As someone who spent 13 years in the B2B marketing sphere, I know that it can be a challenge. So I decided to put together a B2B best practices guide to help marketers who are either thinking of getting started in B2B or are already on their way and may need a little extra inspiration.
Just 5 years ago, companies were hard pressed to find an experienced B2B marketer. However, the times have changed and B2B marketing is considered as mainstream as its consumer counterpart.
Starting out in B2B, you should always think about the following:
Streamlining the back end processes
The first question to ask yourself is: Is my company’s back end process streamlined enough to accept and process leads through the funnel adequately?
This is where a lot of companies get in trouble. Once the leads start coming, they realize they are unable to handle them due to lack of a back-end process. Make sure you define not only goals for your sales people but also the steps you’d like to see take place in order to process the leads according to the needs of your business. Also, make sure you watch the process closely and improve it along the way.
Before turning on the lead faucet, test your funnel. First, align all departments – make sure all incentives for all departments that touch the funnel/lead processing are in lockstep and no department is incentivized to compete with one another. This will make working together very challenging. Secondly, be prepared for different scenarios. Write scripts for customer service agents and have an escalation process available, if necessary. Make sure anyone who touches the customers is adequately trained.
Finally, Get mystery shoppers. Use friends and family to test your product and your employees. Make sure they stretch the limit of your product or service by testing everything, from the patience of customer service agents to product capabilities. Your goal is ensure your product and service meets the needs of the most particular customers.
Investing in the right technology
Do you have a CRM system in place? How about a marketing automation system? Sure, they seem expensive upfront, but not having them will wind up costing you much more in the long run. Whether you have a self-built system you use, or an external tool such as Sales Force and Hubspot, make sure they are in sync with each other, and are also connected to any internal data bases you have. I always recommend implementing a 3rd party tool.
The biggest mistake a company can make is to think they can build everything in-house. If your company could recreate a Hubspot or a Salesforce in house, than what are you doing trying to grow your business? You should be competing with Hubspot and Salesforce, right? Not only will your company not succeed in re-creating a great SaaS product that has had major R&D resources poured towards it for years, it will divert resources away from improving your business and delighting your customers and toward something which is readily available for purchase ASAP. If you tally up the hours your engineering team would spend working on building an in house CRM and/or automation tool, you will quickly see that the ROI simply isn’t there.
The moral of the story? Implement 3rd party CRM and automation systems that are right for your business. To get our CRM cheat sheet click here. For our automation guide, you may download it here.
Hiring the right team
The importance of hiring is very often overlooked and underestimated by companies. Hiring in competitive markets such as San Francisco, New York or Austin can be an even lengthier and a more grueling ordeal. Retaining the great talent you hire, will just add to the challenge. According to research by talent management firm Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com, 40% of workers say they would leave if a better option became available. Make sure your company offers the right mix of perks and culture to hire and retain a great team.
Unfortunately, the hiring process is time consuming. This is where companies, specifically start-ups could be swayed to make hasty decisions. Cutting corners such as not checking all references could cost your company money and time in the end. Two out of the three references is good enough, right? Sure it can be tempting to hire mediocre candidate although your gut tells you to go back to the drawing board and get a new set of resumes with actual B2B advertising experience. But who wants to start all over? Especially when you have been recruiting for the same position for 2 months, with no luck. The answer is “You should”. In fact, you should take as long as you need to hire the right team. Use temp workers or interns in the meanwhile to fill the void.
According to Suzanne Lucas from Inc. Magazine, turnover can cost companies up to 150% of the employees’ salary. If you are operating in a high tech/high cost market such as San Francisco, Austin, or New York, that can leave your company feeling the pinch.
B2B marketing can be a challenge, but if you take your time to structure your business and marketing right from the beginning, you can avoid some serious business disruptions in the future.