What's the biggest punch in the face for a business owner? The dreaded "slow quarter." That miserable time period eliminates predictability and ultimately slows your plans for growth.
If you have a slow quarter, the best case scenario is that the slump only lasts one quarter and you can quickly recover. In the worst case scenario, you're laying off employees that need to feed their families, send their kids to college, and retire before they're 75.
Revenue Roller Coaster
Up and to the right. That's what we business owners want to see when graphing our revenues. However, B2B companies' revenue charts can more closely resemble the latest Six Flags heart-attack contraption than a nice upward curve. One week it's up-up-up and the next it plummets.
This roller coaster ride has a severe impact on growing our businesses. It brings too much unpredictability, paralyzing strategic investment and growth initiatives.
You deserve stability. It's time to jump off the roller coaster.
How to Exit the Coaster From Hell & Increase B2B Sales Year-Round
1. Stabilize Lead Generation
To increase B2B sales year-round, you need to make your monthly lead volume more predictable. By doing so, you will make your sales growth more predictable.
This all starts with streamlining your lead generation process.
When we first start working with manufacturers, their "lead generation" tactics are all over the place. They're making endless cold calls (gross), have email lists that they bought (double gross), and generally pestering prospects in the hopes that someone will bite.
However, numerous studies have shown that today's buyer hates interruptive tactics like cold calling, direct mail, and unsolicited emails. They don't want to talk to salespeople until they've already completed 50-90% of their buying research.
2. Meet Buyers on Their Terms
To stabilize lead generation, you need to market to prospects the way they buy. That means using newfangled technology to meet them on their turf. This has the fortunate side effect of making your lead gen stable, organized, fully trackable, and easily optimized.
When we use new technologies to meet buyers on their terms, that's called inbound marketing. Inbound marketing takes lead generation from scary roller coaster ride to smooth upward curve.
Over time, your inbound strategy will bring a steady stream of leads to your salespeople, month after month. This greatly reduces the need for salespeople to prospect for new opportunities and chase target accounts.
Your inbound strategy will also focus on nurturing leads until they're ready to talk to a salesperson. With lead nurturing, salespeople won't waste time and effort working unqualified leads. And, potential clients don't think you're pushy and annoying. Win-win.
3. Take Control Over Your ROI
Wouldn't it be great if you could see the results BEFORE investing in new marketing tactics? You want to know for sure that investing X-dollars in Y-marketing will generate Z-leads. That's the smooth upward motion you're looking for.
Historically, this was impossible. There's an old marketing saying:
"50% of my marketing is working, the other 50% isn't.
We just don't know which is which..."
With inbound marketing, the level of transparency makes it very clear what's producing ROI, what's working, and what's a waste of time. You also have total control over optimization - what, when, where, and how much.
Want to know whether your social media efforts are generating leads? You can check the metrics on both your social profile and your social media management software (if you have it). If it's not generating leads, you can adjust your course by mere millimeters or entire yards.
You can also determine what inbound assets are driving the most new customers. Using Google's Webmaster Tools or another CMS platform, you can identify the exact keyword, blog post, or email that turned a visitor into a lead into a customer. No traditional marketing tactic can produce this data.
Through careful optimization (and a little bit of time) your revenue graph will level out with your lead gen.
Choosing Your Plan of Attack
Adding an Inbound Marketing Department to Your Company
To succeed at inbound marketing, you need a team of marketers that can:
- Dynamically optimize your marketing
- Research and understand the buyers' buying process
- Establish a strategy to get found by these prospects
- Produce highly appealing, educational content for these prospects multiple days/week
- Execute lead nurturing processes to work early-stage leads into sales-ready leads
- Create conversion-optimized landing pages on your website
- Analyze and adapt to the abundance of data
- Keep up with the new tactics/strategies
This set of tasks requires at least three people to execute effectively. You will need:
- Inbound Marketing Strategist - Responsible for putting together the entire inbound strategy for your company. They will oversee all of the inbound tactics, evaluate the data/results, and adjust course as needed.
- Content Writer - Produces highly appealing blog posts multiple times per week. They also create higher value content like eBooks and webinars that convert anonymous visitors into leads. Also responsible for lead nurturing messaging, social media content, and email marketing content. These tactics run concurrently, so there's always content to write.
- Inbound Tactician - Executes the various tactics of an inbound campaigns through forms, landing pages, calls-to-action, and workflow development. They also make sure lead information ends up in your CRM.
Adding a marketing department with experience to execute lead generation means investing heavily in full time salaries.
Picking a Kick-Ass Inbound Marketing Agency
Our experience shows that B2B companies see their lead gen grow and stabilize much faster when they partner with an inbound marketing agency. (But we're obviously biased.)
Inbound agencies already have an established, effective inbound process to start driving leads in the first few months. This process can easily take years if done in-house by an inexperienced team.
Great inbound agencies brings practical expertise. They know how to:
- Create a personalized strategy for your business
- Evaluate what works in what situations
- Optimize content to resonate with a persona
- Move a lead closer to a buying decision
- Tie ROI back to a single action or piece of content
- Generate leads WITHOUT being pushy or annoying
Overall, the best agency for you will be a partner and resource in your lead generation journey. They'll build you up and make you shine. They'll be the angel that lifts you gently from your roller coaster and plants you on solid ground.
The Proof Is in the Pudding
We know all about sales coasters. They're scary and not fun, and we use inbound marketing to keep ourselves AND our clients on track. Here's a real-life example of how we do it. (This client is pretty happy with 600% more quoting opportunities in 6 months.)