The good news is that smart CEOs can quickly correct these sales blunders without spending half a million (or more) in wasted effort.
If your organization is like most technology consulting firms I’ve encountered, you have a sales problem. You require a massive sales team in order to prospect for new leads. You spend considerable time on RFPs you aren’t winning. You undercharge to win the contracts you do land. And you aren’t getting leads from your website. You rely on marketing materials such as fact sheets and brochures to do the selling for you. Yet at the end of the day, you are still scrambling to grow. There’s never a point where there are “too many leads”. Am I right?
If this sounds like you, then you’ve likely fallen prey to the following myths about marketing.
The Five Myths
There are five pervasive myths in the technology world when it comes to marketing, particularly on websites. These myths are perpetuated by marketers, business development professionals, and the like for reasons ranging from outright ignorance to self-preservation. These myths waste money and kill your otherwise exponential business growth.
Myth 1: My website is my business card
If you look at most technology firm websites, you’ll notice one thing: They all look and sound the same.
Sure, the design is different on each of them. Some of them have a fresh, snazzy design. Others are outdated. Yet when you look at the language, there’s nothing compelling. I believe this happens because businesses act as if their website is a business card or billboard. You know, name, rank, and file. “This is who I am, this is what I do, call me.” Perhaps you hope that if enough people have eyeballs on the site that someone, anyone will contact you.
Thirty years ago, businesses did this with Yellow Page ads. (They still do, unfortunately.) They didn’t work then, and it doesn’t work now. The way to generate leads from your site is to actually write your site in a way that attracts prospects. Who cares what everyone else in your industry is doing; you’re not selling to them.
A mini marketing lesson in sales copy that converts:
Buyers exist on a continuum of awareness. At one end of the spectrum, they are completely unaware that a problem exists, let alone that tehre’s a solution for it. At the other end, they are completely aware of your particular solution and totally convinced of their problem.
The issue is that when you send paid traffic to your site, you are sending cold, unaware leads to your site. They may not even fully grasp their problem, let alone why you’re the best fit for them.
And what do most organizations do? They put up a contact form or a phone number and beg for people to contact them like a desperate man on Craigslist.
“Need a database admin? Contact me!”
This type of messaging signals desperation and a lack of buyer focus. It’s misaligned with what the buyer wants, which is more information. You’re not giving them what they want from the very onset of the sales conversation. Why should they continue the transaction any further and contact you? So they can get a sales pitch? No one thinks this way when they shop.
Myth 2: Contact forms are the best way to generate leads.
As far as I can tell, the only reason that anyone gives for using a contact form as their main website lead generation device is because that’s what everyone else is doing. It’s like the blind leading the blind away from the huge mound of money sitting on the table. It’s ridiculous.
The best lead generation tool is one which does the following:
- Allows you to build a database of prospects who share the type of problem(s) you solve
- Signals to your marketing team which problem the site visitor has
- Allows you to customize follow-up marketing and sales to the prospect
- Is something that prospects (leads) actually want to engage with
Does a contact form do any of those effectively? The answer is that it doesn’t. Instead, you’ll want to follow the steps I outline at the end of this article to generate a database of interested leads and warm them up to your way of thinking to make the much easier.
Myth 3: Sales people are necessary to prospect.
If your website and advertising are doing its job, sales people should follow up with prospects. Not find them in the first place! Why hire ten sales people at $100K+ each when you could invest in advertising that did the job at a fraction of the price? Effective marketing is sales in print and should be used as such. Any marketing that isn’t pulling its weight should be abandoned for marketing that does.
Instead, your marketing could…
- Attract ideal fit buyers via targeted advertising on Google ads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and direct mail
- Build a database by first offering value via a lead magnet (print book, for example, which won’t be thrown away)
- Converse with the prospect and stay top of mind until he is ready to buy via email and direct mail marketing
- Create leads ready for sales calls and give the information necessary to personalize to begin the conversation and build a database the sales process, which increases the likelihood of closing that sale
Myth 4: The only marketing you need is brand marketing.
I am always amazed when I see technology consulting firm CEOs make this mistake. They ask so much of every other member of their staff:
- What’s your track record for disasters?
- What was your burn rate for software development?
- How many new contracts did you get for your previous company?
But when it comes to marketers, they look for things like master’s degrees in journalism, communication, or marketing. Or they ask that you’ve worked in a big company before. I almost never see them ask things like, “how well has your marketing materials and strategy converted?” Or, “how many leads did you generate for yourself with your marketing?”
I’m not saying that degreed brand marketers are bad. There’s a place for them on your staff. I love working for experienced on-staff marketers. Brand marketing has its place on some social media channels and on pretty things. But brand marketing doesn’t generate leads, it boosts your ego.
At the end of the day, would you rather have a stable of perfect fit clients or for people to know you won ten awards?
Look, your marketing should do your prospecting for you. If it’s not, it’s not working.
Just because everyone else in the industry uses bland headlines and contact forms doesn’t mean it actually works. If it worked, organizations wouldn’t need to hire salespeople at $100K base salaries in order to grow. Wouldn’t you rather pay a copywriter $20K once and replace a few of those expensive salespeople? I sure would, if I were in your shoes. Your marketer should believe that all marketing should be tested and measured. So split testing and data-backed marketing should be the norm. I’m always shocked at how many “data solutions providers” don’t use data in their marketing.
The solution for technology firms
The solution is simple and should, if you implement it, save you tens of thousands of dollars.
Step 1: Define your unique approach.
What is the unique value you offer to the marketplace? How is your way different from otehrs? Which buyer most benefits from this unique approach?
Step 2: Define your ideal buyer in terms of organization type and particular role.
What language does he or she use? Is he or she even aware they have a problem? This is important, because most technology firms write headlines that completely turn away everyone who isn’t already convinced the organization is a good fit .
Step 3: Create multiple lead magnets and prioritize their placement on your site.
Instead of a contact me form, use a lead magnet. Tie that lead magnet to an opt-in form that asks for information such as name, email, mailing address, and type of organization. My lead magnet preference for organizations is a book or multiple books, and I’ll give you a few reasons why:
Reason 1: Book readers make for educated clients.
Do you really want clients who refuse to educate themselves on their problems?
Reason 2: Books (especially physical) don’t get thrown away.
Your emails won’t get read. Your white papers will get deleted. Your brochures canned. But a book? We live in a culture which values books. Your book will sit on their shelf or at least be given to someone else. It’s like a business card that won’t die. It’s perfect for B2B organizations.
Reason 3: Books can be sent as part of marketing collateral.
Want to make direct mail and prospecting more effective? Send a “shock and awe” package with a book. While your competitors will be cold calling and giving sales pitches, you’ll start the conversation with a thought provoking book. As your prospect reads, he’s essentially being indoctrinated into your way of looking at the problem. You’re automatically being framed as an authority via your association as a published author.
Reason 4: Books can translate into speaking gigs for your C-level staff.
It’ll be a lot easier to get speaking gigs at conferences when you write a book. Giving away the book at your booth or at your presentation is going to be much more effective than giving away some stupid marketing “gift” no one wants. And when you have a book and speak at conferences, everything you say will automatically be seen as more authoritative than a sales pitch.
I say “multiple lead magnets” because having multiple lead magnets allows you to personalize the sales process. If a prospect downloaded a lead magnet about one service, you can tailor your follow-up marketing to that problem. You won’t waste time with generic pitches. You can send them relevant case studies, white papers, and other value that helps them see how working with you will be beneficial to them. (This is, by the way, the Hubspot Inbound Selling Method in a nutshell.) Other options are white papers or case studies, however they don’t have the versatility a book has.
Step 4: Revise the rest of the website to speak to your ideal buyer’s problems, obstacles, and issues.
No more “we’re an enterprise firm with 20 years of experience providing innovative solutions…” yuck. No. Speak to your prospect like a real person who’s been around real people before.
Step 5: Create several automated marketing campaigns that follow up with leads.
These campaigns should be three-fold: email, phone, and direct mail. This way, you’re reaching buyers on multiple fronts. The goal of these campaigns should be to get more information from the buyer or provide information to the buyer, not pitch him.
Step 6: use a buyer-focused sales process that plays the long game
Once you can get someone on the phone, the first few calls will be to find out more about the problem. When you can get more information about where the buyer is, you’ll be able to more quickly determine what sort of follow-up marketing materials they need. For example, you cold send them a case study featuring an organization like theirs. Or a white paper written exactly for this audience and this problem. Et cetera. You are thereby personalizing the whole process.
Once you’ve provided information, the next step is to ask questions again. What questions do they have? What is their solution timeline? What are their obstacles? Et cetera. Again, look at the Hubspot Inbound Selling Methodology for more information.
Step 7: Close the Sale with a Personalized Presentation
Once you do close, you’ll create a personalized presentation to interested buyers. No more stock stuff here. This is because people buy when you present information that they care about and address their problems personally. I guarantee that this will be vastly more effective than RFPs.