Saturday, April 02, 2022

What high performing sales & marketing teams do differently (and what you can learn from them)

Running out of ideas on how to create more sales at your company? Do you think you know everything about B2B Sales & Marketing already?

Ever heard of BANT?

Budget Authority Timing Need – OK, fair enough, you got it! it's how your Inside Sales Team will qualify a lead before passing it to the Sales team to continue its journey, hopefully, to close.

But how about MEDDIC?

Focusing on MEDDIC is what turned a million-dollar business into a billion-dollar business, according to Brian Halligan, founder, and CEO of Hubspot

"From $0 to $100 million, [PTC was] successful because we sold a better widget," HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan said. "From $100 million to $1 billion, we sold a shift in technology. MEDDIC became important because it's not just any old purchase — it's a transformation of the business."

You should consider using MEDDIC as a qualification framework if your company sells a product that requires a transformation in behavior or the average sales price is incredibly high, as understanding exactly how a prospect buys, why they would buy, and who's championing you internally is crucial to maintaining an accurate pipeline.

How about 'Sales & Marketing alignment'? - Did you know that because of the massive changes in the way B2B sales works, some companies are no longer even separating sales from marketing? Yes, that's right  They work together in the same unit/department.

Two companies I've worked at in the past that absolutely 'nailed' Sales and marketing, were: Zscaler, founded in 2008 and now a $50 Billion company: And Visual IQ, which was founded in 2006 and is now part of Nielsen.

Both companies had a sales team and process that came from bigger organizations

At Visual IQ, our entire sales team came from Adobe and used Adobe's lead development methodology. We were closing many million dollars a year annual subscription deals there, with companies like Target, Crate & Barrel, Honda, Amex and Bank of America.

At Zscaler, our sales team came from big companies like Fortinet, Paolo Alto, VM Ware and Cisco. Our sales bible, coming right down from our CEO Jay Chaudhri was 'The Challenger Sale'. At Zscaler our team closed deals at Barclays Bank, Wonga and Coats while I was there.

Back in the 00's, everyone was saying that successful sales were about great relationship management – you' wine and dine' the prospect, make them feel special, and listen to their every whim

But then came 'The Challenger Sale

It revolutionized the way we look at sales 

– a book based on hundreds of thousands of data points gleaned from hundreds of companies. The Team over at Corporate Executive Board made a breakthrough – 'Relationship managers' did not close the most sales. In fact, it was 'Sales Challengers.' What do Sales challengers do that's so effective and different?

As a Challenger, you offer a new perspective to your prospect and don't shy away from conversations about money. You understand what brings them value and leverage that information to deliver an irresistible pitch — and to pressure them tactfully. Remember the three T's: You teach them something valuable, tailor the sales pitch, and take control over the conversation.

Here are the stats

  • 40% of high sales performers primarily used a Challenger style.
  • High performers were more than 2x likely to use a Challenger approach than any other approach.
  • More than 50% of all-star performers fit the challenger profile in complex sales.
  • Only 7% of top performers took a relationship-building approach — the worst-performing profile.

Another book that profoundly influenced me was 'Inbound Marketing' by Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan, founders of Hubspot.

The first key point in the book is the importance of creating a marketing flywheel of resources that not only hit every channel but also hit each sales stage, as well as utilize every type of content out there, from ebooks to video.

The second key point I took, is the importance of almost zen-like communication between the marketing and sales teams.

You can do all the lead scoring, ABM campaigning, and predictive analytics you like but if your Sales & Marketing teams are not communicating effectively, these strategies will have limited effects.

By 'communicating' I suggest having real conversations about how you are working together - the pros and cons; Don't be afraid to get down & dirty about what's going wrong!

These exchanges require having trust, being honest, and sharing vulnerabilities and mistakes on both sides. This requires psychological safety across the company. Even more importantly, this trust is built up over time. So if you have a bad culture and/or high turnover, that could be a problem.

At Zscaler, I met with our sales team & each salesperson once a week. Based on those conversations, we went through their target accounts and figured out approaches and campaigns.

At Visual IQ, not a week went past that I hadn't talked to at least three VPs of Sales at some length about their targets and how to accomplish them.

Why is it important to hold Your Teams Accountable With a Service-Level Agreement?

The Sales and Marketing SLA

An SLA is an agreement between a service provider and its customer that guarantees a certain output. When it comes to sales and marketing, this is actually a two-way agreement, with marketing promising a certain number of leads to sales, and sales promising to contact those leads within a certain timeframe. 

In this activity, you'll need your sales data for a full year, divided into quarters. You'll need to know:

● How many qualified leads did you generate? 

● How many of them became sales opportunities? 

● How many of those opportunities are closed to create new customers? 

● What was the value of each sale? 

A typical SLA: 

Every month, marketing will deliver ______ qualified leads to sales, and sales will contact each of those leads within _____ hours of receiving it. 

Having an SLA like that puts you in the top 5% of companies. But you can be even better than that.

The Judicial Branch

Sales and Marketing often jostle on almost every issue that crosses both functions. A typical conversation may sound something like this:

Salesperson: the leads this quarter were weak. That's why I missed my target

Marketer: What are you talking about? The leads this quarter are better than ever!

Now, this is a very simplistic way of demonstrating the problem. It may be something similar to what I experienced a few years ago at an Enterprise software company.

Marketing had generated a lead through an event, which we then marketed to, mainly through email and some google ad retargeting. Finally, about nine months after this event, the lead broke through and eventually became a sale – one of almost $5 million (annual license). 

While attributing the lead, the salesperson claimed that this was a contact that he had been networking with during this time; the lead was, in fact, a friend of his of over five years standing. This situation can be quite commonplace in industries like Telecommunications, or Insurance, which are amazingly incestuous; everyone seems to know everyone.

How did we solve this conflict? The Chief Commercial Officer decided to split the lead source between sales and marketing generated. 

However, ideally, I recommend having a person outside of both sales and marketing make these decisions. For the judicial branch to be effective, it's paramount that its members are unbiased and focused on what's best for the company.

If you can do that, based on extensive research, your organization will be in the top 5% of the world in B2B sales & marketing. For more information on becoming a top 5% Demand Generation Company, click here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Why aren’t millennials and gen z’s watching TV commercials anymore?


Have you ever wondered why the viewership on your TV ads is declining? You may want to consider updating your advertising strategy. Here are five reasons why millennials and generation z aren’t watching your tv ads.

1. Change of media interests.

According to the Deloitte Digital Media Trends, 26% of generation Z illustrate their lack of interest in watching TV, or any other media habit for that matter… stating that they would rather play video games. If this trend continues to upscale, now may be an excellent time to diversify your advertising approach, starting with gaming.

2. Watching TV, or maybe not.

Here’s the thing, your audience may say they’re watching TV but are they actually watching TV? Or have they got your ads playing in the background while scrolling endlessly on social media? If your idea is to draw in tech-savvy millennials and keep them engaged, you may want to advertise in places where your audience is bound to be looking - on their mobile screens!

3. They are streaming content

Quite frankly, Gen Z hates conventional television but is more in love with video content than ever. According to Visual Capitalist, “In 2011, the average 18 to 24-year-old millennial watched around 25 hours of traditional television per week. Today, they watch closer to 14 hours per week.”

4. Your commercials aren’t niche enough

- Stuff that gen z likes (Nike ad) as opposed to regular tv ads (Go compare ad).

Millennials are not only watching less TV, but they are skipping ads too. More than 70% of millennials skip TV ads altogether, according to OpenX’s survey. So creating ads with compelling, relevant content is crucial if you want to win the eyes of this particular generation. 

A regular TV ad video clip 'Go compare'

A gen Z 'niche' ad video clip - Nike 'Believe in something'

Spot the difference? the Gen Z clip, usually shown on Youtube, is edgy and cool. The other ad, shown on regular TV, is plain cheesy! But beware - the terrible Gocompare ad created no controversy, whilst the Colin Kaepernick Nike one generated a lot.

5. They are playing video games instead - or during your commercials.

Or they now just have your TV ads in the background. Check out 18-24s and 25-34s. Over 30% sometimes watch TV whilst playing video games, 20% often do that and 12% of Gen Z's always do it!

Read the full report HERE

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The office after Covid: Expectations v reality

Most of my colleagues and friends have been avidly reading and speculating about what the world of work will look like in 2021 and beyond. Covid has come and (not yet) gone. But many say that with the rollout of the vaccination programmes, we will soon be back to normal. 

Ok, ok, I know what you're thinking. We will never get back to normal! Indian and South African Coronavirus strains threaten the tranquillity, not to mention armies of anti-vaxxers who could be a source of new variants that are immune to the vaccine.

But let's err on the side of optimism and say, yes, we cracked this pandemic. Do we even want to go back to normal? A recent Ernst and Young report surveying over 16,000 professionals like you and me showed that they believed company culture had actually IMPROVED during the pandemic! 

54% of us also said that we would consider looking for a new job if our company did not provide us with post-pandemic workplace flexibility. 

A February 2021 Mckinsey report showed that e-commerce and digital technology has grown five times faster than normal during this pandemic. It's well known that digital tech generally does not require any face to face engagements. 

A digital marketer, software developer, webmaster or network engineer do not need to work from an office, ever. So how will these changes and new information affect the 'war for talent', company culture, and the future of the workplace?

With that in mind, I decided to survey knowledge workers like myself to find out what you think. I wanted to see if what you thought matched what I did and if what we are thinking matches the reality of what is beginning to happen in the workplace as we return (or don't return) to the office.

First off, almost all of my responses came from the USA and UK, where I have spent all of my career. Here are the departments you come from:

As you can see, it's pretty evenly balanced between departments - but no 'Legal'?

Here's a selection of your more recent comments, responding to the question: 'What's one change your company could make to improve your working life?'

Continue being flexible and recognizing that people have changed a lot over the past year. Incorporating what we’ve learned will go a long way with employee satisfaction

5/28/2021 4:17 PM

Child care

5/28/2021 4:07 PM

Approachable leadership - the hierarchy and too many levels generate a lack of trust, confidence and much rework.

5/28/2021 3:24 PM

More mental health resources

5/28/2021 3:06 PM

You can see the rest of the survey results here.

Or why not take the survey.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Which CRM & Marketing Automation for your startup?

Our Company had serious Marketing. Automation problems. I had just started as Marketing Operations Manager at a startup that was expanding rapidly towards a hoped-for IPO (called an IPO but actually it was a private placement for ten billion euros on the Euronext exchange). But there was no effective, integrated Marketing system to operate.

How could I fix it? Well, first off, I needed to examine the different CRM and Marketing Automation systems available. I needed to decide which one was the best for the company. I also needed to bring key stakeholders - in Sales, Operations, Account Management, and Services- along with me in this decision.

Then I needed to execute the strategy and roll out the system so that we maximized our ROI and that the team was confident that we had a fine-tuned Sales-integrated Demand Generation Marketing engine. I joked that we needed to turn a bicycle into a sports car over Xmas!

First off, we needed to decide whether to keep Pipedrive, our current CRM. Hot or not? We decided not - we needed Hubspot CRM or Salesforce. Second, Mailchimp Marketing Automation. Hot or not? Definitely Not, especially for those highly integrated, professional-looking campaigns we needed for the B-2-B business.

In the end, it all came down to Salesforce with Pardot or Hubspot Sales Hub with the Marketing Hub.

We broke it down like this:

The sales team really liked Hubspot CRM and it was cheaper. I love Pardot and Hubspot for marketing. But I have a soft spot for Hubspot, because I lived right by their HQ in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for seven years, up to 2015. 

Also, they have brilliant explainer articles, videos, and templates I’ve been using for many years. I also read Brian Halligan’s book ‘Inbound Marketing’ back in 2010, and immediately I was a convert!

Here were a few of the pricing options once we narrowed it down to Hubspot:

And here’s a few examples of how we weighed up the options in a more Qualitative way.

Negotiating all the different parties and teams within the company and Hubspot was quite a challenge. Luckily, the negotiations workshop I attended whilst an MBA student at Northeastern University Business School, run by Professor Wertheim, kicked in.

The agreement went down the wire, and we signed the last thing at the end of the quarter. We secured an excellent 20% discount. £42,000 for a two-year contract, which Italy followed shortly afterwards. I worked closely assisting with the Italian team's roll-out, too, just a month later. 

The next step was actually rolling it all out and migrating all our data from Pipedrive. I took Six Hubspot certificates over Christmas, so I’d be on top of it, including; Marketing Automation, Reporting, Inbound Marketing, Sales Hub admin and so on. 

I managed to hook it up to our WordPress site, Migrated all our data from Pipedrive, integrate it with all our social media and Digital Ads Campaigns and create subdomains and branded landing pages, a blog site and email templates.

- How long should it have taken, according to Hubspot? 3 months.

- How long did we take? Six weeks - one of my direct reports was out for three of those weeks with COVID-19

It would have been a month had not one of my team contracted Covid.

So how does this Startup Marketing Automation Engine work today? We’ve been ‘Live’ for two weeks. Here's my latest Marketing Operations company-wide report;

  1. We started off promoting our new Retail X Sustainability report (Top 50 retailers on eco-friendly commerce) when our site went live a few weeks ago. 
  2. InPost has yielded 125 leads and counting since going live two weeks ago, through contacts downloading the Report through our promotions. Seventy-seven of those are Marketing Qualified Leads: We have brought the cost per lead down from £25/Lead to £6.25.
  3. We have put together a comprehensive plan to promote, market and generate leads for our new contactless returns, ‘Instant Drop.’ campaign.
  4. I have set up automation flows for our Sales team, which has already created five good Opportunities with decision-makers at our target accounts (Account-based Marketing Campaigns).
Marketing Automation & CRM IT Consulting Project - Key Takeaways
  • Yes, it was stressful and hard work (I only took three days off over the Christmas period & worked many long days and almost every weekend), but we rolled this out in record time.
  • Make sure you are completely on top of the software before you complete the setup - in my case, I took Hubspot Certifications. But you may have other ways to accomplish this and be confident in your mastery of Hubspot.
  • Utilise the Hubspot team. Our Account Executive, Andy Boland, with whom I negotiated our package, and our Senior Customer Onboarding Specialist, Giada Tedesco, were both outstanding.
  • Work with evangelists in your own company. One salesperson helped me every step of the way. Our IT lead and web manager also pitched in nobly. 
  • Don't lose heart. I now have a delighted sales and marketing team and the warm fuzzy feeling of having done a great job. It was well worth all our hard work - nothing beats that feeling!
Find out more about Marketing for startups here. Or CRM and Marketing Automation Solutions for your company here.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

How are you doing working from home?

Anyone who's read my blog will know I'm a data nerd. I'm extremely grateful to all the business professionals in my network who answered this survey for me earlier this week and who are continuing to answer the survey. 

If there are any major shifts in insight, I will update this blog based on your new responses. I hope you find the results as fascinating as I do. Please click on the charts, and they will enlarge. This should help you to see them properly, particularly on mobile devices.

Companies seem to be doing a good job of enabling their employees to work from home effectively. You can see some of the challenges that they face, including social isolation. Some of your other responses that stood out for me included:

  • Seeing people live, interacting with them. Feeling the vibe in the team.
  • Not being able to have face to face meetings with clients and in some cases colleagues too.
  • I prefer working from home so no issues
  • People and mental breaks with others.
  • Co-worker engagement. Time and space to separate work from home.
  • Nice to work face to face particularly at the start of new assignments
  • Physical stand up desk, appropriate chair, internet reliability and performance.
  • Direct contact with coworkers- ability to meet in person to go over drawings.
  • Frequent and informal communication.
  • Contact with others, commute, Coffee breaks with friends

Everyone seems pretty happy about their WFH arrangements and not any more pessimistic about the future than they were back in March. 

The top challenges you are struggling with include Social Isolation and Internet connectivity. I get the struggles of wifi, for sure!

As before, under 'other' you've put given us some wonderful insights into how you're coping with working from home during this pandemic. I found some of your responses funny and others, a bit ominous.

  • Efficiency of others - this is a bit scary!
  • Difficulty staying focused because I am at home all the time
  • Missing the face to face communication, which can mean better communication overall.
  • Too much meetings  - Love this one!
  • Informal communication is harder,
  • Creating a good work life balance
  • Sensing other actual demeanour and appetite for the work is more difficult when not face to face.
  • I work more, with less breaks so the burn out is around the corner...
  • Difficulty repairing staff computer when either of us are not in the office.
  • printing - Who doesn't get frustrated with printers? Luckily my home HP printer is working fine right now!

I've also been running this same poll on Twitter. So far 1,285 people have answered. Here are the results:

In the charts above, I was first pleasantly surprised at how open everyone was about talking about their mental health. I was expecting to see this result that your mental health has suffered through the pandemic. There's been a lot of discussion in the media this year. However, poor mental health did not look nearly as much of a problem as you'd imagine by looking at all the media reports on this.

What I thought was great news, was that your physical health and wellbeing seemed to be actually improving whilst working from home. Perhaps you have more time to exercise and you do not have to spend so much time sitting, stuck in cars or trains, commuting to work?

It was interesting how your work patterns have adjusted to a purely work from home situation.  I imagine some of you who are almost entirely not working to a regular 9-5 schedule has the type of work that supports that 

- Perhaps architects or software programmers? - I know from working with them, that they (software programmers) often love to work late at night, for example.

You can take the survey here.