Have you ever walked into a mall to get a coffee and walked out with new garment or another item you had no idea you were going to buy when you walked in?
What often happens is that you browse with no intent to purchase and you get sold to by a skilful sales person.
During your time in the mall the whole sales process went from zero to 100% complete.
The B2B sales process is different in so many ways, but it is still interesting to think about how complete the sales process is when the prospective client first reaches out to the vendor. Not to buy, but maybe to inquire about budgetary prices, lead times or other more detailed questions.
According to Forrester the sales process is anywhere from 67% to 90% complete when it happens. The vendor’s sales team now has the opportunity to move the process the last stretch in order to close the sale.
However, the real challenge is – how do you move the sales process from zero to 67%+ without your sales team being in touch with the prospective customer?
The answer is of course “marketing”!
You produce product descriptions, case studies, white papers, presentations and put them on your website so they are easy to find.
You execute campaigns to get your marketing collateral in front of prospective customers to raise awareness so you appear on their shortlist of potential vendors.
However, according to Forrester, the prospective customer only gets 20% of his information about your company and products via you – 80% comes via other channels.
These other channels can be thought of as influencers. Whether they are industry analysts, journalists, thought leaders, bloggers or something else, they influence your sales process. They influence how you move a prospective customer from 0% to 67-90% of the completed sales process. Neglect or leave these influencers to your competitors and you are unlikely to ever get past the 67% line.
B2B marketers have long been engaging with influencers, but the process has traditionally not been very scalable. This has led B2B marketers to execute limited campaigns where they brief industry analysts and a maybe a small number of other influencers once or twice a year.
However, because this is an expensive and logistically demanding activity it is usually restricted to a very small group of influencers who anyhow see their overall influence in the industry erode on a daily basis as more and more influencers participate in the discussion on industry trends.
Today more and more B2B marketers are realising that there are ways to run very large and very cost-effective influencer programmes where they effectively look after all influencers in their industry. Not 20, not 100 but 5 thousand – or maybe up to 50 thousand influencers globally.
While just a few years ago this would have been totally cost-prohibitive it is fast becoming the new normal due to the advent of smarter solutions such as Onalytica IRM that automatically identifies the best opportunities to engage with Influencers.
Now the organisation’s spokespeople/evangelists/PR (whatever name/role they have) don’t have to identify the influencing opportunities but can focus their time fully on actioning the ripest influencing opportunities.
We know the similar situation from sales very well: The sales executive that receives a steady stream of hot leads from a well-oiled lead generation programme is much more effective and closes many more sales than the person who has to personally find the lead for every sale.
So how do you create an effective and holistic influencer relationship programme?
First you need to identify your influencers. You probably already have a group of influencers you, to some degree, look after and engage with. However, because your new influencer programme lets you look after many more influencers you probably need to identify all others who are a legitimate influencer in your industry. This can be done using analysis of the public, online debate on the issues that are important to your industry.
Second, you load all your influencers into Onalytica IRM which will automatically ingest everything they say online – on Twitter, on blogs, in the news, and so on.
Third, you load into Onalytica IRM all your marketing collateral; your case studies, white papers, presentations, blog posts; anything you would like to get in front of your influencers.
Onalytica IRM will now automatically analyse anything your influencers say online and check if you have any marketing collateral that is likely to be useful and/or interesting for the influencers. These matches, or influencing opportunities, are then ranked and surfaced to your team. All they now have to do is to reach out to the influencer. And because they have a piece of collateral that they know is going to be of interest to the influencer they can approach the engagement with the increased conviction that comes from knowing that you are going to be positively received. You may equally choose to engage with the influencer in a different; these efforts can also be recorded in the workflow element of Onalytica IRM so can be tied back to any uplift in your marketing performance.
For organisations with lots of marketing collateral this is not only a fantastic amplifier on the ROI of creating the collateral, but it enables any person in the organisation to make the most use of all the collateral in their marketing efforts. Where a recent joiner to the team may be constrained by not knowing the thousands of pieces of marketing collateral available, the automated solution automatically flags up which piece of collateral is likely to be most relevant for influencing an influencer
The bottom line is:
– In B2B sales, influencing plays a key role in moving the sales process from zero to between two-thirds and 90% of completion.
– You can now let computer systems look after ALL your influencers and automatically identify when there is an excellent influencing opportunity and which piece(s) of your marketing collateral you should use to open the conversation with each influencer.
– Your team can now deliver substantially better results from influencing because they don’t have to find their own influencing opportunities – they spend all their time executing on great influencing leads.
To paraphrase from the film Moneyball: In B2B marketing your objective should be to generate leads. But to generate leads you need to buy influence. In order to buy influence you need as many ripe opportunities to influence as your budget allows.
With Onalytica IRM you can look after all your influencers and automatically be served up the influencing opportunity ready with the opening line “Hello, I saw what you wrote/tweeted about. We actually have a case study/white paper that deals with that exact issue and I’d like to present/send it to you…”
Contact us to learn more about how Onalytica IRM can make your B2B marketing budget work a lot harder.