According to the study conducted by Salesforce, 59 percent of sales reps have missed their quotas in 2018. This number increases year on year as companies fail to fill their pipe-drives with qualified leads at every level. Together with unmet quotas, the tenure for VP of Sales has been on a steady decline for the past 10 years.
These data present a grim fact: the decline in sales performance and talent retainment has been an ongoing problem for B2B companies even before the pandemic.
For a lot of B2B companies, filling the funnel rests on traditional sales strategies such as cold calling, mass emailing, and securing appointments for presentations and demos. While these may produce results, there are a lot of missed opportunities from underutilized digital marketing channels.
The most recent survey conducted by FocusVision found that B2B customers consume an average of 13 pieces of content throughout their buying journey. Eight of these content are vendor-produced while the remaining five come from third-party sources. The same survey showed that the top three content sources are all digitally distributed through the vendor’s website, internet search results, and the brand’s social media presence.
Given these facts, why do companies remain adamant in retaining their traditional sales methods?
There is a disconnect between digital marketing activities and sales results
One of the biggest hurdles of digital marketing is identifying the impact of these activities on the overall business results. There is a gap between the number of deals closed and the marketing campaigns done throughout the period. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) find it challenging to justify the budget and time spent in planning and executing online marketing campaigns since most of these cannot be linked directly to closed deals.
A good example of this is lead generation campaigns. Putting valuable content to raise brand awareness takes considerable time and budget. The campaign may start at the first month of the quarter, but the average buying journey may take around 6-12 months. Hence, on that specific quarter-end reporting period, the campaign has not generated a measurable result. This might come off as a bloated expense to the company’s budget with very minimal returns.
Inability to measure and analyze digital marketing results
Brand awareness, content downloads, and website traffic are all good metrics to analyze the growth of a company’s digital presence. But since these numbers cannot easily translate to revenue, B2B companies might refer to online channels as oversaturated and ineffective. Without having direct contact with the clients viewing their content, it is easy to say that digital marketing is not for their business/industry.
The traditional mindset that only sees digital marketing to attract new clients
For most B2B companies, the role of online marketing revolves around lead generation intending to capture the audience’s details to add to the growing list of leads. Once the contact details have been received, the ball will be passed on to sales who will then initiate the selling process.
The traditional marketing mindset revolves around this system: digital marketing activities bring new contacts in while sales move the contact further down the funnel. But digital marketing is more than just brand awareness and visibility.
So, how can business leaders present an arguably strong case for the need to optimize and utilize the company’s digital marketing channels?
Create full-funnel tracking
Develop a list of all your contacts and segment them based on the level they are at in your sales funnel. Identify where the leads came from – referrals, website traffic, whitepaper downloads, etc. – and tag the contacts accordingly.
This will provide you insights on the effectiveness of your digital marketing activities and allow you to create strategies for every level of your sales funnel. This will also enable you to see at what stage is your funnel full and what needs extra work. Do you have more contacts at the TOFU (Top of the Funnel)? How do you move them down to be closed? Do you have lots of closed deals? How do you retain these clients and bring in new leads to close?
Full funnel tracking builds a strong case of how digital marketing assists the company’s sales activities.
Develop channel budget and reporting
Once you know the ratio of your contacts that came through various digital marketing campaigns, it is essential to develop a Marketing Channel Budget and Reporting. List all your digital marketing channels (website, social media, paid ads, email marketing, podcasts, etc.), the budget allotted for each, and the number of conversions from every channel.
Analyze the effectiveness of each channel and identify areas for growth opportunities. Restructure your budget based on your analysis.
Establish a collaborative partnership between sales and marketing
Digital marketing is not just a gateway to earn new leads but is also effective at engaging inactive contacts and retaining clients. There are various ways to utilize digital marketing throughout the sales process such as e-mail marketing to rewarm inactive contacts, webinars to educate contacts at the top of the funnel, and content marketing to continuously engage with active clients.
Ditching digital marketing altogether can stifle sales growth due to hundreds of missed opportunities. However, equally detrimental is an underutilized digital marketing channel. We’re talking about websites that are not optimized, social media without any activity, email marketing that does not deliver content, and a lot more established but never used online marketing platforms.
Digital marketing works – even for B2B companies. With the right approach and strategy, you can build strong campaigns that will generate more revenues for your company.