In previous posts I’ve discussed the pressing need for marketers to adopt a comprehensive digital strategy. This post provides a tried and tested set of steps on precisely how to do that. To quickly recap, the challenges marketers now face derive from the following trends:
- Digital media has revolutionized the sales process, primarily through the means by which we communicate and engage with prospects and customers, as well as with the accessibility of online information
- These forces have re-shaped the buyer’s journey and created independent buyers who largely look to sources other than Sales in researching their needs and solutions, only engaging with Sales at the end of the process, short-list in hand.
- Marketing and Sales must align strategies, goals, and processes within this digital context to meet buyers where they are and retain influence over the entire sales process.
Faced with these trends, marketers should work towards establishing a comprehensive digital approach. Following are 11 steps to gaining a stronger alignment with sales, while developing your digital plan:
- Start small – learn as you go.
- Establish goals. Work with sales to identify a priority project – one with a defined set of target accounts.
- Identify what “success” will look like, including the definition of terms like “lead”, “marketing qualified lead”, “sales qualified lead” and any lead-scoring approaches. Establish KPIs or other metrics which align properly with your goal(s) to determine how successful your approach is.
- Determine who the decision makers are within the target accounts and what their roles are. Develop personas to ensure widespread understanding and agreement among sales and marketing of precisely who this target market is, what motivates and influences them, and how best to connect with them in ways which resonate.
- Identify prospects’ contact information – use the in-house database or a third party who can identify prospects by role, not just title.
- Work with sales to identify the key challenges of prospects with respect to your product offering. If this is unknown, consider a prospect survey.
- Create content (or derive it from the survey) to engage with prospects around their challenges and issues. Email content and post to social media, as well as your website – develop a digital campaign.
- Quickly follow-up with responders and those who opt-in to be called from surveys. Follow-up may take the form of telesales, additional content, or some other form of nurturing. Key to optimal engagement and success is following-up within 24 hours or less.
- Score your leads and pass on those that are “qualified” to sales. Nurture those that look promising, but are not yet qualified.
- Review leads with sales; review the data collected across your KPSs and metrics; adjust processes as needed; measure success.
- Step and repeat with another project – maybe a different vertical – and continue to develop your processes, skills, and campaigns.
Research indicates that vendors who have a strong digital strategy, with good sales and marketing alignment, can excel in this new context – up to five times better results over average programs*. Specifically, companies who adopt digital strategies:
- Generate more qualified leads
- Spend less on lead generation
- Close more deals
While the digital age is providing new challenges for marketers in effectively reaching target audiences, it also affords us a more efficient means of connecting with those prospects in the varied manners which they prefer. No longer are we confined to a one-size-fits-all approach – now we can take advantage of the opportunities enabled by digital mediums to reach deeper into vertical segments, tailoring content and delivery to resonate more profoundly with highly-targeted audiences.
At the heart of all successful marketing strategies is gaining a clear understanding of your target market segments and the decision makers that inhabit them. At SimplyDIRECT we help marketers gain insights into their prospects challenges and needs so that they can enable sales with accurate intelligence and make their messaging totally relevant. To find out more click the button below and download our Buyer’s Guide to Survey-based Lead Generation.
2012 DemandCon and IMS Keynote: Level Setting – The State of Demand Gen Address, Tony Jaros, SiriusDecisions, March 2012.