What is Social Selling and How Will it Turn Your Sales Team into Sales Leaders?

An exciting presentation by Jamie Shanks of Sales for Life, recently covered how sales leaders can train their team in the art of social selling. But what is social selling? With so much information and connectivity available, it can be hard to know how best to leverage this valuable tool and how to move your sales process into the electronic world.

The basic sales process remains the same, people want to buy from other individuals, so there still needs to be communication and conversation, even if this occurs in a digital format. You’re moving them along their buying journey and communicating with them just as you did in the past, you’re just doing it using technology and social networks.

Starting a Social Selling Process

Your sales process starts by finding people who may be interested in your product or service. You can leverage your social networks to do this by setting alerts that notify you based on different triggers. This could include when companies merge or a lead switches positions. You can also find leads by reaching into your own social network and mining it for connections. Technology makes it easy to track these relationships and changes, but you have to keep your network up to date and pay attention to it in order to leverage this data. Your goal is to surround the company and send different people within the organization multiple marketing touch points that are educational and useful.

Teaching your sales team this art this begins by working with your sales team to convey your brand digitally. Go through all their social profiles to ensure the brand message is consistent, uses the right keywords, and that their profiles are open and inviting. Have them review their profiles and messaging through a buyer-centric lens.

Refining Social Content

Once your team’s social profiles are in tune, look at the content they’re sending out. Is that messaging adding value and are they leveraging the information from their networks to know who is interested in what material? Is that material conveying a consistent brand message? Sometimes it helps to do a spot audit of one sales person’s biggest account to see how well they’re connecting with the account’s contacts on social media, how frequently they’re engaging, and what material they’re sharing. Then you can offer coaching on how to improve their techniques for the specific client that carries over to other accounts.

You know the sales process should never contain a message or email that doesn’t add value, either through educating or informing your customer. You can help your team accomplish this by giving them digital content to share on best practices, industry updates, and exciting news. Mix content you’ve created in house with content you’ve found to position your team as experts in your industry.

Once they’ve got the process and content figured out, work with your team to teach them how to develop their sales accounts by looking for new leads to add to their social networks. When the leads are in your network, you can track the content they’ve looked at or engaged with to determine where their interests are. Challenge your team to grow their social footprint by one person each day.

As a leader, you must be ahead of the curve in demonstrating these digital sales strategies to your team and showing how they are effective. Start by telling stories of how digital sales is working for specific customers, then begin to gather data to show it’s having a positive impact on the company as a whole.

Once you’ve started training your sales team, and you get some people having success implementing social selling, then bring your team together again and have them to teach each other the successful ways they’re implementing new strategies into their existing techniques. Nothing gets someone to master material faster than having to teach it.

If you’d like some help starting your digital selling strategy, check out our guide to email follow-up. It’s helped businesses in many different industries set up digital marketing and sales automation that increase efficiency and complement what is already working.

Best Follow-up Email Templates After a Trade Show

5 Creative Presentation Ideas from Top Sales Leaders

While sales isn’t the only profession that has to deliver impactful presentations frequently, it’s certainly something sales professionals do regularly. So how can you go about keeping your prospect’s attention and covering all the information you need? Try these five creative presentation ideas I learned from Julie Hansen of Performance Sales and Training to improve your presentation style and gain new and effective presentation skills.

#1 Break Your Talk Down Into Chunks

People are constantly being bombarded with new and exciting information and the average attention span has gone down to five minutes. This means long, linear presentations are no longer the most effective way to present your material. Instead, you should break your talk into three to five minute chunks and focus each chunk on a certain part of the message. Changing chunks is as simple as changing topics or shifting to a new point.

#2 Focus on What’s Most Important

Your prospect has already read your website and reviewed enough information to determine whether you’re likely to be able to help them, so skip the parts of the presentation where you introduce your company. Just like movies and novels start with the most compelling part of the action, your presentation should start by answering the main questions that they’re likely to have. Focus on what’s going to be most important to them.

#3 Customize For Your Audience

Different buyers of the same product will be interested in different features or aspects. Take the time to think about what might be driving their purchasing decisions and customize your presentation to talk to the specific prospect. This is more than putting their logos on your standard slide deck. This is doing your research and getting into their heads to be able to answer those most important questions first. Ask yourself how your features will impact them. When you understand your customers, you can help connect the dots between the problem they have and the solution you’re offering.

#4 Know Your Key Point

What is the one thing you want your audience to walk away from your presentation remembering? For a sales professional, it’s probably that you can help them solve a certain problem. If you know the key point you want them to take home, you can then build the rest of your presentation about that topic and present it in a number of different fashions to improve its stickiness.

#5 Keep Your Audience Engaged

When your audience is actively engaged with your presentation, they are much more likely to remember the details of the material you’re presenting. There are many different ways to engage your audience, asking questions is only one. Simple engagement such as slides, videos, and stories is the first step. Active engagement such as questions and contests are even better. You can add these engaging sections in between the different chunks of your talk to help break it up and keep your audience attentive.

With these five tips, you’ll be sure to keep your audience engaged and spark an ongoing conversation about how you can help your prospect. While we can’t replace the charisma and art of the sales professional in the field, Team StepUp can support your company with great branding, insightful content, and lead generation. We can also help with automation – get a taste of how automation can improve efficiency with our free guide to email follow-up. These and other automation tools free your sales team to do what they do best – take the story of your company and share it with your best prospects, personally.

Best Follow-up Email Templates After a Trade Show

Team Motivation: How to Get it, and How to Grow it

Where does team motivation come from? In our blog post last week we talked about training for sales teams, which when done right can definitely contribute to motivation. Some motivational speakers might argue that a great video or talk can give your sales team the motivation they need to grow.  Warren Greshes, of Speaking of Success, would disagree. Greshes argues that it is next to impossible to externally motivate someone and the only effective way to motivate anyone was to figure out their personal motivating factors.

Rather than trying to motivate someone externally through inspiring them or pushing them, it’s better to help them become intrinsically motivated. As a sales leader, your job is to give your team the tools and techniques they need to be successful. First, you have to start by finding out everything about each person on your team, from their personal goals to their wants and needs, just like you would if you were trying to sell to a client. Once you have that information, you have the key to motivating them by showing them how working for you moves them closer to their personal goals.

Go Through a Goal-Setting Process

It can take some time to go through a goal-setting process, but help them draw up a one to five year plan with specific steps attached. You may have to connect the dots and help them see that the lifestyle or personal goals they have are obtainable and exactly how much selling they’ll have to do to achieve those goals. Everyone is motivated by something different, so you’ll need to sit down with each person and discover what motivates them and what their goals are.

In some situations, you may need to help them draw the lines between how they envision their future and how their career success will get them there. If they know what kind of lifestyle they want in five years, then you can turn that into specific numbers of sales calls or meetings they need to make each quarter to make it happen. In other words, you translate their efforts into the money necessary to create the lifestyle they want. Money by itself doesn’t motivate, it’s the lifestyle money enables. It’s important to understand that business and personal goals work together to create motivation.

Tie Long Term Goals to Short Term Action

Once you know the goals, you can reverse engineer and write down milestones you want to meet every month to build up towards your final goal. Then write your goals down, set the metrics you want to meet, and track everything. Tracking allows you to manage someone by showing them what else they need to do to meet their goals and keeps you from having to micromanage your sales team.

Sustaining motivation over time is done by showing people how their actions are moving them forward. A five year plan is great, but you should break that into smaller milestones so that you can measure your progress and celebrate your results more frequently. Once you help your sales team members make a plan, you’ll want to revisit it every quarter to make sure they can see how they’re moving forward and make changes as life changes.

Your sales team is your client, so in addition to helping motivate them to work, you also want to provide them the training, tools, and support they need to reach their goals. You can start by sending them the link to our guide on email follow-up, which sets out key tips and tools for customising and automating email follow-up and making efficient use of the leads your sales team gets.  You’ll have to motivate your sales team, but we can make sure they’re getting the content, leads, and digital support they need to turn those goals into reality.

Best Follow-up Email Templates After a Trade Show

Building a Team with Sales Skills You (and They!) Really Want

Part of managing a sales team, especially at a growing or large company, is facilitating development of sales skills among team members. Katie Early and Kieran O’Flynn, Hubspot sales managers, recently shared a video within the Hubspot community in which they discussed their role in building a team with sales skills that translated to success.

Being a sales manager means you’re motivated to move the needle at your company in a big way, but you’re also focused on supporting the team members who work with you to make that possible. This means when it comes to training, you should pay attention to both what will improve the team as a whole and what will help your sales staff continue their professional growth. A good sales manager pays attention to each of these concerns and implements skills training options that address each one.

Internal or External Training?

Training can be accomplished both internally by a company trainer, sales manager, or other sales leader and externally by bringing in experts in the field or sending members of the team out into the community to get training. Sales leaders should have the ability and flexibility to mix the types and formats of the training their team receives to keep people engaged and reach those with different learning styles.

For example, sometimes having team members sit in a round table and discuss how they handled a particular aspect of the sales process is valuable because everyone gets an opportunity to share and learn from the others. In other cases, it helps to do simulated sales calls or one-on-one reviews to work with a specific team member on the skills they need to master. For the specific needs of certain team members, being able to send them to a training conference or executive classes at a community college can be helpful.

Training for Top Performers

It is important for sales managers to really get to know the individuals on their teams so that they can not only pinpoint what skills will help the most people, but how everyone likes to learn. Further, you should keep conversations open with your highest performing sales members to find out what kind of specialized training they need or would like to receive. Everyone wants to keep learning and growing, so you shouldn’t ignore the top performers just because they’re doing so well already. Sales teams often have high turnover after 2-3 years. A good sales manager is paying attention to everyone on their team, even the senior members, to make sure they feel like their careers are still moving in the right direction and that the company is invested in their success.

The other consideration for sales managers is how to make this training repeatable. After all, the odds are that if one salesperson needs this training, so will another. Can you replicate the curriculum you prepared by saving slides, taking a recording, or teaching others on the sales team to deliver the training?

If you’re wondering how your sales team can leverage digital data and inbound marketing information, download our guide on automating email followup. It’s packed with more tips for sales teams on customizing and automating lead followup to increase productivity and save time.  

Best Follow-up Email Templates After a Trade Show

How to Combine Inbound and Outbound Marketing to Create a Powerful Lead Funnel

I recently watched a talk by Mark Hunter of The Sales Hunter, which I loved because he suggested a novel approach to mixing inbound and outbound marketing to make your sales funnel flow faster. For many industries that have traditionally been reliant on a skilled sales team, mixing the two creates an ideal combination.

What’s interesting about inbound marketing is that it’s effective because it focuses on leads who already have a need and are looking for that need to be met. With inbound marketing you produce helpful content for those leads in many different channels and then introduce them to your solution for their need.

However, particularly if you’re selling expensive products or services, the need you’re trying to meet is far more customized than a simple consumer product. That’s where the telephone comes into play. Your inbound marketing is designed to qualify your leads and then, by getting the person on the phone, you can understand their needs and help them move towards a purchasing decision much faster. Here are some tips Mark gave for successfully employing this mixed-marketing strategy:


Having a strong presence on the right social media channels for your industry is key. It’s all about creating brand awareness and familiarity with customers, so when they have a need, they recognize the name of your company and know you may be able to fill their needs.


Once you’ve gotten a new lead, either because they’re interacting with you on social media or they’ve filled out a contact form on your website, you want to jump on that lead right away and engage with them in person. Getting phone numbers here, in addition to email addresses, gives you the ability to open a discussion with the customer immediately. Start the conversation with a question that fits your services. If you can understand their need, then you are able to show them your company can meet their need.


Once your customer is sure you understand their requirements, you’ve reached a point where they have confidence in your abilities. You’ve also instilled confidence that you’re attentive, available, and responsive to their concerns and needs. Reaching out over the phone to the leads social media has qualified for you, asking good questions, and listening is the way to create opportunities.


By reaching out to a qualified lead on the phone, asking questions, and showing them that you are interested in and understand their challenges, you’ve created an opportunity for business.


As with everything you do in a well-run business, you’ve created a process for your sales team that goes from interested buyer to qualified lead to opportunity and request for quote. This takes advantage of the best in modern digital marketing and traditional cold calling.

Mixing inbound and outbound marketing is a great way to both bolster and streamline your sales funnel, especially as more companies are largely relying on social media and neglecting traditional forms of advertising. When you call a potential contact, your business immediately stands out. They get a feeling and comfort level for who they’ll be dealing with.

Even if you don’t get someone on the phone, leaving a brief voicemail creates a positive first impression. Be short, specific, and clear as many people now convert their voicemail to text. Make sure you follow up after your voicemail with a related email. Most people need to be touched by marketing messages several times in order to turn into customers. If one of those touches is a phone call, then you’re establishing the human connection behind the social content machine.

Looking for follow up email templates to help automate part of your sales funnel and free you up to devote more time to personal touches like phone conversations? Download our free guide, “Best Follow-up Email Templates” designed exclusively for B2B sales and marketing teams who want to make the most of their leads.


Best Follow-up Email Templates After a Trade Show

5 Secrets of the Best Sales Emails

Why should you spend time planning and writing a sales email? Because when done right, it absolutely works to drive traffic to your business. A recent talk by Heather Morgan from SalesFolk highlighted ways to create the best sales emails for your business.

Download our guide to email follow up after a trade show.

There are many reasons to consider reaching out to prospects via email. First, marketing has changed significantly in the last decade. There is more competition in all industries and it is no longer enough just to shout “I am here!” and wait for the work to appear. Telemarketing and cold calls are hard and not as effective. You need to adapt your approach to continue to gain new customers and projects.

Inbound marketing is the new way to attract and educate qualified leads, but building quality content takes time. You also have to spread this content over multiple channels such as email marketing, Facebook, and LinkedIn to attract leads to your website.

If done right, sales emails can be very an effective way to attract, educate, and retain clients. Here are five principles to follow to create an effective sales email:

Know Your Audience

Are you writing to the CEO? Then your email should address concerns most CEOs have such as cutting costs and boosting sales. Writing to the engineers? Then talk about tolerance, maintenance costs, or customization options. Spend some time looking at the web profiles of the company and individuals you’re targeting. You’ll be able to learn what they’re reading about and where their interests are. You can also see what thought leaders and industry influencers they follow. From this information, you can understand what their concerns are and how they’re making decisions. All this information can help you draft a better sales email.

Get a Reaction

People react to an email for three reasons:

  • Curiosity: Humans are, by nature, curious about things they aren’t familiar with. Use curiosity to get people to open your emails by employing leading questions as your subject line.
  • Desire: When you can paint a compelling picture of how you’re going to solve a problem and improve their situation, clients are quickly motivated to take action.
  • Fear: This is when you talk about situations people want to avoid. You can target their problems and pain points. Just be careful that your email is designed to motivate quick action and not make them give up.

Download our guide to email follow up after a trade show.

Create a Feeling of Trust

Call on existing customers to brag about your company. When it’s someone else exclaiming your virtues, prospects are more likely to take note. Ask your current clients to share a story about how you’ve helped them succeed. Get them to describe what it’s like working with you. Share a picture of your client or their name so that they are relatable.

Have a Clear Goal for Your Email

It is important to be specific about the goal of your email. Do you want the prospect to call you? Fill out a form? If you know what your goal is, you can craft your entire email towards the one simple action you want the prospect to take.

Collect Data

Be a data fanatic. Set goals for your sales campaigns and measure your results. Modern email marketing tools come equipped with email testing capabilities, advanced reporting, and lots of specific insight into what’s happening with each email.

Many people are afraid of cold emailing, but success really depends on your state of mind. If you have a great product or service that can truly help the people you’re contacting, then it is your obligation to sell it.

Now you know you need to send sales emails – but what to write? Check out our free guide of proven follow up sales email templates for ideas of emails to use throughout the sales process, and for every kind of lead. Templates can help you semi-automate your follow up process, save time, and reach more of the leads you want. When you use the right tools, the right leads will come your way.


Best Follow-up Email Templates After a Trade Show

Three Key Tips for Converting the Right Leads

Every business has a specific customer they’re looking for – preferably one who can afford their services and is ready to make a purchasing decision. For B2C companies, this customer might be clear to everyone. But for B2B companies and in particular industrial companies, often only the owner of the business inherently understands the profile of their ideal customer. Communicating this to sales and marketing teams, and making sure that you are converting the right leads, is a challenge.  

Inbound marketing is a marketing methodology that addresses this issue. In contrast to traditional marketing or even digital marketing, inbound marketing involves creating a system that starts with understanding the ideal customer. This understanding then guides an entire process of communication. Here are three key steps you can follow to start building an inbound system:

1. Create a Clear Buyer Persona

Take the time to sit down and draft a persona for your ideal customer. What role do they hold within their organization? How educated are they about your industry? What specific needs do they have that your company can fill? Is there a certain size or type of order they might need?

For businesses marketing to other businesses, this means that your buyer is generally someone in management or procurement at another business. They’re generally well educated and have done at least some basic research about your industry. Define exactly who this person is so that sales and marketing are reaching people who can make decisions, have projects your business can complete, and are focusing on converting the right leads.

2. Ensure Marketing and Sales Alignment

Particularly when businesses focus heavily on a professional sales team, marketing may get less focus. However, marketing still plays an important role in making sure the message is consistent and that potential leads are aware of the brand. Regular communication between marketing and sales personnel will ensure that marketing isn’t over-promising the company’s capabilities and the sales team is presenting a consistent, professional image.

3. Create a Clear Sales Funnel

In a manufacturing company, there is a clear process required for each task within the manufacturing process. In the same way, creating a sales funnel where a prospect goes from a stranger to a customer makes sure you’re capturing the information you need to make informed marketing decisions. It also ensures you can properly analyze every lead that comes your way, focusing on converting the right leads that will become customers.

Start with a clear process to document and track leads and move them from someone who is just learning about your business into a prospective customer. Your sales team should also have a clear process to follow for approving and sending out request for quotes and handling changes requested by customers. Even a simple process can be useful to make sure you don’t miss any details and, if set up correctly, can scale as your company grows.

Handling the marketing aspects of a growing business may seem like you have to learn a completely new, and highly technical, subject. That’s why collaborating with an outside marketing firm that specializes in B2B sales such as StepUp Marketing is helpful. While you’ll still have to articulate clearly who your buyer is, they have the technical expertise to set up the marketing processes that feed directly into your sales funnel.


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Blogging For Business – 5 Reasons To Apply It To Your Business ASAP

In the past, blogs were considered a rarity within the business world – very niche specific, without much value. Now, this is no longer true – blogging for business has evolved to be the main staple in most business marketing strategies and more specifically, within any inbound marketing strategy.

While blogging can take some time and may even seem slightly daunting, the advantages of having a blog for your business are numerous and hard to ignore.

Blogging for business

Business Blogging Defined

First, it’s important to note that business blogging looks different than other forms of blogging. Perhaps you choose to blog in your free time, or maybe you’re a frequent reader of travel blogs, that’s all great. But with business blogs, you must keep in mind that its main purpose is to be part of a strategic marketing plan.

The length of posts can range drastically, yet what’s important is that you treat the blog as a part of your company’s website, and keep the subject of posts relevant to what you are selling or providing.

The goal of the blog should be to increase online visibility, whether that is through SEO or social media. Use your company’s expertise to share insights of real value with potential customers. Ensure that posts are speaking to your client’s challenges, holding their interest and proving to them that you are established within your specific industry. Showing them the value that your company has to offer simultaneously promotes your service or product, prompting traffic to be converted into leads.


Why Blog?

In 2017, a blog for your business has more to offer than ever before. The overhead is low, and the benefits are high. Consider this:

  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links
  • 82% of consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands
  • Websites with a blog have 434% more indexed pages
  • 77% of internet users admit to using blogs


Here are five best reasons why we believe blogging for your business is a must:


#1. Business Blogging Drives Traffic

This was briefly mentioned above but is important enough to really dig into. Specifically, with Inbound Marketing, driving traffic (instead of being annoying/distracting) truly is key.

Make sure to view your blog as an extension of your website. Hopefully, your website has been kept simple and doesn’t have a lot of pages, yet most likely isn’t updated as frequently as a blog would be updated. Which is perfectly fine, because blog posts are basically just indexed pages on your website.

A statistic from Hubspot notes that 78% of internet users are turning to the internet to do their product research. With frequent blog posts addressing the concerns of your potential consumers, the odds of them stumbling upon those indexed pages are high.

With every blog that you write and post, you are increasing your chances of:

  1. Showing up in search engines (driving traffic)
  2. Increasing your social media presence with your current audience/followers
  3. Expanding the potential of being discovered via social media by new potential leads

Think of it this way – with each blog post you are publishing, you are increasing the odds that your audience will be sharing and re-sharing this post to others. It’s a simple way to build on free marketing, while also building credibility.

All the above examples are working towards your end goal of driving more traffic, resulting in more potential leads. Which brings us to our second reason.


#2. Blogging & Building Leads

In short, having a blog for your business is going to generate more leads, it’s as simple as that. The traffic that we mentioned above, some of it is looking specifically for your product or service, and therefore are well-positioned to be converted into leads once discovering your blog. When it comes to converting those leads, the use of ‘call to action’ opportunities within the blog are crucial.

Blogs are a GREAT opportunity to utilize CTA’s. Some simple CTA’s to consider adding to blog posts can range from free fact sheets, webinars, training, even an e-book; any simple value-add that encourages a visitor to exchange their contact information. Without a CTA, it may be little more challenging to ensure that you’re turning blog traffic into leads.

Part of turning your traffic into leads is also developing that relationship. The language or tone that your blog uses may help to connect more with your audience than your actual website does. When writing posts, consider asking questions towards the end to promote comments from your readers; which also will give you a view into the kind of traffic you are seeing come through your blog, and what kind of solutions they may be seeking out.

Along with building relationships with your traffic and/or potential leads comes the perk of also building trust. Or in other words, credibility.


#3. Creating Credibility

Stemming directly from the concept of building relationships through your blog now comes the concept of establishing yourself as a credible source of information to your audience; one of authority. The more that you are able to interact with your prospects and answer their questions, the more quickly you can build up that authority.

Perhaps there is confusion around a certain issue, or a visitor is unsure of how to solve a particular problem. If an existing blog post of yours is able to answer a question or solve that problem, you’re able to quickly (and easily) build up that credibility with a visitor, simultaneously increasing the chances of turning them into a lead.

It makes sense; if you’re able to organically utilize a blog to answer questions, the chances of your audience then trusting you and being willing to enter the sales process will be much higher than without. Not to mention the fact that your leads are coming to you more educated because of that blog, which may enable them to actually move through the sales process more quickly than those being established from ground zero.

At the end of the day, you should be striving to create a blog that establishes yourself as the “go-to” resource when it comes to your industry. Provide educational, easy-to-digest knowledge for your blog traffic, and you will build leads that trust you – leading to higher customer conversion rates. It’s as simple as that.


#4. Connecting With Clients

A business blog is also a great tool to genuinely connect with your customers, and communicate with one another. Focus on posting content that addresses issues or pain points that they have (and that you can solve), or use posts to further explore areas that may also be of interest to your audience.

It can be a great resource to test new ideas and thoughts on different solutions or products, by posting and then seeing how your audience directly responds. Using the “comment” feature at the bottom of a blog post is a must; end posts by encouraging your readers to respond to it with their thoughts or questions, and then use that direct feedback as some navigation as your business continues to move forward.

Perhaps your readers are choosing to reach out and comment on challenges that you had never even considered before. Just like the use of social media, blogs can be a great opportunity to then use that information that is freely given to you, and explore ideas within your own business, so that you can possibly offer solutions around those pain points being voiced while growing your business over time.


#5. In it for the Long-Haul

The last thing to consider when it comes to blogging for your business is that blog posts can help grow your business, forever. If you are writing relevant content for your readers to absorb and utilize, your blog posts will continue to bring traffic to your website for years to come.

Think about it. Once you share a new blog post, the hope is that it gets shared, reshared, read through emails being sent out, social media, and so on. This helps your blog to get ranked in search engines and then sets you up to be found in the future – for the weeks and months to come.

So essentially we are suggesting that a blog is not only a short-term but a long-term investment. As long as posts contain a value, they will continue to offer value as long as they continue to exist out there on the world wide web. Be patient, don’t always expect immediate results, and trust that traffic (and leads) will continue to flow in from your blog, over time.

Hubspot – our marketing platform – actually reported that 70% of their blog traffic per month actually comes from posts that weren’t even published during that month. The traffic came from old posts. Old posts, with great value.


It’s Time to Blog for Your Business

When it comes to building your business, blogging can be an extremely relevant, helpful tool, without having to put excessive amounts of time and effort into it. And the best part is, if you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of resources out there to help you launch your business blog and get it underway.

Questions? Comments? Want some help with starting a blog – or your entire marketing campaign? Get in touch with us today!

The Best B2B Lead Generation Strategy To Use In 2017

Business owners have become an attractive target audience in the advertising world. Many startup companies create new tools and products for businesses and we are seeing an increase in marketing campaigns.
If you ever tried a B2B lead generation campaign, you probably already know that it can be very expensive to generate traffic and leads to that market, and in most cases the campaign results are non-effective and non-profitable.

There are three main reasons for this:

    1. Highly Competitive Market
      Google Adwords platform is one of the best sources in analyzing the competitiveness of the market. In the B2B market, big brands can spend a lot of money and choose to bid very high on the most targeted keywords. As a result, it will be very expensive to advertise and compete against those brands.Because the B2B market has proven to be so profitable, it is also crowded.Many companies are competing in it and therefore paying dearly to be seen first in Google Ads or on other ad platforms. It then ends up being a very expensive market that only companies with big advertising budgets can contend in.
    2. A Specific and Narrow Audience
      The B2B audience is more complex to target. Not only because it’s only for business owners, but in most cases you want to target businesses in a specific niche. On top of that, you might also want to zone in on a specific size or type of business, or even a specific person within the business. This makes targeting challenging.
    3. More Difficult to Convert and Close
      As described previously, the B2B market is a very competitive, offering high-ticket products and services, therefore also making it more challenging to convert to sales.
      Bridging the gap from generating the lead (the first step in the sales funnel) to then closing the sale can become even more difficult when the the product is expensive, and the consumer has several (sometimes less expensive) options to choose from.


Targeting Tactics For B2B Campaigns:

1) Direct Offer Targeting
(A direct campaign for b2b service or product through all ads platforms.)

You can create a very direct campaign in Google Adwords using “Buying Keywords” – the exact keywords people use to search your products and services. In other platforms such as Facebook Ads you can target your audience by demographics, characteristics and even usability such as “page admins” by incorporating direct offer ads added right on their timelines.

Google Adwords Direct Targeting:

When To Use Direct Offer Targeting?
Google Adwords often sees great results, as the person who is searching the product or service has a better chance of being interested in the direct offer and converting into a lead. It can be tested immediately and shows results in no time. In Facebook ads, it might be more difficult as people are utilizing the site for more social reasons,  and not necessarily searching for solutions as they scroll through their newsfeed.

When Not To Use Direct Offer Targeting?
Within the many niches of Google Adwords, you’ll find out the competition to be fierce and expensive, not always giving a positive ROI for the campaign. It can sometimes cost much to drive traffic to the offer that a large budget is needed to win the game.

Facebook Ads Direct B2B Targeting:

2) Wide and Indirect Targeting

When attempting to target the  B2B audience indirectly, it may mean reaching them when they are not even fully sure what exact solution they are seeking. For example: If I’m selling a Task Manager Tool, the business owner might be searching in Google for “business growth strategies” or “business growth plan” (see pic.) Therefore my product may be very relevant for him.
With Facebook Ads you can reach people that have an interest in “similar products”, or have already bought tools to help business productivity.

Google Indirect Keywords:

Why Use Indirect Targeting?

This method of targeting can drive cheaper traffic with much less competition. Furthermore, it reaches a very a large audience and provides many ideas for SEO and organic traffic.

Facebook Ads Indirect Targeting Options:

When Not to Use Indirect Targeting?

When you need fast conversions and have no patience or time, this method won’t work for you. You probably won’t see high conversion rate from that traffic at the very beginning, and may even attract some non-relevant traffic as well.

What Is The Best Tactic?

The idea is to combine both tactics and use the advantages of each tactic.
As we described in the beginning, it is expensive to generate leads and sales in the B2B market, therefore it is extremely important to create a great sales funnel that will have a higher probability of closing the deal at the end of the day.

In order to do that, you should know a fundamental concept of the Inbound Marketing Methodology – The Buyer’s Journey! The Buyer’s Journey is the process each person goes through from the moment there is an interest in finding a solution to the problem, up to the moment they decide to buy.

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The Three Stages of the Buyer’s Journey:

  • Awareness: The moment the person realizes the problem exists,  and is strategizing around what to do.
  • Consideration: This stage prompts the evaluation of different solutions for the problem. The buyer is trying to understand what is the best fix from all the options there are in the market.
  • Decision: This is when the buyer wants to decide which brand will deliver the best results for him. There is now consideration between several companies that offer the same solution.

With the buyer’s journey, we understand that we can now prepare our sales funnel and create the best campaign for the B2B audience.

The sales funnel also divides into three parts:

TOFU – Top Of The Funnel:
At the top of the funnel we normally try to give our audience great content that will help them find different solutions for their problem, and show them that they have a fix for their situation.

Blogging, social media, articles, videos or any other content are used to raise their awareness about the solutions.

MOFU – Middle Of The Funnel:
In the middle of the funnel, we first want to convert cold traffic into a MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead). This is done by downloading a simple guide, reading a blog post or commenting on a relevant Facebook post. During this stage, content focus more on benefits of our product or service, and how it can help them in the future. Also at this stage the user is more qualified to consider using our solution, so direct offers may be in play as well.

BOFU – Bottom Of The Funnel:
The last stage is the closing deal. Here you should handle any objections the user may have before buying. The most effective content include successful case studies, testimonials, guarantees or smart pricing.

Most marketers and advertisers tend to compete for the attention of the B2B audience when they are at the second stage of the funnel, which is mostly expensive and highly competitive. There is no need to give up on it completely, but it is very important to give more attention to TOFU, where we can get much cheaper traffic and a bigger audience with less competition. After capturing their attention, we can then follow them up to the other stages of the funnel.

Here’s a simple explanation on how to do it:

  • Long tail Keyword Research: You should look for long tail keywords that have high search volume and little competition. From here, think about content with real value that you can create with those keywords in mind.
  • Cheap Traffic Sources: First, optimize your content for Google search results. If you find powerful keywords, this can equate to great traffic opportunities. It is also very easy to drive traffic for solid content from all social media networks. Whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or others, people love great content and most likely will engage if it’s truly connecting with them.
  • Pixel Them: When visitors visit your content you can “paint” them with special pixels, and then follow them with different medias. With tools like Google Analytics and Facebook Ads, you can create different pixel lists and segment them by interactions and demographics
  • Direct Offers Campaigns: after they have expressed some interest in your message, you can then place your offers in front of your captivated audience on almost any media you want: Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc..

With this strategy we achieve:

  • Cheap Traffic
  • Bigger Exposure
  • Better Leads
  • Higher Conversions and More Sales

Here’s a quick example on how this method can be implemented into your business:

Let’s say you have a product for small businesses. You can see there are several hundreds of searches per month for terms like: “blogging for business” or “blog for business”.

You can create an interesting article about “7 advantages blogging for business has over other marketing methods”.

This article (with some SEO effort) can get to the first page in Google and drive consistent traffic to your website. You can also use social media and advertising platforms to promote this content and drive cheap traffic to your website.

Inside your article you can leave CTA’s (calls to actions) to your offer or to “Lead Magnets” where the visitors can leave their email to receive further great content. All the while, the visitors are pixelized to your remarketing lists and are now ready to see your offers.

Your remarketing lists can be also segmented by visitor behavior and interaction with your content. You should test several combinations until you find your winning and most converting funnel.

As you can see, the old method of direct offer targeting, especially for B2B audience, is getting more competitive and expensive. People are smarter than before and have less patience for annoying ads for things they have never expressed interest in. Nevertheless, the opportunity with B2B lead generation tactics is bigger than ever, as not many companies have adopted the Inbound Marketing Methodology yet.

If you want to win the game in 2017, you should join the movement and implement the tactics that are proven to work.


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