CEO of YetiZen. Worked with B2B BD and marketing at companies like Google, Microsoft, InMobi and a number of others. Helped customers reach and nurture relationships with over 20,000 developers.
Curious how to increase B2B marketing ROI?
Check out my VentureBeat Article http://venturebeat.com/2016/08/10/the-struggle-to-stand-out-from-competitors-at-b2b-events-heres-a-solution/
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My response is going to be significantly different than the others. Which is why before I share it, let me give you a quick sense of where I am coming from. Since 2010 I have worked with over 50 B2B companies helping them reach, build relationships, and ultimately close their customers. Total customers reached? 20,000+. Lifetime value of each customer was a few hundred thousand and higher. Significant experience with startups + SME Tech companies.
Your question is a good one. But there are two premises behind it are off and will lead you down a path of loosing a lot of time and money. Let's quickly talk about them:
INCORRECT PREMISE #1: Outbound Marketing is about broadcasting your message via email, phone, and social media.
WHY THIS ISN'T TRUE:
Even with a good portfolio and value proposition this alone will not bring you quality leads. The biggest reason for this is everyone is broadcasting. Your ideal customers have learned to ignore these efforts.
INCORRECT PREMISE #2: The key to your success is a smart 360 CRM that tracks email, phone, and social interactions
WHY THIS ISN'T TRUE: Given the general size of most agencies you probably only have at most 2-3 marketing people and 1-2 sales people to close these leads. A full 360 CRM will not give you the information to drastically make or break your outbound prospects impression of your agency. You will end up spending significant cycles on this decision only to find out later that this had no impact on your sales.
INSTEAD FOCUS ON:
-developing ideal prospect targeting criteria
-finding ideal prospects that fit this criteria
-develop prospect engagement campaigns (higher touch tactics the closer they are to buying/closing)
Each of these is itself a process and system that must be thought out carefully for your market BEFORE you begin outbound marketing. If you want help understanding the exact steps involved in each, feel free to schedule a consulting call with me.
My response is going to be significantly different than those you have already gotten. Which is why before I share it, let me give you a quick overview of my experience and where I am coming from. Since 2010 I have worked with over 50 B2B companies helping them reach, build relationships, and ultimately close their customers. Total customers reached? 20,000+. Lifetime value of each customer was a few hundred thousand and higher.
At this point you are probably thinking:
1) Ok I know I should fix my messaging, but how exactly should I do this?
2) Do I really have to cold call? Ugh, all I can imagine is people being so annoyed at the interruption I will never be able to get a meaningful word in edgewise!
3) Why should I have to try sleazy low status sales activities anyways? What I have is of immense value for Motorsport businesses and race teams/venues!
What is the one tactic a newish company with an amazing product to use to take care of all of the above AND close its B2B audience?
The answer is curiosity emails.
If you have a well crafted curiosity email you don't need:
-to create perfect magical messaging that excites your B2B target audience at first listen
-keep cold calling and interrupting your B2B audience to the point of them hating you
-reduce your business and product's perceived value by sleazy low status sales activities
The curiosity email is exactly what it sounds like--it builds curiosity and gets them to say YES tell me more.
To get it right you have to test several different versions. Now obviously you don't want to test different curiosity emails multiple times on the same prospect. That will only get you put into spam boxes and forever marked as a sleazy sales guy.
There is a right way to test these such that you:
-avoid the spam box
-get responses from people curious and open to hearing about you and your product AND
-get people to know, like, and trust you even before you sell at all
I can help you determine the best curiosity emails to test for you and guide you on the right way to test.
Schedule a call with me and we will get started.
I've worked with over 50 B2B companies to help them generate, nurture and close your leads.
I think the question you asked is premature.
B2B Saas startups usually goes through 4 stages discovery, validation, efficiency, and scale.
Validation from one customer is a start but is not enough validation to move to the efficiency stage.
If you disagree try answering these questions which I recommend every startup have answered before move to the efficiency stage:
1) Does my B2B product solve the needs for 5 (high level) or 10 (medium level) executives?
2) Which types of executives does this product work for? (answered so granularly that if you provide a smart assistant with some knowledge of online research with the explanation she/he can come back to you with 25 targets)
3) Which types of executives does this product not work for? (answered so granularly that if you provide a smart assistant with some knowledge of online research with the explanation she/he can eliminate executives not a fit on their own)
4) Do we have a clear elevator pitch of which problem/goal my product helps executives solve that gets curiosity? TEST: When I tested it with 10 executives, 3 of them expressed curiosity?
5) Do we have strong relationships with at least 3 connectors who know the types of executives in #2? Are these connectors champions of my product such that they are willing to make at least 3 introductions each?
If you don't have the answers to these questions you need to get them. Happy to help explain further over a call if you need.
If you do have answers to these questions and are truly ready to move on to the efficiency stage then share them with me before our call so I can help you figure out the best path forward to developing a target list, reaching out, and closing them.
The best way to get leads for a B2B solution is to do prospecting research online.
What should you look for? Very depends on your type and stage of business.
Assuming you are completely new here are some questions that would get you started:
1) What problem are the business you are looking for having or what goal do they have?
2) Do they have a burning need to solve it?
3) How does what you offer help them solve their problem or their goal?
4) What stage of business are they in? What industry? What size?
And that is just for starters. Best approach for online research from there on out depends on your answers to the above. Once you have them, set up a call and I can help you further.
My response is going to be significantly different than anything else you see here.
Which is why before I share it let me tell you about my experience so you know where I am coming from. Since 2010 I have worked with over 50 B2B companies helping them reach, build relationships, and ultimately close their customers. Over 20,000 total customers reached through my efforts. Value of each customer starts at a few hundred thousand and higher as my clients were not selling B2B SAAS subscriptions.
Here are problems with the solutions you discussed:
-referral systems are inconsistent in providing quality prospects (customers don't know what profile you are looking for) as scale
-advertising and content marketing both take some time to crack (as you said)
-baller BD guys may or may not work. Baller BD guys have relevant networks of people who trust them but their past results may be a result of being part of upwardly mobile hot companies and products rather than their skills at positioning new products as a fit for your customer's needs (I say from experience of having hired someone like this).
So what is a poor newish B2B company to do? Especially since you already ruled out SDRs.
I would suggest the issue is not SDRs and lead generation firms in general. The issue is how you explained what you wanted and trained them to getting the best results for you.
From your message it seems like you defined the problem of outbound lead generation as two jobs--prospecting and scheduling.
Scheduling is only difficult if you are interrupting the prospect by forcing them to talk to you about your product rather than their needs and goals. As a rule the account exec should always handle all parts of initial engagement, curiosity generation, and getting someone on a needs analysis call.
Now let's talk about prospecting. Here are the biggest mistakes I have seen B2B companies make in training lead generation providers to give them the prospects they need:
1. Not clearly defining the prospect--most companies simply share what they do and who their existing clients are. To get quality prospects you must define this granularly to ensure someone with little to no background in your market, your products, and your customers can hit the ground running. An example from my business--if I say SAAS B2B companies to an SDR I will get a mixed up low quality prospect list. Saying this instead would get me much higher quality prospects: 1) B2B companies selling post launch offerings for app developers. 2) Each of their customers represents thousands of dollars in revenue (not a monthly subscription product) 3) B2B have established intent to buy products like mine.
2. Segmenting ideal prospect too broad or too narrow--this is a symptom of not knowing their own ideal prospect. The result is an inability to bring prospects you do get to close. After you get the prospect you should be nurturing the relationship with them via your marketing and sales function (not trying to do a fire sale right away). All lead nurturing by sales and marketing must be aligned by prospect segment. Eg. companies that say they want to work with everyone (too broad) or top 10 players (too narrow) often don't know what to do uniquely for each segment to get them to eventually close. You can blame the SDR then but really your internal functions weren't set up to treat each prospect type uniquely.
3. Cold calling--I abhor cold calling as do your customers--people view it as spam and an interruption. There is no reason why in today's world anyone should cold call. Proponents will say there are some situations where it works. Sure if you were the only one of a kind in your market and your buyer had limited information that would be the case. This is the reason why it worked in the 1980s. You would be hard pressed to find low competition, low buyer information markets now. In every market there are a small number of connectors. Building long term valuable relationships with these people the right way (by giving them a lot of value first) is the key to getting them to opening the doors for you to your market.
Do any of these sound like mistakes you have made?
I've gone through a lot at a high level.
Each of these is itself a process and system that must be thought out carefully for your market BEFORE you can use a SDR/VA or anyone else to help you with prospecting. If you are interested in getting help setting these up, let's get on a consulting call.