Sales VPs tell us they want greater sales support to improve close rates and leadership tells us that they want “Marketing” to increase their influence over revenue. However, traditional “lead-based systems” and social, email and other marketing campaigns make it challenging for marketing to be held accountable for anything more than driving leads.
Most supply chain and technology sales, marketing, and customer success teams are simply gaining account-based awareness. They’re separately speaking to volumes of accounts in hopes of driving leads, appointments, and engagement. However, personal account-based marketing, aligns leadership, sales, marketing and customer success/account management teams to win, protect and expand specific accounts that have the greatest revenue growth potential but are stuck in the status quo.
The goal here is not to capture leads or appointments that go nowhere! Marketing should be increasing their influence over revenue performance. Sales should be looking for more closes and higher deal sizes. And, customer success teams should be looking for revenue/margin growth with existing customers. More wins and account expansion with unresponsive, status quo accounts requires profiles, content and messaging to speak to account-specific gaps and impacts at a personal level. It’s the personal connections with the human buyers that shift minds and wallets and enables supply chain and technology firms to drive $2M wins.
Traditional Lead-Based Systems Provide Limited Visibility into Micro-Metrics That Impact Revenue & Business Growth with Key Accounts
Jamie Shanks, CEO of Sales for Life says… “We don’t make money on clicks, leads and likes” but traditional marketing is focused on brand awareness metrics, MQL volume and cost-per-lead. This results in marketing that is geared toward building favorable “account” awareness and recall of the company and products among prospects who may or not be familiar with the brand. The goal is to convey what that company does, why the products or solutions are unique and why prospects should care about their company. But because one-to-few or one-to-many marketing is too impersonal to move hearts and minds, it has a limited impact on driving demand or revenue.
Focusing on lead volume also causes misaligned goals with sales (leads vs revenue) and causes marketing teams to optimize for cost-per-lead rather than cost-per-close and true business growth. So marketing continues to test, “guess” and throw messaging and content out to the masses hoping that it sticks and increases click-through-rates and lead conversions. But what good are those leads if they get stuck at the top because buyers are unable to get the value-added relationships they are looking for.
With our clients, each named account and each “individual” is treated as a unique campaign. This way we are getting “one-to-one” conversational visibility and metrics to see what is working within specific companies, divisions and ranks that work with specific customer bases. So we’re optimizing conversations for a “close” and then after receiving “revenue proof”, insights are provided to “marketing” to increase conversions for their one-to-few and one-to-many conversations.
Following a traditional lead system, marketing does not get the visibility or input at the “individual” conversational level because there is a hand-off. But it’s at the level that marketing can have the greatest impact on revenue as content and messaging can be built for each needed conversation to achieve specific objectives.
Traditional Lead-Based Systems Result in a Sales Hand-off, Sales Cycle Drop Off & Sales Asking for Higher Quality Leads
In working with 3PLs & SaaS firms, I learned reversing “no” positions, gaining specific contract awards and margin growth requires collaboration. Marketing shouldn’t just capture interest with content and messaging that speaks to volumes and then throw leads over the fence. While leads may be “marketing qualified”, business development fails to advance selling conversations as profiles, case studies, articles and messaging do not lead with personal insights, proof of prospect-specific gaps, employee/customer impacts and KPI results. Because of limited personal relevance, sales cycles do not begin, they drop fast or they lead to an RFP that automatically reduces profit margins as you enter a price-battle.
For example, like many other supply chain & tech firms, the sales team at Schneider was looking to marketing for more sales qualified leads as they were only advancing 1 out of every 5 to 10 MQLs toward revenue. They figured that the more leads that marketing can deliver – the more revenue they can produce. This is a false assumption because the non-personal, volume-based approach that traditional marketing takes is limited to the 10% of the market that is already open to buying. It’s the same 10% that the competitors also chase.
However, when a personal marketing layer is added, sales cycles are created w/ the 60% of the market that was stuck in the status quo. As Sirius Decisions teaches their clients, “After you gain interest and awareness, you need to challenge the status quo and then convince prospects to commit. This requires a real connection beyond the brand as trust matters not only on a company level but also on a personal relationship level.”
Schneider’s sales team had the right connections. They needed marketing content that supported specific selling conversations with named accounts & personal contacts. For example, Schneider’s VP of Sales was connected to Sygma’s VP of Logistics however, the connection was unresponsive to general industry messaging. Sales and marketing were not making a human-to-human connection or demonstrating a competitive advantage which helps buyers think beyond price. Recent studies even show that 86% of content and messaging has no commercial impact on the buyer – only 14% of content and messaging is communicated in such a way to suggest a valid reason for a change.
By changing customer-centric profile content and 1-on-1 messaging to focus on stories on how gaps found in Sygma’s supply chain was uniquely filled for a similar customer and what employee/customer impacts would be, the Logistics VP joined Schneider’s group. He even participated in a survey on process gaps, employee impacts, and future needs. This gave Schneider personal insights to position additional “real-time” articles & discussion points that proved that Sygma’s supply chain was under-served. Sygma then “pulled” BD through the sales cycle & with less than 9-month sales cycle, a prospect who had walked away twice before became a client valued at $750K a year.
Read the article below for find more examples of tripling the Oracle TMS close rate (from 20% wins to 60% wins) while reducing 9 months from the average sales cycle in the article attached below.
Content Associated with Traditional Lead-Based Systems & Campaigns Do Not Enable Marketing for the Sales Cycle That Does Not Involve RFPs
While thought leadership marketing content that’s created for lead gen can create access to high-value decision-makers (studies show that 47% of decision-makers share their contact info after reading thought leadership content), it tends to lead to an RFP. Almost half of decision-makers said they invite producers of thought leadership content to bid on a project when they had not previously considered the organization. However, most of our clients do not like RFPs because it becomes a price battle that limits margin growth.
Most articles and white papers that are created for the masses miss commercial insights that speak to specific gaps specific organizations have and the impacts it has to different divisions, ranks, individuals and customers. And, they don’t show how the gaps can only be filled by that organization. So prospects take your education, invite you to the bidding process and then uses the content to tell your competitors what they are looking for. If they respond favorably, it now becomes a price battle, because there was no differentiation.
While “marketing” is focused on filling the top of the funnel with thought leadership content for the masses, they are missing the personal content that transitions prospects through their buying journey. They are missing the personal content and stories that keeps them away from the competition.
The Traditional Lead-Based System Does Not Support Account Growth
Just like there is a hand-off to sales when a prospect shows “marketing” a sign of interest – there is a hand-off to accounts when a deal is closed. Sales and marketing invest their time, resources and money on new business rather than account expansion and growth as shown by the results of a recent Corporate Visions study:
The silos that are formed with a lead-based system that does not promote collaboration impacts accounts whose job is to enable penetration. These teams tend to be proficient in tech rather than sales & while they look to add a top to bottom stickiness, VP connections are rare. The accounts team at a regional service provider failed to engage with VPs because they didn’t have the content to support conversations on how revenue that was at risk (40%) was protected due to new efficiencies.
Within our “More Account-Based Enablement Is Needed to Protect & Expand Accounts” article, you’ll see how sales, marketing and accounts needed to align to demonstrate to P&G the current and future that can only be delivered by our regional 3PL client – and not Ryder (a larger national 3PL competitor.) This allowed our client to expand their contract with P&G without an RFP price ware.
In addition to penetration, marketing to support account teams can change buying behaviors of current accounts to drive margin growth. Because the accounts team for an IT implementation firm did not have personal marketing support, Sephora kept coming to them with IT sprints. They come with a list with 30 changes that they needed yesterday and then they’ll fight over the number of people and hours that will be needed to complete the project. They didn’t have the content to show how IT is building for 30 software points only seeing 5-8% of the entire picture and how details and requirements are missed because there’s no visibility into pipelines, growth plans, customer-driven needs and current/future operational bottlenecks. They couldn’t show how it was leading to delayed retail/e-comm presence, wasted marketing dollars, rises in days in inventory, slower cash conversion cycles, missed customer shipments and out of stock conditions. They didn’t have content to drive a need for early collaboration between product management, IT, supply chain operations, sales and marketing and for our client to take a strategic role with much higher profit margins.
Personal Account-Based Marketing is Needed to Influence Prospects & Customers at Every Stage of Their Journey
As Joanne Black from No More Cold Calling says “Customers don’t buy your technology, your service or your products in a B2B environment. They buy because of the impact your team has on their business. People do business with people, they do not do business with technology.”
So there needs to be the addition of a human-to-human marketing element where a relationship can be created because you’re relevant at all levels, uncovering real needs and sharing commercial insights that make a major impact. The 1-on-1 conversations that marketing and sales are having with an email, digital and live environments need to be your competitive advantage because buyers that are satisfied with their current approach will be resistant to generic marketing. To drive change, you need to have a human-to-human marketing approach that influences buyers at every stage of their journey. Within my Account-Based Enablement Group, you’ll learn how marketing can increase their influence over sales closes and revenue.