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B2B

GUEST BLOG: Science and sales – A match made in heaven 

It’s no secret that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is having an immediate effect on how businesses operate today. However, one area of business where AI is having the biggest impact is sales, with UK sales leaders anticipating AI adoption in their industry to grow over 150% by 2020. 

Executed correctly, AI now has the potential to revolutionise sales and marketing processes, enabling companies to increase the speed, accuracy and output of lead and revenue generation. AI can not only assist in identifying and targeting ideal customers, but it can be leveraged to align sales and marketing activity and deliver integrated campaigns, ensuring the right person can be contacted at the right time, in the right way, with the right message.

James Isilay, Founder and CEO, Cognism, outlines how lead generation has transformed to become far more scientific than ever before, and how companies that use relevant, intelligent, accurate and timely data will reap the rewards.

The sales funnel is broken 

The introduction of GDPR undoubtedly disrupted the way marketing teams carry out inbound digital marketing and sales strategies. However, it has been a long overdue wake up call for the industry: organisations have realised the poor quality of their data which until now, has resulted in inefficient and ineffective marketing outreach.

GDPR has forced companies to take a look at the data they are using and how they are using it. A key aspect of the regulation is ensuring that data is fully up to date; a welcome side effect of this is that it means every outreach is more relevant and effective. And it’s not just about ensuring the contact details are up to date: it is about leveraging detailed, up to date insight to rapidly identify new revenue streams.

Strategy and data 

Customer and prospect data can be an incredibly valuable resource, but it can also be a liability. Poor quality contact and lead data is certainly one of the most frustrating aspects of any B2B outbound sales campaign. From job changes to company acquisitions, data is always in motion. In fact,  approximately a third of CRM data degrades every year with most sales teams using data that is 60% out of date. Improvements to the sales process must be supported by a completely different approach to data sourcing: static CRM is no longer good enough, so B2B sales organisations need access to fresh, accurate and GDPR compliant data.

New business relies on new opportunities. From identifying an existing customer that moves to another company or champions promoted within an existing customer, there is always an opportunity to upsell or find a new prospect. In order to regain data confidence, fix the broken sales funnel and ultimately achieve revenue growth, a more scientific and strategic approach to data sourcing is required.

Data with a fourth dimension

Relevant data is essential if businesses want to ensure they are reaching the right contacts. In addition to the two dimensions of company and people, adding the third dimension of events and fourth dimension of real-time data completely transforms the way in which a business can identify and reach its total addressable market. But how can companies bring the science into their sales strategy and ensure their data is fresh and up to date? The answer is AI.

Bringing science to sales 

From LinkedIn Profile to company websites to corporate announcements, these data points are crucial sources of information for the sales team when it comes down to adding a fourth dimension of time into data. Artificial Intelligence powered data tools can provide a deep data resource, allowing sales teams to access the information they need to ensure strategic and effective outreach. Data profiles include skill sets, education, time in certain roles, even specific technologies that are in use which is everything needed for a successful sales call to identify hot leads.

This sales intelligence extends across the globe and into every industry allowing B2B lead generation to be based on specific triggers allowing the sales team to hone their pitch and improve responses. The fourth dimension of time remains key in this strategy as it enables the sales team to exploit specific events such as funding rounds or geographic expansion and target the right prospect at the right time.

What makes this strategy truly smart and strategic is the feedback that is provided by Revenue AI. With each new outreach campaign, responses are fed back into the system, providing further insight and a better understanding of personas and their reaction to specific messaging – it is Revenue AI’s constant feedback loop that ensures the sales and marketing activity retains momentum and continues to deliver value.

Conclusion

With current outreach activity wasting time by using out of date contacts and failing to maximise revenue growth, the case for sales to be underpinned by a scientific strategy is clear. Few companies have achieved a truly scalable, integrated and harmonised B2B sales operation that maximises opportunities, but those who have are certainly reaping the benefits and seeing significant growth.

Like science, B2B sales success is all about the metrics – it’s about understanding and refining the process and ensuring that the right team structure is in place. With the right sales model that is underpinned by AI, a company can quickly and effectively explore and exploit a source of accurate, fresh, real-time data to achieve fast, targeted and timely B2B lead generation and sales activity that is effective and efficient.

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

Survey demonstrates the qualities of high-performing marketers…

Autopilot has revealed that high-performing marketers are surpassing their peers when it comes to customer journey marketing, with some generating revenue growth by as much as 122 per cent.

Consisting of 505 marketer responses, the email marketing firm’s ‘2016 State of Customer Journey Marketing‘ report found high-performing marketers generate revenue 58 per cent faster than their colleagues; acquire 23 per cent more leads; are twice as happy with their performance; and win a higher number of customers.

Brand awareness was pinpointed as a ‘main measure of marketing success’ (29 per cent), closely followed by customer satisfaction (22 per cent), and, for B2B marketers in particular, 43 per cent claim investing in brand assets is a ‘top priority’.

The report states: “All marketers are prioritising brand awareness, converting leads to sales and generating new leads. But high performers are investing in customer events and marketing, referral and satisfaction programs, and analytics and attribution, rather than in online ads, to get there.”

High-performers affirm the top three investment areas are: customer events and marketing (35 per cent), loyalty referral programmes (29 per cent) and analytics and attribution (19 per cent).

  

Download Autopilot’s research here  

Facebook beats LinkedIn as content king for senior execs…

B2B content marketing agency, Grist has confirmed Facebook to be the ‘go to’ social platform for C-suite executives to seek business advice.

As a result of its new The Value of B2B Thought Leadership Survey – presenting the findings from more than 200 interviews conducted at FTSE 350 companies – Facebook was cited as the most popular social platform for senior executives to engage with business content (79 per cent), followed by Twitter (73 per cent) and LinkedIn (68 per cent).

Regards thought leadership, 84 per cent believe this plays an important part in adding value to their role. Meanwhile, two-thirds search for thought leadership particularly on a Monday and believe it fails to make an impact when it’s too generic (63 per cent); lacks original ideas (58 per cent); or doesn’t address the reader’s needs (53 per cent).

Andrew Rogerson, founder and managing director at Grist said: “This research is great news if you are in control of your firm’s marketing and communications programme. The C-suite clearly values thought leadership and is happy to receive it from advisers.

“However, we can also see that much of this content is below par. The C-suite is a sophisticated and demanding audience, and will not respond to rehashed marketing material. Instead, thought leadership must provide a return on investment (ROI), both for the firms that invest the money to produce it and the senior executives that invest time in reading it.

“Consider, too, that Facebook matters in business-to-business communications. The marketing department, content teams and agencies need to deal with the consequences of this and devise a compelling editorial plan that includes a wide range of channels and different perspectives.”

Format was also discussed, as 800-word articles (63 per cent) and 300-500-word blog posts are preferable to longer content pieces.

Access the full survey here

LinkedIn joins ASOS and John Lewis for marcomms campaign…

The world’s largest online professional network, LinkedIn, has joined forces with retail companies John Lewis and ASOS with the launch of its new international B2C and B2B marcomms campaign, designed to drive awareness of its ‘Jobs’ function as well as support engagement amongst its global members.

The Way In, which is a content-led marketing campaign, focuses on delivering inspirational stories from LinkedIn members who love their jobs, and details how professionals can achieve greater fulfilment from their careers. The integrated campaign features dedicated content, social and PR elements that will run from throughout the month of October, and marks the brand’s biggest UK campaign of the year.

Content is hosted on the campaign’s microsite and includes member and recruiter interview videos from ASOS and John Lewis. Additionally, ASOS UK headquarters have opened their doors to produce 360 degree videos that provide a behind-the-scenes look at the eTailer’s operations.

Director of consumer marketing, EMEA at LinkedIn, Peter Maxmin, explained how the campaign was created: “Being fulfilled in your job plays a big factor in both your personal and professional happiness and development. It seemed natural for us to develop a campaign that inspires professionals to think about what they love about their jobs and how to be more fulfilled in their careers. It’s great to be teaming up with some of the world’s biggest and most recognisable brands to help people find the way into their dream career.”

‘The Way In’ will also include comprehensive research conducted across eight markets: the Netherlands, UK, the US, Germany, France, Australia Canada and Singapore.

To find out more about campaign, visit: lnkd.in/thewayin.

 

You can also join the conversation on Twitter using @LinkedInUK #TheWayIn

Guest Blog, Cain Ullah: Building partnerships in B2B: How to get buy-in…

As an external partner in B2C, you are likely to focus on customer demand, experience and building products and/or services that they would want to use; it’s relatively straightforward. However, the challenges in the B2B space are different. It’s often services and systems rather than products, so business value can be more difficult to demonstrate, therefore selling the benefits and maintaining buy-in in such a partnership is often challenging. However, the rewards for success can be enormous.

Often, the biggest challenge in a B2B environment is getting stakeholder buy-in. Innovation in the B2B space requires influence from the right partners to help organisations make bold decisions around technology. Implementing a fresh approach to delivering new products and services can often mean new business practices, and having the support of the right internal stakeholders is essential in the tougher moments of initiating change. Using an empathetic approach and working collaboratively are effective tools to help your client build influence. Once stakeholder buy-in is achieved, it’s more possible to drive value beyond the project you are involved with, across the business and directly to customers. All of these elements need to be lined up to be able to reach the end goal of exceeding customer demand, creating exceptional customer experience and selling products and/or services.

 

WHY?

As a consultancy brought in to fix a business problem, Red Badger often sees similar issues in most enterprise-size businesses. Enterprises are simply not structured to deliver value to customers fast. By changing focus to driving value to the customer, a leaner, more collaborative and technologically bolder business model emerges.

 

HOW?

The most effective way to sell the benefits of change internally is to clearly illustrate a path to achieving the overall business objectives. This should be done by tackling smaller pieces of work first, drive value early and prove ROI; rather than trying to change a whole process, or replace an entire system. It’s okay to have lofty goals, but you must get there through a continuous series of small steps.

First of all, empathise with the problem, the space and the customers. You have to understand your client’s customers as well as, if not better than, they do. Collaboration with the client throughout the lifecycle of the project from the very beginning is crucial, so that you are considered part of the team.

Then, don’t over-reach. It can be perceived as arrogant and easily backfire. Identify, target and tackle problems that are achievable: small and bite-sized. Each win that you can prove translates into another example of how you are driving value to their customers and reminds more stakeholders why you are important to keep on-board. To maintain customer buy-in, you have to maintain value.

As the saying goes, speed is of the essence. If you can produce tangible results fast, buy-in is easier to uphold. Results can be marked out as  helping to drive change, and, ultimately, the results will speak for themselves.

The ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ that every business working in B2B needs to be aware of:

 

  • Don’t take on challenges that are too big to win.
  • Do prove your value throughout.
  • Don’t forget that your primary focus should be on the customers; what their own end goals are not yours.
  • Do help them to be bold with technology rather than relying on the ‘enterprise’ solution.
  • Do have empathy for your client and understand their internal challenges.
  • Do have a level of pragmatism. Don’t be too dogmatic. When dealing with organisational change, you have to pick your battles.

 

Cain Ullah is a founder of Red Badger, with responsibilities including; strategy, culture, sales and marketing. He is extremely proud of Red Badger’s people and is focused on scaling quality and a lovely culture in the team.

 

Facebook beats its rivals to become number one for B2B purchasing info…

Beating tough competition from the likes of LinkedIn and Twitter, Facebook has been voted as the number one social platform for B2B marketers to find information to aid sector purchasing decisions.

The joint ‘Changing Face of Influence‘ report conducted by the global communications and PR agency, Hotwire, Active Digital Marketing Communications and technology market research provider, Vanson Bourne, found that out of 1,000 B2B decision-makers, 24 per cent actively choose Facebook as their main source in finding purchasing information; compared to 17 per cent preferring to use LinkedIn.

Group head of engagement at Hotwire, John Brown, commented: “Social media has eroded these divides and created an environment where what matters is how compelling the story is, not where decision makers see the story. We need to stop making assumptions about what our audience want and allow research and insight to guide how we create multichannel campaigns. B2B businesses who ignore channels because they view them as only being for consumers are in for a rude shock when they realise no one cares about the channels they’ve lovingly invested in.”

Download the full report here

‘Dark Social’ most popular in sharing publishing and marketing content…

A study from the San Francisco-based digital advertising company, RadiumOne, has revealed that 80 per cent of UK mobile clickbacks evolve via ‘Dark Social’ channels, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, compared to 23 per cent of content being shared via public social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

The company analysed the actions of 940 million global users – pinpointing the UK’s social content sharing activity – who shared content from sources where RadiumOne’s sharing software is utilised.

European managing director at RadiumOne, Rupert Staines, said: “Dark Social is a big piece of the sharing universe. This interest and intent data source is particularly powerful when it comes to mobile, where the majority of interacting with shared content is occurring. The opportunity for brands is to track, gather and activate these valuable signals to connect their owned and earned media investments with paid media effectiveness.”

RadiumOne’s worldwide figures found that ‘Dark Social’ content sharing is also popular outside the UK, with 84 per cent of all sharing is happening through this medium.

 

ANA: B2B marketers need to ‘step up’ their game in order to succeed…

The US-based Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has concluded from their recent research that marketers specialising in the B2B sector have a duty to uphold strong leadership skills and ‘deep’ marketing experience in order to drive brand awareness, customer loyalty and ‘play a key role’ in sales operations.

The online survey, which was conducted in partnership with the market and consumer information group, GFK and represented 237 B2B professionals, found that 39 per cent believe their roles are to ensure that the voice of the customer shapes the business strategy and to bring expert marketing competencies to the table. However, marketers also indicated that they are struggling to be viewed as important and strategic assets; fearing that all efforts made are viewed only as an extension of their companies’ sales divisions.

CEO and president of the ANA, Bob Liodice, said: “Our study shows that B2B marketers have much to offer, but that message is not getting through to the right people within their own organisations. These marketers need to implement growth leadership initiatives, put forth a clear vision of their brands, and develop strategies to remove barriers.”

The survey also found that only 42 per cent hold a position the ‘top management’ board of a company, and 37 per cent of respondents enjoy strong recommendation from senior management. Meanwhile, 35 per cent claim that senior management professionals are highly focused on the product and price; ignoring customer insights.

Read more on the research, including the ANA’s top recommendations, here