How to Solve Marketing Overload: Automate

A recurring theme in my blog underscores how the sales cycle has become increasingly complex for financial and professional services firms. The buying process can be tough to decode, and the decision cycle involves groups of executives with multiple perspectives and cross-cultural experiences.

The hard part comes when advisors must solve multi-faceted problems for business owners who don’t yet fully understand the solution being presented. Executive benefits. Compensation strategies. Real estate partnerships. Tax planning. Succession plans. Pick your solution.

Clients run lean today, even understaffed, and they can’t commit the time you’ll need to unwrap your solution―so you’ve got to help them fully understand the value you bring early in the process.

Further, business-to-business clients will not speak to a sales person until they hold 60 percent of the information required to make a decision on a solution, cites Jay Baer in his work on the 7 Myths of Social Media. Buyers want greater control and the Internet makes its possible.

Technology Shift

Until the late-90s, the only way a client could learn about your company, products or services was from you directly. Slowly, a net proliferation washed over our computer screens with the rise of e-mail, corporate websites, webinars, e-commerce, podcasts, online video, each expanding opportunities for organizations to connect in two-way communication as never before. Granted, none of this is news. We’ve already leapfrogged Web. 2.0.

Techno-savvy marketers of financial and professional services recognize a powerful competitive advantage exists when you’re seen online as an authority in your field. That can only happen when you deliver informative, exclusive content on complex issues of value to your prospects.

Thus, your site should become an educational forum to inform, inspire, and shape your prospect’s outlook on who you are and whether you can deliver the value you claim. And your content cannot simply reside on your website. It’s the clarion call to the marketplace, working its way across the cyber divide through multiple marketing channels where prospects frequent.

No Time to Market?

Understandably, most advisors feel overburdened by the weight of the marketing function, as though we must market to everyone, all at once, all the time. And do it creatively, cleverly in ways that pull our target market to us. That’s a tall order. But critical. In a recent study by Google, 71 percent of B2B buyers used the Internet when evaluating purchases.

To breakthrough, you must be positioned as a perceived expert as the prospect finds you early in his buying process. Where do you begin?

The answer lies in technology itself. From the outset of the internet revolution, software and systems were designed to manage client relationships, compress the sales cycle, and increase revenues. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software with cloud computing are now affordable, even for small organizations. Amazingly, many firms still don’t maintain a database of target prospects.

Surrogate Salesforce

I’ll share an example of how technology and marketing automation works quietly in the background as your surrogate sales force. A few years back, I received a call from the chief financial officer of a target prospect. He was in our database, had received our outreach content, and had been invited to several events, including our monthly webinars.

This particular day, he called to ask if I would attend his compensation committee meeting, and address a number of issues he laid out for me. I was a little surprised by his openness for a first appointment. Naturally, I asked if we should meet prior so I could better understanding their situation. I also wanted to build a rapport with him and share more about our expertise and company.

He said, “Bill, that will not be necessary, I know who you are and I know of your firm’s expertise, I’ve been attending your webinars, and read a number of your reports for the last eight months, however, the timing wasn’t right then with our issues. The timing is now right. We believe you can help us.”

Automatic Game Changer

At the time, my firm deployed a range of marketing automation techniques and tools. Marketing automation tied to sales management best practices is today’s game changer. The software solutions install quickly and affordably. Packages tailor easily to individualized firm needs. Above all, these tools enable non-enterprise businesses to address many of the obstacles embedded in today’s longer, more complex, and far more impersonal sales cycle.

With marketing automation, you’re able to see past the faceless client phenomenon by creating multichannel, highly targeted and personalized campaigns that ultimately reveal in real-time, one-on-one client relationships. As a result, you bridge the gap between marketing and sales by delivering more qualified leads and by simplifying the lead assignment process.

You also capitalize on current investment in client databases, existing websites, and other marketing collateral, to wring every bit of useful data out of these existing assets. In this way, you continuously improve marketing effectiveness. Best of all, marketing automation returns actionable metrics and reporting on campaign effectiveness and return on investment. Do your research and discover the appropriate choices in software programs to reduce your marketing load.

You may even find an extra morning or two to bring back that time-honored tradition: A game of golf with a coveted prospect on a serene course where tee-time and face-time still work magic.

See you on the upside,

News Alert

MERGE 2.0, read my latest book, now released by the publisher and available on Amazon to purchase.  Learn everything you need to know to book revenue in the new realities of B2B professional selling.

And, if you’re not a reader and prefer interactive learning, take our MERGE 2.0 online learning course.  Go here for more info.

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