization, approvals, and providing controlled access.
    • Sandbox testing environment
    • Cross-browser testing of emails and landing pages. Test emails in various browsers and clients.
  • Manage eMail campaigns?
    • Email authoring tools and features.
    • Ability to personalize and customize emails based on contact profile or other variable data
    • Custom multi-city/multi-session events, standalone events or webinars
    • Social sharing features and integration in emails and forms.
  • Manage landing pages?
    • Ability to build and deploy landing pages and form integrations to capture responses.
    • Connect downloads to forms, autoresponders.
    • Standardize fields and options for original lead source and most recent campaign.
  • Track campaign performance?
    • Pass information (usually hidden fields like campaign code or lead source) through a URL onto a web form on a landing page to capture referring sources.
    • Ability to track and manage online and offline advertising campaigns?
    • Measuring cost per lead and cost per acquisition. CPA / CPL
    • Attribute leads/inquiries to different campaigns where applicable.
    • Ability to abstract the channel from the campaign, allowing marketers to create multichannel campaigns while providing an integrated view of buyer behavior.
  • Conversion Rate Optimization?
    • Understanding of conversion effectiveness to measure revenue impact.
    • Ability to establish revenue goals, plan interim lead-stage goals to meet revenue targets, segment and track leads throughout the entire lead pipeline and sales process, and measure campaign effectiveness and impact on revenue.
    • A/B Testing tools for multi-variant testing. This should be included in planning/ process.
  • Progressive Profiling?
    • Ability to manage progressive profiling to complete a rich picture of customer and prospect information.
  • Query string parameters and query string structures to capture visitor profile sources?
    • Fuel Marketing Channel reports as well as can be mapped to contact records in the MA solution and then included in CRM integration mapping to track all of the way through.
    • Query string parameters for Partner Links, Press Releases, Paid Listing Links, Media Downloads, etc.
  • Map most recent search query field?
    • Most Recent Search Engine visitor profiles fields to the contact record. Include these fields in CRM integration mapping to track all the way through to closed deal.
    • Manage leads effectively?
    • Manage the lead between marketing and sales. (Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Accepted Lead (SAL), Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)).
  • Lead scoring?
    • to rank leads (e.g. using points, grades, or the terms “hot,” “warm,” and “cold”). Lead scores according to explicit data such as demographic and BANT or FACT criteria”
  • Real-time Web visitor notifications?
    • Capture Web site activities of visitors. Use IP address to identify the company of Web site visitors. Use browser profile or cookie for tracking. View a lead lifecycle / history with lead scoring
    • For named accounts as well as accounts in pipeline
  • CRM Integration?
    • Built-in sales and service features (If not integrating to CRM)
  • Master Data Management
    • Depth and flexibility of rules based smart lists / dynamic lists
    • Auto import data from various platforms
    • Upload leads from external sources. Two-way sync? What is the master source of data?
    • Company and contact data integrated with existing customer data sources to build highly targeted lists and gain actionable insights on people and companies.
    • Contact, account, opportunity, purchase history & activity based segmentation.
    • Data-cleansing, de-duplication and normalization. consistency of the data for de-duplication and data standardization.
  • Tracking/auditing user rights and authority changes?
    • Maintain and audit log. MA State/Fed Compliance Methodology. SW certification with Fed/State. Email deletion.
  • Marketing Resource Planning (MRP)?
    • Enable marketing planning, financial management, and vendor/agency management.
  • SEO Optimization tools?
    • help evaluate SEO impact of website pages and evaluate competitive capabilities

SharpSpring Social Now Available

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SharpSpring users now have access to a new social media and calendar features.

  • Content Calendar: A bird’s-eye view of your social posts, email sends, and blog articles.
  • Social Posting: Post directly to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn without leaving SharpSpring.
  • Social Listening: Monitor social media activity with customized listening feeds.
  • New Trigger/Filter: Create automations based on when leads interact with your social media accounts.

SharpSpring has updated Lead Scoring and the Life of the Lead to now include social interactions. SharpSpring will be releasing to all clients in a few days.

Ready to learn more? Contact us for a guided walkthrough of these new features.

Top Marketing Automation Strategies for Converting Financial Advisor Prospects

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Financial Advisor Marketing

Financial Advisor Marketing

Financial Advisors are an amazingly difficult prospect to engage. They are incredibly busy and already have a wealth of resources already available to them – do they even need to engage with wholesalers? The best way to convert financial advisors to customers is to build your marketing automation program around them.

Lead generation starts with effective segmentation

Before focusing on key strategies, Sales and Marketing must have defined a set of engagement personas and customer segments. Marketing has had personas for a decade but only since the advent of marketing automation software have engagement personas become empowered and brought to life.

Defining financial advisor segments for lead generation

Creating clarity with Sales is a two step process:

  1. Lead scoring – a measure of how active a financial advisor on your digital properties
  2. Lead grading – a measure of how profitable the financial advisor is likely to be


Advisor Marketing Focus


It may take several iterations to get lead scoring and grading optimized, however, the process should be fruitful for Sales and Marketing. The process crystallizes Marketing and Sales perspectives around which advisors are most profitable and which digital behaviors are believed to be most relevant to a sale. Some marketing automation vendors have one score that represents profitability and interest. However, being able to separate advisor behaviors from profitability factors simplifies discussions by clarifying customer segments by profitability as seen in the above graphic. As an example, Pardot applies a numerical value for an advisor’s lead score and a letter grade (A-F) for an advisor’s expected profitability.

Read more

Increase Revenue at a Lower Cost of Sales

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Many management experts remind us to find the most important element to manage and stay focused on it! What is that “one thing” for increasing revenue?

I would argue that most important factor is the difference in the amount of revenue produced by the top sales person compared to the average salesperson during the first years of a product’s introduction.

Frequently for new differentiated products the “top 10 percent” salespeople will sell more than 2x or 3x the amount that the average salesperson sells. The early sales are critical for gaining market share for new products while the differentiation is high.  Over time, as the market and the other salespeople learn more about the product and the customer value delivered, the size of the revenue gap will decrease…but by then the competitors will have started to catch up also and the differentiating advantage decreases.

What does the average salesperson learn after the introduction and a couple of sales cycles that enables them to increase the amount of revenue produced, approaching closer to the sales levels of the top salespeople? If the firm provided that information earlier, would the average salesperson be able to produce higher sales levels earlier? The answer is yes!

Firms really can’t get much more revenue out of the “top 10%” salespeople, and trying to save the “bottom 10%” is a waste of time. But we can provide the information needed by the average salesperson to impact their revenue production by almost 2X.

Three Reasons to Audit Your Sales Messaging

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Improving the quality and completeness of sales messages delivers hard ROI. Here are three reasons you should review the content your sales teams are using and take a diagnostic approach to assess the effectiveness of your sales messaging:


Three Reasons to Audit Your Sales Messaging:

1) Reduce the time required for achieving channel effectiveness: 

  • Channel effectiveness occurs when the average salesperson can cost effectively close the sale. Eventually the sales channels [and customers] will learn the value of the differential being offered, but while the market is still learning these values, the effectiveness of the sales channels is reduced. It is difficult to close the sale when the customer doesn’t know the value of the differential being offered, and the sales channels has not been provided with the values, calibration, and evidence needed to convince them.

2) Increase sales capacity

  • Sales capacity is the number of salespeople [or outlets] that are effectively selling your products and solutions. Retail uses a term “self ware” to refer to products that are sitting on the shelf but aren’t being bought. Having salespeople that are expected to sell the product but can’t/don’t is the channel equivalent of shelfware. Frequently this occurs when the skill required to sell the product exceeds the skill available in the channel. So the top 10% of the salespeople can sell the product, but the average salesperson can’t. Poor quality sales messaging is frequently the cause of product shelfware.

3) Reduces the cost of sales

  • Improved messaging increases the close rate and reduces the number of sales calls required to do so because the customer value being offered is clear and with evidence.

Use a diagnostic process for more consistent implementation

  1. Review the “top 10” sales messaging deficiencies to see if the issues are identified.
  2. Check the material being sent to sales people –  before it is sent!
  3. Use a checklist to ensure the quality and completeness of the information being provided.

Make certain your content and messaging is sufficient for the average salesperson to cost effectively close the sale. Would you like a copy of the checklist? Check out the 9 Sales Enablement Content Imperatives.

Here is another article by Bud: 10 Message Deficiencies.  Contact us to schedule a discussion.

This is a guest post by Bud Hyler – a member of the Revenue Architects’ expert network.