Welcome to part 6 of a 6-part article series on knowledge, the Buyer Journey, marketing/sales synergy and better sales results. Our last article connected the dots between powerful knowledge and successful sales. We learned how to offer concrete, actionable things; save salespeople’s time for selling; and factor in churn. This article ties it all together with proper campaign measurement.
To get the right answers, you must have the right questions. Machine learning processes can only be as good as the data they use. If the data going in is poor, the predictions will not accelerate your success. To predict future behaviour, you have to have some knowledge of past behaviour.
What is the amount of data needed to build beneficial knowledge? When onboarding machine learning, ask yourself these questions: how does the knowledge and data level reflect on customer success? What data do we typically have from our ‘A’ accounts? If you could optimise the date gathered, automate gathering and remove all ‘bad’ and ‘waste’ data, could you save 10% to 20% of your sales organisation’s time? This means 100,000 to 300,000 euros of annual savings for every team of ten.
Kill conventions to make room for new growth
The best goal scorers don’t play defence. Most organisations waste salespeople’s’ skills and competences on admin routines. Early-stage target list building and contacting doesn’t require fine-tuned (and expensive) negotiation and closing skills. Sophisticated marketing solutions can deliver results faster…and vaster.
A software company targeting accounting firms realised their sales team was spending considerable time chasing down new accounts picked from an Excel list. They knew there were two main buyer profiles: elder conservatives and young tech-savvy early adopters. Marketing built a testing platform where account representatives could discover whether prospects were technically literate or an endangered species. Tests directed both audiences to curated content reflecting their situation and preferences, while simultaneously alerting sales. Now sales could pick the top prospects and also gain access to precise knowledge with which to open a conversation.
To succeed later with sales opportunities, it’s highly essential to gather knowledge in the early stages of the buying cycle. Knowledge creates opportunities that can incubate for quarters and years.
When do the sales start?
We just finalised a major deal and realised that it was ignited 23 months ago. From receipt of RFP to close took 6 months, but that’s not the whole story. All started with an innocent one-to-one type industry foresight & credentials presentation two years back.
So what happened along the way? In creating a timeline, we realised there were several touchpoints with the organisation. Not precisely with the project owner, but with several other experts and opinion leaders. This was wide-scale Account Based Marketing with a long tail.
Our interest was to win this client, but our actions were totally unplanned—picking random opportunities to enhance our visibility and positioning. We were also blind to all client-side process phases—how the project owner navigated through internal obstacles to get to the RFP phase and beyond.
Could we now do this all over again, but intentionally? Could we model a prospect-side timeline to better understand what the steps are and how to bridge roadblocks? The answer is YES.
Looking through your CRM data and feeding it into a machine-learning algorithm can result in knowledge of timelines, with events that can be distilled into a standard buyer’s journey model. Then you will see the dialogue gaps you need to fill in to ensure your success.
And you realise that sales and marketing are more closely intertwined than you thought.
Are you copying best practises from used car salespeople?
Competition is normally about market share. Companies are less concerned about customer longevity. Especially when they copy benchmarks from short-sighted consumer marketing. They’ll let the tailboard leak freely—a Finnish expression that speaks to rapid onboarding and rapid churn. True B2B professionals know that it takes months and years to win new accounts.
The same applies to existing customers. How do you avoid having long relationships grow stale? How can you constantly be the ‘greener grass’ among the competition? How do you predict the best next move a customer might take tomorrow? The simple answer is customer knowledge. The challenge is to refine it out of the data – companies’ biggest unused asset and a bigger white spot than the Larsen Ice Shelf.
Measuring the success of your customer knowledge-based marketing program is not so different from measuring the success of any program. The one thing that makes all the difference is your starting point. If you embark on a print ad campaign, what knowledge do you typically start with? Not a whole lot.
1- Measure everything
The central premise of this article series is that you’re starting with data and refining it into knowledge. That presupposes that you are able to measure everything, which is a very strong position to be in when it comes time to evaluating success. Whether it’s website visits, landing page performance, blog reads, social media statistics, CTA clicks or actual sales, measure everything.
2- Short view: cost of customer acquisition
The nice thing about digital marketing is that many, many tasks are automated. This lowers the cost of customer acquisition (CCA). The big question is, what was the CCA for your knowledge-based campaign versus past methods? Did you shed traditional media in this campaign? The bottom line is that if the ratio of cost to find, nurture and sell to a prospect is good, you have a viable method. This is the one metric that will give you a 30,000-foot view of the health of your program.
3- Long view: customer lifetime value
If CCA indicates the health of campaign ROI, customer lifetime value (CLV) lets you know the health of your sales/marketing model for years to come. Understand the projected profit from each customer over time and you can decide how much you want to spend to attract and retain new customers. The learning here is that you can spend more on marketing, assuming you build in nurturing as a retention tool, than you might have thought to acquire new prospects. The trick is to fix the leaky tailboard!
Take the CCA and subtract lifetime value. CCA costs include advertising, marketing and sales rep costs over the average sales cycle. So if your sales process normally takes three months, take three months’ worth of cost and divide it by the number of sales made in that time. If you have a CCA of $500 and an LTV of $20,000, you know you’re winning.