With Terry Arnold, Vice President, Marketing, True Influence
B2B sellers always look for ways to hit or exceed their revenue numbers quickly. The money is out there, but you have to find opportunities to dramatically shorten typical buying journeys, which can extend six months or more.
Your best shot at booking revenue on an accelerated schedule is with existing customers and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) who you’ve already scored as being likely to convert. In my last post, I discussed some of the ways that sales and marketing can cooperate to move sales-qualified leads toward a deal in a compressed time frame.
But you may also find that your sales pipeline lacks adequate opportunities queued up to fuel your revenue goals. Fortunately, if you’ve adopted Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and other data-driven practices, your marketing team is equipped to accelerate the most promising Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and find new leads that can be rapidly qualified for your sales team.
All it takes is market intelligence, personalized messaging, and a focus on key decision-makers.
Rapidly Accelerating MQLs to SQL Status – Choose Your Opportunities Wisely
You might be tempted to think that after customers and SQLs, your existing MQLs are the next logical source for accelerated revenue. Quickly getting these accounts and key contacts to sales is a huge ask. What you are looking for here is low-hanging fruit, and so you should be highly selective in which marketing qualified accounts and leads you try to jumpstart.
Focus on the Most Promising Existing Leads
Resources are always tight, so you’ll want to devote resources to only those opted-in marketing leads that:
- Your scoring system tells you are very likely to qualify for sales eventually, anyway
- Have already responded positively to nurturing efforts
- Fit your key decision-making buying group personas
You need to focus energy on MQLs that are likely within a month or two of sales qualification, under your normal practices. Accelerating them past that time window will be challenging enough, but you should be able to create some useful SQLs within a brief window of time, giving sales a few weeks to work the deal.
To accelerate revenue, you need to look to qualify department heads and those who have the authority to make a quick call on purchases. Intent data and buying group modeling should tell you if the decision-maker is ready to learn more about what you are selling – remember, you are looking to accelerate that learning/qualification curve by directly providing the info they would have otherwise gotten from their buying group influencers.
In my last post, I suggested warming up influencers around already sales-qualified decision-makers you are trying to win over. That’s solid advice for an account where sales is in one-on-one contact with the executive; marketing is providing the lift in this scenario. But to quickly accelerate a promising MQL, marketing needs to adopt that one-on-one focus on key decision-makers. There’s just no time to move the whole buying group along at its normal pace.
Account-Level Intent Analysis is Key
At this point, intent data intelligence should be a baked-in part of your lead-scoring process. It’s especially critical when trying to accelerate a MQL to sales readiness – in fact, it’s one of the primary benefits of intent. If an account is not clearly approaching a buying decision, you’re not going to be able to start a true conversation with a key decision-maker.
Peter Larkin, Chief Growth Officer, wrote recently on how to purchase research activity across all your key buying group roles to indicate the sales readiness of an account. Your own buying models may be different, but in general, if you see an executive doing research, surrounded by other team members searching for information about features and pricing, you’ve found your best opportunity for acceleration.
Personalization, Personalization, Personalization
Tailoring your message to your audience is always important, but it’s critical when dealing with executives who are not completely engaged with you. Depending on the scale of your efforts, your content offers should look more like inside sales offers than general mid-funnel collateral. Again, focus on the immediate impact your offer will have on the prospect’s bottom line – they are looking to make their numbers as well. If sales has decided to offer a special trial or package deals, you may want to include mention of it.
Working with a Third-Party Partner to Find Entirely New Year-End Opportunities
No marketer wants to hear this, but there are great, ready-to-buy prospects out there who simply don’t know about you. And you probably don’t know about them, either.
We often talk about intent intelligence and email marketing are the perfect combination for casting a broader net and discovering new markets. This often entails broadening your firmographic and demographic criteria and testing new verticals. At True Influence, powered by MeritB2B, our contact database includes verified decision-makers from multiple industries, many who look quite a bit like your best customers. Reaching out to these contacts at scale won’t fully populate your ABM pipeline, but you may well find some sales-ready opportunities.
After all, the most likely place to find low-hanging fruit is on a tree you haven’t picked from yet.
Focus Tightly on Accounts and Decision-Makers Who Are Ready to Buy
As in the other scenarios I discussed in this post, you want to target accounts that intent analysis tells you are well along their purchase journey. And you want to focus your efforts on key decision-makers with high-value, late-stage content assets that stress your solution’s immediate impact on their own business. You may want to consider leading with a webinar or other highly valuable assets that appeals directly to executives who are ready to buy.
Again, the goal here is that rare SQL you generate with an initial campaign. It does happen, and that goal demands your complete focus.
Voice Can Rapidly Accelerate Some Deals
Most B2B buyers prefer email as a way to communicate with prospective vendors. Most, but not all. Our Craig Weiss has written about how mixing in phone-based prospecting to key decision-makers who simply don’t respond to email can still be an effective tactic, particularly when intent analysis shows you that an account is in-market. And some executives still like to speak directly to a human. You can work with a partner (we provide such services) or you can shift inside sales resources to the initiative.
Voice is best suited for accounts where you have already connected with influencers but can’t quite seem to reach the decision-maker. But it can get you in the door at a new account on a compressed timeline. If intent tells you the account is warm, it’s not really a cold call, particularly if you are offering a premium conversion offer or a great deal. You may even want to throw in additional wrinkles, like direct mail, if you find that key decision-makers are not responding to your digital outreach.
Data and Focus Are Key to Finding Wins
Accelerating new business is a matter of picking the best opportunities in your ongoing revenue pipeline. If you’ve already invested in data-driven B2B marketing and sales methodologies, you’re well-equipped to find the decision-makers who are ready to buy now.