One of the most common moves I see a startup do is hire a business development person too early. Yes, there is pressure from early investors (and your spouses) to start making money. However, investing too early will be wasted money because your hotshot business development hire won’t have the right tools to succeed. Read on to learn what you need to figure out and create before making that critical hire or to evaluate whether or not you have the right tools for your existing team.
I work with a lot of startups on positioning and one of the most gaping holes is always references. When I ask the question, “Who is willing to say that your solution is awesome?” the answer is always, “No one, we don’t have customers (or willing customers) yet.” They then expect me to move on to my next question, but instead I dig in my heels. Because you can get references! You just need to know where to look.
Top places to get references – other than customers
One of the top frustrations I hear from sales and marketing is, “Our opportunities seem to get stuck in the pipeline, we need a way to create urgency so they purchase.” This is a common problem for many companies as most products and solutions are a nice-to-have. Will they improve the lives of buyers? Sure! But it doesn’t mean there is a fire burning under them to buy it. This is the reality so many B2B salespeople are faced with – trying to drag opportunities through to the next stage without clear motivation for them to do so.
Just like the article on how to turn prospects into excited opportunities, sales and marketing need to create a journey for opportunities in order for them to progress to purchase. A journey where sales is adding value at each step. With some help from marketing, you can insert some great tools into your sales cycle to do just that.
One of the most common demand generation issues I hear from clients is, “We get leads, but they rarely convert into opportunities.” If you could use some conversion rate improvement, the following marketing tools are excellent assets to use on your website for prospect engagement.
Fundamentally, you will need to build a journey for your website visitors. Think of this journey like hiking trails in a park. The prospect wants to choose which trail they go on and how long they take in their journey. Your job is to keep the path clear and to insert value along the way so they always know how to continue forward and have the motivation to do so. If they aren’t motivated to continue on their journey, they are going to pack up and leave.
That’s right, you heard me. It’s time to take a hard look at paid search and see if it is really driving leads that convert into sale. If you sell a consumer product, paid search may indeed still be a goldmine (just a bit more costly than it used to be). But if you sell to businesses a product that requires a considered purchase, chances are that paid search leads aren’t pulling their weight.
How to check if paid search is working
Back in 2007, I was asked to figure out what our business needed to be doing in social media. I was asked because I had headed up other transformation projects with success. But those projects I liked, social media on the other hand, I hated. Don’t get me wrong, I completely saw the potential for social media to promote our business and the project was a big success. But when it came to actually creating social posts, that was never my passion – professionally or personally. So the fact that I’m now raving about a new social tool is a bit unexpected.
A huge transformation that B2B companies are undergoing is the switch to Account Based Marketing and Selling (ABM). This is a big change for enterprise companies whose systems and processes revolve around “warm leads” versus “warm accounts”. And with new technology enabling ABM to be successful, big operations decisions and purchases are being made.
But if you’re a startup or a small business looking to grow with marketing, what you’re wondering is “Will ABM even work for a small budget like mine?”
The answer is an emphatic yes! (And you’ll get results faster than the enterprises!)