Tag Archives: sales

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 4

20 Dec

Navigate the channel with these 2013 trends

Empower Your Marketing Department

Throughout the week I’ve discussed 6 Trends to look for in 2013 (read trends 1 and 2, trends 3 and 4, trend 5 here) and I’m here to discuss trend 6 – empowering your marketing department in the new year. Investing time and money into employee training allows your marketing team to take the knowledge and apply it to their work and your business.

Trend 6 – Empower Your Marketing Department

Marketing budgets in the past have been focused on understanding the target audience rather than each individual in the segment. In 2013, it is predicted more time will be spent on understanding each customer in order to provide a personalized message like mentioned in Part 2. It’s important for you and your staff as building product marketers to take advantage of the new technologies available from analytics to social media to utilizing new trends like mobile marketing. Consider the following marketing roles to incorporate into your marketing strategy in 2013:

  • Educate the buyer in every step of the buying process – Create messaging for each step in the sales funnel and develop a strategy to reach prospects and customers.
  • Create a social strategy – Utilizing a social strategy that connects your customers and you’re your brand message to help build your social audience.
  • Invest time and money for training and knowledge – Allow your employees the opportunity to learn about the latest technology via webinars, podcasts, networking events, and conferences.

Recap: 2013 Trends

With the new year approaching, it’s important to make marketing resolutions that will make an impact in 2013. I will review the 6 trends you should consider:

  • Trend 1 – Use actionable data
  • Trend 2 – Listen to your customer
  • Trend 3 – Personalize your message
  • Trend 4 – Create a mobile-friendly experience
  • Trend 5 – Join the social conversation
  • Trend 6 – Empower your marketing department

While not all six trends may be possible for your company to implement at this time, try to incorporate each tactic, over the next year. If you have a larger marketing department, consider splitting roles between different positions. Buyer preferences have been changing and that will be evident in 2013. It is time to update your marketing strategy to fit with the social channel as discussed in Part 3, rise in mobile devices and tablets, and your customer as an individual.

6 Trends in 2013 for Building Product Marketers, Part 2

18 Dec

Tools for providing a better customer experience

Personalize Your Message and Create A Mobile-Friendly Experience

Earlier this week, I discussed 2 of the 6 trends to look for in 2013 by SilverPop, and I’m here to discuss 2 more trends to consider in the new year. With technology changing, it’s important for the building products industry to jump on board before being left behind.

Trend 3 – Personalize Your Message

With mobile devices and smart phones readily available, consumers are utilizing social networks, forums, and online reviews to make buying decisions.

  • Before a customer reaches out to your company: The customer has researched your company and product online.
  • When a customer reaches out to your company for the first time: The customer is already more than half way through the purchasing process.

Since customers are making purchasing decisions before ever reaching out to your company, it’s important to make your content more personalized. Utilizing data and information on where your customer or prospect stands in the buying process can help your company create messaging and dialogue. As a building products marketer, take advantage of the prospects or customers status in the buying process to create messaging for communication like emails that focus on their stage:

  • Prospect – Provide your product details and offer an incentive to transform the prospect into a customer.
  • Recently Made a Purchase – Send accessory recommendations or How-To videos for utilizing the product.
  • Post-Purchase – Update the customer with product information, updates, and new models plus invite them to follow you on your company’s social networks.

Trend 4 – Create a Mobile-Friendly Experience

Consumers can access information about your company easily on their phones. It is estimated in the United States there are approximately 120 million people who own smartphones. By 2016, smartphone ownership is projected to increase to approximately 200 million users, and by 2015, tablet ownership is projected to increase to 133 million.

With more and more people using mobile devices each year, it’s crucial to align your company and brand with these devices. Involve your interactive and design teams in the marketing process. Utilize these tactics to optimize your company communication for mobile devices:

  • Easily Scan Emails and Website – Make your content easily scannable by highlighting main points and adding a call-to-action on the first screen.
  • Utilize Tap Instead of Click – Provide a user-friendly experience by increasing font size, adding spaces between links, and adding buttons for tapping.
  • Provide Call-To-Action Buttons – Add a call-to-action button to simplify tapping for more information and make sure it is prominent on the page so it’s easily spotted when scanning.
  • Simplify Your Conversions – Track one conversion as opposed to three or four conversions. Try tracking the number of people who click on the call-to-action button for more information.

Investing time to create a positive customer experience will change your business in the long run. Check out my next blog post, to learn how social media is now affecting every channel of communication and how marketing departments must change to better deliver increased buyer results. If you missed Part 1, don’t forget to review how you can use actionable data and better listen to your customer to increase your customer’s experience in 2013.

The Perfect Building Products Threesome – Marketing, Sales AND Leads, Part 3

29 Nov

Part 3: The Pay-Off: The Impact of Sales and Marketing Working Together

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I talked about what’s happening and why many marketing departments need to change. Marketing and Sales need to working together. This is a new trend and it’s actually working. The connection of data, leads, lead scoring and, most importantly, the technology to manage it all can impact sales beyond what Marketing and Sales can do on their own.

In Part 3 of The Perfect Building Products Threesome, I’ll share some best practices from SiriusDecisions based on a talk I heard from Tony Jaros, SVP of Research, here in Kansas City. SiriusDecisions is one of the leading B2B marketing and sales insight companies. All they do is B2B. They get it. This isn’t a sales pitch for them, but they have forgotten more about how to make this work than most of us know.

One of the best pieces of advice was – technology has to be the last part of Sales and Marketing integration – otherwise you automate bad processes. This is key for any part of technology: you must implement a CRM platform, marketing automation and lead scoring.

Here are some other key points to drive the point home:

  • 70% of companies will increase their investment in marketing automation over the next 5 months
  • Fewer than 25% of organizations utilize marketing automation to its fullest
  • The greatest barrier for a sales rep not a hitting quota is failure by Marketing to demonstrate value and the salesperson cuts the cycle short
  • Integrated communications deliver twice as many leads to the pipeline
  • 90% of leads from Marketing are not followed up on
  • It takes 8-12 attempts to gain marketing engagement. Most companies quit after 5.
  • Marketing is the most scalable source of leads. Sales as the lead source is the most expensive non-scalable source of leads.
  • Hire sales reps to close. Not to prospect or manage accounts.
  • The #1 thing Sales spends time on is developing content (nearly 25% of time)
  • Field marketing and demand centers are the only area that continues to get more budget, while advertising and branding budgets continue to decline.
  • Do sales and marketing agree on these critical questions:
  • What are you selling?
  • Who are you selling it to?
  • The definition of a lead?
  • The way that companies buy what you sell has changed. Have you?

These facts show there many things that can be impacted by you and your marketing team. The key thing to remember is that last bullet – do sales and marketing agree? Marketing cannot continue to do what we’ve done and expect different results. Sales cannot ignore quality leads that marketing has scored and nurtured. The two must both own and love the sales lead process. So when you’re planning your strategy remember the perfect building products threesome – Marketing, Sales AND Leads and make a lasting impact on your organization.

The Perfect Building Products Threesome – Marketing, Sales AND Leads, Part 2

28 Nov

Part 2: The Impact Sales and Marketing Can Have When Working Together

In Part 1 of this series, I referenced a MarketingSherpa study that was, at best, discouraging to marketers. But in this post, I hope to bring you back from despair. There is a real trend happening in the B2B marketplace between Marketing and Sales and their shared resource – sales leads.

Here are three key stats from MarketingSherpa B2B Best Practices that show the impact Sales and Marketing can make when working together:

1. Companies that qualify leads, instead of sending them all to Sales, have a 30% higher return on lead generation investment.

  • Wow – read that stat again: a 30% higher ROI. That’s a number marketers and the people that control our budget would love. Remember that number.

2. Companies that use lead scoring have a 60% higher return on lead generation investment.

  • Doesn’t that just make sense? If you actually have a scoring system that is constantly being tweaked, you’ll better prepare the leads for the Sales team. The Sales team will start to value your teams’ efforts and sales will increase. Nirvana.

3. Companies that use marketing automation software, which points to a strategic lead generation approach, achieve a 96% higher return on lead generation investment.

  • These are research figures and should scare you and make you happy about the future all at the same time. If the ROI can be this high, imagine how many sales dollars have been lost. How many marketing campaigns and systems that have gone under-utilized and then ultimately un-funded.

These are 3 key points on what can happen when Sales and Marketing really work together – when they implement a marketing and sales strategy that utilizes technology to help them in the process.

The shift in technology spending is continuing and will continue. By 2017, the CMO will spend more on technology than the CIO. Why? To enable sales. To score leads. To nurture leads. To help manage the funnel – the complete funnel.

So this all sounds good, but ‘it just won’t work in our company’. Ever hear that? It’s time to change the thinking inside your walls. Break down silos, create cross-function teams that help score the leads. And then when it just gets going, tweak it all again. Why? Because your competitors are getting better, faster and stronger and have created the perfect relationship between sales, marketing AND leads.

In Part 3 I’ll share some best practices based on hundreds of B2B case studies that will continue to excite you (and scare some of you).

The Perfect Building Products Threesome – Marketing, Sales AND Leads, Part 1

27 Nov

Part 1: The Set-Up – The Problem with Marketing in Today’s World

After a quick review of MarketingSherpa’s 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report, I learned that of the 1,745 B2B organizations that participated, 61% still send all leads that respond to a marketing campaign directly to Sales. Furthermore, most of those marketing teams have not applied strategy to any aspect of lead generation. This is just one statistic, but it is representative of the mindset of many marketers today. Many are stuck in the wrong decade. It’s time to move into 2013.

MarketingSherpa shared 5 signs that back up the fact that many B2B companies have yet to adopt Sales and Marketing best practices:

1. Sales is the chief cook and bottle washer

  • We’ve all seen this: the sales rep has to find the leads, qualify and then close them. That just doesn’t work anymore. How can you possibly measure and optimize lead generation for a salesperson that is executing his own process?
  • The strategic companies are taking this responsibility to Marketing to allow the salespeople to maximize their time and do what they should be doing – closing sales.

2. Sales spends at least an hour a day cold calling

  • If Sales is spending this much time cold calling, then Marketing hasn’t shown Sales the many ways they can gather leads. Keep Sales focused on closing the leads, but ensure Marketing continues to find new ways to gather these leads.

3. No one takes responsibility for customer data

  • Data has never been more important to companies and it’s amazing how many databases are filled with bad data. Your company’s CRM isn’t just a customer list – it’s a relevant, up-to-date stream of opportunities and knowledge.

4. Marketing and Sales snipe at each other

  • I’m sure this isn’t happening in your company, but many times the finger pointing, blame-game runs rampant. Especially when the economy has been tough – sometimes it’s easier to push the responsibility.
  • Every resource in today’s building materials companies must work together. Marketing can generate, gather and nurture leads and Sales can close them into sales. It sounds simple, but it can work.

5. Sales ignores marketing materials and makes their own

  • This is another example of the independent sales person’s mindset and the general lack of credibility of Marketing with their Sales team. I’ve seen this happen too many times, both as a corporate marketer and as an agency. The Marketing team develops the perfect sales material, but they never talked to sales to gather their input or get their buy-in.

So what is your organization doing to embrace these new strategies? Are you at the table with Sales to deliver, qualify and close leads or are you simply collecting business cards at a trade show? And what happens when Sales and Marketing align to work on leads? Read Part 2 to see how this can make some amazing things happen in your organization.

Buyer Personas in the Building Products Industry

19 Oct

Buyer personas give your marketing direction and ensure your message is accurate

Whether or not you know it, you’re likely using buyer personas everyday – it’s just a matter of how accurate they are. Buyer personas are representations of customers that are used to better understand why they purchase what they do. As building product marketers, we all say things like “Contractors will like this product because it’s easier/cheaper/faster”, but what is it that really influences them to buy? Establishing the specifics allows you to craft a message that resonates with these buyers and beats out the competition.

So how do you establish an accurate buyer persona?

  • First off, you can just make it up. As building industry marketers it’s important to go deeper than a list of bullet points that describes our key buyers. We need to really spend time with these people and complete an in-depth analysis of their buying trends. According to Adele Revella, the founder and president of the Buyer Persona Institute, the Five Rings of Insight are the “most overlooked and essential aspect, simplifying decisions for persuasive messaging, content, launches, campaigns and sales enablement.”

Here are the “Five Rings of Insight” that will allow you to define your buyer persona:

  1. Determine the Priority Initiatives: Define the three-to-five problems or initiatives where this buyer persona is dedicating time, budget and political capital
  2. List Out Success Factors: Figure out the tangible or intangible rewards that your buyer persona wants to achieve as a result of buying your solution
  3. Recognize Perceived Barriers: List the reasons your buyer persona believes your solution won’t be the best way to achieve the Success Factors
  4. Chart Out the Buying Process: Include the resources and steps that your buyer persona relies upon to assess available options and make a final decision
  5. Figure Out the Decision Criteria: List the aspects of the product, service, solution or company that this buyer persona evaluates during the purchasing process

Accurately defining your Buyer Persona’s takes time, energy and effort, but once established can pay dividends in assuring your messaging is correct and sets you apart from your competitors.

We’ve used buyer personas for years. We actually have cardboard cut-outs of our “guys” – dealers, contractors, big box sales reps, deck builders, etc. When we have a meeting these guys often join us as a reminder of who we’re talking to. If they’re not in the room with you – it’s time you invite them!

For more information about buyer personas and the Buyer Persona Institute, click here.

The Building Products Tablet Revolution

16 Oct

Masonite’s homepage, as seen on an Apple® iPad®

Are Your Dealers There Yet?

In the marketing world, we’re consistently early adopters of new technology, from social networks (anybody remember Gowalla, Brightkite or Whrrl?) to devices like tablets. By now, if you’re like many of us, you may have already gotten rid of your first or second tablet and upgraded. With normalcy like that, it’s easy to forget that in our industry, technology isn’t always adopted so quickly. This is especially true at lumber and building material dealers. To help, we’ve put together a quick list of ways dealers should be thinking about tablets as a marketing tool, written for them:

Websites

  • Is your website built to work correctly on tablet devices? Some websites require little or no change here, unlike mobile devices (smartphones). But if your website utilizes Adobe® Flash® technology, it’s time to budget for some website upgrades. Talk with whomever manages your website about updating anything created in Flash to work using JavaScript® or HTML5, both of which are as close to universally acceptable programming languages as you can get, and can duplicate a lot of what Flash offered.
  • Resource – a short guide to the differences between traditional desktops/laptops and tablets when designing: http://venturebeat.com/2012/05/12/how-to-design-web-sites-for-tablets/

Showroom

  • Looking for a relatively inexpensive way to incorporate displays into your showroom? Tablets can be a perfect way to showcase video of a specific product, offer a way to view your entire product offering, handle special orders, contest entries and more. And thanks to other companies using them in showrooms, as well as tradeshows, there’s a wide selection of applications to utilize, as well as lots of different mounts, podiums, frames and other ways to securely utilize your tablet in a showroom.
  • Resource – how a remodeling company uses tablets as a mobile showroom: http://www.daily5remodel.com/index.php?action=article&rowid=1018

Salespeople

  • If your organization has outside salespeople, tablets can be a huge time and money-saver. If you utilize one of the major CRMs, such as SalesForce®, Sugar CRM® or Microsoft® Dynamics®, there’s an app designed that your salespeople can use to manage the sales process while they’re traveling. If you’ve ever had issues getting salespeople to fill out activity reports, giving them the ability to do it via a tablet could be the answer.
  • Even if you’re not ready for CRM management via tablet, they can still prove useful for a salesperson in the field. Instead of lugging around order forms, brochures, catalogs and more, you could equip your salespeople with a tablet, loaded with all the product catalogs in PDF form, which can easily be reviewed with a customer/prospect and emailed right to that person if needed. Those catalogs could be supplemented with video or a photo gallery showing your company’s work in that product category. Once a quote is needed or a sale ready to submit, the entire thing could be done right there on the tablet. Orders can be submitted faster and you should be able to eliminate the need for someone back at the office to enter orders that were written down or submitted by fax.
  • You can even collect payments from customers via credit card, securely & instantly, using a tablet!
  • Resource – here’s how a Midwestern builder revamped their production process using tablets: http://www.prosalesmagazine.com/technology/ipad-invasion.aspx
  • Resource – here’s how an Arizona independent car dealer remade its sales process around tablets: http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/profiles/rcauto/

The possibilities of what can be done with a tablet continue to grow; remember, we’re only in the 3rd year of them reaching the critical mass stage! Beyond the flashy, “cool” factor of using one, there are true, tangible cost savings that can be realized by incorporating them into your business in places that make the most sense. Ready to get started but not sure how? Check out Apple’s guide to using tablets for business: http://www.apple.com/ipad/business/

Building Products: 4 Tips for Asking Informative Questions that Drive Sales

23 Nov

The following 4 tips will provide valuable intelligence about a prospect and/or sales opportunity:

A recent webinar conducted by Tom Searcy at HuntBigSales.com provided a list of tips on the importance of asking questions to getting sales.

Here is my summary and input for how they relate best for the building product industry.Building product customers (distributors, dealers, builders, remodelers, etc.) have many product options and often will sway in loyalty for a good deal. This makes the ever-present four P’s of marketing (Product, Price, Promotion, and Place) continue to be important for CMOs when marketing their products.

Strategic information is just as crucial for landing the big building product sale and understanding how and when to ask the important questions can determine if your company will land or lose the big sale.

Tip #1: Observe Caution

Do not make your prospective client uncomfortable by making the discussion feel like an interrogation. The building product sales process can be lengthy; therefore, spacing your questions over a period of time using multiple media tools can make the questions seem less intrusive.

Tip #2: Use the Barbara Walters Approach

From a 1970s book by Barbara Walters How to Talk to Practically Anyone about Practically Anything, there are a few items that can help sell building products:

  • Be authentic: If you are going to ask the question, you need to be interested in the response.
  • Provide the reason you are asking the question: This approach can build trust with your prospect.
  • Honor the answer: Get the information you need, but do not challenge an answer, assume it is valid and honest.

Tip #3: Beware of the 4 Major Competitors of Every Deal

Your main competition can come in many forms and isn’t always a single company or product

  • Doing Nothing: Your biggest competitor is always yourself. If you don’t take any action, you may just be putting yourself out of business.
  • Brand #1: The biggest brand is always perceived as safest choice.
  • The Incumbent: With any opportunity there is probably a pre-existing relationship. The trust and experience that exists can be tough to overcome.
  • Price: A common competitor in the building industry is anyone with a lower price. This can also be your own pricing structure that can stand in the way of your company’s success.

Tip #4: Toxic Clients and Black Hole Prospects

Toxic (Black Hole) Prospects can be dangerous to building product companies as they have a tendency to challenge quality, stretch out payments and not honor billing.

  • Black Hole Prospects are always close to “making a deal” or “making a purchase” that may never happen.
  • Learning from asking great questions will help generate the big sale as well as eliminate Black Hole Prospects.

Sources and Additional Articles