The end of the year is coming up quickly! As we discussed in our blog post, The Ultimate 2020 Website Strategy Playbook, it’s the perfect time to take a good look at what’s been working for your B2B brand and what might need some work. You may have already done a website audit, gone over your budget for the upcoming year, and reassessed your SEO strategy. But we’re going to take a wild guess and assume it’s been a while since you’ve refreshed your value proposition. Don’t feel bad! That’s why we’re here. Let’s why you should take another look at this and how to do it.
What is a value proposition?
In simple terms, your brand’s value proposition is what entices customers into being interested in your product. It helps you align your marketing strategies to what gets your customers’ attention and what convinces them to seal the deal.
Entrepreneur Daniel Nilsson points out that, on average, you have about seven seconds to make an excellent first impression with someone who’s looking into your business. So your value proposition needs to be quick and snappy. That’s not to say that it’s a slogan or catchphrase, though. It needs to encompass both what your company does and how it serves your customers. Think of it more like the elevator pitch you use to describe yourself as a professional. Only about your business instead. At SmarkLabs, our value proposition is, “Driven by research, authentic content, and strategic marketing campaigns, we help tech-focused B2B companies accelerate revenue growth.”
Remember how bright-eyed and naive you were when you first started your business? Think about how much you’ve learned since then. You’ve learned more about your industry, you’ve learned through trial and error what works and what doesn’t, and you’ve learned more about what your customers are looking for when they come to you.
While a company’s value proposition is usually determined early on, especially when you’re building the website, there’s no reason to be married to that value prop. Like most things when it comes to business, your value proposition is fluid. So you should reassess it periodically as you learn more about your customers, and as your B2B brand grows and evolves.
In your early days, you probably didn’t have a clear idea of what your company was going to really do. Maybe potential customers come to your website and are still greeted with hyperbolic claims of you being the “best” in your industry. Don’t worry, though. That’s a common misstep that’s easy to remedy with a thoughtful new value proposition. Now you know, and you can relay that information to your potential customers.
How to determine your new value proposition
Exo B2B suggests starting by determining the value you bring to your customers’ problems, challenges, and objectives. Chances are, as your team has grown and learned its strengths, this is different than it was when you established your value proposition years ago.
Luckily, we’ve gone over some tools you can use to help you with this in our blog post, 3 Tools to Help You Create a Strong B2B Value Proposition. But if you’re elaborating upon an old value proposition or creating a new one from scratch, think about the following questions to make sure you’re really speaking to what your company does now:
What sets you apart from other companies in your industry?
As you know, we’re huge advocates for collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. When it comes to developing your new value proposition, we have yet another reason to emphasize that importance.
Many think of your value proposition as something that lives on your website. However, it should be a more significant part of your brand than that. Work together to create a value proposition that’s as effective when spoken by a sales rep as it is on your homepage.
Conversion rate optimization firm Invesp suggests testing your value proposition with an unbiased reader (or two, or three!) and asking them about the impression they got from it. Is that the message you want to send to potential customers? You can also run A/B tests on your homepage and see if one moves people along the website more than the other.
The key to keeping a customer moving through your sales funnel is to make things simple and easily accessible. Start with having a good value proposition that speaks to what your company can do for them at this point. When a potential customer speaks with you or a sales representative or takes a look around your website, you want them to take away the most crucial points about your business and what it can do for them.
Think about it; you have competitors. Your competitors have their own value propositions. Your competitors have that same seven seconds to get a potential client’s attention that you do. Make sure yours is good enough that they won’t even take the chance to look at anyone else.
There’s a lot of debate about whether sales enablement is the responsibility of the sales team or the marketing team. The truth is, it’s a concentrated effort between both. Marketing provides sales with the resources they need to make sales, like videos, blogs, and other types of content marketing. The sales team then passes this content along to potential customers to lead them through the sales funnel.
What is sales enablement?
HubSpot defines sales enablement as “the iterative process of providing your business’s sales team with the resources they need to close more deals.” The examples HubSpot gives includes content, tools, knowledge, and information to sell your product or service to customers effectively.
Sales enablement doesn’t just consist of marketing assisting sales, though. It’s up to the sales team to relay any relevant information back to marketing about what kind of content works. Sales should also be able to offer up any information about what types of marketing materials are missing from their arsenal. This way, your company’s sales enablement strategy (and web content strategy) never stagnates.
According to CoSchedule, sales enablement focuses on four core elements:
Sellers having access to the right content at the right time.
Improved collaboration between marketing and sales.
Ongoing training to help sales staff deliver on the bottom line.
Analytics to understand how content resonates with potential customers, then iterating on it for constant improvement.
Read on to learn more about how you can enhance your own B2B company’s sales enablement strategy.
What makes sales enablement effective?
According to LinkedIn, four things must align for your sales enablement strategy to be effective:
People: Your sales team has to understand, as well as have documented information on who the ideal client profiles are. Think about your buyer personas! Keep lines of communication open between the sales and marketing teams, ensuring that they’re collaborating. After all, you all have the same end goal. Sirius Decisions found that 19% more growth occurs when businesses align their marketing and sales departments.
Content:Your content is what your potential buyers see before they have any contact with your sales team. So you want to make sure that content makes them want to move forward in the process. We’ll touch on this more in-depth later on.
Technology:Segment your client profiles in your CRM, so your sales team can easily distinguish between them. According to HubSpot, 57% of high-performing sales reps say that technology is their top sales enablement priority. Specifically, “deployment of and training on new technology was closely followed by improving rep usage of social media, and restructuring or creating enablement function.”
Process:Be sure there’s a documented process for what approaches you use during the prospecting process and how often. Continuously reexamine what’s working and what isn’t. Then keep that information in your CRM, accessible to both teams.
Sales enablement for marketers
Many people struggle to determine who “owns” sales enablement. Spoiler alert: nobody does. The entire concept of sales enablement revolves around the collaboration between teams. Sales enablement doesn’t solely fall on the shoulders of the company’s marketers. But, it does mean something a little different than it does for your sales team. In many ways, it’s up to a company’s marketers to even get leads interested in talking to sales. According to the market research firm, Forrester, 60% of B2B buyers get most of their information from sources other than sales reps. You want your marketing materials to be those sources, and you want them to be good enough that they lead buyers to your sales reps.
It’s also a common pain point when the marketing team has loads of useful content that would benefit potential customers, but the sales team just doesn’t know that it exists. Or even where to find it! It seems like a simple enough issue to avoid, but we’re all aware of how bulky and messy workflows can get when they aren’t maintained. Take extra precautions, and keep all of your finished content in a place that each team can easily find.
The types of tasks that land on the marketing team to smooth this rocky road include being proactive and using content mapping, providing a smooth transition between the groups, and sharing customer insights. Which brings us to our next point.
Keep an eye on competitive and market insights
Marketers have inside knowledge of the customer’s buying journey before the buyers even get around to speaking to sales. Use that to your advantage and relay that information to sales! This way, your sales team can directly address the things you all know are on your customers’ minds.
What content you’ve created has done well? What pages on your site get the most traffic? If any of your content is lagging, what can you do to make your message clearer and better answer your potential buyers’ questions? Not only can this information aid in the sales enablement process, but it can also help you polish your website strategy.
Don’t minimize the importance of automation
Could everything in your sales strategy be done by hand? Sure, I guess. But why would you take on that burden when there are so many automation tools at your disposal? You don’t want to get bogged down with tedious tasks. HubSpot recommends automating the following:
Email sequences: An email sequence is a follow-up email automatically triggered when a prospect hasn’t responded within a certain amount of time. They’re completely customizable, from the timeframe that passes before the email sends, to specific details included in the email.
Prospecting:Why go through the hassle of setting up call times with each prospect when you can let them come to you? In your follow up emails, include a link to your calendar that allows them to schedule time with you. You’ll have a full calendar of qualified leads, without having to lift a finger!
Direct messaging:Chatbots are nothing new. How you can use them in your sales enablement strategy is. Add filtering criteria to the chatbot on your website, so only quality leads are matched up with sales reps.
You can automate many of these things with sales enablement software, such as HubSpot, Outreach, or Zendesk.
Pay attention to your sales content
Whether we’re talking slide decks, presentations, proposals, or your collateral, all of your sales content needs to be great. And it needs to be used. It might sound silly to have to point this out. However, multiple studies have found that an alarming amount of marketing content is produced and perfected, only for it never to see the light of day. The Content Marketing Institute recently reported that up to 80% of the content provided by marketing teams goes unused. There could be several reasons as to why this happens. Perhaps the content produced is outdated or doesn’t answer the questions prospective buyers have. If that’s the case, that information must be relayed back to the marketing team so that they can re-examine their strategy.
This takes us back, once again, to ensure that both sides have open lines of communication and have easy access to these materials. However, if you’ve taken these precautions and truly find that the content you’re working on ends up being busywork that doesn’t contribute to your bottom line, focus your energy on other aspects of the sales enablement process.
Demand generation is what a brand does to create awareness and interest. Making the public conscious of their business is a key factor in leading them to want to learn more. It’s any marketing effort your B2B company makes to bring people into your sales funnel, with an emphasis on personalization.
As mentioned in our blog post, “The Impact of Demand Generation on Sales Cycles,” the B2C world can use demand generation in areas with longer sales cycles, but it’s most common in the B2B world. B2B products and services aren’t typically purchased impulsively, so commercials and traditional ad strategies don’t always work in such niche markets. So think outside the box when it comes to your demand gen strategies. Try using tools like search engine advertising, SEO, webinars, and free trials.
According to the SaaS platform, Integrate, demand generation “supports the entire marketing and sales cycle, from initial prospect interest and lead generation to lead nurturing and sales enablement to first sale and cross-sell.”
Isn’t that just lead generation?
Well, no. But I can see why you’d think so. The best way to describe the relationship between lead and demand generation is that the two strategies overlap. Like lead gen, demand generation is a crucial part of the sales cycle, but the two are not the same. Unlike lead generation, demand gen in and of itself doesn’t involve a deal or a follow-up. Demand gen is what a brand does to create awareness and interest. Lead gen is more like the “how” part of the equation. Now that consumers know what you are, how are you going to make that interest work for you?
How demand generation ties to inbound marketing
In addition to confusing demand generation for lead generation, many people mix it up with inbound marketing. While an effective demand gen strategy will certainly use inbound marketing strategies (and outbound ones, too), it’s far too simplistic to consider them the same.
Part of the reason demand generation is confused for so many other aspects of the marketing and sales processes is that it’s not so tangible. There isn’t a set “demand generation” spot on the sales funnel. In many cases, your demand gen efforts are starting to take place before a customer even enters the buying journey. HubSpot refers to demand gen programs as touchpoints throughout the conversion optimization and sales cycles. You could say that it’s present throughout the entire funnel.
All about the content
Creating content is the most common method of demand gen. Most of the time, that content is answering questions that consumers may have, or attempting to solve a problem. Online content like blogs, whitepapers, and videos that are search engine optimized help increase your chances that people who can use your services will find what you have to offer. Demand generation can also be highly interactive. Webinars and event marketing are increasingly popular ways to bring awareness to your brand while engaging directly with consumers. In such a short time, social media has also become a crucial method of demand generation.
Gone are the days of boring, bland corporate presences on social platforms. Brands are taking the opportunity of free publicity that social media gives them by creating new, approachable profiles that allow consumers to see them as more than a brand. Having an ongoing presence that keeps potential buyers (and even people who have already purchased) coming back allows you to nurture relationships long term.
The need for relevance
Demand gen is thoughtful and engaging. Cold emails and banner ads certainly have their place in the marketing and sales worlds, but they do not fall under the demand generation umbrella. That’s not to say that you have to completely write marketing automation out of your demand gen strategy, though.
Founder of Seas Marketing, Kari Seas, told Marketingland that the right marketing automation platform will still allow you to establish those deep relationships with your leads and make it simpler to have an ongoing conversation with them.
The whole purpose of your demand gen strategy is that it creates interest around your brand. That requires your efforts to be relevant to your consumers. Targeting individual customers at specific points in their buyer’s journey is imperative. Allowing your sales and marketing teams to work together on this strategy really helps ensure you’re contacting each lead at the right time. You don’t want your efforts to be wasted on hard-selling a casual browser or have someone who was looking to make a purchase slip through the cracks.
It should be data-driven
All marketers know that data is everything when it comes to refining your process. There’s nothing like cold, hard numbers to let you know if your marketing efforts are driving the progress and revenue you’re aiming for. So why should your sales and marketing teams have to each find out those numbers for themselves?
Let’s continue the discussion of how important it is for the sales and marketing teams to work together. Wordstream states that demand generation is a “long-term relationship between a brand’s marketing and sales teams, and prospective customers.”
When both teams work closely, they’re able to share pertinent information about potential leads with each other. This allows each lead to be nurtured appropriately. When the marketing team creates content and evaluates its performance, they’re able to relay that information. Doing so allows your sales team to determine which leads are ready to take the leap and which ones need a little more nurturing.
Sure, in theory, each of these teams can take on these tasks themselves. But why not combine your efforts and spend that saved time moving your leads through the sales funnel? You know what they say: work smarker, not harder.
(Oops, did we mean “smarter?”)
Why it matters
Integrate pointed out that even though you can have lead generation without demand generation, you shouldn’t. Including both strategies into your marketing efforts will help you attract more quality leads and engage potential leads to the point of becoming sales-ready.
“Using wider demand generation tactics typically leads to more intelligent lead generation efforts due to a deeper understanding of bottom-funnel performance,” Integrate also stated. “By closing the loop on marketing performance, demand marketers can fine-tune their lead generation efforts to capture more qualified opportunities. With better brand authority and customer trust, they may increase their visitor-to-lead conversion rates.”
Simply put, demand generation streamlines and refines your marketing strategy, ensuring your market qualified leads are nurtured at the right time (and your other leads are on their way to becoming MQLs!). As a marketer, it saves you time and minimizes the guesswork, allowing you to target effectively. What could be more important than that?
It’s not a new development that a functional, engaging website is crucial for any business. However, it’s especially important for B2B companies. According to the market research firm, Forrester, 68% of B2B customers prefer to research independently online. 60% do not want to rely on a sales representative as a primary source of information. You can put your all into a sales pitch, with all of the stats to back it up. But if you have a hard-to-navigate, subpar site, your potential client might determine that “it’s just not a good time.” Or they’ll “keep you posted.” So if you haven’t taken your B2B website strategy seriously yet, make that your New Year’s resolution.
The internet goes through a lot of changes very quickly. So it’s essential to keep your website up-to-date. If you have the means to do so, it’s advisable to do a significant strategic website strategy refresh every couple of years. This will ensure the site is in sync with your company objectives.
Kickstart your new website strategy
Don’t know where to start? Here are some pointers:
Rework your keyword strategy: You might feel like your web traffic has been lagging. Maybe you just haven’t put a lot of thought into your keyword strategy since you launched your website. Take this opportunity to read up on new SEO guidelines and determine how you can improve your site ranking game.
Refresh your CTAs:You know CTAs are a significant aspect of your website — you have them on every page! However, the CTAs you’ve used for the last few years are likely looking a little tired. If you don’t have the time or resources for a full revamp, just design some new buttons. This is especially important if you have new offerings.
Update your images: If it’s been a while since you updated your website’s banners or graphics, give them a double-take. Make sure they’re still speaking to your brand. If they were trendy when you started using them a few years ago, they could look a little outdated now.
Check your navigation: When you work with a website day in and day out, its navigation becomes second nature to you. It might not be that easy for someone less familiar to get from point A to point B, though. Ask someone who doesn’t spend a lot of time on your website to click around a bit and report back. What can you do to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to get around?
Click on the links: There are a lot of reasons that a link might break, so you want to make sure all of the links on your website are active. Make sure your internal links haven’t been broken through code changes or previous website updates.
Do a website audit
UX guidance firm, the Nielsen Norman Group, found that the average visitor only reads about a quarter of the content on any given page. And that was in 2008. I think we all can agree that our attention spans have dwindled in the past decade.
So your writing has to be sharp. Or your videos have to be engaging. Whatever type of content you house on your website needs to be interesting enough to keep people on your page when a human’s attention span is working against them.
You might think you need to cram as much as you can onto your website to ensure people get all of the information they need. However, it’s been proven that a complicated site with too much to read hinders people’s user experience. Design experts at Speckyboy suggest also steering clear of autoplay visuals and improperly placed popup CTAs to avoid distracting your readers. While simplicity is essential, you also want to ensure you don’t consolidate information too much. Readers shouldn’t have to click to multiple pages to get the full picture.
Do you need a rebrand?
It’s a common misconception that revamping your website strategy should include a rebrand. While in some cases, it’s advisable (you’ll be making over the rest of the site, why not?) that certainly isn’t always true.
Really think about why you feel you need a rebrand. And if you have the budget for one. It’s more than just your logo and colors! Changing all of that up on your website will also require changing all of your physical brandings. From your building’s signage to your business cards, it’s a big undertaking.
If you believe your whole brand needs a makeover because your website isn’t pulling in the traffic you want, remember that site views are dependent on industries. B2B sites tend to bring in less traffic than the average e-commerce site, and that’s OK. Don’t measure your goals up against another business.
Take a look at your messaging
What actually tends to be the issue when people feel like they need new branding, is messaging. Take a good look at your web content. Is it in line with what you perceive your brand to be? Someone should know your company’s story with a quick look through your website. According to Canva, your branding should tell a story, as psychologists have proven that the human brain lights up when hearing or reading a narrative. Don’t you want your reader’s minds to be active as they check out your website?
If you truly believe that your brand story is no longer relevant to what you represent as a company, then it probably is time for a rebrand. And of course, it is easiest to pull off a full rebrand when you are already freshening up your website.
Consider a launchpad site
If your website needs such a revamp that it could be easier to start from scratch, consider starting with a launchpad site. It seems incredibly daunting to revamp your entire website in a short amount of time, but you don’t have to. Having a minimal site with higher quality content can be more effective than a website that’s more fleshed-out, with less emphasis on the content itself.
A launchpad site is a “minimally viable product,” meaning that the only things housed on it at the time of launch are what’s absolutely essential. A traditional website tends to take months to finish and costs more money than a launchpad site. And you don’t even know if the changes are effective until it’s finished and launched.
HubSpot has a useful video that’ll help you sort through features and identify the core things you should include in your launchpad site.
The ultimate benefit of using a launchpad site over doing a complete overhaul is that you have the opportunity to see what resonates with your audience early on. This way, you know what works before you invest more time and money into your new web design. Your site becomes more of a living thing that supports your marketing strategy, with the flexibility that allows you to avoid falling into that trap that causes you to build an entire website based on assumptions.
A launchpad site typically consists of 30 to 50 pages. Include a homepage, an “about us” page, a service/solution page, contact information, offers, and a blog. With fewer things for your users to see, they’re likely to check out more of your site and give you a chance to hone in on what people are looking at. Your content should reign supreme, and you should focus your web design around it, not the other way around.
Using a launchpad site is an iterative process, with far lower stakes than launching a full website all at once. With a launchpad site, going live isn’t the end, it’s just the beginning!
Building your site
Just a few years ago, the average person would balk at the idea of building their own website. Between the visuals on the front end and the coding on the back end, it seemed so intimidating. However, even though websites certainly look better these days, they’re less technical. With platforms like Divi, Elementor, and WordPress’s Visual Composer, sites are easier to manage.
Keeping the security of your website in mind is imperative, especially if people are making purchases. WordPress is one of the world’s largest content management system. It’s currently powering 34% of the internet! But, some people worry about its security. Be sure to enable two-factor authentication and use strong passwords and reputable plug-ins. Just like you do with everything else on the internet!
If you’re more comfortable with leaving web design to the professionals, be sure you don’t blow your budget on it. Try to allot 25% of your budget to website development. Then leave 75% to everything else, like the web host that’ll fuel your website’s performance and the content that you’ll be showcasing.
We’re already predicting what’ll be trending in 2020! With content marketing continuing to chug along, bending, and weaving through industry trends, it’s no surprise that there’s a continuing emphasis on high-quality content. The internet is a vast, black hole, and only the most influential content rises to the surface. Don’t skimp on your content marketing efforts, from case studies to blogs, and especially video.
Speaking of video: As you can probably guess, it’s slotted to continue being one of the most substantial assets on your website. If you haven’t embraced video yet, try starting with a testimonial video. A testimonial of a third party, like a happy customer, beats out some of that noise and distrust that many consumers have lurking in the back of their minds.
Back in the earlier days of digital marketing, your brand was supposed to take a backseat. With the rise of social media and a desire for transparency, putting some more focus on your brand itself is becoming increasingly popular. Let your potential customers see who you are and what your brand stands for through your advertising and web content.
When working on your new website strategy, remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. What might have at first seemed like many small tasks can add up and take more time and energy than anticipated – but everything worth it does!
As we discussed before, in our blog post, “HubSpot vs. Pipedrive: Which CRM is Better for Sales?”, choosing a customer relationship management tool for your B2B company is a big decision. You need to take a lot of factors into account, like the size of your company, what software you want to integrate, and what the main functions of your CRM will be. It’ll help you find new contacts and organize the ones you have, allow you to nurture your leads, and facilitate collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. In other words, you’ll be spending a lot of time with it. With so many options out there, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which is best, but we’re going to break down some of the key aspects of two of the most popular CRMs: HubSpot vs. Salesforce.
All about HubSpot
The great thing about HubSpot, especially for a new business, is that there is a free option. While you will probably have to add on some premium sales tools as your company grows and you need change, you have a lot of flexibility to purchase just the ones you need. HubSpot’s CRM also gives you the option to have as many users on it as you want, enabling more collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. The free CRM option offers contact management, deal and task management, and integrations with social media and email that allows you to track your interactions with leads.
The HubSpot CRM wasn’t created to compete with Salesforce. According to Impact, HubSpot’s CRM is ideal for companies that are new to customer relationship management systems, that are looking to improve their organization and efficiency.
If you’re already using the countless tools that HubSpot offers new businesses, it would make sense to want all of your information in a single place. After all, HubSpot does offer tools for social media marketing, web and social analytics, content management, landing pages, and search engine optimization, as well as videos, to teach you how to use all of them.
Salesforce is one of the original CRMs, founded in 1999. Currently, Salesforce is the No. 1 CRM, dominating 30.27% of the market share, with over 45,000 domains under its belt. Known for offering just about everything you might need in a CRM and name recognition, it’s typically the first CRM that new business owners look into.
It’s also not surprising that that convenience isn’t free. Convenience typically costs a pretty penny — like that last time you ordered an Uber when you really could have taken the train, or that Doordash you ordered when you had a fridge full of ingredients to make dinner, Salesforce is no different. For many up-and-coming B2B companies, Salesforce’s pricing is just not in their budget. There’s no free plan, and though pricing starts at a mere $25 a month, most companies need more than the $25 plan offers. PieSync suggests that the average user needs to spend about $150 on Salesforce to get all of the functionality they’ll need.
You know how some people live and die by Apple products, while others prefer the look and feel of a PC? Neither one is notably better (despite what people on either side of the fence will try to convince you on), but it all comes down to the type of interface you prefer.
HubSpot is known for having a clean, simple, user-friendly look to it. After all, its CRM was specifically created for beginners. You’re able to clearly see everything that HubSpot has to offer, on an intuitive dashboard. We mentioned before how Salesforce provides more than most marketers will ever need, and you can tell that by looking at the dash. It’s pretty clunky, with a lot of information right there on the screen, but you still need to click around and do deep dives to find all of the information that you’re looking for. Flight Media took screenshots of both for you to compare:
Like in our previous post comparing HubSpot and Pipedrive, it all comes down to integration! While your CRM will be able to do a lot, it won’t do absolutely everything a growing business needs it to (Nope, not even Salesforce). This is where integration comes in. While some CRM systems have barriers to integration, neither HubSpot or Salesforce do. Salesforce ultimately allows for integration among more programs than HubSpot does. Still, HubSpot is sure to offer extensions for some of the most prominent programs you’ll be using, like Microsoft Office and Google Suite.
What if you already have a CRM, though, and are looking around for other options? Well, HubSpot might be the pick for you. Not only can you simultaneously use both CRMs, but you can eventually integrate your data into HubSpot. This is also handy when you have clients working along with you who use a different in-house CRM — even if that other CRM is Salesforce.
Depending on the size of your business and how in-depth you want your reporting to be, there are certainly pros and cons to both HubSpot and Salesforce. If you’re just starting, though, HubSpot’s user-friendly interface and wallet-friendly pricing might be the way to go.