B2B marketers had a challenging year, and next year looks challenging.
Customer journeys changed. Expectations for virtual and physical events increased. Go-to-market teams face higher expectations.
B2B marketers create excellent content that generates leads and accelerates the sales pipeline while producing insightful data that enables continual improvement.
That's easier said than done. What's more, top leaders have a big ask for sales and marketing leaders: to overcome the last year's slowdown.
One part of that is clearly in the hands of marketing people: growing the pipeline. If the salespeople don't have more leads, how can they hit targets?
Indeed, many marketing organisations have targets for the number of leads. However, marketing must look down the tunnel by focusing on the pipeline's total value.AR, marketing and sales must work together to improve qualification processes.
Many buyers are close to their purchase decision even before sales reps have a discovery call with them. AR and marketing can hugely aid business development teams by ensuring that buyer personas are refreshed, that analyst insight is improving lead qualification criteria, and that discovery calls sound out buyers about the higher-value use cases and pain points analysts discuss.
Salespeople can help with qualification by speaking with leads influencing the purchasing decision and networking into the buying organisation to understand better the motivations of the people in the buying centre.
Another element of that is attribution. We all know that referrals from satisfied current and former clients produce higher conversion rates. Most of our clients also see a massive lift in the win rate from leads that have had more and richer interactions with the company in the last. Pre-pandemic, they used to say you needed seven touchpoints to sell to a buyer: now it's more like double that.
When that's in place, we see that win/loss rates vary greatly not only between solution areas but also by source.
For analyst relations teams, this creates a vast opportunity to validate the impact of analysts by tracking the conversion rate of leads touched by analysts. Those might be leads arriving on your website from analysts' websites or leads generated by licensed analyst content downloaded from your website. It can identify our most effective content types and allows us to make fewer, more extensive investments in better-performing lead-generation campaigns.
AR can also help improve the conversion rates of leads from weaker sources. Analyst insights can help providers rework content by retargeting to address higher-value clients' potential benefits rather than elaborate features. Analysts' content is highly credible and can deposition your competition more gracefully than you can.
Furthermore, strong analyst content can work for a few years, not just a few weeks, in generating leads and accelerating the pipeline. In particular, analyst content can be great at explaining why solutions in the category are valuable and can be invested in safely.
With more insight into higher-quality lead producers, we can also better understand the problems that buyers have, their trigger points, key search terms and the times of the year when we should be reaching out. Analyst relations is a powerful resource since AR people can advise you about the topics analysts are writing about, which are often the ones analysts' clients are concerned about.
AR, sales and marketing must regularly discuss pipeline strategy and lead attribution. You know the saying: Success has many parents; failure is an orphan. A regular conversation helps us admit the sources of leads. A quick monthly check-in can focus on peaks of lead generation, shifts in sources, and trends in conversion rates. Those conversations benefit AR since marketers can use analyst content to accelerate the pipeline and improve conversion rates of leads from weaker sources. The board asks many sales teams to hit business goals faster, but many pipelines are slower than they were. That's another reason why sales teams need more leads, more significant deals, or both.
Contact us to learn more about how content marketing and analyst relations can accelerate your sales.