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Middle of the Funnel

How The Hell Do You Get More Leads?

Published May 5, 2021

Hi there, I am Gabriel 👋

The other day, I came across this thought-provoking article by Gartner about how the events of 2020 have affected the buyer's journey.

“When B2B buyers are considering a purchase, they spend only 17% of that time meeting with potential suppliers. When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers, the amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6%.”

This resonated a ton. I noticed that revenue leaders often attribute lost deals to sales people failing to deliver enough value during sales interactions.

I’m not trying to diminish the role of Sales here. But increasingly post-pandemic, sellers have fewer opportunities to influence customer decisions.

I wrote an article about the implications for us marketers here.

Tim Soulo, CMO of Ahrefs, reinforces this with a contrarian perspective:

“A common misconception that B2B marketers have: you wrongly believe that a signup is the start of the funnel. That from that point on, there's some magic combination of onboarding tricks and emails you can send that will cause a customer to convert.

I think that this is all wrong.

The approach that we take at Ahrefs is to provide a ton of information upfront. Our blog is a treasure trove of useful information, in addition to tutorials on the Ahrefs tool itself. 

I want my users to be so well informed about my solution before they sign up that by the time they are asked to convert, it's a total no-brainer. 

Look, Marketing is not just about promoting your product, but also demonstrating a better product for your sales team to sell.” 

-- Creating Better Products Through Marketing with Tim Soulo of Ahrefs

I couldn’t agree more.

At Saleswhale, we often see sales opportunities which close with the shortest sales cycles and highest ACV have similar prospect statements (as a marketer, you should really be using Gong to track sales calls):

“I already know what you do, the problem you solve - and these are the few use cases I already have in mind. How do I get started?”

The question then becomes - how do we cultivate more of such prospects?

I think that it begins with re-investing in bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content. Case studies, long-form educational reports, tutorials, guides, product videos, and tactical use cases.

After all, what’s the point of obsessing over top-line traffic and lead gen, while overall SQLs and pipeline stay flat?

Now, here's what I'm reading 👇

How The Hell Do You Get More Leads? - Meagen Eisenberg, former Chief Marketing Officer @ MongoDB

Slides here: https://www.slideshare.net/saastr/how-the-hell-do-you-get-more-leads-at-saastr-annual-2016

This 2016 video of Meagen Eisenberg, former CMO of MongoDB is a great B2B Marketing fundamentals playbook that every emerging marketing leader should watch.

It’s almost 5 years old, so some of the technology mentioned is a little dated, but the fundamentals are all there. 

I especially loved her sharing at 12 mins:

“Here’s another thing I do when I first join a company. Right out of college I joined Cisco Systems as an IT engineer, and I focused on manufacturing IT. [laughs] I got APICS certified, and it was all about bottlenecks, things going through and not going through. It really applies to lead flow, and the handoff between marketing and sales. You will be amazed, when you start to look at your system, where it’s broken. This is just an example, but if you can’t map it out, you’re going to be in trouble.”

As a former-engineer-turned-marketer, this certainly resonated. We ourselves saw an increase in our leads just by building a feedback loop around improving this process - no additional marketing budget or ad dollars required.

Reverse Engineer Your Marketing Strategy - Wes Kao, former co-founder of Seth Godin’s altMBA

The best marketing leaders have the intellectual rigor to see marketing as a system and the ability to articulate with clarity, why they are pursuing certain tactics.

Without the former, it’s easy to get caught up in all the latest tactics and channels -

“Start a podcast!”

“We should do a commercial!”

“Run LinkedIn ads!”

Without really understanding why we are doing each of these things, and what we are optimizing for.

“This sounds simple, but this single concept encompasses why marketing is both an art and a science. There’s no such thing as an objectively good or bad tactic.”

Life Is Too Short to Work For a CEO Who Doesn't Get Marketing with Chris Walker (CEO @ Refine Labs) and Dave Gerhardt (CMO @ Privy, former VP Marketing @ Drift)

This is a phenomenal podcast episode with Chris Walker and Dave Gerhardt bantering about B2B demand generation. Worth a listen.

I’ve extracted my favourite snippet which starts at 50:43:

Chris Walker: “I have a contrarian take that you don’t really need inbound SDRs. If you strip away low-intent leads, and you send high-intent leads straight to your sales reps, then you wouldn’t need inbound SDRs.”

Dave Gerhardt: “Yeah. Marketing is often like - ‘you are not following up with my leads’, ‘you are not booking meetings for my marketing leads’. And Sales is like - ‘yeah, we own the SDRs, and we will get them to do whatever’. And Marketers don’t like that because we don’t own the outcome. We are measured on pipeline. But if the reps aren’t booking the meetings, then whose fault is that? A lot of it comes down to alignment. I would really love the idea of Marketing just owning SDRs or lead follow-ups. We can just own more of the funnel. And the role of AEs and sales becomes ‘success is you just getting on the phone and having lots of qualified conversations’ and let Marketing do the rest.”

Chris Walker: “Yeah, sales people are very smart people, and they will often take the path of least resistance - the shortest, clearest path to their goals. Most sales people don’t like to follow up with marketing leads. So, as a marketer, if you can give them that - meetings booked straight on their calendar - they are going to take that.”

Obviously Awesome by April Dunford

This is hands down the best book I recommend to my marketing friends who want to get better at B2B marketing. The book is about positioning. 

Sounds like a boring topic - until you realize that often the biggest challenge that a B2B company faces is figuring out how to explain what they do to potential customers - people do not buy what they do not understand.

I find most marketing books to be too theoretical, but April’s book is practical, down-to-earth, original and thought-provoking in a contrarian way. Her YouTube talks are great as well.

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