Blog Archives

HubSpot just released “The Marketers Guide to Salesforce”filled with insights to help marketers more effectively use Salesforce. And we are happy to report, it was written by marketers.
As champions of sales and marketing integration since our inception in 2001, we understand aligning marketing and sales efforts has never been more important.
In fact, a 2010 study by the Aberdeen Group found that companies with strong alignment between sales and marketing achieved 20% annual revenue growth, compared to a 4% decline in annual revenues for companies with poor alignment.
To that end, we recommend HubSpot’s guide as another terrific resource to offer the marketing perspective on a very popular sales tool.
Great tips include:
  • Send only sales ready leads to Salesforce. Why? Your sales team doesn’t have to wade through hundreds of leads to find the ones they should be working. 
  • Use explicit and implicit data to determine when leads are ready to pass to sales. But make sure that sales and marketing agree on the criteria before implementing it within Salesforce. 
  • Use data your sales team enters in Salesforce to better inform marketing communications. Sales conversations will reveal information that will improve segmentation, lead scoring and personalized content.
There is much more in this 49-page guide, we recommend you download your own copy today. And read through to the end, where Hubspot provides a handy glossary called, “Salesforce Terminology in Plain English.”

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It may not be making headlines, but there is a perfect storm brewing in 21st century sales. The conditions? Internet-savvy prospects, complex and evolving customer needs, and increasing vendor competitiveness. Combine these factors with a slow-recovering economy and the forecast could be disaster for many organizations.

Yet even with these changing conditions, the eye in the storm – where the bulk of your value is still communicated – has stayed the same. It is conversation. “Despite all automation entering the market, from smartphones to the Internet, the sales message is ultimately delivered in the sales meeting,” Forrester reports.

Getting your prospects off of Google and into the conference room, however, is not easy. Because there is no magic sales model that works for everyone, Forrester took a closer look and discovered new scenarios for sales success. In their recent white paper “Defining the 21st Century Salesperson,” they reveal the four archetypes of salespeople:
  • The Expeditor is the salesperson who sells fewer products and has customers who are limited by both budget and functionality. Forrester says, “This kind of salesperson must understand the value of the product or service and repeat a well-scripted message, tweaking it based on the situation of each buyer.”
  • The Specialist handles the consultative sell and requires a significant depth of product understanding. Customers in this scenario are usually department heads so salespeople, “… need to know all the right questions to ask and information to provide to help the customer set the right parameters…” says Forrester.
  • The Consolidator partners with their customer to quickly align many different needs with their multiple offerings. Forrester says, “This kind of sales is analytics driven, based on volume metrics, same-store sales and techniques, store placement, and similar analytics…”  Helping customers control costs is key to success.
  • The Conductor must have “… the ability to understand their client’s business in depth and design essentially a fully custom, unique product or service to meet that customer’s business needs” says Forrester. Their buyers are typically senior managers or cross-functional teams solving core business problems. The salesperson’s focus here is on value-add.

To avert disaster, sales leaders need to carefully consider the above archetypes and identify what roles will best serve their sales process. Helping with this evaluation, Forrester breaks down the emerging sales optimization practices and the value contributions to the customer for each type of seller.

It is time to ask yourself: What kind of seller are you? What type will best serve your organization? We recommend you check out “Defining the 21st Century Salesperson” for more insight. 

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Through the years, we have reiterated the importance of sales training. We even put together a template pack dedicated to the cause. Now our friends at CSO Insights have released an excellent white paper that puts more hard evidence behind the ROI of sales training based on their 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study.

It is no surprise to us that the biggest impact on sales training ROI is about what happens afterstudents leave the training.

In their report, Optimizing the ROI from Sales Training, CSO Insights finds that organizations operating at the highest level of sales process (i.e. provide formal training, modify it based on market conditions, and provide ongoing feedback to sales team on their application of the process) ensure their sales team is consistently applying skills after they learn them.

To do so, companies are investing in training sales managers on effective coaching to make sure sales skills are being reinforced. Next, they provide unlimited access to online training, allowing sales reps and sales managers alike to access online tools from anywhere at anytime.

CSO Insights also reports:

·       Sales training must be directly aligned to the clear business objectives that have a clear and measurable ROI.
·       Commercial courses are more successful than those created in-house, however these trainings must be adapted to fit the company so reps can see how it applies to their sales process.
·       Training should primarily focus on the selling skills of the team, not the product, as prospects are already knowledgeable on the product before contacting a sales person.
The study revealed that sales executives clearly understand the need to invest in sales training, as the majority of the companies indicated they already provide some level of education. Aligning this training to the company’s sales process, focusing on selling skills, and executing regular follow-up to training is essential to achieving success.
It is this commitment to sales process that ensures ROI.

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In the recent report by Limelight Networks, “How to Master the Art of Content Marketing” we are reminded how important strategy is in the success of any marketing effort.

Our favorite tips from the 9-page report:

1.    Create a content pipeline. Determine what types of content to publish and how often. Then, find people with the right skill sets to produce the content and establish reasonable timelines for production.
Tip: Don’t expect your FTE’s to fit content creation in to their already full workday. Allocate resources wisely.
2.    Choose content creators carefully. If you want your offering to be evangelized effectively through relevant and meaningful content, nurture your content providers. Keep them engaged and excited about both your audience and your industry.
Tip: The best content providers are those who are passionate about marketing as well as your product and services.
3.    Remember your brand. Great content marketing is about creating, sharing, and repurposing. The art of content marketing is doing this without losing the consistency of your brand messaging.
Tip: Regular communication with other sales and marketing teams is essential to not only gather content, but to make sure content stays consistent with your brand.

Limelight also includes a nice list of the 5 must-haves for content publishing and distribution technology that marketers new to this very popular marketing tactic should check out. 

If you are a content marketer, this is worth downloading. Get your copy at

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We have found a must-see resource for all of you sales professionals not yet leveraging your time-tested, proven sales skills with modern social media tools.  

You need to check out “Top Strategies For Selling To Executives In a Virtual World,” an on-demand webinar taught by Miles Austin of, one of the leading authorities on web tools for sales.

We all know that professional selling has changed dramatically in recent years, but this webinar shows us how to incorporate best of breed selling skills with social media for:

·       Prospect identification
·       Lead generation
·       Business development, and
·       Client acquisition purposes

Key takeaways from the 96-minute webinar include how to use social media for massive lead generation, how to position yourself as the go-to-resource in your industry, and how to stay top-of-mind to grow your know-like-trust factor.

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Kyle Porter and Jon Birdsong of SalesLoft have put together a compelling ebook called “101 Tips for the Next Generation of Sales Leaders.” This is not your Dad’s sales ebook, but a list of insights and quips designed for (what else?) sharing.

Essentially a categorized list of 101 tips--all conveniently 140 characters or less--SalesLoft’s ebook provides solid sales advice that ranges from tactical to strategic to philosophical. Here are a few of our favorites:
  • Listen carefully to what’s actually being said, rather than waiting for something to say that will give you hope of making a sale. [We wrote about the importance of listening in Sales Tip: Seriously, SHUT UP!]
  • Once you’re in a conversation with a sales lead, your primary job is to eliminate the lead from your list. [At Go-To-Market Strategies, we can’t say enough on this topic. Check out our article, Lead Qualification: Getting to No.]
  • The most experienced sales reps are the ones who know the 3 most important things to do with a sales lead are to qualify, qualify, qualify. [We couldn’t agree more and recommend you read our article Lead Qualification: 3 Steps to Success to help you create your own Lead Qualification Checklist.] 
Download your free copy of 101 Tips for the Next Generation of Sales Leaders at SalesLoft. And make sure to check out the Digital Savvy and Research sections for some great ideas on how to leverage social media and search to better inform your prospect research.

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We just finished reading PR Newswire’s latest ebook called Unlocking Social Media for P.R. Their master blogger and social media expert, Sarah Skerik penned the ebook from a series of her compelling blog entries. The result is an excellent resource for any marketers looking to jump in (at last) to the social media pool.

Skerik offers some excellent advice on the big three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Not only does she recommend at what level of engagement you should start with, she also throws in some key advice about how best to leverage the strengths of each channel. Yes, they are all very different and it is the powerful combination of the three that will yield the most effective results for your PR engine.
Some of our favorite takeaways:
  • LISTEN first.  Don’t publish a single tweet, status update, or post until you have really listened to the conversation. Skerik recommends starting out by following your favorite brands and studying their social media technique for some time.
  • Learn from the best. Skerik gives us three companies to watch on Facebook. Each has a presence that stimulates Wall conversation and offers shareworthy content in a way that is unique to their brand. Follow these companies to learn what works best and how to tweak your own approach.
  • Be succinct. The tighter the message, the better the Tweet. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point and your Tweets will earn re-Tweeting. Scheduling Tweets is acceptable, says Skerik, but craft each with a different angle to ensure your coverage appeals across your entire audience.
  • Don’t ignore LinkedIn. Skerik reminds us that LinkedIn is completely unique because it allows users to more specifically define their interests and align themselves with their professional peers. This is an invaluable resource for targeted PR.
Get your copy of PR Newsire’s free ebook Unlocking Social Media for P.R. today. It is full of excellent, real-world tips as well as links to supplemental blog posts if you want to dive in further to a particular topic. Best of all, it’s free.

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If you have not yet started to build your mobile marketing strategy, what are you waiting for? The time is now. eMarketer reports by 2016 the growth of mobile social network users is expected to reach 1.7 billion users, a whopping 210% increase from 2011!

Vitrue recently took a more in-depth look at how mobile users are engaging with Facebook in their white paper, “Social Mobile User Engagement: Analysis and Strategies for Successful Mobile User Engagement on Social Media Networks.”

Some interesting insights arose:
  • Engagement with Facebook is on the rise, Likes and Comments continue to increase
  • Image posts generate the most Comments via mobile devices
  • Text and Image posts generate the most Likes
  • Shorter posts perform best with mobile users
  • Using punctuation in a post can have an adverse effect on the engagement level
  • Likes and Comments increase during weeknight hours and weekend days
The white paper also answers key questions, such as:
  • Should posts include a link?
  • Does page size (fan base) matter when including a link?
  • What punctuation actually decreases user engagement?
  • Is there an ideal post length? (There is!)
  • What days are best to post for optimum user engagement?
We think Vitrue does an excellent job of summarizing best practices as you build your mobile user social engagement strategy. Our favorites include:
  • Focus on your core audience. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
  • Keep your posts simple and straightforward. If it gets to be too much (in content or length), engagement will decrease.
  • As in all marketing tactics… test, test, test! Find out from your audience what their preferences are based on performance.
Download Vitrue’s white paper “Social Mobile User Engagement: Analysis and Strategies for Successful Mobile User Engagement on Social Media Networks” for even more helpful advice and statistics. It’s a can’t-miss!

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We recently downloaded a copy of the complimentary guide from Lyris called Email+Twitter+Facebook: 22 Tips to Cross Channel Success. What caught our attention right away were some mind-boggling statistics.

In a single day on Facebook, the site is viewed 700 million minutes, during which:

· 72 million links are shared

· 144 million friendship requests are accepted

· 216 million messages are sent

· 30 billion pieces of content are shared

And Twitter, while not as popular as Facebook, is adding nearly 500,000 new accounts per day. Experts agree that Twitter is a valuable resource for:

· Gathering competitive intelligence

· Creating a more human, personal touch to your corporate brand

· Providing more responsive customer service

But it is email that remains the most successful tactic amongst the three. According to digital marketing researcher group Smart Insights in their 2011 Customer Engagement Report, 72 percent of marketers surveyed cite email newsletters as most likely to result in a tangible improvement to customer engagement.

This is backed up by how marketers are spending their money. According to Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, social media falls behind direct mail in marketing budget allocations, while email remains in the top three year after year.

Although marketers agree that email marketing is still more effective than social media, leveraging the strengths of both ensures that your marketing plan is built for maximum impact. And it isn’t too complicated to do.

Marketing Sherpa’s 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report states that 61% of marketers indicated they were able to effectively grow their email list through a Facebook registration page, while 54% indicated adding social sharing buttons to their emails was also effective. Both of these are straightforward to implement.

As you integrate social media into your 2012 marketing plan, keep in mind some of our favorite tips from the Lyris guide:

1. Use your social media presence to drive email opt-ins. Social media is a smaller commitment for your audience, so savvy marketers should provide an opportunity to increase the level of engagement through an opt-in to your enewsletter.

2. Use social media to find out more about your customers and what motivates them to share content. What will drive more word-of-mouth for your organization? This information takes some time to acquire, but it will shape more effective marketing programs in the long run.

3. Determine how you will measure success of your integrated marketing effort. What are your key indicators? With a cross-channel marketing program, it is will be key to monitor list size, brand awareness, and revenue.

If you haven’t expanded into social media yet, now is the time. In fact, email marketers are primed for success with social media. Lyris sums it up well, “Marketers who are good at email head into social with a competitive advantage – they already understand the principles of audience acquisition, respect, empathy and relevance.”

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We’ve come to depend on MarketingSherpa to provide the case studies and research to help us further refine how we market and shape our best practices. This year’s 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report is no exception to the Sherpa collection.

Over 1,700 B2B marketers were surveyed for this report that includes 157 charts and analytical commentary on how to “attract and convert the modern B2B buyer.”

Within its 188 pages, MarketingSherpa reveals the two biggest B2B marketing challenges we face: lead generation (74%) and lead qualification (49%). These results, along with Sherpa’s report that the average B2B deal size declined in 2011, show us that marketing to a lengthening sales cycle has led to more promotional pricing than ever to get the deals closed.

The impact is widespread. Across all industries and sizes (and regardless of process maturity) marketers continue to struggle to achieve the proper balance of lead quality and quantity. MarketingSherpa’s research shows that smaller the organization, the more challenging this becomes.

Other top B2B marketing challenges:

· Generating a perceived value in “cutting edge” products (41%)
· Competing in lead generation across multiple media (40%)
· Generating PR “buzz” (38%)

Further, marketers indicated that an overall lack of resources (time, staff and budget) is the greatest barrier to achieving their marketing goals. This would explain why marketers are struggling to gain maturity in lead conversion processes. There simply isn’t the time, money or manpower to focus on an initiative of this magnitude.

So, how is marketing leadership planning to address these challenges? MarketingSherpa’s data on CMO’s strategic priorities for 2012 includes:

· Gaining greater insight of customers and target audience (56%)
· Optimizing lead progression through the marketing-sales funnel (55%)
· Achieving or increasing measurable ROI from lead generation programs (54%)

What provides the best insight in this most recent report is how MarketingSherpa dissects the data: by industry, by maturity, and by size. These cross-sections illuminate the why’s and how’s of B2B marketing to help us evolve our own best practices.

Download your own copy of the 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report today. With a wealth of industry-specific data, marketers everywhere must have this report to better inform their marketing strategy, improve best practices, and achieve more sales conversions.

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