Engagement means a lot of things in the world of marketing and sales: social media engagement, brand engagement, email engagement, logging calls — and that’s just the beginning. For B2B companies with complex sales cycles, prospect engagement is the lifeblood of the buyer’s journey, and insights into these engagements are what helps your team sell. Every step, from the first email open to the latest ebook download, tells you something about your prospect or customer.
However, the fact that every engagement matters does not mean that every engagement should be treated equally. This is where many companies run into trouble: in an attempt to engage with customers broadly, they often forget to implement an efficient plan that focuses the right resources on the right type of engagement.
Yes, low-value engagements (like discounts or e-book offers) have meaning and can contribute in driving interest in your product. However, you should reserve your most powerful and finite resource — your sales team’s time — for high-value engagements like phone conversations and face-to-face meetings.
Let’s take a look at how technology and simple adjustments in strategy can help you focus your high-value resources on the activities that are closing deals.
When was the last time you replied to a sales email and immediately threw down your credit card for a $100,000 contract? No questions, no negotiation, just enter your payment information. I’m guessing never. The fact is, websites and email campaigns are helpful in the research phase and nurturing prospects, but when a investment is involved or your success is riding on the project, when it comes to big investment decisions, most people want to buy products from people.
Not only is this interaction with your sales team important, but your reps need to be engaging in the right way. “In our recent study of B2B purchasing behavior, 21.5% of buyers said that their biggest obstacle to making a decision is that sales representatives don’t understand their unique needs,” said Mike Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions, IDC. Buyers want to have meaningful conversations to understand how a product will meet their personal needs before they invest. That means your most valuable selling tool is still your sales team, and that team needs to be armed with a full arsenal of data about your customers. This helps reps build trusting relationships that close deals and turn prospects into lifelong customers and brand advocates.
So, if 1:1 conversations are essential for closing the deal, every effort should focus on driving prospective buyers to these engagements. And if your sales reps are your most valuable assets for engaging in these conversations, every possible moment of their work day should be allocated toward doing just that. Using their valuable time on cold calling or sending countless unanswered emails is unnecessary in today’s world, where the buyer is in control of their journey.
Your sales team is likely the most highly paid group in your organization. If they are spending hours chasing down early-stage prospects, they aren’t able to focus on the deals most likely to close.. That being said, you need to get your message out there and attract new prospects. And sales need to know which leads are ready for that next step. How do you do this?
The answer is marketing automation. By setting up intelligent lead nurturing campaigns, B2B marketers put low-value engagements on autopilot. Your message is still distributed on a wide scale in the form of personalized, 1:1 messages, but your sales reps don’t need to be involved until a prospect indicates that they’re ready for a conversation. When your customer is primed and ready, sales is instantly alerted of a hot new lead. Along with a slam-dunk lead, they also get a complete history of each past touchpoint, so they can have an even more effective conversation.
Automating these low-value engagements means each team can play to their greatest strengths; marketing can spend time crafting targeted campaigns with optimized messaging to generate interest, while sales is free to focus on killing their quota. By using technology to engage in a dynamic and targeted way, you can dedicate your most valuable resource — your people — to focus on what’s really important.