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The 2 Most Essential Questions You Must Answer About Your B2B Content Marketing Strategy


One blogger whose articles I frequently read is John Tackett over at MarketingSherpa. As a marketer, his insight on B2B content marketing and ecommerce, particularly, are second-to-none. At the end of June, he posted an article about questions you need to ask to refine (and define) your content marketing strategy that I thought was worth sharing with our audience.

At the MarketingSherpa Lead Gen Summit 2013, the Founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, spoke about content marketing strategy and one of the points he made was that content marketers need to start from square one and get to the heart of what their purpose really is and who the content really serves. Essentially, he evangelized that marketers and content creators need to ask the following two questions to create (or refine) their B2B content marketing strategy:

Question #1: Is our purpose clear?

Simple question, right? You understand what the purpose of your content marketing strategy is, but can is it easily understood by your audience and company stakeholders? Think of the answer to this question as a Content Marketer’s Mission Statement.

Pulizzi went on to say that the purpose should not be about “trying to sell more.” It should be about what the outcome is for your buying persona.

Below are a couple of examples that MarketingSherpa cites as clear and concise mission statements for real companies’ content marketing strategies:

b2b content marketing

As Tackett points out, the “focus is exclusively on helping customers instead of trying to sell to them.”

Question #2: Who does our content serve?

An important part of the “Mission Statement” you craft is to address:

  • Who your core target audience really is
  • How the information will be useful to them in their roles
  • What will your audience ultimately get from consuming your content

“This is part of the strategy that most of us don’t have,” Joe explained. When you can define the purpose and focus of the content you create, you’re on the fast-track to creating epic content that your audience will crave.

Here’s our Mission Statement for SalesStaff’s B2B content marketing strategy… what’s yours? Leave it in the comments.

b2b content marketing mission

3 B2B Sales Closing Techniques You Should Have in Your Arsenal


Much has been written about B2B sales closing techniques over the years. I must say that many of the old-school closing techniques traditionally taught in sales are going the way of the dinosaur. Much more emphasis is attributed to simply focusing on understanding their prospects' businesses and helping them achieve their desired outcomes – and the focus SHOULD be on understanding and not getting the deal through gimmicky closes.

But that does not mean that there aren’t some B2B sales closing techniques which might help you get the deal once you’ve understood the prospect’s challenge and truly believe your solution can help.

b2b sales closing techniques 1Similarity Close

The Technique

This is a variation of a client reference where you identify the prospect with a similar client who has already bought in. Essentially, you describe a client who was in a parallel situation as your prospect – with similar problems and concerns. You sum up how this client eventually purchased what you are pitching and is now very pleased. Use a real client and a real story.


“It’s funny, John, because I met with a gentleman who works with XYZ company a few months back who asked that exact same question. He was equally concerned about the difficulty to implement our solution. He did some research on the ins and outs of the implementation and here we are a couple months later and he couldn’t be more pleased.”

Why it Works

We are hard-wired to empathize with others in a similar position as ourselves. It’s like when we watch a movie and find ourselves associating with the protagonists. Once a kind of mental attachment is made with the client in your anecdote, the prospect is more likely to agree with their decision to purchase.

b2b sales closing techniques 3Ask-the-Manager Close

The Technique

Ah… the classic car salesman close of “Let me see if my manager can approve this price.” This is a cost/discount close where you explain to the prospect that you have inadequate authority to give discounts and that you’ll check with your superior. At this point, it helps to tie-down the prospect if possible with a statement like, “I’m not sure if we can get to that price, but if we can, do you think we can get the paperwork signed before the end of the week?” Come back and say you have managed to persuade your manager to make a concession.


“The best I can do is $1500 a month. But, in all honesty, John, we're a bit below target this quarter and I'm sure if I ask my VP of Sales, she might be able to extend a promotional offer we were going to deploy next month. If I can get that approved, you think we can move on this?”

How it Works

There are a few principles at work here. First, in approaching your manager, you are aligning yourself with the prospect’s interests as an ally. You have put yourself out for them – a bold warrior, fighting on behalf of the prospect. Second, if the prospect is haggling on price, you can use this close to serve as a “final offer.”

b2b sales closing techniques 2Intelligence Close

The Technique

This close is a simple variation of the Similarity Close mentioned above. Here, you infer that other really intelligent people have made this purchase. They can become a part of a group of really smart people who have made a similar decision.


“I was on the phone with a super-smart Vice President at Ford Motors last month who was facing a similar challenge as you. In the course of talking with him, he realized instantly what our solution could do to help him. You’re a smart fellow, as well, so this might be something of a no-brainer for you too.”

How it Works

The Intelligence Close works by associating aptitude as the common bond among those that have the choice to purchase. “You’re a smart person just like others who have made the decision to move forward.”

As I mentioned at the outset of the article, these closing techniques are not meant to be gimmicky by any means. Once you’ve done your job as a salesperson in understanding your prospects and if you truly believe your solution can help, these B2B closing techniques can be used to nudge them in the right direction.

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4 Buying Signs that Your B2B Sales Opportunity Will Probably Close


buying signs buying signalsI read an excerpt from Jill Konrath that she posted recently called 5 Warning Signs Your Sales Opportunity Won't Close… and it got me thinking about the converse. What are some tell-tale signs that your B2B sales opportunity WILL CLOSE? AKA buying signals

It’s all too common in B2B sales for salespeople to miss the prospect's subtle cues on their readiness to buy. It's crucial to identify the buying signs so that you don't oversell your solution. Essentially, buying signs are hints that the prospect is willing to consider how they can own your solution. In other words, they are now convinced of the value and are ready to discuss purchasing from you.

If you encounter any of these buying signals, you should know that it’s probably time to pounce:

The prospect shifts from asking questions about your solution to asking questions about pricing.

When the questions are less about what your product can do and more about what it will cost them to own it, you’re moving in the right direction. Frequently, a buyer who’s ready to make a decision will ask some iteration of the question, “Is this the best price you can offer?” While this might mean that they are comparing prices, it could mean they are prepared to accept your offer, and just looking for one more concession. At this point, it’s up to you whether you want to open up another round of negotiations. If there is a way to sweeten the deal that may be especially meaningful to your buyer, you might consider offering additional incentives for signing within a certain time period. In other words, offer them a promotion that sounds like this: “If I can get you [promo offer], can you sign by the end of the week?”

The prospect asks about different options that might be available.

Any trained car salesman will tell you that if a prospect asks “Do you have that car in black?” - they’re ready to buy. When a buyer uses language that inquires about the different types or forms of your solution they can own, it’s go-time. It could mean that they are prepared to make a decision and want to be sure they will have what they need most. Beware though, it could also mean that they are comparing your solution to those of competitors.

The prospect asks about the buying process.

If your internal sales alarms aren’t going crazy when you hear this type of question from your prospect, something is wrong. Undoubtedly, if a buyer is asking you what the next step in the process is, they are at – or nearing – the point where they’ll make a buying decision. A question like “How can we structure the payment terms?” is a dead giveaway. But it might be subtler, as in a question like “So what does your client onboarding process look like?”

Inclination to buy has been pinpointed using “trial close” questions.

When any of the above occurs, it’s time to test the waters. The “trial close” is a question asked as a litmus test of the buyer’s intentions. Some common examples include:

  • Does this seem to be the kind of solution you are looking for?
  • How is this sounding so far?
  • If all of these things you’ve expressed interest in are available, are you ready to make a decision?

Trial closing questions are a good way to be sure you don’t lose a sale because you didn’t explicitly ask for it. Furthermore, they are soft approaches that don’t force the buyer into a “yes” or “no” position prematurely.

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The 3 Commandments of Selling on Value Rather than Price


The Difference between Selling on Value and Selling on Price

selling value“George, we can provide your sales team with sales leads for only $20 each. Cheaper than anyone else.”

“George, we can accelerate your team’s sales pipeline and do the heavy lifting involved with putting your salespeople in front of highly-qualified targets so they can do what they do best, close more deals.”

Though a simple exercise, the above statements display the difference between selling on value and selling on price. The first statement tells me nothing except the price. I don’t really know how I’ll benefit from the product. I just know the product is cheap. (The cheapness even undermines the quality). The second statement tells the prospect a little about the value they’ll receive from the product.

Your mission is to SELL THE VALUE to the prospect. If your sales approach is founded only on "sell low", you are setting yourself and your company up for failure.

Three Laws of Value Selling

Law #1: Thou Shalt Present Thy Value Proposition with Numbers.

It’s a subtle art in being able to present your "value proposition" in a way that’s compelling. One of the most important strategies is to use explicit, quantifiable measurables staged in units that the prospect can relate to. Examples include:

•    Revenue gain
•    Productivity increase
•    Cost management
•    Cash flow improvement

Let me throw out an illustration to demonstrate this idea. Tell me which of these two statements is most compelling.

"We have experience helping Enterprise organizations with their IT infrastructure."

"We can and have created IT environments that save our clients upwards of 1000 man-hours per year in lost productivity.”

Law #2: Thou Shalt Sell to the Highest Decision-Maker Available to You.

The simple fact is higher-level decision-makers are more prone to really digest the elements of value in your product or offering. Conversely, often price is of higher consideration for a lower-level contact who may be managing a budget. By no means are we saying that you should refuse to speak to lower-level prospects, but you limit yourself if you don’t at least attempt to involve a higher-level decision-maker.

Law #3: Thou Shalt Empathize with Thy Prospect and Examine Thy Product’s Value from their Perspective.

By far the most critical law laid down here because you can't rightly harness the other two laws if you can't identify a prospect's value drivers. The reality is a car doesn’t inherently have value – it’s just a bunch of metal. It only has value when the user perceives its value, then uses it. That may sound like some philosophical mumbo-jumbo but your product isn’t inherently valuable unless your customers find value in it.

Get into the head of your prospect and find out what is important to them in their role, in their job function, and in their day-to-day activities. Ask yourself, “If I were a prospect, what would really be helpful to me?”

Are You Shooting Too High? Hard Data on B2B Sales Appointment No-Show Rates by Title-Level


We’ve written a few articles on how to reduce no-shows of B2B sales appointments. No-shows can be such a wet blanket for a B2B sales team. It’s expected that some prospects won’t show up for their scheduled B2B sales appointments with you, but reducing the no-show rate can have tremendous effects in terms of getting more prospects into your sales funnel – not to mention, it’s quite a time suck for a salesperson to spend time doing research in preparation for a meeting only to have the prospect stand them up.

Think about it. Imagine your team schedules 200 meetings per month and you have a no-show rate of 25%. Now the effect of decreasing your no-show rate to 20% might seem insignificant, but that means that you are adding 10 more prospects a month to your sales funnel (or 120 a year). If you close 20% of your appointments, that’s 24 more deals every year. Pretty significant.

So let’s think about no-show rate in terms of the title-level of your target prospect. We tapped our own internal data to see how no-show rate fluctuates when a B2B sales appointment is scheduled with a:

  • Manager-level prospect
  • Director-level prospect
  • VP-level prospect
  • and a C-level prospect

As a team, SalesStaff generates hundreds of B2B sales appointments every week on behalf of our clients, and based on feedback data, we’ve extracted the following No-Show Rates by Title-Level:

No Show Rate

There’s a few key takeaways here:

  • If you can, adjust your target base to a title-level which will give you decision-makers but yet have a low attendance rate – basically shoot as low on the totem pole as you feel comfortable with.
  • C-level prospects aren’t accountable to anyone but the CEO, and the CEO is accountable to no one (except shareholders). This makes them extremely shifty when it comes to making B2B sales appointments stick.

It goes without saying that the higher you go in an organization, the tougher it is to GET and KEEP a B2B sales appointment with them.

3 Things Sales Managers Can Do to Help a Slumping B2B Inside Sales Rep


b2b inside sales slumpSlumping Inside Sales Reps can be extremely depressing. They lament their bad luck, start to adopt a bad mindset, and performance suffers further. B2B inside sales is a mental game and the last thing you want is for your sales reps to get stuck in a vortex of negativity. It’s the responsibility of a savvy sales manager to help them get over the hump. Almost all B2B inside sales reps go through slumps. It’s a product of the irregularity of the lead generation process. So how should you handle a B2B inside sales rep in an extended slump? Assuming that the rep is not normally a poor producer, there a couple of ways to help.

  1. Listen to calls either in-office or via live monitoring. Instead of asking the reps what they may or may not be doing correctly, sit in on live calls with them. Often times, they are so mired in their “slumpiness” that they don’t know exactly why they aren’t doing well. Buddy up with them on some live calls and correct the issues as they come up in real time. Then make the rep utilize those improvements on the next few calls. B2B inside sales reps can feel like they’re out on an island suffering when they aren’t doing well; just having someone who cares about their production and wants to help close-by can go a long way to getting them out of that slump.
  2. Go back to the basics. When things aren’t going as planned, often it’s because the B2B inside sales reps diverge from the techniques that made them good in the first place. Maybe, they’ve altered their pitch, or maybe they’re talking about features instead of selling consultatively. The idea here is to simplify – not by addition but by subtraction. Instead of adding tidbits to their pitch, have them simplify it. In many cases, B2B inside sales reps assume they are failing because of something they aren’t saying when, sometimes, they aren’t getting sales appointments because they’re saying too darn much. Fluff be gone; get to the value proposition and the primary qualification questions. Make it easier (not harder) for them to be an All-Star again.
  3. Use numbers to consult with the B2B inside sales rep. As we alluded to earlier, it’s a bad idea to ask the rep why they are having a rough time. You’re just going to get a bunch of talking in circles. Consult them with their numbers and metrics. Analyze things like call-to-conversation ratios, conversation-to-appointment ratio, and call-to-follow up ratio to find areas of improvement. The B2B inside sales rep will appreciate that you’ve helped them diagnose the problem rather than asking for a self-diagnosis.

All inside sales reps have a bad day or even a bad week from time to time. It’s up to you to determine if it can be helped and take measures to get there. Diagnose the problem early.

To get better at follow-up, download our whitepaper, Be a Follow-Up All-Star: The 1-2-3 Method:

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Identifying the Right B2B Sales Candidate in 2 Simple Steps


Guest post by Rich Sweeney of R.H. Sweeney Associates

b2b sales hiringHiring the right B2B sales person is easy, right? Then why is turnover notoriously higher in sales departments versus other departments for most organizations? How do you explain the fact that the 20/80 rule (20% of the sales team is generating 80% of the productivity) applies more frequently to the B2B sales department than other teams within your business?

You can probably recall that individual you hired not too long ago who you thought would be a “Rock Star” based on their interview, and before the show ends, their performance was the equivalent of an eighth grade garage band at best.

You make objective business decisions every day. Although, when it comes to interviewing B2B sales professionals, we often justify a “gut feel” approach. We often hire people we like, and will subconsciously make the interview easier once that comfort is achieved with the candidate. You may be a great sales leader, but is your “like list” enough to determine an individual’s likelihood of success. The key is to stop hiring who you like, and start hiring who you need.

Step One: Bring Objective Metrics to the Analysis

Identify core behavior metrics the individual musr possess when performing under the pressure of the sales position. Stated another way, identify “the personality of the position.”

Based on the six listed personality traits, identify the behavior patterns in your sales process success plan.

  1. The ability to make the customer feel like a welcomed guest and instantly at ease; traits for the top performing retail sales professionals.
  2. The gift to quickly build rapport, and brings the natural discipline of close follow up that comes with repeat/maintenance sales.
  3. The comfort to take risk inherent with cold calling, and comfortable with handling multiple “NOs” and objections; traits one finds in new business development sales.
  4. Capable of quickly thinking on their feet while analyzing the information rendered from great questions; talents vital to technical sales.
  5. Well-suited to become a trusted advisor and sounding board that is required for long-term relationship sales.
  6. The brilliance to make a script sound natural; an all-important facet of inbound B2B sales.

If you respond that you want your candidate to possess all the behaviors listed above, then we need to give you a “reality-check pill.” You might as well add “walking on water” to the job description if you expect the same individual to possess all six of the behavioral traits. There are instruments that can benchmark what behaviors need to be projected the majority of time in any given B2B sales position. In order to improve your “hiring batting average,” you need to first apply objective metrics to determine what you actually need in a given position. The more deck-level analysis of the position, the easier it becomes to know what you should be actually looking for in a B2B sales position.

Step Two: Using the Best Tools to Find a Qualified B2B Sales Team Member

The key to determining who you are going to hire after the “happy interview face” fades away is objectivity. Most next steps include accessing the “usual suspects” in hiring tools, but they have some downside:

  • Resume – With the resources on the internet today, there is no excuse for anyone to not have already paid someone to wordsmith how wonderful they are.
  • College degree verification – At no cost to you, phone the university to verify they graduated. Now that you know that their education is legit, does that degree mean they will be great for your B2B sales team?
  • Reference checks – The joys of our litigious society makes this more challenging than ever to get relevant information.
  • LinkedIn Profile – Certainly helpful, but are well-maintained pages in this area merely an indicator of good business acumen?
  • Behavior interview questions – Great way to go, but the universities are starting to provide more training in this area than most hiring managers are receiving.

Based on your current interview arsenal, what is your “hiring batting average”? Are you batting .500, or are you closer to .283 in terms of hiring homerun-hitters? When push comes to shove, you need to know for certain that the person you hire will peform under the pressures of the job – that they are going to project the behaviors that are needed to succeed in that position. Again, we get back to the importance of bringing objective, tangible and concrete statistical data points to the interviewing process to balance the wonderful “gut feel” we have all grown to rely upon.

In 2002, the general manager for the Oakland Athletics baseball team, Billy Beane, hired a Yale economics graduate to apply empirical analysis of baseball statistics called Sabermetrics to assess players’ values. Beane looked for players who had strong on-base percentages (OBP), but were dismissed by scouts due to other characteristics. The Athletics had an incredible season that year, which included the longest winning streak in American League history. You may recall the movie Moneyball, depicting the real life story was portrayed. Are you dismissing the potential of “homerun-hitter B2B sales people” based on your subjective approach? Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and techniques of psychological measurement. As the Moneyball philosophy is to baseball, psychometrics is to making strong hiring decisions.

Behavioral assessment tools allow you to bring science to the interview process, and leave guessing to the sidelines. You will want to make sure that any tool you use in the interview process passes the Federal EEOC requirements. Contact our team at R.H. Sweeney Associates and we will let you know if the tool you are using is legal by EEOC standards. Better yet, send us your full name and email address and we will arrange for you to complete a tool that is easy to apply, deadly accurate and surpasses EEOC requirements.

rich sweeneyRich Sweeney is the Founder and President of R.H. Sweeney Associates and a business consultant, corporate level sales and management trainer, executive coach, lecturer and seminar leader. Progressive organizations continue to call on Rich Sweeney to help them develop their professional skills in people-management. After earning a Degree from Northern Illinois University, Rich started his career with the 3M Corporation in sales and marketing and quickly climbed the management ladder with the Lanier Corporation. In 1990, he founded his consulting firm, resolving to share with other professionals, his experience and success formulas for recognizing the specific genius lying within current employees and candidates. Contact Rich by email or on his website.

Pop Quiz: How Many Call Attempts to Qualify a B2B Sales Lead Before Giving Up?


You’d imagine I’d be used to it by now. I have written hundreds of articles and done countless hours of research in the B2B sales and marketing field… but every time I read an article or infographic lamenting the job that most companies do in following up with inbound leads, I am still awestruck – and not in a good way. does great infographics and one I read called The Best Practices for Lead Response Management confirmed yet again that, as a whole, the B2B sales community lags when it comes to response time on inbound B2B sales leads. In fact, they claim that “over 30% of leads are never contacted at all.”

Take this snippet, for example:

b2b appointment setting call times

The whole piece is a window into Lead Response best practices, but I really keyed in on the snippet above.

Your chances of making contact with a B2B sales lead increase to 90% when you make at least 6 calls into the lead…

Yet nearly 90% of B2B inside sales reps quit after the 3rd attempt.

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The takeaway? Be disciplined and put in the extra work to make at least 6 calls into the lead before giving up. By making a few more call attempts, reps will experience 70% more successful contacts!

Click here to view the entire infographic.

To get better at follow-up, download our whitepaper, Be a Follow-Up All-Star: The 1-2-3 Method:

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Should the Sales or Marketing Department Own the Inside Sales Process? - An Interview with Matt Heinz


Who should own the Inside Sales function – the Sales department or the Marketing department? It’s a question that doesn’t have a stone-cold lock of an answer. To help gain some perspective on this issue, I recently had a talk with Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, about the Pros and Cons of Sales departments or Marketing departments owning this critical function. He had written a blog a couple of months ago on the topic and I found it intriguing… so much so that I asked to have a Q&A with him on the subject.

describe the imageSalesStaff: Having engaged with a number of companies, which department typically owns the Inside Sales function?

Heinz: Typically, the Sales department owns the Inside Sales function, and it makes sense. It’s a Sales role, after all, so we this arrangement 9 times out of 10. Every once in a while, we see Marketing owning this function, especially as it relates to lead qualification and B2B appointment setting. It’s easy to argue that those specific functions inherently belong with the Marketing department.

SalesStaff: What sorts of issues arise in an organization when Marketing owns Inside Sales?

Heinz: Despite the fact that qualifying a lead for sales staff is a marketing function at the core, the people with whom that task rests aren’t traditional sales-types. I often see Marketing staff challenged in truly understanding the psychology of sales. Managing a set of Marketing personnel is very different than managing a set of Sales personnel.

SalesStaff: You’re absolutely right. The skill set of an Inside Sales Representative doesn’t overlap much with a purely marketing-focused skill set. How do you bridge that gap then if Marketing is to own the Inside Sales Process?

Heinz: Often, Marketing types might think, “Hey, I need to generate Sales Qualified Leads for my sales team. So we’ll do some email marketing, some direct mail, maybe some paid search.” The connection that can be built upon comes with the next step – while those marketing channels may be functioning well, frequently Marketing managers will go a step further and integrate an Inside Sales person into their team as another channel to reach out into the marketplace to find Sales Qualified Leads. The other option is to pursue inbound tactics and integrate that Inside Sales Representative to call on those content downloads and inquiries to further qualify the prospect as interested or not interested. That’s a function that Marketing departments can accomplish with their traditional resources – like progressive profiling, marketing automation, or a variety of other means – but quite simply it’s not as fast as having someone pick up the phone and follow-up on the marketing trigger immediately. There’s not really a definitive answer but it’s important for organizations to make sure that they have the end goal in mind and, to a certain extent, worry less about the boundaries that exist between departments. Companies need to be sure that, if they are going to have an Inside Sales component, it’s functioning well no matter who they report to. The focus should be on delivering scalable results. So the better question is “How are we going to execute Inside Sales – no matter which team owns it?”

SalesStaff: Let’s lay out a scenario where a company has many marketing channels that are producing raw leads, but they also want to include some unsolicited outreach into the marketplace via cold calling. In your opinion, is it better to maintain two separate groups – a team that manages inbound responses and a team that does traditional phone outreach – or is it better to develop a team of hybrids that can do both well?

Heinz: That’s a great question but I think the answer depends on a number of factors – things like the nature of the prospect you’re calling in to, and the skill set of the inside sales team calling in to these prospects. Marketing is usually better suited to manage the inbound inquiry qualification. It still requires somewhat of a steady hand to qualify hand-raisers but it becomes a little easier for marketers that are not used to managing salespeople. On one hand, Sales would be a good fit for either inbound qualification or direct outreach as there is a Sales component to them both. On the other hand, if Marketing is managing Inside Sales, it might be better to assign them only the market response segment – but it really is contingent on the quality of the team in both cases.

SalesStaff: If Marketing owns the Inside Sales process, at what point in the sales funnel is Marketing no longer responsible for that lead? Upon transition to the Sales team? Should they be owning some of it throughout the course of the sales process?

Heinz: That’s very much a loaded question because it implies that the relationship is owned by one department or the other. It’s a slippery slope to say, “I own it, and now you own it, but wait, I want it back.” The organization should have a unified, integrated approach to sales prospecting. Then the story that Marketing is telling in the lead generation and awareness/education process should be consistent with the story Sales tells also upon transition. It should feel like a very stable path for the prospect. Every organization has a different idea of when those prospects get transitioned, but in terms of ownership of the lead, I think that Marketing and Sales should be working together at various stages. Marketing owns the top of the funnel when a prospect may not be ready to buy. But even when Sales picks up with a prospect that is ready to enter the buying process, it’s the job of Marketing to give Sales what they need – the right message or the right content – based on the buyer’s journey and a deep understanding of where that prospect is in the process. So even when Sales takes the reins, it’s still the responsibility of Marketing to help move that deal along, from a sales enablement standpoint.

What a great conversation Matt and I had on the topic of who should own the Inside Sales function. I’ve summarized some of the key points from his recent blog article (Why marketing should own inside sales (and why they shouldn’t)):

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matt heinzMatt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing, brings more than 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, vertical industries and company sizes. His career has focused on delivering measurable results for his employers and clients in the way of greater sales, revenue growth, product success, and customer loyalty. Matt has held various positions at companies such as Microsoft, Weber Shandwick, Boeing, The Seattle Mariners, Market Leader and Verdiem. In 2007, Matt began Heinz Marketing to help clients focus their business on market and customer opportunities, then execute a plan to scale revenue and customer growth. You can read more from Matt on his blog, Matt on Marketing, or follow him on Twitter.

Explainer Videos as B2B Marketing Vehicles - Are You Doing it Right?


b2b marketing explainer videosYou might have a fantastic understanding of your business and how your services or products can help your customers. Now you have to relay that vision to garner some interest and ultimately get new customers. You want your prospects to understand how your solution might solve challenges they face. One of the best ways to do this (and quite popular in marketing circles these days) is to show them, rather than tell them.

What Exactly Is an Explainer Video?

We’re visual creatures, in large part. An explainer video lets you show a brief introduction to your company, explain what you do, and inform prospects why they need your service. An explainer video is a quick, striking way to make an impression on your prospects and deliver important information.

Attention spans are getting ever-thinner these days though. I read recently that, on average, you have eight seconds to sell yourself and your business to potential customers.
Rand Fishkin of Moz says, "We really do need to communicate quickly, because web users have become more and more impatient. They're not going to read through paragraph and paragraph and paragraph of text. Therefore, many, many websites have found it valuable to use visual-centric homepages to help communicate and to quickly convey the primary value proposition to those visitors. Sometimes, that's a video. Sometimes, it's just an image or graphic that explains things really clearly. That can work out great."

Text and telling alone may not be enough to engage prospects anymore.

Want an example of an explainer video? Check out the one below that we at SalesStaff just completed:

Benefits of Explainer Videos

The benefits are plentiful:

  1. It’s the perfect forum to make your best pitch. You need to connect with people in a way that they understand best. An explainer video allows you to deliver your best pitch to anyone, anytime, anywhere on their terms and at their leisure. You don’t even need to be around! 
  2. You can share your story easily. A recent Pew Research Center study found that 78% of adults watch or download online video (I thought it would be higher). Creating an explainer video might be the single easiest way to share your company’s story and services. Heck, you can even display your video beyond the normal internet means and utilize it in internal meetings, at sales appointments, and at conferences.

So you're convinced that they might help your business, but how to put one together...

Constructing a Good Explainer Video

You need to be able to condense and simplify your pitch into an easy-to-understand display that anyone can grasp.

If you don’t have internal video and branding resources, you might tap an experienced video production unit to learn your business and structure the video. Nevertheless, here's how you can build the video so it gets your point across and your company comes across as alluring and beneficial.

  1. Communicate your prospects’ challenges – and how your company might be a solution. As with other media, you need your audience to relate to the subject matter for it to be supremely effective. I’ve seen a lot of explainer videos that do this by presenting a character that faces the same issues that your prospects face. Show them relevance from the outset. Tap into their emotions and they’ll continue watching. After you've clearly summarized the problem facing your prospects, suggest a fix by suggesting that your product is the answer to their challenges.
  2. Your company’s value proposition should be a centerpiece. It shouldn’t be a supporting cast member but one of the leading roles in your video. Your viewers know you exist – step one completed. Now you need to be able to quickly show the central benefits of using your solution. Consider emphasizing a few key benefits; that way, you can get it out there without being longwinded. 
  3. Call-to-action – never leave them wondering what to do next. When the video ends, reiterate that can help solve their problems and offer up the call-to-action. "Go to our website.” or "Call us now!" or “Click here for more.” However you choose to call the prospect to action, just be certain you make it clear-cut how you can help and how viewers can get in touch with you and learn more about your solutions.

At the end of the day, one of your company’s best assets is your story. It's what lures them in, leaves them feeling connected, and pitches your product to the marketplace.

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