Why B2B Marketing’s Digital Transformation is Long Overdue
I’m not sure how familiar you are with Greek mythology – or the trials of Sisyphus – but you’ve most likely heard this story, in some fashion, before 👇
Like most mythology, it’s about a human angering a god – and the god punishing them in over-the-top and passive-aggressive ways.
In Sisyphus’ case, he pissed off Hades (humans aren’t the brightest in these tales). Long story short, he was condemned to an eternal life of rolling a boulder uphill – only to watch it roll back down before he could reach the top…over and over and over again.
2020 feels a lot like the “year of Sisyphus.”
Back in March, event strategies were thrown out the window, in-person meetings and travel were canceled, and pipelines took a U-turn. Two weeks in, and many of us were soon competing for desk space with partners and tiny humans at home. (Hopefully, by now you’ve gained some semblance of normalcy in your world – before I throw another rock in it.)
But it wasn’t all uphill-downhill. I witnessed some amazing things between then and now too: I saw people in my community come together like never before through acts of unmatched generosity. I saw my own team create a virtual event in under six weeks. I saw businesses improve their customer experience and successfully pivot their GTM strategy overnight.
And I saw more and more companies embrace a hard truth:
There is no going back to “business as usual.”
2020 put B2B marketing under the microscope – revealing complicated processes, poor buyer and customer experiences, and disjointed funnel strategies. Marketers have been using the same failed processes and getting the same results again and again, long before the pandemic.
But now, with much of the world forced to go virtual, these failings have become undeniable.
So businesses are shifting gears.
Companies – spanning all industries – are doubling down on digital marketing to reach their goals – improving their online experience, reducing friction, and starting real-time conversations with buyers and customers.
I know it’s easy to look at the last few months and get discouraged. But I urge you to push forward.
Consider this a call-to-arms for every marketer out there: We can’t go back. We have to find new strategies we’ve never used before to get to our next normal.
So let’s pivot together. Let’s stop pushing the same boulder and failed funnel strategy.
Let’s take what we learned into the new decade and create better experiences for the people who matter most – our current and future customers.
I hope you’ll join me.
Kate Adams, VP of Marketing, Drift
In early 2020, we reached out to some of the leading marketing and sales experts to see what game-changing strategies they were using to break through the noise of their competition.
They delivered, in a big way. So much so that we had an entire virtual summit to share their insights.
Their answers couldn’t be more relevant for adapting to the world we find ourselves in now.
This book is a compilation of the best practices and future-focused tactics from some of the speakers at this event. Each has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Here’s a sneak peek of what’s inside 👇
Part I: The Future of Marketing & Sales Alignment
Once seen as the “old, married, bickering couple” of the business world, more and more leaders are seeking to get marketing and sales on the same page.
The reason is simple: When both departments work in lockstep, greater pipeline growth and revenue tend to follow. Marketing needs sales and sales needs marketing. And it’s on the leaders of both teams to invest in measures to make this happen.
Drift’s own CMO, Tricia Gellman, has seen time and time again that misalignment comes down to goals:
“Often, the misalignment between marketing and sales comes down to mixed goals, where both departments play co-owners of revenue growth, but are guided by two completely different playbooks: 1) The marketing playbook focuses on generating new leads; 2) The sales playbook is completely focused on bookings.”
– Tricia Gellman, CMO, Drift
In the remainder of this section, you’ll learn from leaders at Narrative Science, LeadIQ, and G2 on how they fostered peace between these teams – and are now reaping the rewards.
Why Marketing & Sales Alignment is a Marketing Problem
Cassidy Shield has over 20+ years of experience in marketing. Throughout his seasoned career, he’s helped companies drive results by being open-minded to new technologies and pivoting strategy in the face of rapid change. Today, he is a global marketing leader at Narrative Science, an AI-powered software that writes stories from enterprise data to drive understanding and results.
I want you to close your eyes and imagine a future where marketing and sales are aligned and accountable for growing your company 😌
I’m not just talking about being aligned and accountable for this quarter or next quarter, but for putting a predictable growth engine in place.
Imagine these two teams working together to understand the drivers and levers of growth. Understanding growth not just within the current market segment that they’re in today, but how to identify, test, and put a plan in place for future growth.
My vision for the funnel of the next decade is one where marketing and sales are aligned. And certainly, it’s what we’re striving for here at Narrative Science.
We as marketers want to impact revenue. We want to be in the room talking about growth. And you can’t own that conversation without aligning with sales. But more than that, if you’re not aligned with sales, then you’re not doing your job. And that’s why this is a marketing problem vs. a marketing AND sales problem.
So how can marketing solve their alignment issue with sales?
There are a variety of different ways. You can complain to the CEO, you can wait for the CRO or the sales leader to approach you – because why should you be the first person to open that door and that conversation? You could hire a consultant and have them come in and do it for you. OR you can take on the leadership role and do it yourself. Of all the options, I’d recommend the latter.
So how can you, a marketer, make this happen?
1. Align Marketing & Sales Around Pipeline and Revenue KPIs
Marketing has good intentions, but is ruled by a different playbook than sales. When I say “playbook” what I’m really talking about are KPIs. The metrics that tell us whether we’re doing a good or bad job. Marketers aren’t using the same KPIs as sales to measure success. And it’s very possible to do it.
There are some marketing teams out there whose primary metric is getting leads. There are also marketing teams focused on return on investments (ROI), pipeline, and revenue. Over time, this primary metric becomes a journey that starts at leads, but hopefully ends with revenue. Revenue and pipeline are also something that sales use to measure success. It may be hard initially to get your marketers to do the same, but it is possible (and preferable).
Some organizations just know the level of engagement between marketing and sales. Marketing creates the leads and then it’s up to sales after that hand-off. Obviously, this is not ideal. The level of engagement in that simple scenario is low: But it is also a common one.
What I’ve found in my journey as a marketer is that very few marketing teams really understand their sales pipeline. And that’s the problem. If you want to be aligned, first, you as a marketer have to understand what sales goes through day-in and day-out and what they’re working on and how it impacts the business.
Educate yourself, and have empathy for sales, which is a difficult job. Second, master the art of the hand-off. For most of us, this is when a qualified lead turns into an opportunity. This is the best opportunity for marketers to drive alignment around pipeline and opportunity creation because that’s when the rubber really hits the road.
Once marketers have a better understanding of pipeline and opportunity creation, they need to know what is driving revenue. To help marketers do this, I often use something I call the revenue framework. Basically, it’s the formula for sales velocity:
This formula captures the four drivers of how you grow revenue:
- The number of opportunities
- Your average deal size
- Your win rate
- Your sales cycle time
If you want to be a marketer who understands the full story of revenue and your impact on revenue growth, you need to understand how you can influence and improve the first three drivers above.
2. Aligning Marketing & Sales through GTM and Messaging
Another way to align marketing and sales is through go-to-market (GTM) strategies. In a perfect world, where everyone is completely aligned, this isn’t a problem. Both teams are in-tune with target personas and know their ideal customer profile (ICP) inside and out.
But, we don’t live in a perfect world. So, in most instances, you need a well-devised and well-communicated GTM plan. The exercise we see below is one often left to product marketing.
On the left side, we ask questions about the segment and personas being targeted: Who are we targeting? What’s their problem? What drives them?
On the right, we look at what collateral is needed for this ICP. Here marketing asks: What is our value proposition? What are the use cases by persona, by segment? How do we train the sales team on the product, on the process to use this content?
Many marketing teams crush this exercise. But once all this planning is said and done – just like that – it’s gone in a vacuum somewhere.
That’s why sales, from an alignment perspective, needs to be involved from the beginning in GTM planning. Sales knows what’s happening in the market. They know what they need to be successful.
3. Align Marketing & Sales around Channels
Marketing and sales will often use the optimal mix of channels based on the market and buyers they’re going after. That said, these channels are often not the same – and that’s not a good strategy. Marketing channels and sales channels should be synced up.
At Narrative Science, we talk a lot about outbound prospecting and SDRs. These channels need to be integrated and optimized with the rest of the marketing channels. Marketing needs to work with its SDR team or from an outbound prospecting perspective to deliver a fully integrated strategy moving forward.
Without this type of approach, you’re not being accountable for all channels, and it’s a quick way to piss off your prospects with mixed messages or spam.
To recap, if you’re looking to better align your marketing and sales teams, take these steps:
- First focus on KPIs and joint metrics. Most marketing teams should start with pipeline, and then graduate to focusing on revenue when they truly understand what the drivers of revenue are.
- Second, attack the market together with sales. This is tremendously important. Don’t do this in silos, don’t do the work and put it on the shelf. Do the work together and use it fully.
- Finally, marketers need to be accountable for all channels. Find the optimal mix. Remember, all you want is the best solution for the company. And the best solution is to be aligned with your sales counterparts.
Aligning Marketing & Sales Through Personal Brand Building
Ryan O’Hara is a marketing and branding expert transforming the way buyers view B2B brands. Today, he oversees all aspects of growth and marketing at LeadIQ, a lead capture software tool that enables its users to find prospects, discover emails, and contact info of potential customers online.
During my college years, I took a communications class with a professor named Joshua Merowitz. He worked on a research project in the ’80s where they went and surveyed people about media personalities that they knew, and their connection to them.
What Joshua Merowitz found was that more people felt a stronger connection to Johnny Carson than their own parents. I know, crazy, right?
Merowitz called this revelation Media Friend Theory.
This theory argues that if you’re exposed to a media personality over and over again, you feel like you know them. So when Johnny Carson, for example, left The Tonight Show, it was a huge shakeup for a lot of people because this was a person they had been watching for decades.
One of my favorite examples of this theory in action is actually Conan O’Brien. (Full disclosure: I’m a big Conan fan.) Conan O’Brien is a huge brand. He’s a personality. He has a show. He has one of the most popular podcasts out there. He has a Facebook page that has more likes than TBS and Turner Broadcasting combined. And his YouTube channel is the top-most subscribed in the world.
You start adding these things up, and you can’t deny it: Conan is his own brand.
And the reason the “Conan” brand does better than 90% of other brands out there is that people don’t like brands. People like people.
And that’s what I want to talk about you today: How you can create a company and personal brand that people love – all while aligning your marketing and sales teams. Because marketers, I’ll tell you right now, sales is the key to brand building.
How We Brought Personal Branding to LeadIQ
We do a lot of our videos at LeadIQ through social, but we also syndicate and add our content to YouTube 👇
Here’s the common thread in each of these videos: they feature normal people.
John Mazda is an SDR at our company. Frost is in charge of all of our inbound leads. Rishi, on my team, was a standup comic that I found who applied to be an SDR and I was like, “You’re making content with me.”
We’ve built an empire of these individual contributors as the faces of LeadIQ. And a lot of these people are in sales. That’s where marketing and sales alignment can really start.
Salespeople are great talkers. They know how to get in front of a camera. Who better to be the face of your video marketing efforts?
Your CTO and CEO don’t want to be on a camera. They have the expertise on a topic, but they’re not comfortable getting filmed nor do they have the time to dedicate to it. An SDR might not have the same level of knowledge or expertise as a c-suite member, but they are very good at talking to people. They know the right things to say.
Conan O’Brien is not an expert on the guests that come on his show. He doesn’t know their books or their movies. His staff knows that stuff. He’s just the facilitator.
Every sales rep has a network. They have a collection of customer stories that they hear every day when they’re cold calling, cold emailing, and getting replies back. They have a network of people they meet from the deals they close. All those things can be resources for them. They’re facilitators. They’re not experts.
You don’t need to be a thought leader to be a personality online and build a brand. But to start aligning your sales and marketing around branding, you need to pick your brand archetype.
The 12 Brand Archetypes & How to Choose the Right One for You
Brand archetypes was a concept that became very popular in the ’60s at ad agencies. Marketers at these agencies would look at logos and say, “How do we give this brand personality? How do we make it so it appeals to people?”
During this same time, Carl Jung was conducting a study where he found that there were 12 different personalities – or 12 different archetypes – that people categorize other people into.
According to Jung, if you changed archetypes – for example, let’s say one day I’m a Rebel and I break the rules and then the next week I’m a Sage delivering wisdom – it actually hurts your brand because you’re not giving people consistency and authenticity.
Conan O’Brien is always the same Conan. Some nights he has a bad show, some nights are Emmy-worthy – but Conan’s always Conan. And people love that.
That’s what you should want for your brand. BUT it’s also what you want for the individual contributors to your brand.
Think of your core brand as a TV show or movie. Let’s use Star Wars as an example. Star Wars is a drama adventure. What gives these movies depth and why so many people are superfans of the franchise isn’t the idea of Star Wars itself, but the characters who make up the drama.
There’s a Rebel brand with Han Solo. There’s a Sage band with Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi. There’s a Hero brand with Leia and Luke. There’s a Ruler brand with Darth Vader. There are the Jesters: You laugh at Chewbacca, you laugh at the droids.
The ultimate macro brand for Star Wars is none of these things. It’s an accumulation of all these characters.
So I already mentioned some of the archetypes, but let’s dive into each one now.
- The Ruler: Ruler brands claim they are the best of the best. BMW does it. Rolex does it. You probably know a lot of other brands that take this “prestige” approach.
- The Lover: The Lover brand is all about intimacy. Brands that take this approach say: “I’m going to tell you stuff that other people don’t know. I’m going to be very close to you. I’m going to talk about how much I love you.”
- The Rebel: Rebel brands are the cool kids. They challenge the status quo. A good example of this is Harley Davidson. Look at this tagline from one of their ads: “May all your encounters with the law start with the words “Nice Harley.” That’s a lifestyle people are looking for, probably minus the run-ins with the law.
- The Sage: Sage brands want to be the smartest person in the room. Google – the “gatekeepers to the world’s knowledge” – is often used as an example of a Sage brand.
- The Magician: The Magician makes dreams come true. And, I don’t even need to say the company’s name because they’ve owned this brand archetype for decades: Disney. Disney has built an empire that sells dreams.
- The Caregiver: The Caregiver brand protects and nurtures. Campbell Soup has done a lot with this archetype in their advertising. Think chicken noodle soup, comforts of home, MOM, etc.
- The Explorer: The Explorer isn’t afraid to take risks and travel to new places. They’re the loner. They get their hands dirty. Car companies LOVE the Explorer archetype. But Jeep was the one to make it synonymous with their product.
- The Jester: Skittles is known far and wide for their weird, but funny commercials. Progressive has an archive of commercials created to grab your attention and make you laugh. And that’s just what jester brands do: they want to entertain.
- The Innocent: Innocent brands are simple, happy, and easy. They don’t deal in fluff and are straight-forward. A good example of an innocent brand is Dove. Dove captures real women in their commercials, which gives people a sense of empowerment about their own image.
- The Hero: The Hero isn’t afraid of a challenge. Sports brands, like Nike, use this archetype frequently to show athletes pushing themselves to the limit.
- The Everyman: I’m just like you – that’s the premise behind the Everyman archetype. The relatable friend you can talk to about anything. A good example of this archetype is Dunkin’. The ‘America Runs on Dunkin’’ has become intricately tied with the American workers’ identity.
- The Creator: New. Innovative. Groundbreaking. The Creator brand is all about building something, whether it’s something new or something improved upon. Apple does a really good job at this. There’s one commercial they did in particular, Behind the Mac, that perfectly emphasized how they position themselves for their ideal customer.
Four Steps for Creating a Brand Archetype
Now, here’s what I want you to do: Go back to your sales and marketing teams. Get everyone in a room. Start talking about the overall brand archetype first. Think about how to build your brand as a company.
Here are the steps to help you develop your brand archetype:
- Write down the adjectives that you want to be associated with. For example: Smart. Wild. Funny. Innovative. You get it.
- Then categorize these adjectives under each of the twelve brand archetypes mentioned earlier. Each adjective gets a single point.
- Look at the archetypes again. For the one with the most points, check to see if any of your competitors are doing that same thing. If not, that’s the one.
- Finally, ask the sales reps and your marketing team: What do you want to be branded as individually? Let them pick one. You can even have them use the same process you did during the company branding exercise.
It’s okay for them to be a different archetype than your company. In fact, I did this when I was at Dyn. Dyn had already done an Everyman archetype when I was there and I wanted the marketing team to do this same exercise. I ended up being a Jester and doing my own thing while I worked there because it was much easier for me.
Now, it isn’t enough to just choose a company and personal brand archetype. Once you decide on the archetype, you need to execute on that brand.
Executing on Brand Archetypes Through Content Creation
At LeadIQ, I decided to run with the Jester archetype as well. My goal is to entertain and make people laugh, but I’m also going to teach audiences something about sales. To sell this archetype, we publish a ton of content. It’s this content that makes your brand archetype live and breathe. Without this content, you have no way of communicating your message.
Here’s a good example of when we used content for the Jester archetype:
We had just found out that our two biggest competitors in the space had decided to merge. While other people in our industry were focused on content that said “how this was going to dramatically impact our industry,” I decided to do something a little different. I thought: “How would a Jester brand tackle this?”
So we decided to create a video to congratulate these two brands. But we also used the video to say “Well, guys, I guess this means we’re in second place.” At that moment, a ton of LeadIQ people jump into the frame and start dancing and celebrating.
It’s silly, but that’s exactly what executing on a Jester archetype looks like. And people loved it.
To execute on your brand, I want to leave you with some content creation rules to live by 👇
- Make content that isn’t just pitching your products and services: General knowledge and thought leadership content are important for broad appeal. It can’t all be “sell, sell, sell.”
- Build business acumen and do the research: Listen to podcasts in your industry. Watch and read posts. Create enough comfort around a topic to facilitate conversations about it. Remember, you’re not the expert (in most cases), you’re the facilitator.
- Use one archetype in your content: This goes for both brands and individuals. It’s REALLY important to stick to your archetype. You can still mix it up and get creative with your content, but the core tone should be set in stone.
- Create, but also participate: Don’t post something and move on. Make sure you’re engaging with comments on your content. Start a conversation yourself, or follow up with comments that people post.
- Don’t post links: This might be a bit controversial, but don’t post links. Instead, take the content your individual contributors make and run ads with links. But forfeit the links in the native post.
- Create user-generated content: Customer stories are the best. Reps hear some amazing things on their calls that can be turned into content. Encourage your reps to anonymize these stories and use them as posts.
- Use real-life stories: When you can, use real-life narratives. Some of the best content starts with a personal story.
We covered a lot of ground, so let’s take a moment to recap. Here are the lessons to remember:
- Run your marketing department like a media company. Use sales reps as your stars and talent.
- Pick an archetype for your brand and let your talent pick one for themselves.
- Use prospect and customer conversations as part of your content – from calls to emails to messaging. There are so many stories in our day-to-day interactions with customers and prospects. Don’t let great ideas sit in your inbox. Find a way to share them with the world. Even if they need to be anonymous.
Real Talk: How to Remove the Friction Killing Marketing & Sales Alignment
Adam Goyette is an established marketing executive and the current VP of Marketing at Help Scout. Adam is passionate about building result-oriented teams that focus on driving demand through digital, social, and content marketing strategies.
Mike Conti is a BDR and sales leader who knows what it takes to drive results. As the current Director of Account Development at Mulesoft, he continues to use the same alignment best practices to make his team successful.
While at G2, the world’s leading B2B software and services review platform, both helped drive successful alignment between their marketing and sales teams. Learn how they did it 👇
Mike: Before we decided on what topic we wanted to cover, we crowdsourced what those in the community were looking to get answered.
The winner by a landslide: aligning demand generation and sales/BDR teams.
So the core focus of this section will be answering some of the major Q&As people had on this topic. What we’ll do is show the marketing perspective and the sales perspective for each hot button issue.
How Do You Get Sales to Follow Up with Marketing Leads?
Adam (Demand Gen): A lot of marketing teams struggle to establish realistic SLAs with their sales and BDR teams.
In a perfect world, the leads marketing sends to sales should be better than those sourced from pure cold calling or cold email outreach. If you find that sales aren’t following up with these leads, then there’s probably a larger lead quality issue.
Now, this is where things can get contentious between both teams. And like any kind of situation where there’s bound to be disagreements, you need to approach the opposite party with respect. Be very open to feedback about why sales are saying they don’t want to follow up.
Mike (BDR/Sales): From the sales and BDR side of the house with SLAs, there are a few things you can do to make sure this isn’t happening all the time. First, as Adam said, he and I need to be aligned and communicating frequently so we can adjust and pivot when needed. Second, I check-in frequently with the BDR team on the status of these leads so they can provide feedback.
Who Should Own Lead Scoring?
Adam: I think both marketing and sales should determine lead scoring.
It’s on marketing to qualify leads as much as possible before passing them along to sales. But getting this information is a balancing act. Marketing wants to include as much qualification information as possible – but we also don’t want to scare people away with too many questions. Drift’s made a whole business on solving the form conundrum, which is great.
But, whether it’s forms or chat, there’s a drawback to “opening up the gates” with content or requests: I can’t stop people – whether they’re a good fit for G2 or not – from filling out a form or chatting in.
That’s why lead scoring is so crucial. Marketing and sales use lead scoring to route potential buyers to the right reps when appropriate. Everyone that comes in might not end up in a sales person’s queue. But we don’t ignore these people who raised their hands. Instead, marketing nurtures them with more content or hands them off to BDRs to reach out further. The balance is getting both teams to agree on what should be passed along.
Then there’s the “amount of effort” factor for those leads that do qualify for sales. Certain leads are going to be treated differently depending on their quality or closeness to our ICP (ideal customer profile). At that point, it’s just allocating resources appropriately.
For example, if marketing qualifies a lead, we don’t need to ship those leads to our BDR team. We can just pass them to the account executives (AEs). Here again, marketing can’t just make these decisions on their own.
Mike: If a lead comes into G2 and meets a certain threshold in terms of scoring and qualification, they may go directly to the AE or to our sellers – and bypass BDRs.
We’ve got a number of tools we look at that have different scoring parameters built-in. But there’s still an equal distribution in terms of the number of MQLs (marketing qualified leads) or the number of leads that are being sent to each BDR. What changes, as Adam mentioned, is the tenacity of a BDRs follow-up based on that score.
If there’s no response from a lead or it’s not qualified, we pass it back to demand gen to nurture that person and help move them further down the funnel before we start following up again.
If it’s a high-quality lead, then we pull out all the stops.
But the main reason that lead scoring needs to be determined by both teams is that BDRs and sales are in the thick of it with these interested people. After a chat or a phone call, a BDR might go to demand gen and tell them our hypothesis around scoring is off based on a number of conversations they’ve had.
Who Should Follow Up with Net New Accounts First (and Should the Message Be the Same)?
Mike: The next question that we got was: “When you have an account that can be viewed as net new, does demand gen and BDR follow up at the same time – with the same messaging – or does demand gen contact them first and then hand off to a BDR after the account has shown some level of engagement?”
Adam: We do both. At G2, we probably do this a bit differently than other teams. The reason being, a contact could have an account with G2 because they have a profile on our site. But, technically they may have never claimed it.
In a case like this, the first outreach would be from demand gen to get someone from that company to claim and interact with the page.
Mike: It’s the same value prop that we’re giving in terms of targeting an account, but the messaging is different. Demand gen’s messaging is more high-level and provides air cover for the sales team. BDRs and sales are more personalized and specific to their outreach. The value prop has to be the same so we’re not confusing the buyer.
Adam: There’s also a big morale piece here too if both teams are leading with the same value prop. Because BDRs and sales know marketing is in the background providing air coverage, they feel more supported.
Mike: And the reverse might be true too. So BDRs from an outbound perspective could be going after an account that’s not in any marketing campaign and then go to demand gen and say, “Hey I’d love some coverage here because we’re seeing some success.” Or vice versa, demand gen sees a lot of engagement and reaches out to us.
Adam: That reminds me: It’s not just Mike and I sitting in a room, having these conversations. We’re encouraging the team at every level to reach out and align with one another. Having alignment at the top is important, but if that’s not happening further down the team, then there’s really no true alignment happening.
How Do You Approach Feedback on Content and Sales Enablement?
Mike: We have a cross-functional, GTM meeting. We include teammates from product marketing, sales enablement, demand gen, and BDRs to talk about content creation from a sales enablement perspective.
During this meeting we talk about the content sales would love for the conversations we’re having. And there are different levels of sales enablement content we consider: persona-based, flight deals, or net new collateral. We also use this time to hone in on messaging not just for marketing air coverage, but sales outreach as well.
Content creation has to be extremely cross-functional and an ongoing conversation to continue to tweak and iterate to buyers’ pain points, needs, and challenges. It’s not realistic to think the messaging can always remain the same.
To ensure we keep this constant improvement and tweaking around our messaging, we work in “sprints.” These are two-week time frames where we experiment with new messaging and copy, and then ask at the end: “Hey, what’s performing, what’s not and what tweaks can we continue to make on that?”
Adam: Marketing also gets pulled into a lot of sales conversations to help with this messaging. This lets us see where there are gaps in our marketing message.
On a final note here, I do want to address the challenges that can happen. When it comes to content feedback, there are two difficulties:
- Having a centralized place to get feedback: A lot of the time feedback happens organically, which is totally fine, but can result in things getting lost in the weeds. A good practice would be to have a place everyone can use to submit feedback so it doesn’t get lost.
- Keeping sales updated on what content exists: I’m sure plenty of marketers have done this → 🙄 when sales requests a piece of content that already exists. Luckily, there are tools available to help make it easier for sales to search for content, but I haven’t heard of anyone finding a “perfect” solution for this.
The most important thing, AGAIN, is to be open to feedback as a marketer and be willing and flexible enough to update when it makes sense.
Mike: It’s all about the culture you create. If you take away anything from this conversation it’s to create a culture of feedback without fear.
Where Should BDRs Sit in an Organization: Marketing or Sales?
Mike: This next one is an age-old question: Where should a BDR team sit: in a marketing department or with sales? And, like the person who asked this, I’ve seen it done differently depending on the company.
I’m not sure everyone will love this answer, but it depends. A big piece of this depends on what desired outcomes you’re trying to drive with your BDR team. The other piece is how a company views the actual role of the BDR.
Here’s how we approached this at G2: First and foremost, we view our BDR teams as our internal talent pipeline for sales. They’re also creating the revenue pipeline for sales. For both these reasons, we have the BDR team sit with sales.
Now that doesn’t mean that having BDRs on a marketing team or demand gen team is wrong. The biggest factor to consider is the communication and alignment you want.
Adam: Yeah, to be honest, I don’t think it would change much if BDRs reported to marketing versus sales or anyone else. It comes down to communication. It’s about being on the same page and keeping open communications around different campaigns we’re running and what follow-up cadences should look like. If your marketing and sales teams aren’t running two different playbooks (and they shouldn’t be), then it really doesn’t matter where BDRs sit.
But there’s also another piece here – the experience of the marketing leader. If a marketing leader hasn’t managed or run a BDR or inside sales team before, it might not be a good fit to have them do it now. They might have more of a brand background, for example. Now I get that everyone has to start somewhere, so if you have the runway to let these leaders learn on the job, great.
Mike: Another consideration is how much of your acquisition business is inbound versus outbound. If 80% of your business is coming from inbound channels, well then obviously it’s going to make more sense for that team of BDRs to report into marketing. Going back to the issue around SLAs, there’s going to be a lot more reporting back to marketing in that case.
If you’re doing more outbound vs. inbound, it is definitely better – from a sales motion perspective – to have them reporting to sales.
Mike: So to end things – this is funny – I made a post recently on LinkedIn saying that “I’m lucky to work with a kick-ass marketing team.” And so, of course, Adam was like, “What do you think most sales leaders would say makes a kick-ass marketing team? And how do you define that?”
So, I’ll take the time to answer that – thanks, Adam!
Here’s my answer: It comes down to the personal relationship between sales and marketing. And just humanizing it.
We talk about this all the time in today’s world – humanizing everything. For me, the relationship Adam and I have is important to how I view marketing. That at the end of the day, we’re in this together. I’m sure I could rattle off 3 to 5 more things, but if you’re looking for a definitive answer, that’s it.
Part II: The Future of Content Marketing, ABM & Conversational Marketing
What do content marketing, account-based marketing, and conversational marketing all have in common? (You know, besides the word “marketing.”)
According to Seth Godin: “Content marketing is the only marketing that’s left.” So, let’s stop the book here, because the future is now baby, and content is king 👑
Joking aside, Seth isn’t wrong.
The rise of content marketing is a response to buyers having more say and power in their journey than ever before. As a result:
- Modern buyers are more self-sufficient
Buyers are conducting their own research, reaching out on their own terms, and starting vs. following trends. This also means buyers want more information and value upfront.
- Marketing needs to create more content and fewer gates
Content marketing is all about providing value. So marketing teams are now giving more expertise and tactical steps up-front to help first and sell second.
Inbound marketing and content marketing cast a wide net to provide value to as many buyers as possible. But buyers want more than one-size-fits-all content. They want companies to cater experiences to their specific needs.
That’s why we’re big fans of Brafton’s revamped take on Seth’s saying: “The only marketing that’s left is targeted marketing.”
So, to answer our original question – and flood the marketing forums with even more fodder for debate – here’s our take:
💡Content marketing, ABM, and conversational marketing share the same purpose: To tell a more personalized and compelling story that provides value – and provokes a response.
In this section, the experts from Gong, Demandbase, and Forrester will reveal how you can master these three marketing disciplines to boost your bottom line and deliver greater value for your buyers.
How to Create Content So Good People Will Want to Pay for It
Udi Ledergor is the current CMO of Gong – a revenue intelligence platform that allows sales to capture and analyze conversations to make educated business decisions – and a five-time VP of Marketing. He has over 20 years of industry experience heading world-class marketing teams at public and private companies in B2B technology.
Devin Reed is a former salesperson turned content marketer at Gong, where he creates thought-provoking and cutting-edge sales content that helps revenue professionals improve their skills.
Is your content worth paying for? Before you laugh, consider for a moment: Is it that outlandish of a question?
Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ – there are plenty of household names that come to mind when we talk about paid content. But how do you bring that same desire and fandom to B2B business content? That’s what we’re going to help answer today.
We’re going to tackle this topic of how to create amazing content in three-fold:
- Developing a strategy
- Creating strong narratives
- Transforming your audience into fans
Content Strategy: Relevant. Interesting. Immediately Applicable.
When you create content that is thoughtful, relevant, and interesting enough that people want to pay for it, you know you’ve hit the holy grail of content marketing. So what is good content and a good content strategy?
At Gong, we keep three terms in mind when we create any kind of content:
- Immediately applicable
Relevancy: It’s About Them, Not You
When you create content, you should think about your buyer personas, not your brand. This means you need to understand what they want to read, not what you want to say.
Gong’s buyers are generally sales leaders. They’re interested in managing and growing their teams, helping their teams hit quota, and managing pipeline meetings.
If we create relevant content that solves or makes easier one of those daily tasks, that’s a really good start. If we start by saying, “Oh, we just released version 2.04 of our product. We want to talk all about these great new features,” no one’s going to read that.
Always put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What do they want to read about?
Interesting: Content People Actually Want to Read
It’s not enough to just be relevant, you want people to be compelled to click on your content or headline. Now, I say headline, but your content can also be a podcast, video, live event, or webinar. The point is – it has to be interesting.
It’s about as exciting as it sounds. And, yeah we needed to do that same thing.
We ended up with the subject line “Our lawyers made us do this.”
As part of that, we made the email funny and threw in some gifs. And that email has made the rounds. It’s been shared hundreds of times and received a 40% open rate (high for any email, a record for a CCPA email like this).
Every opportunity, every campaign, every email, every announcement you need to make is an opportunity to do something different to set your brand apart and create more raving fans.
Immediately Applicable: Make Your Content More Accessible
There may be a place in your world for a 70-page white paper nobody but your competitors and analysts are going to read. But if you want to create content for your buyers, they’re usually not going to read through a 70-page white paper.
You want to create content that’s easily digestible, where buyers or customers can learn something new and put that information to use today. How do you do that?
You do that with a two-minute video, 600-word article, or 20-minute podcast. You do it with something that’s easily digestible, that your buyers and customers can learn something practical from now.
Content Process: Building a Strong Narrative for Your Solution
The best content marketing tells a cohesive story centered around a problem your product/offering solves. Your narrative is the overall story your current strategy or campaign is trying to tell.
To better illustrate how to create your content strategy narrative, we’ll cover the best practices we use at Gong:
- Lead with data, not opinions
- Use problem marketing
- Bring in experts people trust to validate further
- Keep content high-quality
Gong’s Content Strategy Narrative: Data-Driven & Problem-Solving
As we mentioned, Gong’s primary buyer personas are sales leaders and salespeople. These professionals are given thousands of books on sales tips – from how to cold call to social selling. The problem? None of those books are based on actual data. Most of them are based on opinions.
That’s the beauty of Gong using call and sales data in our content. The world has enough opinions, but it doesn’t have enough data to back these opinions up. So for three and a half years, we’ve used a data-driven content strategy. We publish data-backed sales tips and techniques showing salespeople and sales leaders what does and doesn’t work in sales.
Or the new way we’ve been summarizing it: “Goodbye opinions, hello reality.” This strategy has also helped us carve out a new category we’re creating: Revenue Intelligence.
Here’s an idea of how the content under this strategy looks:
The first webinar we did this year was the 5 Counterintuitive Mistakes Preventing You From Closing Revenue. The idea was to pick five sales strategies people think are true (or what they think works well) and show them their assumptions are false: “Here’s what you’re really doing. It’s a negative, it’s backfiring. Now, here’s what you should be doing instead, according to all this data we have.”
Bringing in Experts to Legitimize
To add more authority on top of the data we’re sharing, we bring in outside experts and sales leaders our persona knows. Salespeople want to hear from experts who’ve “been there and done that.” So we’ve started launching a 20-30 minute interview-style format with well-known sales leaders.
That way, it’s not just Devin and Udi in a room saying “Well the data shows this and that.” It’s the Chief Business Officer at LinkedIn and other key leaders at really big companies that have seen the same thing. Basically, we’re adding a trusted anecdotal layer on top of the data.
Keep it High-Quality – But Be Human
We really value production quality at Gong. That said, you don’t need a large video budget or a large content budget to create amazing content.
If you can nail content that’s informative and entertaining – with your iPhone or your Pixel – that’s still worth its weight in gold. Quality of content – that’s the key.
Transform Your Audience into Raving Fans
Creating raving fans is one of our core operating principles here at Gong. It’s also a good answer to why you should do content marketing in the first place: to create raving fans. But there are a few reasons this is a principle at Gong – even outside of content marketing:
Fandom as a Decision Framework
“Creating raving fans” works as a decision framework to help Gong employees answer: “What do I do in this situation?”
Let’s say there’s someone from Gong support up at 2:00 AM taking a customer call because something’s broken. He doesn’t have a manager to consult with, but he knows he needs to create a raving fan out of that customer. He cannot err by taking the side of the customer. If he needs to jump on a plane right now or issue a gift card or swag, no approval needed, go solve the problem.
Fandom as a Content & Social Proof Generator
If our customers are raving fans, we don’t need to work as hard to get them to speak on our behalf. They’ll happily do it.
We have an entire page dedicated to customer love on the Gong website and we update it weekly because there are thousands of unsolicited social media posts from customers telling us how much they appreciate what we do.
Fandom Helps Sales with Brand Recognition
The SDR and sales job become infinitely easier when you’re selling to someone who’s already seen or heard rave reviews about your brand from customers.
They’ve heard of us at events. They’ve seen someone they trust share our content. There’s nothing our sales team loves more than a conversation that starts with this 👉“Gong? Oh yeah, I’ve been hearing a lot about you. Let’s set up a time.”
Happy Customers Stay Longer
Finally, creating raving fans out of customers makes customer success’ (CS) jobs a lot easier too. When customers are actually happy and looking forward to getting more out of the product, CS doesn’t have to force usage and adoption on them.
To recap, here are the things you need to do to create killer content:
- Create content that is relevant, interesting, and immediately actionable.
- Align on a single narrative. For example, we use “opinions vs. reality” at Gong to ground our content strategy.
- And transform your audience into raving fans. Not only does this help with content, but it helps other aspects of your business too.
Using ABM Personas & Intent Signals to Improve Sales Enablement and Outreach
Jay Tuel is a lead generation & sales operations specialist, with experience leading teams in the US, EMEA & APAC.
John Dering is a data-driven marketing leader who educates marketers on how to better adopt account-based marketing for their own businesses.
Both are leaders at Demandbase, an end-to-end ABM platform that helps B2B companies identify, win, and grow high-quality accounts.
B2B marketing – and how we go-to-market – has undergone a lot of changes over the last decade.
The idea of traditional marketing was to sit and wait for buyers to raise their hands. However, as the pool of competition grows larger, this is becoming less effective. Instead, companies are using ABM for a more targeted approach to their GTM.
In this chapter, we’ll walk through how to use intent and personas to develop a stronger ABM strategy that improves sales processes and pipeline effectiveness. To do that, we need to talk about P.I.E.
What is P.I.E.?
P.I.E stands for personas, intent, and engagement. With account-based marketing, you need a good grasp on P.I.E to utilize intent in your prospecting and selling efforts.
As we mentioned, P.I.E is broken into three parts:
- Personas: Knowing who you’re going to target and how.
- Intent: Within ABM, we see intent as the “new lead.” Intent picks up on potential buying signals or interests.
- Engagement: Engagement is the reaction buyers have to your messaging.
In the remainder of this chapter, we’ll walk through each of these in detail and how marketing and sales can use P.I.E. to overachieve on their targets.
Personas: Understanding the Who
Establishing personas is necessary for marketers to:
- Understand how to message different buyers
- Create content that will resonate
- Personalize offers to the right buyers
But there are some downsides to the established “buyer persona” that can trip up B2B marketers and sales. Using buyer personas for look-alike modeling and programmatic advertising often leads to a lot of assumptions about how to reach out to buyers or what they might care about.
Marketers need to go beyond the traditional use cases of personas, and better determine how buyer persona information can be used by sales. For example:
- Deal influencers & roles: Your buyer persona should help sales identify all the potential deal influencers and what their roles are within that deal or sales cycle.
- Buyer responsibilities: You need to understand the responsibilities of buyers and influencers. How is the demand generation person’s day-to-day life different from a marketing operations person or a digital marketer? They’re going to be working together, but they’ll have different responsibilities on the team. Understanding what they’re responsible for doing and how they work together is key information for sales in deals with multiple stakeholders.
- Buyer goals, challenges & KPIs: Sales also needs to know what a buyer’s goals are. What are they going to be measured against? What are they trying to achieve within their organization? How are they going to interact in these sales cycles?
At Demandbase, we supply our sales team with detailed persona information like this so they can have better conversations with buyers.
Intent: Interpreting and Using Buyer Signals
Marketers aren’t lacking in data these days. But knowing how to use data to inform strategy and sales outreach is what defines success.
When we talk about intent data, however, we need to distinguish what type we’re referring to. In this section, we’ll discuss two types of intent data – first-party and third-party – and how you can use both to accelerate your pipeline and funnel.
First-party intent is the intent that you know and that you can see, for example:
- Form fills
- Email opens
- Sales activity
- Website activity
Knowing first-party intent is fantastic for understanding a buyer’s activities with your content and team. But a lot of times it comes too late in a buying process.
Buyers are more self-sufficient than ever before. Many conduct their own research before reaching out to a salesperson or interacting directly with a brand. Marketing and sales need to get much more ahead of what their buyer personas are doing in the journey. To do that, they use third-party intent data.
With third-party intent, marketers can see what a typical buyer persona is doing outside of their traditional marketing channels:
- Off-site searches
- Spiking intent
- Social signals
- Company and contact news
With this information, marketing can make improvements around how buyers learn about their brand and invest in strategies around messaging and visibility.
The problem with third-party intent data is that it’s anonymous. You’re going to have to go out and try to understand who the people performing these searches are. And that’s when it becomes necessary to understand intent data from a funnel perspective.
Using Intent Signals in Your Funnel to Improve Marketing & Sales Outreach
All right, so you have all this data. How can you use it to create sales messaging and plan sales outreach for different buyers in your funnel?
At Demandbase, we try to use buyer or intent signals to know what kind of content and outreach is appropriate.
Let’s use an example: Say you have a demand generation persona. Glancing at their first-party intent data, you see they’ve been looking at account-based marketing and faster growth strategies in B2B content. Those are very top of funnel.
This is also called categorical-based intent. In this case, the buyer’s activities signal to marketing and sales that now isn’t the time for aggressive outreach. Instead, the better move would be to nurture with additional content.
Over time, this demand gen marketer starts to show more specific intent as they move further down the funnel. For example, instead of just general ABM information, they’re looking at account-based advertising, personalization, and account identification solutions. They’re actually starting to think about solutions and are looking deeper into tools. That’s topical-based intent.
Now that you have a stronger set of signals, it might be time to move them down to the evaluation stage of your funnel.
Engagement: Creating a Complete Picture of Your Buyers
The next piece of the P.I.E. 🍰 is engagement.
This is where the sales cycle begins. Here you might start asking: Are they looking at review sites of your products or your competitors’ products? Who else is in the deal, how can sales think about engaging them?
Engagement information is what sets marketing outreach and sales outreach apart. While both are using the same positioning, the messaging is high-level vs. detailed. Sales can be much more nuanced in their copy than marketing. But to do so they need the right information.
A good place to start is website and conversation data.
Website & Conversational Engagement
The first engagement activity you should track is website engagement. Here you want to find out:
- How many different visitors from a company are there?
- How many sessions did they have?
- What did they look at?
- Were they on high-intent pages?
These are all great signs that they want to engage with you and learn more about your product or service. Next, you’ll want to start looking at conversational engagement (for example, when someone chats in on your Driftbot). Here you want to find out:
- What kind of questions are they asking?
- Are these questions more geared for support or sales?
- Did they engage with your content and what did they engage with?
- Was there a next step that they wanted to take?
Sales & Marketing Engagement
Looking at your sales-based engagement you’re considering both the engagement buyers are having via email and phone. When engaging with a sales email, you’re looking to answer:
- Did they open, click and/or respond?
- How frequently are they opening?
- Did they forward?
- What questions or objections did they have?
- Did they re-engage?
- What content/topic got them to engage?
From a sales call, you want to know:
- What piqued their interest?
- What kind of questions did they ask on the call?
- What objections did they have?
- Were they engaged or disengaged?
- Who did most of the talking?
Finally, you can take another look at your marketing automation solution to fill in gaps like:
- Who engaged and what did they look at?
- Have they opened your marketing emails before?
- What’s their lead score?
- What topics do they engage with the most?
- How frequently do they engage with your marketing?
The P.I.E approach to ABM keeps your pipeline healthy with sales-ready accounts. P.I.E. means knowing who you’re talking to along with the personas and deals in play.
P.I.E. is not just about creating marketing content for personas, but enabling sales with more insight into their buyers. That’s also going to add a lot more credibility and value for buyers as they engage with your sales organization.
Intent data lets you better understand the buyer’s interest both on and off your website. Marketing and sales can use this information to understand timing and relative topical interests so that when they engage with those personas, they’re using talking points that resonate with buyers. Marketers can also use third-party data to improve the buyer experience in the long-term.
Finally, engagement is everything. If you’re doing all this hard work, you must be monitoring engagement and prioritizing that engagement in your sales strategy and outreach.
Bots & B2B Buyers: Build a Better Buying Experience with Chat
Jessie Johnson is a marketing technology thought leader focused on leveraging marketing automation technologies and actionable intelligence in demand generation, content strategy and development, and integrated marketing. She is currently a principal analyst at Forrester | SiriusDecisions, a leading global research and advisory firm that provides advice on the potential impact of technology.
In this final chapter, we’re sharing insights from Jessie Johnson’s Bots & B2B Buyer session of the New Decade New Funnel virtual summit. We’ll walk through her best practices for using chat to improve the B2B buying experience.
Specifically, you’ll learn:
- How to use chatbots to attract, engage, and qualify demand
- How to create chatbot personas
- And a framework for designing and optimizing conversations
The Rise of Chatbots
The rise of chatbots help address two important shifts in B2B marketing:
- Changing buyer expectations: Chatbots deliver the type of highly personalized and self-service experience buyers are looking for in their B2B relationships.
- Marketing’s need to get closer to buyers: Marketing has a lot of channels at its disposal for communicating offers, value, and solutions to buyers. Chat offers a unique opportunity for marketers to break through the noise and communicate directly with potential customers – with more context than a cold call.
For businesses, chatbots move buyers through the funnel faster and make nurturing easier. For buyers and customers, the experience offers greater convenience and independence.
But there are also additional opportunities around chat that many marketing teams aren’t taking advantage of, according to Jessie Johnson:
“Chat is an opportunity for marketers to facilitate demand generation and touchpoints by integrating chatbots across channels – websites, mobile apps, social media, third-party messenger apps, or even using chatbots to schedule prospect meetings via email.”
Chatbots are simplifying the digital journey for customers and buyers. This not only accelerates the marketing funnel and sales pipeline, but it empowers buyers and customers to have more say in their experience 👇
Chat also removes the barriers to entry around learning, explains Jessie Johnson:
“B2B marketers are finding new ways of leveraging chatbots to attract, engage, and enable buyers while decreasing barriers to entry such as content gates and contact forms.”
One of the biggest developments in the world of chatbots is the use of artificial intelligence to turn B2B businesses into 24/7 operations.
This approach differs from a typical rule-based chat playbook. Not only does this approach allow for buyers to have real-time conversations on their time, but it allows businesses to scale their marketing and SDR team, regardless of headcount.
To better understand how companies can begin implementing chat functionality into their own marketing programs, we asked Jessie to share her best practices for rolling out a chatbot experience.
She explained that when building and running a successful chatbot and conversational marketing program, there are two things marketers need to keep in mind: utilization and deployment 👇
Utilization of Chat
When Jessie talks about chat utilization, she’s referring to how marketing and sales can best use chat to facilitate growth and a better buyer and customer experience.
Essentially: How are you using chat and what are you trying to get out of it?
According to Jessie, while many marketers see the potential in chat, delivering on those ideas isn’t always cut-and-dry:
“SiriusDecisions found that 23% of CMOs are focused on deploying personalization at scale using automation and artificial intelligence. Chatbots are ideal for this, as a conversation is inherently personalized, and marketers can supplement chat with additional data like firmographic information. Surprisingly though, only 10% of B2B marketers actually integrate chat into their nurture mix.”
To make the most of a conversational marketing investment, Jessie says that marketers must look for opportunities to not only drive more demand, but to improve the B2B buyer experience through personalization.
Deployment of Chat
Where businesses decide to deploy chat is equally important.
According to Jessie and the research at SiriusDecisions, 13% of organizations start by deploying chat on websites. 18% are then using third-party messaging platforms.
To support the goals of both buyers and businesses, marketing needs to understand how the buyer discovers the bot, the channel in which the interaction will take place, and the expectations and information requirements of the user at the time of the interaction. This will help answer questions around where and how to deploy chat.
How to Design a Better Chatbot Experience: A Four-Part Framework
One of the key learnings from Jessie’s presentation was the SiriusDecisions Conversational Interaction Framework.
Much like Drift’s own conversational marketing blueprint, this framework provides guidance for creating more impactful conversations. The framework is broken down into four key elements: audience, goals, delivery, and conversation.
Each of these four elements hits on key questions marketers should be asking when creating a chatbot or conversational marketing program:
Start with your audience. Who is your target for that conversation, and what do you know about that individual and the segment that they’re aligned with?
Next, think about goals. What is the immediate goal of the conversation for both the buyer and yourself? How does this short-term goal support long-term program objectives?
From a delivery perspective, where will the conversation take place and when? Is the conversation triggered proactively in response to the buyer’s behavior, or is it initiated by the buyer themselves?
Your Conversation Experience
What is the desired user experience? What subject-matter expertise should this bot cover? What is required to deliver that experience?
This framework is ideal for developing a purpose-led conversational marketing program.
According to Jessie, however, conversations – meaningful conversations – require personality and authenticity. That’s right, your chatbot deserves a personality all its own if you want to connect with buyers.
Creating Chatbot Personas & Personalities to Drive Engagement
It may sound funny – “giving your chatbot a personality” – but there’s a good reason why investing the time in this type of exercise is important.
Chatbot personas are used to align an audience, topic, and goal for both your business and your buyers.
SiriusDecisions has a number of example chatbot personas differentiated based on attributes like:
- Tone and style of response
- Timing and triggers
- Engagement drivers and knowledge domain
- Subject-matter expertise
“Companies can match conversational personas to buyer personas using audience attributes such as job role, intent, user preferences, and watering holes,” Jessie explained.
Got to love those human names ❤️
During the presentation, Jessie walked through these three key personalities. Each had a different goal which impacts where the chatbot deploys and how the chatbot responds:
- Gertrude (The Get-to-Know-You bot): Gertrude is really focused on learning more about visitors coming to a specific landing page. Personality-wise, she’s approachable, experienced in the subject matter, and she uses that to help engage visitors based on what else they need to know.
- Trevor (The Demo Driver bot): Trevor’s focused on scheduling demos. He lives on persona pages and shares subject-matter expertise based on the specific challenges of the visitors to that page. His goal is to get these personas to commit to a product demo.
- Sharon (The Qualification bot): Sharon’s all about prioritization and progression of demand. She’s focused on qualifying and prioritizing demand while progressing active demand further through the funnel with the goal of enriching demand lead scoring. She’s efficient with each conversation volley and very focused on providing value.
We’ve seen the importance of customizing playbooks to improve personalization across websites here at Drift as well.
As Jessie went on to explain, using personas as part of your conversation framework not only accelerates your funnel, but it improves the overall buying experience across your website and channels.
The Future of Chat in B2B
The future looks bright for chatbots in B2B. Jessie sees a number of key trends happening in this space:
- Chat will become more integrated into the martech mix to deliver a self-directed buying experience.
- Artificial intelligence will help evolve the chat experience to be more human and helpful.
- The next-gen workforce (and buyer) will propel the need for video chat technology.
- Chatbots will start to augment or replace traditional website navigation.
Chatbots and conversational marketing help organizations enable their buyers and customers in real-time by meeting them where they are in the journey.
To end, we’ll leave you with some action items from Jessie:
- Remember that the introduction of chat should be determined by audience fit and preferences.
- Integrate chat for your demand generation to understand when and where to trigger conversations based on behaviors such as visiting a certain webpage or even time spent on that webpage.
- Build chatbot workflows and scripts for common questions and answers
- Set specific and measurable goals for chat that map to your overall business goals.
- Build exception points into chatbot rules where humans might need to step in even when the scenario is designed to be fully automated.
Thank you again to Jessie and the team at Forrester | SiriusDecisions for lending us their expertise!
Buyers are expecting more out of their B2B journeys, and technology has made it possible for businesses to rise to the occasion.
But, as Jessie Johnson pointed out, there’s a catch…
While emerging technologies are key to the future success of marketing and sales, context is everything. If you don’t have the right strategies and processes in place, the tech becomes no more than a bandaid.
To create a future-proof funnel that accelerates opportunities, you need a gameplan:
Alignment between marketing and sales around goals, messaging, and handoffs are necessary for laying the foundation of your GTM. Once both teams are in lockstep, they can work together on a top of funnel strategy using content marketing that is compelling and personalized to the buyer.
From there, sales can use the same personalized and targeted approach to have real-time, relevant conversations with buyers.
👆This won’t happen overnight. Luckily, you have the roadmap to get started.
We hope the strategies and insights here help you drive more value for your business and buyers. A huge thanks to our friends for sharing their expertise and knowledge with us.