Traditional b2b lead generation strategies with outbound tactics such as print ads and direct mail definitely have a place in today's marketing strategies. When coupled with inbound tactics, today’s marketers have the best tools to reach customers in their journey with you. Regardless of the tactics, one fact remains: the customer is in complete control. Customers tell brands what they want to know, when they want to know it and how they want the information delivered. Forget about pushing any information toward them. It’s all about inbound when it comes to digital marketing.
So, how can a company possibly reach potential customers and increase sales if outbound tactics is like swimming upstream?
The first thing to do is relax. New strategies for digital marketing, lead generation and sales enablement—a three-legged marketing stool—are designed to help you coax customers toward your brand through the right channels, deliver value when they arrive and encourage purchases.
Digital marketing: meet customers and prospects where they are
Marketing is all about connecting with the people with the potential and interest to buy your products. The only thing that’s changed is that instead of them seeking out a business, today the business goes to them. Hello, digital
Instead of sending out mass mailings or advertisements, digital marketing is based on providing compelling information about your brand where your potential customers spend time online. This can include social media, a company website, digital ads, email—basically any channel where they connect digitally.
Some standard digital marketing initiatives include:
Search engine optimisation
All of these elements have tactics such as websites, blogs, newsletters, etc. that can be delivered in the appropriate channels—at the appropriate times—to reach the targeted customer.
Lead generation: creating interest with the right message
One of the goals of digital marketing is to generate leads which can then be converted to sales. All of the inbound tactics of digital marketing contribute to lead generation—some more pointedly than others—based on the targeted audience and where they are on their journey with you.
Lead generation can be viewed as creating potential customers/sales through omni channel communications. They have already engaged with your company through one of more of your digital tactics and have decided to continue to learn more about your brand. The information the prospect provides, such as an email address, should be collected and stored for future communications.It’s important to note that not all leads are going to result in an immediate sale. So, it’s good to qualify all leads to understand their viability and sense of urgency to make a purchase—or not.
Marketing and sales have different criteria for qualifying leads, but usually the sales team will make the call on where the prospect is along the customer journey and the level of attention necessary to convert to a sale.
Sales enablement: getting marketing and sales to play well together
In the not-too-distant past, it was the sales organisation that owned all leads that came into a company. Today, there is a shared responsibility between sales and marketing as they team up to provide what the prospect needs at his stage in the customer journey.
The people on the sales team have definite skill sets that can influence and drive home a closed deal. But it’s the marketing team that creates relevant content and produces the appropriate tools and materials that work in support of sales efforts.
Content that is appropriate for each step of the buying cycle is not only made available to prospects, but it can be tracked and analysed for relevant adjustments that can facilitate the conversion process. This is especially critical near the purchase stage where the prospect may need a last influx of information to validate a purchase.
Some standard tools for sales enablement include product collateral, explainer videos, case studies and sales proposals. The more tools that are available, the better equipped the sales organisation will be and that’s a plus for the entire organisation.
Sales enablement is not just a toolkit of marketing materials; it’s also a philosophy adopted by a company confident in the power of digital marketing and utilising the right tactics and people skills at the right time to optimise conversions.
A sales enablement culture can also include marketing and sales training to stay updated on new technologies and analytics as well as selling skills. Obviously, a sales enablement environment provides ongoing training as well as the appropriate tools necessary to keep prospects engaged and moving toward the close.
So, back to that three-legged stool
Lead generation, sales enablement and digital marketing are all critical to today’s forward-thinking companies. Those brands realising the most success are those that have invested in digital marketing for laser-like lead generation and then established a sales enablement culture where marketing and sales work together to create awareness all the way through to the sale. The old adage is still true: nothing happens until somebody sells something. The only thing is—this time, marketing is in on the selling.
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