As an industry filled with businesses that have almost identical business models, it is no surprise that those businesses have many of the same struggles, one of them being to maintain consistent and healthy growth.
To start, agencies may find it tricky to keep enough opportunities in the pipeline. They may also find it tricky to convert and close prospects as often as they should. One factor contributing to why agencies may find this difficult is that they aren't strategic enough in using marketing to enhance the respective efforts. Done properly, marketing returns an ROI by helping put more opportunities in the pipeline and making your prospecting and sales efforts more effective and efficient.
As we work with marketing clients, we focus on four pillars of marketing effectiveness:
- Strategic Execution
- Know Your Audience
- Content + Messaging
- Sales Enablement
There is nothing easy about selling. You have to first create opportunities and then convince those opportunities to do business with you. Because too many agencies don’t have a marketing strategy, the entire lift is left to the sales team.
In today’s online world, buyers are WAY down their decision path before they agree to meet with a salesperson. If you haven’t influenced their path through your marketing presence, your odds of succeeding during the sales conversation drop dramatically. To build sales enablement, you need to focus on four things.
Trust + Familiarity
You are asking to take on a critically important role for your prospects. Before they even give you a chance to earn that opportunity, they need to feel they know, like, and trust you.
Your marketing efforts must keep this reality in mind and establish this feeling in your prospects before you even meet. When it does, it not only creates more sales opportunities, it increases the odds of success with each.
Litmus test – You are proving effective in this area when it becomes common for you to hear upon meeting a prospect for the first time, "I feel like I've known you forever; you are exactly who I expected you to be."
Being consistently present and engaged on social platforms (primarily LinkedIn for B2B) is a powerful opportunity to build the trust and familiarity mentioned above. It also provides an opportunity to demonstrate the value a prospect would receive when they become a client.
Our industry is getting more effective on social media but still has a long way to go. Remember, your prospects aren't only considering the individual producer; they are evaluating your entire agency. You must use the platform to build both individual and company profiles.
Litmus test – You are intentional, strategic, and consistent in building out content and connections on your company page as well as personal profiles.
I don’t have to tell you how difficult it can be to create quality opportunities. I also don’t have to tell you the importance of capitalizing on every opportunity you add to your pipeline.
When it’s time for your marketing team to hand off an opportunity to sales, ensure they've captured information about prospects in a detailed prospect profile that talks about who they are and their interests. The more detail you’ve captured about their interests (blogs read, content downloaded, frequency of engagement), the more effectively the sales team can create a personal and successful conversation.
Litmus test – You have a clear profile of your target client and you're documenting a detailed history of the prospect company and the engaged individuals on their team. You have put lead scoring in place to gauge levels of interest as they interact with your content.
Sales process handoff
It is essential to recognize that marketing and sales are not isolated areas of responsibility. They are different areas of focus in your overall growth efforts, areas that must complement one another.
The primary purpose of marketing is to create active sales opportunities. The sales conversation you deliver must be worthwhile for a prospect. Being able to articulate the value of your sales conversation makes your marketing messages all the more compelling. However, there must be a defined sales process to deliver on the implied promises of the marketing message.
Marketing may be the critical first step of a buyer-focused sales process but having a defined beginning-to-end process with a clear marketing-to-sales handoff provides a cohesive and rewarding buying experience.
Litmus test - Your marketing-to-sales process is enlightening for the buyer; they would pay for the privilege.
It ain’t easy
No, selling ain't easy, but neither is missing your growth goal. Invest the marketing time to enhance your sales effectiveness. Build trust and familiarity, be socially present, document the prospect’s profile, and create a handoff from marketing to a sales process the buyer will find valuable.
When this happens, it’s magic.
Photo by golubovy.