B2B Marketers, Don’t Enter a Recession Without Solving This

Jon Powell
October 10, 2019

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It’s human nature after all…

You’ve heard this saying, right?  

“If you want to do business with someone, they’ve got to like you.” 

Do you find that to be true? I have (at least to some degree) and the latest research I’ve seen on marketing to the subliminal supports it.

Here’s the reason why I’m bringing it up: even the best leads can lose their value when the sales/marketing handoff is strained, and even worse when the measurement of those leads stops cold.  

“You’re never going to have success in B2B without getting the sales people to help out… to follow up on the leads you generate in a rapid, high-quality fashion, and to get you the feedback you need on those leads.” — J David Green

 

How to solve for human nature in a recession

Imagine going into a recession in 2020, where you have less marketing budget to produce leads, and the leads themselves are under the microscope. As a marketing leader, you can’t just switch lead sources on a whim, and even if you did and tension exists between departments, then they will likely FIND a reason to not like the new lead source, no matter how good (or bad) it really is.

So, here are three tips to help you solve for this before a potential recession impacts your B2B marketing budget (and revenue!)

 

Don’t forget your SLA (service level agreement)

You might have a different name for it in your organization. No matter what you call it, just make sure that it has key components like: 

  1. a)   A MUTUAL agreement between sales and marketing on what a lead is and what is accepted by sales (defined by measurable data and intent acquired per contact)
  1. b)   Commitments from both sides to communicate regarding deliverables – for sales, that might be regarding the follow up and reporting back on the quality of those leads.

Why do you need this? Well, if you’re making some plans for the recession, and that includes different sources of leads, and types of leads, etc, you don’t want sales coming back and accusing you of delivering otherwise.

Yes, I said “accusing.” Because in harder times, there is less money, more pressure, and a lot less patience (human nature, right?). You want to make sure that your plans are COMPATIBLE with the team. I’ve been in a situation in a past B2B life where the windfall of new leads that I delivered as part of a “Hail Mary pass” (football reference, if you haven’t heard of it) actually met those requirements, but because the agreement wasn’t managed properly between leaders ahead of time, my leads were thrown under the bus in front key stakeholders when the competition upped its game and the sales team wasn’t able to close.

It’s kind of like going to the doctor and dealing with insurance:

Doctor says you need this medicine, and you need this special shot.

You say, “whatever it takes to get better… I have bills to pay!”

Insurance sends you a letter weeks later saying they aren’t covering it, because it has been deemed “experimental” by “another doctor” (as if your doctor is dumb).

And then you’re appealing to the insurance company after the fact. They say, “ok, we’ll listen.” And then in the end, you still get denied coverage.

I found that if you call the insurance AHEAD of anything like that, it’s very difficult for you to get hit. And you know what’s better? They will help you find a provider that charges a lot less for the same quality of treatment if you involve them.

For a walk through on how to create a service level agreement that works for your whole team, check out this free eBook.

 

Treat your sales people like customers

This is a perfect transition, and covers the “liking” part of the equation.  Your lead handoff shouldn’t feel like a “dump off”.

Dave Green has explained it to me like this:

“Salespeople “buy” leads with their time. They can find leads by networking. They can prospect for leads. They can, and too often do, create their own sales decks, email templates, and campaigns.

Just like your customers, salespeople have choices. In that context, the job of a sales person is not to follow up on and report back on your leads, per se. The job of sales is to hit a revenue target. If they dutifully follow up and close the loop on your leads but don’t hit a revenue target, salespeople may very well get fired. On the other hand, if they exceed their revenue target without your leads, salespeople get big commission checks and live large.”

Your new or modified leads for the recession need to be able to compete at some level for their attention. I’m not saying you need to go all the way and “date” your work spouse here in prep (i.e. Sales leader), but you do need to take the step to try and make those leads seem attractive, like a good product. They need to appear to meet their needs (or at least go halfway… within reason).

If you don’t think this is possible, check out this story from Avaya Global Marketing Executive Mike McKinnon. This is exactly what he discovered needed to be addressed to increase funnel conversions, and the result was 150% relative increase in sales-qualified leads.

 

Deliver new additions of technology in a form sales can digest

Have you ever wondered how effective vitamins are in their capsule format?  Studies have been done and surprisingly, so much of the benefit you hope to gain from taking them is lost because the body just can’t absorb the actual vitamins very well due to the process and form they are created in.

The same principle is true with any kind of food that we eat. If the body is having an absorption problem (not enough good bacteria, for example, to really break it down), then all the benefits of eating that food are not achieved. This is so much of a problem for some people that entire products have been created around increasing the absorption of food.

The same is true for ANY new technology or approach you hope to bring in to fight a recession. Sure, your own team can adapt, but how does the new addition impact the teams you aren’t necessarily in charge of?

If a benefit is going to be experienced by the new addition, it needs to be ready to eat, and easily absorbed into the current sales process.

One of the things I love about LeadCrunch is that it delivers the benefit of artificial intelligence marketing technology in a form that any sales team can easily digest: leads. 

That means that you can literally sign up for a pilot, and from that pilot (in as little as a week or two) get the benefit of delivering data-driven prospects in the form of qualified leads that sales can begin working on in the same way they always do.

No APIs need to be built. No software or hardware integrations. No analyses have to be performed on your end (in the case of a subscription product). Just ready-made “food” for sales that marketing gets the credit for.

 

A free Guide / eBook to “sales-proof” your recession strategy

For a full 25-step walkthrough of everything you can do now to avoid the human nature problem – and position yourself to win no matter what the economy might do – download this free eBook called How to Win the Love of Sales:

Further Reading

Lainey Mebust
June 15, 2020
Lainey Mebust
May 29, 2020
Olin Hyde
April 8, 2020
. 5 min read