In the first installment of this two-part series, B2B Software Companies with Modest LTVs Need Smarter Inbound Marketing (Part 1 of 2), you learned about why you need a great handle on your ideal client’s lifetime value (LTV), why your price points may drive your sales and marketing approach, and how equilibrium (profitability) can be restored.
Now, let’s turn our attention to how you can spend less labor-intensive sales time with prospects that aren’t yet ready and how you can select the right strategies, tools, and tactics to scale your Inbound marketing profitably.
How to Spend Less Time with Each Prospect
Last week, I spoke with our channel account manager at HubSpot, Dan MacAdam, about this issue with software companies. Dan hit the nail on the head: Many B2B software companies with modest LTVs in the mid-four-figure range are e-commerce companies that can’t afford to spend time touching each lead. Why? Because a client is simply not worth that much!
In most of these cases, because the owner’s pride precludes him or her from seeing their software company as an e-commerce vendor, the owner acts as if he’s selling a $100,000 software implementation. But the simple math of their price point tells otherwise.
For each company to maintain its pricing power via differentiation, it must arrive much earlier on in the sales process with educational, remarkable thought leadership content that positions the company as a trusted business and technology advisor.
This is critical now as the latest research from CEB shows that 57% of the typical B2B sales cycle is over before a prospect contacts any vendor.
Once Inbound content has transformed strangers into visitors, we’re looking for two emotional reactions from readers:
- Holy smokes! This is awesome educational content! I wish I found this weeks ago.
- What else do these folks have to say? (Oh, I see a free eBook on this topic. I’m definitely going to sign up for that!)
So once remarkable content, that’s promoted through calls to action and landing pages, generates a new lead, the software company will have an opportunity to build a relationship with that prospect over time – by sharing content within the proper context of where that prospect is in the buyer’s journey.
The low-budget version of Inbound marketing typically has a junior salesperson spend several hours each day combing through leads and manually emailing relevant content to a few dozen leads. Here’s what this often looks like:
- The junior salesperson spends 60+ hours each month manually emailing relevant content to prospects.
- The junior salesperson over-invests their time with early-stage leads and ends up surrendering sales-ready leads to the competition, whose salespeople have better, more modern, automated tools.
Make/Break Inbound Marketing Tools for B2B Software Companies with Modest Client Lifetime Value
The good news, however, is that there are a handful of tools that could make a huge difference in allowing a software company to scale profitably – even at its current price points, but at a much lower cost of client acquisition:
- Buyer personas ensure that the content you create is content your ideal buyers want to read. Way too many B2B software companies have content on their websites that, frankly, no one – except maybe a few employees – is actually reading.
- Personalized content recognizes that in an era of unprecedented buyer control and selective consumption, where buyers will hit the back button and exit your website within seconds if they don’t get what they came for, you can’t afford to be lazy or go cheap and try to take a one-size-fits-all approach to content publishing. CEOs care about different issues than CFOs. And CFOs have very different goals, behaviors, and challenges than CIOs.
- Segmentation helps you avoid sending irrelevant content that erodes trust and causes prospects to go elsewhere. By segmenting your leads and hyper-targeting your relevancy, you can give your prospects and clients an Amazon-com-like experience where content recommendations arrive with a downright scary level of relevancy.
- Workflows keep your company’s name top of mind, as you continue to deliver valuable content over time. To do this automated lead nurturing the right way, there must be workflows for each lifecycle stage (awareness, consideration, and decision-making) and each buyer persona. Since nurtured leads close 23% faster than non-nurtured leads, workflows are critical for improving the lead-to-client conversion rate over time and driving down the cost of client acquisition. Moreover, once workflows are planned, created, and loaded up, they run automatically in the background until a recipient raises his or her hand for sales assistance.
- CRM integration helps ensure that your marketing efforts align with your sales efforts, and vice versa. While CRM integration alone won’t get your marketing and sales teams perfectly aligned (Smarketing), without this integration, you will waste ridiculous amounts of resources on siloed information, political turf battles, and blame games.
- Revisit notifications let the sales staff know when a hot prospect is back on the website and what page(s) are being viewed.
- Webinars, like Workflows, are critical to raising your lead-to-client conversion rates and driving down your cost of client acquisition. Why? Because instead of your sales staff educating prospects one at a time on key related issues, challenges, and solutions, your team can be having largely the same impact with dozens, if not hundreds, of prospects at once. And there will still be easy ways for hot prospects to raise their hands for sales help before, during, and after the event. But at that point, your team can skim the cream with those who’ve already become educated on key considerations and decision-making issues.
Like I said to a B2B software prospect that we decided not to do business with, you can mow a lawn with scissors.
And you can walk from New York to New Orleans.
However, most rational business leaders, with labor costs, opportunity costs, competitors, employees, and investors, to contend with, will want better tools that help them work smarter with website traffic generation, website lead generation, and most of all, website sales acceleration and ROI analysis.
At the end of the day, B2B software companies that have relatively modest lifetime client values (LTVs) – especially in a SaaS-centric business model, will definitely need smarter Inbound marketing: strategic blogging, landing pages, and email newsletters alone won’t be enough close sales faster on a more consistent, predictable basis.
What’s been your B2B software company’s not-so-secret sauce when it comes to profitably scaling? Do you have a good handle on your true sales costs? And are you actively working on a solution to drive down your cost of client acquisition (COCA), while maintaining or increasing your ideal client lifetime value? Please share your thoughts in the Comments below.