I caught up with John Marcus at Bedrock Data last week, talking about his business’ next step of moving from an nearly exclusively inbound demand model to one that will blend both inbound and outbound and also entail selling to more enterprise businesses with buying teams.
In kicking around ideas we came up with this list of key areas you need to get right in expanding from an inbound model, often 1:1 selling to a single buyer who has found you to solve an immediate need – to an approach requiring creation of new demand.
I’ll list them in reverse order of buying process.
#1 - Create role-based content for your Champion Buyer to enroll his buying team
This is truly the make-or-break juncture of the enterprise buying process – the difference between deals which move forward at an accelerated pace vs. those that flame out due to no decision.
A relentless understanding of the buyer journey includes what types of questions, issues and objections those in different roles will have for your buyer champion. Equipping your buyer champion with this content (e.g. videos, tools, FAQs) will serve two objectives: #1 it will differentiate you in the eyes of your champion vs. any competitors and #2 it will remove potential roadblocks proactively.
Interestingly I was part of a buying process around HubSpot that did not move forward, and found that although HubSpot has a hugely successful content creation machine, this type of role-based, buying process content was not one that they had yet developed -- likely due to being relatively new to enterprise selling at that point.
#2 - As part of the sales qualification process, work with customers to identify, articulate and align around critical business issues – and make these the centerpiece of the selling process
Enterprise buying gets messy – multiple personalities, multiple agendas. Centering around critical business issues from the start of the sales process gives the vendor a way to work with the Buying Champion to align that buying team around what matters. It also serves as a qualifier to ensure you’re in fact working the right deals.
Once you’ve established those critical business issues, these should become the ‘themes’ that drive all conversations and meetings to advance that deal to close.
#3 - Create content focused on moving prospects from the Status Quo to “We Have a Problem”
This is the often overlooked step in the buying process required to create new demand.
To demonstrate this consider two different customer story videos that could be used as part of a marketing program:
Video A: Prospect Says, “Company ___ was great because they helped us solve ___ problems and got us ___ results.” - pretty typical case study / customer story featured on a website.
Video B: Prospect Says, “What’s amazing is we thought our ___ was fine, until we got a better understanding of ___ issue. Once we realized that ___ issue was actually having ___ impact, it became clear this was a real problem we had to solve quickly. And aren’t we glad we did…. (then could proceed with Video A).”
Video B addresses that crucial step needed to first empathize with and then move early stage prospects forward in their buying process… which is from a place where you may know you have an issue, but it’s not top of mind, and it’s not the most urgent thing you need to fix. Hearing that from a customer, how they moved from that point of malaise to having this become their most important thing, is where content will make a significant impact, and that's the key step to propel buyers forward. Most businesses have a gap in this area.
#4 - Build and Brand Teleprospecting team as value-add experts to your prospects
The Tele function is vital to creating demand through outbound (as well as moving early stage inbound prospects forward). I’ve described this as applying Inbound marketing principles of helping your prospects to Teleprospecting – so that they play the role of providing the right content at the right time to move a prospect forward in their buying journey (in exactly the same way a good website does).
#5 - Drive and measure outbound programs across a range of marketing channels – with the goal of initial engagement
Once you have the Teleprospecting engine in place, it’s a matter of finding the right channels to reach your audience where you can get strong return. This includes many options and I'll highlight three below:
- Webinars – becoming more and more challenging but when done right can still be very effective (Hint: that’s the right content, for the right audience, through the right publisher and promoted in the right way – I covered ideas and best practices around this here).
- Content Syndication – need to be very careful here and make sure the economics are right. It’s easy to waste money here so you need to be sure you do it right. Also Integrate is a vendor particularly effective in helping customers get content syndication right.
- Direct Mail – Often overlooked but can be a great way to breakthrough the clutter today. Especially when you look at it as… you are trying to create that initial engagement and then have your Teleprospecting/Nurture work from there. So the job of your direct mail program doesn’t need to be to sell your solution, just to engage on an initial piece of content (e.g. a “State of Industry” or “Industry Best Practices” report)
#6 - Build and drive influencer relationships
I put this into outbound because this is something that needs to be driven in a highly proactive matter to support demand generation growth. Influencer relationships, and having them link back to your blog/website or content is doing to be a key feeder to the above as well. In addition to traditional Analyst and PR relationships, here we are talking Bloggers and anyone in your customer’s target profile (e.g. peer group) with significant online social following.
This is far from easy but executing the above gets a business to a mature steady state of demand generation covering both inbound and outbound which will then further scale with greater investment over time.