If You Want To Grow, You’re Going To Have To Learn Some New Techniques In 2019
I know we don’t write a lot of articles about optimizing your landing pages, writing better emails or getting more followers on social media. Honestly, blog articles like that are a dime a dozen. Just Google those topics and enjoy.
Instead, we think it’s important to get you thinking more strategically about what your sales and marketing execution should be designed to deliver, as well as the business outcomes you should be looking for.
Does getting more conversions from your landing pages or increasing your Facebook followers really produce business results? Maybe.
But if you want to grow revenue next year, we want to share insights and recommendations around big ideas that can transform how you attract prospects, nurture leads and close new business.At this time of year, you should be reflecting back on your performance and planning for 2019. Next year, you’re going to want to outperform 2018, so it’s important to know you might have missed the strategy and thinking part of marketing and sales.
One of the challenges facing marketers today is the sheer number of tactics that can be deployed. You have hundreds of marketing tactics to consider. Factor in the amount of data now available associated with each of those tactics, and if you’re not careful, you could be swimming in data and gaining little or no insights from that data.
We find a lot of clients coming to us with that exact problem. They don’t know which campaigns to run, what the data is telling them and how to prioritize their efforts. They can’t do everything, so what should they do first? It’s a mammoth problem facing businesses and marketing folks today.
Spending the time and investing the money to truly understand your prospects’ and customers’ buyer journeys is going to provide unmatched insights into what you need to do, how you need to do it and when you should do it.
Here are the five biggest reasons buyer journey mapping uncovers the missing pieces of your company’s marketing, sales and revenue growth strategy.
1) You’ll Gain A New Appreciation For Your Prospects’ Challenges
If you want a new mantra for 2019 that will change the way you think about marketing and sales, consider this one: It’s not about you, it’s about them.
Keep telling yourself that when you look at marketing and sales initiatives. Look at your website: Is it about you or about your prospects? Look at your sales process: Does it orbit around what your prospects want or what you want to tell them about you?
Look at the content on your site (you have that, right?): Is it company centric and product centric? Or is it about the questions, issues and challenges your prospects have? This might sound harsh, but your prospects don’t really care that much about you – they care how you can help them. Yet marketers and salespeople continue to want to talk about themselves first.
By mapping your prospects’ buyer journeys, you’ll start to see exactly what challenges, pains, issues and problems your prospects are dealing with. This will allow you to re-center your efforts around them, instead of making it all about you, your company, your products or your services.
Why do people start looking for solutions like yours? What’s going on in their businesses? What does that search look like? Who are they talking to? Where are they looking for options? What are they educating themselves on?
If you were buying products or services like the ones you offer, what would your journey look like (assuming you knew nothing or very little related to your options)?
One of the secrets to doing this effectively is to start as early as possible. A prospect’s buyer journey usually starts with that voice inside their head wondering, questioning and considering if there might be a better way, or if they might be doing something wrong or inefficiently.
“I wonder if other companies like mine have similar challenges. How do they resolve those challenges? What solutions did they find? How could I find out what they did to fix this? Who could I talk to about our issues?”
Buyer journeys usually start like this.
2) You’ll Identify The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Your Current Marketing And Sales Execution
Once you map out your prospects’ buyer journeys, you should quickly notice where your marketing supports that journey and where is doesn’t. You should also quickly see where your sale process supports that journey and where it doesn’t.
You might also find spots in your marketing and sales experience where you strongly support the buyer journey.
The best way to match the prospect buyer journey with your sales and marketing execution is to map both together.
For example, when prospects start asking those questions in italics above, how well do you help them answer those questions and how visible are you as a resource?
Midway through their journey, when they’re considering their options or evaluating a smaller handful of solutions, how effective are you at helping them and how well do you and your solutions stand out?
What about at the end of the journey, when they want to do business with you but still have questions? How well-equipped is your sales team to get your prospects through this stage? Does it feel like your company is easy to do business with? Is your sales team still actively engaged in an advisory role or are you trying to sell to them?
Where you’re strong, double down and look for supporting metrics to validate your performance. Prioritize areas where you’re weaker and work to bolster those with content offers or adjustments to your sales process.
This exercise typically produces a prioritized list of upgrades that you need to make to both the marketing and sales experience to better align execution with the buyer journey.
3) By Applying Metrics, You’ll Prioritize Which Actions Will Produce The Biggest Lift
You’re going to need numbers to make this work in a big way. Metrics that support the effectiveness of the buyer journey are key across both marketing and sales.
Here are some examples.
For people early in their buyer journey, visitors to your website is a relevant metric (especially visitors who come from organic searches on a search engine). But referral traffic and social media traffic are also good indicators that people early in their journey are finding you and hearing about you.
Conversion rates prove that the stories and content on your site pages are resonating with people who are more serious about their journey and a little further along.
Requests to talk to sales, schedule appointments or chat immediately are data points that people in the middle to late stages of their buyer journey are engaging with your company.
The sales team’s ability to turn those conversations into sales-qualified leads (SQLs) is an indicator that the sales team is providing a positive and helpful experience, making those prospects feel safe enough to continue.
The sales team’s ability to turn SQLs into sales opportunities means their qualification processes are solid and the content they’re providing prospects who have budget, pain and authority is working to move them along in their journey.
Finally, the close rate and the length of the sales cycle provide important data points on your sales team’s ability to close out a prospect’s buyer journey with a decision and their ability to do it in an efficient manner.
You need all of these data points benchmarked in a dashboard view, and then you should strongly consider keeping track of these data points on a monthly basis (if not more frequently).
Build in company rhythms to track, review, discuss and make upgrades based on this data on a monthly basis as well.
4) You’ll Be Taking An Important First Step Toward Aligning Marketing And Sales
According to MarketingProfs, sales and marketing teams that are aligned generate 208% more revenue than non-aligned teams.
By looking at your prospects’ buyer journeys holistically, not as separate marketing and/or sales processes, is a big first step to creating the sales and marketing alignment you need to improve results.
This alignment is critical even beyond the buyer journey work we’ve been talking about and the data associated with the alignment.
It’s critical because for this effort to produce amazing results, you’ll need sales to provide a constant stream of feedback to marketing.
You’ll then need marketing to adjust messaging, content strategy, website pages, email marketing and lead nurturing tactics based on that feedback.
You’ll need sales to pick up those new or upgraded assets and start using them in a systematic way, one that is part of an overall sales process execution that both marketing and sales have signed off on.
This constant back and forth (or a better way to describe it would be constant collaboration and co-creation of the supporting tools and underlying process) is how high-performing revenue teams drive continuous month-over-month revenue growth.
5) You’ll Be Equipped With Everything You Need To Create A Remarkable Experience That Drives Revenue
But this gets even better, because once you have the fundamentals down, you can start to test upgrades that take the process, experience and the buyer journey from good to great and from great to remarkable.
You can create, test and add interesting videos. You can try sending prospects items that help tell your story. One example is the jar of fluff our prospects get along with a pre-signed NDA and a note that says we’re a no fluff agency and this is the last fluff you’ll get from us.
Another example is the book we send, Smash The Funnel, that positions us a thought leader and aligns our thinking with the thinking of our prospects. It also functions as a qualification tool. Those who don’t think the funnel is useless these days would not be a good fit for working with us.
These special touches go a long way in providing a remarkable experience that helps companies increase the close rate and decrease the time it take to get new people to sign on.
It’s the only way to think about your marketing and sales effort going into 2019.
You’ve probably been wondering: Why aren’t we growing? We have a great product, good people, competitive pricing and an OK website. We should be hitting our revenue goals much more consistently.
And therein lies the issue: All those things that you have are not what’s missing. What’s missing is an intimate understanding and a mapping of tactics to create a remarkable experience for both prospects and customers. You can’t get this from watching a video, attending a conference or reading a whitepaper. You have to live it from your prospects’ perspectives.
It’s a strategy exercise, and it’s one that often requires someone with outside context to help you see it differently.
It’s extremely hard for CEOs, business leaders, and marketing and sales execs to see from the outside what it’s like to do business with their companies. It’s why doctors don’t diagnose themselves, attorneys don’t handle their own cases and accountants don’t do their own taxes.
An outside perspective is almost always required.
This might seem like a big undertaking. How do you figure this out? How do you make sure you cover all of the touch points for prospects and customers? It just takes practice. The first time you do it, it’s going to feel uncomfortable; the second time is better.
You can short-cut this process by working with someone who has done this before, and who has the tools, workshops, exercises and processes to quickly get this down and then provide recommendations on how to optimize the buyer journey.
You’ll soon have a prioritized list of marketing campaigns, a list of sales process upgrades and the metrics to track all of it over time. If you’re ready to finally uncover what’s been holding you back, you’re ready to try something different this year.
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