In this era of massive digitalization in every aspect of our lives, approximately 9 out of every 10 B2B buyers nowadays start their buying process online.
In other words, B2B buyers now initiate the journey of their buy cycle using search to discover independent reviews of products and services, ask friends in these social networks who they recommend, and join customer forums to view what customers have to say about their chosen brands and offerings.
According to research, it shows that most buyers in the B2B landscape educate themselves with online content and essentially completes two-thirds of their buying cycle even before they meet any vendor for the actual purchase of their desired goods.
Hence, for brands those that are in B2B sales, if they are not found in the online discovery process, they find themselves, unfortunately, left aside from the sale opportunity.
In the present time, marketers are also aware that the erstwhile ‘vendor-led sales cycle’ has been replaced nowadays with ‘buyer-driven online sales cycle’, and so are diverting their marketing budgets towards digital marketing campaigns for keeping up with the changing times.
Therefore, B2B marketers are focusing their attention on content marketing, inbound marketing, email marketing, social media marketing and paid marketing which are increasingly becoming the preferred methods for attracting and engaging buyers online.
However, this increasing investment in online marketing strategies incurs more than one tactical challenge which includes:
- How do businesses track, identify and engage online anonymous buyers?
- How do brands link volumes of digital history to each of these online buyers?
- How do businesses understand which online buyers are qualified for sale and which are not?
- Once you find an online buyer, on your business website, how can you convert them from an anonymous to a recognized person?
- How can you support all these things without engaging additional staffs?
So, you see now how these tactical hindrances make way to a much bigger challenge especially when sales are sluggish and sales reps opine that they are not getting sufficient leads from their marketing teams.
In fact, in a Sales Optimization Study, it has been found that marketers on average supplies only 30 percent of the leads that sales needs and so two-third of the sales professionals rate that the leads that they receive from marketing “need improvements”.
Therefore, from the lead generation perspective marketers today must bring in relevant and personalized contents, lead segmentation, and highly tested messaging to scale-up to the demands of sales and acquire the quality and volume of leads needed to hit their revenue objectives.
However, as this is a tall order, hence when sales harp for more leads marketers in several instances throw all the leads they have over the fence which in turn incurs several ramifications such as:
- Prospective leads fall through the crack.
- The quality of sales falls when sales reps are forced to find their own leads.
- The cost per lead increases drastically when sales reps try to acquire their own leads one at a time, as opposed to marketers that apply repeatable lead gen processes for acquiring leads in bulks.
- Leads collected from other sources outside marketing do not find the benefits of lead nurturing and so have higher chances of getting languished and lost.
The Solution- Marketing Automation Software
In the above-stated scenario, the only solution that marketers have nowadays is to acquire a volume of leads using repeatable automated processes and only supply quality leads to the sales teams.
However, this solution is much easier said than done.
Therefore today marketing automation software that is mostly integrated into easy to use CRM solutions brings precision, and process to lead generation campaigns to find, obtain, nurture, score and thereafter transfer sales-ready leads to sales reps to meet their over arched demand generation objectives, and this is how marketers do it:
Marketing automation software in CRM systems track anonymous visitors on business websites using cookies ID and then use IP reverse lookup functionality to identify the company that visited the website.
After this, once the anonymous visitor becomes known the history of its cookie is associated with the lead record in the CRM database.
Easy to use CRM software solutions for small businesses, even include tools so that non-technical marketers can build awesome landing pages and then use them as registration forms which also helps in converting anonymous visitors to know contacts.
Finally, by tracking the lead’s digital footprint and analyzing what search terms they have used or contents they have consumed the marketers can start to understand their buyer’s preferences and make out where they are in the buying cycle.
Most leads that consume contents after visiting B2B company websites are still researching, and so forwarding these leads to the sales reps not only annoys the buyers but it also wastes valuable sales time.
Therefore, modern marketers must offer educational content to the leads to help the buyers advance through the sales pipeline and also know precisely when they are ready to speak to a sales rep for closing the deal.
This is where lead scoring process comes into play.
In a gist, the lead scoring process assigns points to the leads for their behaviors in order to predict their propensity to buy.
By capturing implicit buyer behaviors, such as the number of times the leads visited the business website, the types of searches they performed, the type of contents and collaterals they downloaded, the specific pages they read in the website lead scoring process can provide actionable data-points which automatically updates the lead’s scores and upon reaching or exceeding a threshold score can be automatically forwarded to the sales reps as sales-ready leads for timely follow-up.
Marketing automation when integrated in easy to use CRM software also score explicit criteria that includes demographic information, company size, the title of the lead and several other criteria which aligns with the brand’s target market or ideal customer profile, since when leads are scored to indicate when they are sales-ready, marketers using marketing automation in the easy to use CRM passes fewer but higher quality leads to their sales teams.
In modern times, buyers are no longer bound to get engaged with the sales reps to learn about a company’s products or offerings.
In fact, the abundance of information on products and services that are presently available online has altered the way buyer’s search and research solutions to select their finalist vendors nowadays.
In the B2B space, researches shows that about 25-30 percent of the new leads are sales-ready when they are received by the brand’s, while 45-55 percent of the new leads are not sales-ready when they are received, whereby only three-quarter of this group eventually becomes sales-ready and about 25-30 percent of the new leads that are not sales-ready when received and never will be.
Marketing automation software in easy to use CRM platforms, use lead nurturing campaigns to deliver educational contents to the leads over progressive email communications to engage and advance leads through the sales pipeline until they become sales ready.
Therefore, the data highlighted in the statistics provided above shows how ‘lead-nurturing’ campaigns can generate just as many leads from the not-yet-qualified volume of leads as the initial qualified group those that are sales-ready.
Marketing automation when integrated into easy to use CRM can also forward sales-ready leads once they reach a threshold score in the lead scoring process helps in finding the right balance so that qualified leads are not held back in the sales pipeline.
In fact, many marketers using easy to use all-in-one CRM even find that delivering intelligence with the sales-ready leads to the sales reps (like the leads online behavior history and their social and demographic attributes or if recently transferred leads get engaged in new or unlikely behaviors) can save even more sales time and empower the sales teams with more time for selling.
A closed-loop reporting system is always considered most essential for continuous improvement of marketing and sales processes.
Marketing automation software when hooked with easy to use CRM finds the capability to tie every single lead and the marketing dollars spent on acquiring those leads to the marketing program that created those leads.
Therefore to show a steady increase in performance marketers can integrate marketing automation software with a CRM solution.
There is consistency among the business analyst community with regard to marketing software payback.
Since, in a research done by Gartner, it has been found that companies that automate their lead management process using marketing automation along with easy to use CRM sees a 10 percent or even larger increase in their revenue within 6-9 months.