How marketing data can help you close more sales

marketing data helps you sell more

You want more leads from your marketing so that you can generate more sales.

I know it’s an obvious statement, but let me challenge it for a moment.

What if you could close more of the leads you get?  Would that be just as good?

Your marketing is planned and implemented with the sole aim of generating more leads for your business. Now some will say that it is also there to develop and maintain brand awareness (usually those focused on social media), but brand awareness is there to ensure that people know who you are and what you do – so they can buy from you when the right time arises.

The question is: when is the right time?

Answer: when the data tells you it is the right time.

Let me explain.

As a B2B business (most SME Needs’ clients are B2B), you are luckier than most B2C clients.  You get a little bit more data to help you know about your clients. Let’s look at the data that is available to you and then we’ll combine it to help you close more sales.

IP Addresses

Google defines an IP address as: “a unique string of numbers separated by full stops that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network.” When you are working in the B2B space, far more of the traffic to your website will come from fixed IP addresses, because many businesses have a fixed IP, rather than a dynamic one. (click here for an explanation of the difference between dynamic and fixed IPs) That means it is registered to them and so you can find out what company your visitor came from.

Email data

Your email marketing will tell you what the people on your mailing lists are doing. It will tell you who is reading (opening) your emails. It will tell you who is engaging with the Calls to Action you put in your emails. Over time, it will tell you who is engaged and who isn’t.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics won’t help you sell more (at least not directly), but it will tell you which pages on your website are working and which aren’t. It will tell you how many people are returning to your website (as a %age of total audience) and how they got there. It will even tell you how far down your pages they read.

Web Analytics

Web analytics takes things a step further and shows you what happens in individual visits and starts adding other data to those visits. Many platforms will add the IP address (see above) so you know what companies are visiting your website. If you know who your Ideal Client is, you’ve got a good chance of being able to close in on the visitor.

Web analytics will show you the path an individual visitor took through your website. Email data will show you the page they clicked through to, but not what happened then; web analytics will.

This data can show you WHO is visiting your website, what they are looking at and when they are returning. Would that be useful?

What shall I talk about?

Many sales calls go something like this:

  • Tell me about your issue.
  • These are all the things we do, so you can work out which are going to be useful to you
  • When can I come to your office and repeat what I’ve just told you?

Would this be better?

  • Tell me about your issue
  • This product/service is just what you need, as it will help with your issue
  • When can I come to your office and help you understand more about how this will help resolve your issue?

Imagine a scenario where you knew what products or services they were interested in. If you knew what they’d been looking at on your website, you know they’ve already starting thinking that service/product can help. All you’ve got to do is continue extolling the benefits and the results achievable from it. Guess what: web analytics can tell you what that person is looking at and how frequently.

When should I talk to them?

One of the most critical aspects of sales is knowing when to talk to your prospects. So if you know when someone has visited your website, you know when they are thinking about your business and your products or services. Web analytics can tell you when they return, with most platforms having functionality that will email you when someone returns to your website.

At this point, we don’t recommend you call them immediately, as that would be a little too big-brother-ish. But there’s nothing stopping you calling them later:

You: Just following up on our last conversation

Them: That’s great timing. I was looking at your website yesterday

You: Were you? What were you looking for?

Them: Just checking your [insert your product name]

You: How about we have a coffee and talk more about [insert your product name] and how it can help you.

Following up when you know they are interested in you and thinking about you dramatically increases the chances of you moving them further through your pipeline and to closing them as a new client.

If you would like to see how this works, click here.

 

Four ways Marketing helps Sales close the deal

Marketing has two roles:

  1. To develop the leads your business needs to grow.
  2. To help your sales team close the deal.

Let’s talk about the latter.

Once your Sales team takes on a lead, they have one goal: to close the deal. To do this, they must convince the prospect that your business can deliver on the promises the sales person makes. To do that they must do X things:

  1. Demonstrate that they understand the issues and problems they are trying to resolve.
  2. Show you, as a business, has the knowledge and expertise to resolve the issues and problems.
  3. Prove it.
  4. Help time the conversations.

Understanding their issues

Every business has one or more Ideal Clients. To develop a marketing plan to target the Ideal Client, they will have developed a clear picture of the issues that Ideal Client faces. This information will most likely come from two sources:

  1. Previous experience dealing with similar companies
  2. Market research

The development of the needs and issues should involve Sales when possible, but if not, this picture has to be shared with Sales.  Without the knowledge, they are at a disadvantage.

Showing you have the knowledge

The next stage, once you listed the needs and issues faced by your Ideal Client, it to match your solutions to their issues.

A sales person who can confidently explain how your business can resolve specific issues will be well on their way to closing the deal.

But a savvy buyer will accept that they can talk the talk. Now they expect them to prove that your company can walk the walk.  They want evidence that you can deliver.

Proving it

The evidence can be produced in many ways. It is the role of Marketing to collate and to share this information in a way that supports the Sales team.

  • Case studies on the website or gathered together for use in proposals.
  • Video or written testimonials shared through automated emails, based on pipeline progress.
  • Stories the sales team can use during sales meetings or networking events.

To do this, Marketing needs to liaise with both Sales and Operations to understand who the happiest clients are, what projects have gone particularly well and what the results have been. Marketing can then work with the client to produce a picture of what happened, what the results were and how happy the client was.

Helping Time the Conversations

Imagine, as a sales person, being able to time your next call to your prospects when you know they are ready to move through the pipeline. Although not strictly a Marketing function, web analytics products are often pitched at Marketing as a way of showing the performance of marketing campaigns. Web analytics will do that, but it will also tell your Sales team exactly how their prospects are engaging.  Our personal preference is a product called CANDDi, but there are many others out there.

Imagine knowing WHO is visiting your website, what they are looking at on your website and when they come back?  Would that help your Sales team?

I hope this helps explain how Marketing sits alongside Sales.  If your business is Sales-led, a Marketing function can help Sales work more effectively. If you have the age-old issue with Marketing and Sales trying to compete, bang their heads together and talk to them about how they should be working together.

I hope this helps.

7 reasons why your business must have a marketing budget

marketing budgetAll businesses must market themselves in order to attract new prospects and then convert them into new clients. So why it is that less than 50% of small businesses have a marketing budget?

If you want to achieve the growth targets you have set for your business, these are the reasons why you must have a marketing budget.

1. You cannot be sure of hitting your targets without one

As I think back, it’s amazing how many companies I talk to set a target of 4 new clients a month, particularly once they clear about £1million a year, turnover-wise. How can you possibly set a target like that without working out what you need to spend?

2. If you don’t budget, marketing will fall to the bottom of the list of expenditure

When sales, or profits, fall, the first things to get cut are training expenditure and marketing spend. Both are a mistake, but let’s concentrate on marketing rather than training.

If you don’t put marketing near the top of your company expenditure, it is very easy to decide to cut your marketing budget to maintain monthly profitability. The problem is that if you cut your marketing budget, profitability will continue to fall rather than rise again. Your marketing brings in new leads that increase your profitability. Your marketing keeps your current clients spending with you, keeping up your profitability.

3. Marketing now delivers sales later on, so you cannot tie the two together.

Your CRM will provide you with a good indication of how long it takes to convert a lead into a client. You will need to add a period of time in front that the sales timeline in order to see how long it is between when your marketing budget is spent and when it starts to come back in again.

Let’s imagine that is six months. If sales are slowing down now and you start cutting the marketing budget, you will see a dramatic downturn in sales opportunities in six month’s time.

If you are seeing a drop in sales opportunities, it is likely that some of our marketing isn’t working. You do need to makes some changes to how your marketing budget is being spent. You need to identify what is, and isn’t, working and then invest more in what is working, as well as looking at other marketing channels.

4. You cannot plan an effective marketing strategy without a budget

Your marketing budget has to be set by your marketing strategy, not the other way around. The marketing budget is determined by your growth targets.

Your CRM will tell you how many leads you need to generate a sale. The average sale value will tell you how many clients you need to acquire to reach your business targets.

No. of clients x leads per new client x average lead cost = your marketing budget.

If you start cutting the marketing budget, particularly if it’s done in a swathing manner, you are simply cutting down the number of leads you are going to generate in the coming months. Of course, if your Sales Team can increase their conversion rate, you won’t need as many leads!?!

5. Your marketing team won’t know where they stand

Whether you have an internal marketing team, or you outsource your marketing, you want them to be effective. If they don’t know what they can spend from one month to the next, how can they plan what to do from one month to the next? You want your marketing budget to be spent as effectively as possible, so give them a budget to work with. If you need to, set the original budget at a lower figure and then spend more when you can, but don’t cut the budget.

6. Your marketing will be inconsistent and so lose effectiveness

Our society bombards us with messages. We receive 100’s of marketing messages a day in the form or emails, social media, advertising, networking etc. There is only so much room in our heads for messages. The new ones simply push the old ones out (have you seen the memory scenes in Disney’s Inside Out?)

If you want your brand and your stories to be remembered by your target audience, you need to maintain a consistent flow of marketing activity to ensure you aren’t erased from the back of their minds.

7. You have to shout louder than your competitors

When the economy slows down, both you and your competitors are chasing after the reduced number of new clients out there. If those potential clients are going to recognise and then engage with you so that you have a chance to sell to them, you must ensure they see your marketing messages and remember them for when they decide they need a new supplier. To do that means more marketing, not less. He who shouts loudest, lives longest!

The calculation in 4 above may be more than you are comfortable spending. If this is the case, you will have to accept lower growth levels for the business. You may be lucky and your marketing and sales are more effective that history suggests (that will be great) but you cannot rely on that happening. If you want to achieve your growth targets, you have to commit a budget and then stick to it.

I hope this helps.

Marketing Planning – a case study

This month’s blogs have all been around planning your marketing.  Obviously I’m going to say marketing planning is essential, but let me give you an example of what can happen when you do.

Case Study Ninja started in 2016 and I met Sarah, the founder, at a Croydon Tech City event.  For those of you who know Croydon (not the Kate Moss and Tiger Tiger version), you know if has a rapidly growing tech scene and is one of the fastest growing economies in the country. Croydon Tech City hold regular events aimed at new tech entrepreneurs, to help them launch and grow their business ideas.

As you must when networking, Sarah and I followed up our brief chat and business card swap with a further conversation.  I found out that she’d already been talking to other marketing agencies, but I still had an opportunity to pitch. Thankfully I won the work and we set about planning how to take Case Study Ninja to the world.

Who

We brainstormed who to target, why that person and the pains, needs and issues they had.  We matched how Case Study Ninja helps them to their needs and finally looked at the what would stop them buying.

How

The second session looked at what channels and how we would take Case Study Ninja to market. Of course, we considered what social media channels to use, but also what other online, and offline, channels would be used.

The Result

Case study Ninja now has over 70 clients and is thriving.  More detail can be seen in our case study here, but I recommend you also check out their website. If you use case studies as key evidence to help you win new clients, you should seriously consider using them.

Planning your marketing isn’t something you can leave to your marketing consultant. You must be directly involved, for a number of reasons:

  1. You know your business better than your marketing consultant will. Your input is vital.
  2. How will your consultant know what skills you have within the business, and what needs to be found?
  3. Have you been truthful about the budget you have available and what could impact that budget? If not, how can your marketing consultant know what is going to happen?
  4. Finally, you get more from your marketing being a success than anyone. It’s in your interests to be involved.

I hope this helps

Do you have the marketing skills you need?

do you have the marketing skills you need?

You love what you do.

You’re great at what you do

Are you great at telling others how they will benefit from working with you?

Let’s look at why you need to think carefully about this.

You’ve set goals for the business. They’re ambitious and so will take some work, so you need things to work well to achieve them.

You’ve got a marketing strategy that is aligned with your business plan and aimed at your goals. Now it’s time to look at the marketing plan and what needs to be done.

  1. Do you have the marketing skills needed?

Unless you run a marketing agency, it shouldn’t be automatically assumed you have the skills you need. As a business owner, I’d be confident that you can talk to anyone. You can quickly and easily talk about what you do and about some of your clients and the work you’ve done for them. For the networking that most small businesses do, you can probably do this well and be the figurehead for the business.

Whether you have the skills to run an Adwords campaign or to build a following on social media is another thing.

  1. Should you be doing the marketing?

As the business owner, you have a lot of hats to wear anyway. As the Managing Director, you are the figurehead for the business and the leader. Your role is to make sure everything gets done, not to do it.

If you are still heavily involved in the operational delivery within the business, is your time best spent delivering for your clients or trying to attract them? Unless you are going to pay your marketing resource more than your hourly charge rate (bet you don’t), you are far better off earning the money.

  1. Do your staff have the marketing skills?

In the early days, your staff are expected to contribute and do whatever needs to be done. As you grow, they have specific jobs to do. These jobs need to be done to keep the company running smoothly and to keep the clients happy.

Some of the staff may well be able to do some of your marketing, but what is the impact of taking time away from their specific job? Would that mean you need to add resource to get their “proper job” done?

Unless they are under-utilised, I’d suggest you will be better off keeping them doing what you originally employed them to do.

If the goals you have set for the business are ambitious, you need everyone doing a great job.  That means doing the job they are best at. For you, that is running the company and ensuring you have happy staff and happy clients. Your staff need to be doing their jobs, so you have just one more question to answer when it comes to getting the marketing skills you need to have within the business…

Do you recruit or do you outsource?

I hope this helps

So just what is a marketing strategy?

what is a marketing strategy

There is a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy, but many people get them mixed up.  Let’s discuss…

Perhaps the simplest way to explain the difference is this:

  • Your marketing strategy is what you aim to achieve
  • Your marketing plan is how you are going to do it.

The development of your marketing strategy and plan is the 3rd step in the process we take all new clients through, after measuring the marketing performance over the last 2-3 years and then understanding exactly who is in the target audience.

Your Marketing Strategy

As a business, you will have a set of goals and targets for the next year. They usually include a growth target – we want to grow by 50% in the next 12 months. Your marketing strategy is the first step in achieving that goal.

What does it include?

Your marketing strategy will include the following:

  1. Your long-term business target (50% growth for example) alongside what this means in reality
    1. Are you going to sell to more clients or sell more to your current clients (market penetration)?
    2. Are you going to sell more products to your current market (product development) or, are you going to sell your current products to different markets (market development)
    3. Perhaps you are taking the trickiest route to growth – diversification (new products to new markets)
    4. How many net new clients does this mean?
    5. Whether you assume you are going to lose any current clients – or keep them all
  2. What you sell and why
    1. For stakeholders and for staff to understand the business
  3. The key routes to market
    1. Not the tools you are going to use, but whether you will primarily be using online or offline, whether you are using predominantly a referral strategy or an account management one.

Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan will include:

  1. The specific marketing channels and tools you will use
  2. What you expect to achieve from each tool/channel:
    1. How much website traffic
    2. Which social media channels have how many followers?
    3. How many phone calls?
  3. How does each channel contribute to achieving your overall goals?
    1. Which are primarily awareness generation tools?
    2. Which will engage your target audience?
    3. Which are aimed at generating the leads you need?
  4. What is the competitive situation?
    1. How many competitors do you have?
    2. How does your product/service differ from the competitors?

Your marketing strategy shows what you want to achieve, with the plan showing how you are going to get there. You cannot develop a marketing plan without having a strategy in place that matches your business plan. After all, there are two key parts of your business that will help you achieve your business goals:

  1. Operations: ensuring you deliver on your promises to your clients and, ideally, keep as many as possible.
  2. Marketing: developing new leads to generate the clients you need to grow the business.

If the two don’t work together, it will be very difficult to achieve your business goals.

I hope this helps.

Fail to Plan, plan to fail

As a small business owner, your time is precious. If you don’t plan your time, you are asking for trouble.

You have so many different hats within your business, so you need to ensure that you maximise the use of that time. One of the key uses of your time is the marketing of your business. Let’s look at the implications of not planning for this.

Time gets used elsewhere

Your marketing needs to be planned. Planning it shows you, and your team, what needs to be done and how much time needs to be allocated to your marketing.

The problem with marketing is it can easily be put aside when you become busy. The thought is that “you’re busy, so why do you need to do marketing”. The time could easily be used for operational delivery or account management, for example.

Unfortunately what happens is then your business runs the risk of entering a rollercoaster period of marketing – sales – delivery – marketing – sales…….

Time gets used poorly

When you get used to “fitting in” your marketing, it becomes easy to drag people off of the marketing when they do start.

This can lead to your marketing staff doing just the simple stuff because it can be completed quickly, before they get dragged off to do something else. The problem is that the simple stuff rarely delivers the good results.

Time isn’t productive

When they aren’t simply tweeting or adding LinkedIn, your staff with marketing responsibility may well start work on something more complex. In fact they may well start working on the same thing multiple times, simply because they get pulled off of it just as frequently. In the same way that it takes anyone a couple of minutes to get back into a task when the phone rings unexpectedly, your marketing team loses productivity when constantly being disturbed and reassigned.

Time doesn’t deliver any results

The ultimate result of a lack of marketing planning and time allocation is a lack of results. Your website doesn’t see the improvements in its search engine performance. You don’t get the leads and you don’t get the sales.

What then happens is you do allocate the time. Your marketing becomes effective again and the roller coaster continues.

Stay off the rollercoaster

It’s not always easy but if you do plan your marketing and then commit to that plan, your marketing will be consistent, it will be effective and you have a far better chance of getting the leads you need to grow your business and achieve the success you want.

I hope this helps

Why Marketing Consistency is Critical

Marketing consistency is critical for a successful campaign.

Let me explain why.

The number of ads we see each is estimated at somewhere between 250 & 360 per day, from exposure to 3-5,000 per day. There is no way we can consume and remember 5,000 ads; we won’t even register that we saw that many. The same research suggests we will register the existence of about half the ads. We will remember about 20% but then only engage with about 5%.

Even if we engage with 10-12 ads per day, that still adds up to at least 3650 per year.

Let’s combine this volume of ads with all the other tasks you, as a business owner, have to do. There is a lot of pressure on your time. It’s the same for most other decision makers that you want to get your messages in front of.

If you want to attract the attention of decision makers within your target audience, you have to combat everything else vying for their attention, so your marketing has to:

  • Be in the places your audience is going to be exposed to it.
  • Be there enough that the target will register its existence.
  • Be registered repeatedly.
  • Grab their attention so that they engage.

All of this has to happen when they are looking for a solution for a problem they have.

For how long?

For products and services that are frequently needed, this means the time period isn’t that long (let’s ignore repeat sales for a moment). However, if you sell a contracted B2B service such as IT services, telecoms or even accountancy, the time period is much longer. Contracts of this type are frequently 12 months or longer, so a sustained programme of activity will be needed. You may not know, at least initially, the contract renewal date is. You are highly unlikely to know whether they are happy with the service being provided.

Even when you do have this information, it’s not a good idea to back away and then only re-engage a little while before the renewal date. Who’s to say they haven’t been looking for an alternative provider and are simply waiting for when they can give notice? If you wait, you may miss the boat.

Have I made it clearer why marketing consistency is so critical?

You’ve sold something, what next?

Congratulations, your marketing has grabbed the attention of your target audience. It’s got them interested by showing them you understand them and you can help. You’ve engaged them through evidence and used stories during the sales process to demonstrate you can deliver on your promises. Throughout the process you’ve worked to manage the levels of perceived risk in their minds and your ideal client has signed on the dotted line. Now what do you do?

Sell some more

How can you use your latest sale to generate more? What are your options?

Gain a bigger share of their spend

When they signed on the dotted line, I doubt they signed for every service you can provide them. Although it is unlikely they will sign for another service straight away, you can work on demonstrating firstly that they made the right decision to use your services. After that you have the opportunity to discuss how the rest of your portfolio can also help them.
Follow the process again:

Generate awareness – do they even know what else they can get from you?

  • Educate them on two things:
  • How they will benefit from using more of what you provide.
  • How they will suffer if they don’t.

Prove to them that you have helped others, particularly their peers, with similar issues to theirs

Once they start talking to you, tell them the stories they need to hear

Give them the right deal

Remember that the level of risk in their minds will be far lower this time because they’ve already bought from you.

Ask them to spread the word

Once they have experienced how good your services are, ask them to tell their network. You’ve shown you can deliver and that their reputation is safe in your hands. They will know other people who have similar issues to their’s.
They may be proactive in providing referrals, but the chances are you will need to ask them. I know it’s always a worry (because they might say now) but if you time the question right (just after you deliver a great result), the chances are high they will do what you ask.

Use the Evidence

The 3rd stage above uses evidence to help your target audience make the right decision. You need to generate a regular flow of evidence that will help future prospects to buy from you. The sale you’ve just made can become the latest evidence.

Keep Talking to them

Just because someone has bought from you doesn’t mean they will continue to buy from you. Whether that is a repeat purchase or something else, there are others who they can buy from.
A recent project of mine identified that my client was only generating a 5% repeat purchase rate. They were good at generating that first sale, but then didn’t talk to them anymore. We implemented a programme of email communication to both educate buyers on how to get the best from their purchase and to inform them of what else they can buy. Simply by setting up a programme of continual communication, the repeat purchase rate increased to over 10% in less than 6 months – for a product range you are unlikely to replace for at least 5 years.

Sales in a B2B environment are not something that happen every day so making the best use of the sales you do make is key if you are to really grow the business.

I hope this helps.

Create More Demand

Without exception, every owner and director of a small business (or large one for that matter) wants demand for their services to increase. Whilst you may get some who claim they have all the business they ever want, they always want more.

So how do you generate more? How do you create more demand?

Value + Evidence = Demand

So what are the raw ingredients of demand?

Value:

The worth of something compared to the price paid or asked for it”

The perception of value does, of course, vary from individual to individual. What one person thinks as good value will not be the case for another; let’s look at a couple of examples:

First Class tickets: does the £4,995 cost of a return to Dubai at the front of the plane represent good value? Can a business person really get £5K’s worth of work done in there that they couldn’t get done further back, or is it just a status symbol?

London Eye Tickets: at £21 each, is that a good price for the views over London from the top?

Easter Eggs: as the most recent time of the year where we traditionally fleeced, can anyone say that Easter eggs are good value?

All of the above are really consumer purchases and the level of perceived value can be seen relatively easily. For many business services, it’s not quite so easy because of the complexity of the service. Value needs to be:

  • Clear: how well is the value shown?
  • Believable: will the prospect think you are telling the truth?
  • The right price: the phrase too good to be true is rarely incorrect.

Talking about the product, about how it can help and about how the price is just right is a key marketing function.  It is this content that gets your target audience interested and gets them coming to your website and reading more. The next thing they want from you is to prove your words aren’t empty.  They ask you to prove it.  They want…

Evidence:

Marketing talks the talk. The question your target audience has is whether your product can walk the walk. This blog has talked about evidence a number of times in the past. Research shows that evidence is a key part of the buying process. B2B purchasers require evidence at all stages of the buying process, from the initial visit to your website, through initial conversations and during the actual purchase.

To me there are three key groups of evidence:

  • Testimonials and case studies on the website
  • Stories during the conversations
  • Reference contact as a final stage

This blog isn’t the place to talk about each of these, and you can see my thoughts on blog content here, so let’s wrap things up here.

Simply put, if your evidence supports your marketing’s description of the value your product provides, you will create more demand. The groups of evidence listed above help your prospects through from awareness to interest and desire, then finally to the action of buying from you.

I hope this helps.