Whether you feel overworked, are frustrated by boring meetings, or struggle with creative problem solving, there’s always a hurdle to jump over in the business world. While marketing automation may not be able to eliminate meetings, it can help in myriad other ways. In this blog post, we’ll takes a look at three common challenges faced by B2B sales and marketing teams — and what you can do to overcome them. Plus, we’ll get some insight from real marketing automation users who have overcome these challenges themselves.
1. “Our sales cycle is too long; it takes forever to close a deal.”
According to research from Harvard, over 25% of sales cycles take 7 months or longer to close. In the world of complex B2B sales, it can be a struggle to stay on top of your prospects for so long. How can you make sure your company stays top-of-mind during a long sales cycle? And better yet, how can you shorten that sales cycle?
Software company SignUp4 used to struggle with this. In the past, they were challenged with following up with great leads because those leads weren’t being touched by a marketing program, and occasionally the sales turnaround wasn’t fast enough. Now, every lead that comes into their system is automatically assigned round-robin style to a sales rep for follow-up. Leads that aren’t yet ready to buy can then be added to lead nurturing campaigns targeted toward specific verticals or interests. So far, the SignUp4 team has decreased the length of their sales cycle by an impressive 15% with marketing automation. (You can read their entire case study here.)
Helpful resources for B2B teams who want to shorten their sales cycle:
2. “I want to get to know our buyers — beyond demographics.”
RXBAR, a whole food protein bar company, found the solution to this challenge with marketing automation. “Most [consumer packaged goods] companies don’t know who their customers are or how to communicate with them. They know the demographics, but they don’t necessarily know the marketing activities,” explains Sam McBride, RXBAR Co-owner. “With Pardot, we’re doing a better job of listening and understanding our customers . . . On the B2B side, we learn about the products our B2B partners are retailing, why, and how RXBAR fits into the equation.” (Read more about RXBAR’s success here.)
These types of insights are possible on a large scale with the data from a marketing automation platform. Let’s take a look at a few questions you may ask about your buyers — and how marketing automation can help you get the answers.
Q: I know the demographics of our current customers, but how can that help sales identify promising new leads without a bunch of manual work?
A: First, you’ll want to make sure everyone in your organization understands who your ideal buyer is — in terms of both demographics and other factors, like business goals and pain points. For a guide to developing buyer personas, check out this case study to see how we did it here at Pardot. Next, it’s time to implement automatic lead grading, a marketing automation feature that assigns prospects a grade based on how close they are to your ideal customer profile.
Q: I already know what my ideal customer looks like — but how do I know when they’re ready to buy?
A: Lead scoring allows you to automatically give your leads points based on implicit buying signals and objectively gauge their interest.
Q: Can marketing automation also help me get to know my current customers better?
A: Absolutely. When you have an at-a-glance view of your customers, you can understand what they’re interested in and where they’re struggling. For example, if you notice that your current clients are downloading tons of content about one specific topic, you might want to develop more helpful resources focusing on that topic. You may also be able to identify opportunities to cross-sell or upsell based on clients’ grades and behaviors.
More helpful resources for marketing and sales teams who want a 360° view of their customers and prospects:
3. “I want to use our marketing budget more effectively, but I’m not sure where the money will go the furthest.”
ROI reporting can be a huge struggle, especially for small marketing teams. Because many B2B marketers don’t have a way to track their impact on pipeline, it can be difficult for other departments to take their work seriously. Not only that, but a lack of accountability and reporting can result in poor investments in marketing programs that aren’t working well.
Fortunately, putting a process in place to track ROI can go a long way toward proving marketing value. Marketing automation allows you to tie every single marketing initiative to a specific campaign, which can then be tracked and measured.
Socialware found serious success with this tactic. “We knew that our marketing efforts generated leads, but we wanted to capitalize our ROI,” says Sarah Philips, Socialware Marketing Manager. “When we started drilling down into the source of our leads, we discovered that joint webinars generated a large volume of qualified leads. This allowed us to scale back on programs that were less successful and reallocate budget for thought leadership and partner webinars, which now drive a majority of our leads — and allow us to make the most of our budget.” (Find out more about Socialware’s marketing success here.)
Helpful resources for marketers who want to improve their accountability within their organizations:
Want more real-life examples of companies overcoming business challenges and seeing serious growth? Download our free e-book, Five Ways Small Businesses are Powering Growth with Marketing Automation, by clicking the banner below.