While scrolling through LinkedIn, I came across this intriguing post written by Gaetano Nino DiNardi and decided it was time for me to share what we've been doing to help our clients build Top of Funnel.
In his post, Gaetano shares five brutal truths about why salespeople are not successful in their prospecting outreaches. Over the past 2.5 years as the CEO of Sales BQ®, I have witnessed the same observations from our clients' prospects, over and over again.
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Sales Needs to Change
In the age of information overload, prospects just aren’t interested in talking to salespeople who come out of nowhere about a product they’ve never heard of. The old way of "doing sales," as we know it, needs to change. I can say this with certainty because, at our company, we learned it the hard way.
In the early days at Sales BQ®, we had a laser-focus on sales departments. We would build up their processes and infrastructure, hire a great team, and train and manage the team through the new processes. We were building excellent sales departments, yet we often weren’t seeing the type of exponential revenue growth that we (and our clients) wanted.
Eventually, we realized that our focus was too narrow. Because we didn’t have a say in the client’s marketing strategy or technology stack, we were expecting salespeople to do it all.
Here are a few of the things our sales teams had to do in the early days:
- Build their own prospect lead lists, manually.
- Find their prospects’ contact info, manually, like MacGyver.
- Manually enter the data into a spreadsheet or CRM, line by line.
- Create and send their prospect email communications without automation.
- Prep for and run their sales meetings.
- Create their own presentation content.
- Create custom proposals, manually, for each client.
- Sometimes, even provide ongoing client support after closing a deal!
That’s a pretty long list, and it doesn’t leave a lot of room for actually selling. Many of our clients were focused on hiring the Sales Unicorn who can do it all. Build the list manually, prospect manually, and leave enough time to be an incredible salesperson, working as many deals to “close won” as possible. But they were held back. Most of these sales unicorns were spending upwards of 70% of their time manually prospecting when the majority of that time could be automated and produce better long-term results.
How to Build a Revenue Engine
This led us to the realization that companies don’t grow revenue exponentially by focusing on sales in a silo. In order to add jet fuel to our clients’ bottom lines, we needed to broaden our focus. Our clients didn’t just want to build better sales teams--they wanted to build revenue engines.
We made a significant shift in our business. We decided to focus on all elements of revenue generation and revenue operations (or, as we call it, RevOps). This meant supporting our clients’ sales departments, but also their marketing and customer success teams, and focusing on putting the right technology in place.
Download this RevOps Audit template & Companion Guide to complete your own audit.
SalesOps & Marketing Automation
We launched our marketing support service in 2019, and by the end of the year, we were supporting marketing for one-third of all Sales BQ® clients. We also added a role for tech stack audits, gap analyses, and tech stack automation implementation and training. Our VP of SalesOps allows us to offer SalesOps as a service, in which we implement smart tech stack automation for our clients’ marketing and sales departments.
We offer a full tech stack audit for our clients to discover which processes they should automate, and which tech tools they should eliminate (and we often find that our clients are spending tens of thousands per year on technologies they’re not even using!). Once the audit is complete and the new tools are implemented, we create an SOP and train our clients’ teams on how to use their amazing new tech stack.
HubSpot Agency Partner Services
As of December 2019, we are now in partnership with HubSpot. As a HubSpot Agency Partner, we custom build HubSpot’s inbound methodology and related services for our clients (so do me a favor and don’t go to HubSpot’s website until you’ve spoken to us—if you visit their website now, we may not be able to work with you directly). This new service allows us to use automation to shift the focus of our clients’ teams completely. In other words, it allows you to stop hunting, and start selling.
How it Works
To paint a picture of how we structure SalesOps, Marketing, and Sales to drive revenue growth, I’ve broken down the methodology that we use to automate and refine your sales funnel using our HubSpot tools.
Step 1: Getting the Opt-In
We want to make sure our clients stay compliant and don’t spam anyone, which means we need to ensure that everyone we add to the funnel has opted in. This all starts with building a qualified lead list.
Building the Lead List
- We partner with Cience to build custom, human-verified, pre-qualified lead lists (if you have used other lead building services, you know how key the ‘human verification’ element is here).
- This costs $2-5 per lead, depending on the complexity of the client’s ICP specs.
- Next, our clients create a budget for how much they want to spend on their lead list.
- We also take existing records in your CRM and conduct a “health check” and update old or incorrect data, including adding new contact records.
- Once the list is ready, sales and marketing work these leads in tandem.
Working the Leads: Sales
Once sales receives the list, they’re responsible for some initial outreach to ignite the prospect’s curiosity in the company. This includes:
- Connecting with their leads on LinkedIn and following our proven LinkedIn method (we teach this method in detail, access for free now in our training room.)
- Using our automated and templated HubSpot tool to send a short and sweet customized intro email, asking an easy question that we know they’ll say yes to (this is one of my holy grail tips from The Psychology of Selling).
- The email’s CTA drives them to the website—this is where marketing comes in.
- If the initial email doesn’t convert to an opt-in, we encourage salespeople to begin a 10-15 step cadence of emails, calls, social media engagement, invites to webinars or events, handwritten letters and other physical mail, and drop-ins, if applicable.
Working the Leads: Marketing
Marketing guides the prospect to an opt-in, in tandem with sales, by focusing on a few key strategies:
- An engaging website that offers value on every page. We can build, update, or rebuild your website, using HubSpot’s CMS, or any service you’re already using.
- A content marketing strategy, using important tactics like pillar pages and topic clustering. Sales BQ® has a full-service content team that creates buyer-persona specific content, and a copyeditor who can edit our clients’ in-house content.
- We follow an Account Based Marketing approach by using a targeted list, generating content specific to each buyer persona (title, industry, geographic location, and size of the company), and adding buyer-persona specific landing pages and content on the website.
- An SEO strategy, which goes hand-in-hand with a content strategy. Google’s algorithm is shifting, and SEO is no longer just about keyword stuffing. Google gets smarter every day, and it knows what pages people end up spending time on when they search for specific terms, phrases, and questions. This means that engaging, buyer-persona specific content is the SEO strategy we implement.
- If a prospect clicks on the intro email from sales, HubSpot registers the action and guides the client to relevant content (both free and gated) created by the content team.
- Each piece of content offers value to the prospect and guides them to opt-in for even more relevant, valuable content.
- An SEM strategy. Most of us know that building organic search results takes time, but paid ads can drive results today, so we can implement ads and social media marketing to supplement traffic until the SEO strategy holds its own. We help our clients build a digital strategy that delivers targeted, qualified impressions, clicks, and conversions, all by focusing on quality over quantity.
Step 2: Lead Nurturing
Once the prospect has opted-in, we nurture the lead by getting them interested in and excited about your brand. How? By talking about the pains and problems you solve. We match the problems in their buyer-persona specific day-in-the-life with how your products and services solve those problems. They’ll begin receiving emails as the marketing email drip campaign (which we build) kicks in. Sales can also build their own customized, personalized email cadences to run alongside the marketing email funnel. The email campaigns should continue to guide prospects to more valuable content that helps answer their most pressing question, How can this company help me, make my life better, and address my key challenges?. This doesn’t have to be an endless barrage of fliers, either. We help our clients create rich content for prospects in the lead nurture funnel, including:
- Compelling and powerful content meant to help them solve problems on their own
- In-house podcasts
- Podcast guest spots
- Guest blogging
- Brief how-to, instructional, or informational videos
Step 3: Lead Scoring MQLs Based on Engagement
Once a prospect begins engaging with the brand through the lead nurture content, HubSpot can automatically assign lead scores based on the actions the prospect has taken. This is customizable, and each client can determine the qualifying points that translate to a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL).
Step 4: Sales Qualified Leads
We work with clients to build high-quality Business Development Representative teams. Once the prospect has been scored high enough to become an MQL, the BDR reaches out to qualify the prospect, at which point they become a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). BDRs are trained on making pristine first impressions in order to tee up a qualified discovery or demo meeting with a salesperson, depending on the sales process flow for each company.
Step 5: Opportunity & Forecasting Revenue
Now that the prospect has been properly nurtured and qualified, the salesperson turns that lead into an opportunity, forecasts the revenue, and begins doing what they do best: selling!
Notice how the steps get progressively shorter as the lead goes through the funnel?
That’s because we are building a methodology that does the heavy lifting on the front end. This lets our clients’ salespeople target their skills with a laser-focus on the opportunities that are most likely to lead to revenue growth—and that’s how you build the front end of a revenue engine. Stay tuned for future blogs on our in-depth approach to Account Based Marketing content strategies and Mastering the Sales Demo.
Want to talk about whether this methodology would make sense for your company’s environment? Reach out to me here to start a conversation!
Mary Grothe, CEO of Sales BQ®
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MEET MARY GROTHE, THE CEO OF SALES BQ
Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B SaaS Sales Rep who after selling millions in revenue and breaking multiple records, formed Sales BQ®, an outsourced RevOps firm of fractional VPs of Sales, Sales Ops, and CMO's who serve companies across the nation by profitably rebuilding their sales & marketing departments and growing their revenue by focusing on BQ, the behavioral quotient, and proven inbound + outbound strategies.