Traditionally, growing businesses were all sales-driven. Meaning they have many sales people on staff and very few marketers. Those sales people are tasked with all sales activities, so the entire buying process from cold call to confirmed sale is on their shoulders.
For years, this approach has worked, especially for those in relationship driven industries such as construction, legal, hardware, manufacturing, and insurance.
These businesses grew successfully through their sales initiatives. However, the way consumers buy has dramatically changed and the majority of the process is done online. In order to continue to grow and adapt to this buying trend, businesses are adopting digital marketing strategies.
Before we get into how to create an effective digital strategy, here are a few benefits of incorporating a strategy into your sales-driven business.
Increase lead generation by increasing online visibility, which helps your sales team focus more on selling vs. prospecting.
Build trust with a prospect by offering helpful content before and during the sale.
Accelerate the sales process with pre-made content and resources for every stage of the buying cycle.
Create and promote evergreen content that could result in up-sells to current customers.
Here are a few first steps to success:
Get Buy-In From the Sales Team
Using many of the reasons above, explain to your sales team that increased marketing can only benefit them if done right. Ideally, it will save them time, increase their sales and result in happier customers. Once your sales team recognizes the benefits of content marketing for sales, they’ll hop right aboard the digital marketing train.
Determine an Appropriate Budget
Just like sales, spending marketing dollars for the first time is certainly not a silver bullet to increased revenue. However, you do need to budget enough in order to get results. Every industry varies but rule of thumb says at least 5 percent of revenue should be budgeted for marketing and up to at least 10 percent if you are looking to grow. For perspective, commonly a sales budget is often 8–12 percent of revenue.
There is not a one-size-fits-all marketing budget, and these guidelines are just that, so determine what you can afford to put towards marketing by digging into your own budget. If you have an effective strategy, your investment will be well worth it.
Take Stock of Where You Are
Most organizations that come to us for digital marketing services are in one of two camps. They either need a better online foundation before they can really start marketing, or they have a solid foundation but need to build upon it. A few questions to ask yourself are:
Do we have a solid website with a blog?
Do we have prospect and customer email lists that can be marketed to?
Do we have qualified traffic coming to the site now?
Does we our sales team have existing content that can be leveraged or re-purposed? Think sales brochures, FAQs, presentations and more.
If your answers to a majority of the questions above are no, then you likely first need to build up a better foundation in order for your marketing efforts to be successful. This initial work might include; building a new website or adding a blog, cleaning up old contact lists, or creating a few initial pieces of content. If you said yes to a majority of the questions above, you likely can jump right into strategy and execution.
If you have an effective strategy, your investment will be well worth it.
Utilize the Sales Team to Help Define a Strategy
Your sales team has a lot of insight into who your ideal customer is and the typical questions a prospect asks. Leverage this knowledge to help define great content topics, determine the right online channels to find your prospects, and develop premium content like ebooks to leverage during the sales process. Your sales team is a great asset in the process of determining a digital strategy, so include them in the beginning stages particularly and consider their input when writing out your strategy.
“Your sales team is a great asset in the process of determining a digital strategy...”
Digital marketing is not a one-trick pony. It requires a range of skills and most importantly it requires time. When starting out with a digital strategy, we would recommend outsourcing to an agency at least the first 6–12 months. Hiring in-house could limit the effectiveness of your strategy because you'll be bound by their skillsets.
For example, they could be a great writer but lack paid ad management, email marketing, and social media skills. For a similar cost to hiring one or two great digital marketers, you can hire a full team of experts.
This will allow you to use their expertise to set strategy, test tactics, and put in the time to research what strategies and content avenues will work for your business. It will also prevent your internal team from getting distracted or abandoning a strategy. Once you develop an effective strategy, you can look to building out an internal team based on your needs.
Although you are outsourcing, you likely will still need at least one person to help manage the agency and complete tasks. For our clients, this is typically an admin assistant, sales director, or even the business owner.
...in order to see growth in a changing business environment, you must commit to evolution.
Commit to an Investment
I can’t tell you how many organizations I’ve spoken to that say they have tried digital marketing but it didn't work. This may be the case for some companies, but typically this answer means they have started a marketing initiative and quit after 3 months due to internal distractions or frustration at the lack of results.
I don’t blame you, it’s not a quick fix like some marketers advertise. However, just like when hiring a new salesperson, you must expect that it will take time to settle into a strategy and see the results. Like they say, you must spend money to make money.
It’s easy to get stuck in old patterns or the status quo when your sales organization hasn't needed marketing before. But in order to see growth in a changing business environment, you must commit to evolution.
Curious if we can help your sales-driven business get started with digital marketing? Contact us today.