Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Do not despair if you blinked and missed out on the last four years of changes that have happened in the marketing industry. A lot has happened, a 180° from push marketing to pull marketing. Maybe you are asking, “how has that effected the job market?” “What’s up with all these new applications and terminology? There’s just so many of them! How much of it is applicable to whatever will be my next position? Which of it am I likely to run into out there? Will I even like these new methodologies, much less embrace them?
Well, good news! If you have studied pull marketing for the consultative sales rep in a past life, then you will be happy to know that the rest of the world has finally caught up to what we knew back then was a better way to sell and market. The tools back in the day would not accommodate our needs. Back in the day, even if we could theoretically get access to the data, it was cumbersome and untimely to obtain. Now we have great new tools available and every marketing management platform has grabbed onto inbound marketing methodology. It is mainstream enough now that you may be reading and hearing about “new marketing” techniques everywhere you look. Once you dig in you will realize you already know 80% of this stuff.
To get started there are a few important high level marketing terms you will run into on job descriptions for marketing positions now. There is a new skillset expected even for marketing titles you used to rock. Now these are all part of every marketer’s job description.
- Digital Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Inbound Marketing
- Marketing Analytics (not your college marketing analytics)
There are things you can do today to be more efficient on a modern marketing team. You have to learn the language modern teams are using, but your years of experience are more valuable than anyone is taking into account here. We have had to learn a new technology every four years since dinosaurs and spam. Probably because not enough old marketers are embracing the technology, to be on those teams, to show their value-add.
You can be caught up with the concepts and applications in a couple months of online training and free trials. I am happy to talk through my journey in case it can help. The information provided is my opinion as a newb to a lot of these applications and classes.
Be careful when taking online training to use common sense to separate each provider’s subtly inserted product hype, from the sound marketing practices to be learned by their courses. Side note: I think it is interesting that the coursework screams education early and product info when they are ready to buy, but HubSpot cleverly peppers all their training with information that will be helpful later to select their product. An additional but lesson in the lesson.
Spray and pray was always bad. Now it’s a crime
The main story here is that sales and marketing had to stop trying to shove content down potential client’s throats in hopes that they might someday be interested in your product (what we used to call “spray and pray”). Instead, we are expected to start providing educational content for future prospects much earlier in the sales cycle (what we used to call consultative sales and marketing) so your content is out there waiting for them at each stage of their purchasing journey (now called the buyer’s journey).
Since customer buying habits have changed, sales and marketing have to change or get left behind in this new buyer’s world where online education is now king.
Right content, right place, right time according to the buyer’s journey is the order of the day
This idea of being where your customers are already at (since they start their buying cycle when they do their first search to figure out what their problem is called) enables you to better guide the sales cycle and become a trusted adviser earlier in the process. If you are waiting for them to need your product, then you are missing 2/3 of their buyer’s cycle (called the buyer’s journey).
Graphic below includes language and methodology examples borrowed from HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Certification course. I have summarized several concepts into the two graphics below to explain these concepts using terminology traditional marketers should already know.
Their line of reasoning is that your competition is out there advising prospects and creating their buying criteria before you even learn about them as a possible future opportunity. Sound like your team? If so, please keep reading. These rehashed concepts, plus some awesome tools, better hand-off between sales and marketing are the foundations of what is called inbound marketing.
Better Handoff between marketing and sales leads
Another big shift (that I just love) is that the best in class marketing methodologies like HubSpot and Marketo both have beefed up that ever problematic lead handoff from marketing to sales. Hubspot uses a definition and supports it with their software around what a “Marketing Quality Lead (MQL) is, and what a Sales ready lead (SQL) is. Both teams are involved in the handoff criteria, qualification, and are responsible for that MQL/SQL area of the funnel. Both teams are accountable for this handoff and thus have better insight into the complete sales cycle.
Marketing is tracking what happens to their leads after sales gets them to continually improve their leads, and sales has more control over the lead criteria and acceptance of a MQL as a SQL. Prospects are more closely tracked by both teams and receive content when they need it now. I really like this process and software from preliminarily checking out their free version online.
Marketo has a “Marketing qualified / Sales accepted closed loop process at the handoff stage that keeps leads in marketing until they are determined sales ready and thereafter treated with respect by sales. That’s the plan anyway.
You have heard all this before right? Well, at least now many (to most) companies are using one of these two marketing platforms that seems to enforce, or at least supports this behavior. Thank God, it’s about freaking time!
Meet the new boss, he’s a lot like the old boss
Marketing for the consultative sales rep is fashionable again. Pull marketing is better defined and supported. Remember back in 2005 when great marketing books like “Lead generation for the Complex Sale,” by Brian Carroll, or Marketing Led Sales Driven by Ajay Sirsi were first out? Mr. Carroll’s methods assumed sales reps were selling in a consultative fashion already, and lays the groundwork for much of what has been incorporated into the two most popular marketing platforms today HubSpot and Marketo.
That is something good that started out old school and has received a fresh coat of paint. Back in the day, even behemoths like HP trained every direct or reseller sales rep in Mercury’s consultative selling training programs. Avnet, NetApp, and reseller sales reps were taking consultative selling training in order to participate in any of my programs ten years ago. methodology training and tools a decade ago. More marketers are being asked to assist in helping their sales reps sell in a more customer centric fashion. They are selling in a more consultative fashion and are solely focused on pull marketing techniques, you are already well on your way.
Plenty of great marketing apps to learn
Here are the main categories and tools that companies want you to be able to use now. Fortunately, if you go online, take their training courses and a free trial and within a week you are good to go. Tools today are much easier to learn and use. Here is an example of digital marketing tools from Smart Insights at http://www.smartinsights.com/
All these apps are created to help you put your content where your prospects are looking for it, earn trusted advisor status, make it fun, and to track it. It is assumed you have created and provided product information to your sales team for the convert stage. To gain better insights into your buyer’s persona and journey. And to leverage it at every stage of the buyer’s journey. Most of these tools are intuitive to use, low cost, and fun to create with.
Here is another one I like from Cheifmartec.com. Instead of splitting everything out by RACE (which is very cool), it sorts them by marketing category / task, kind of lines them up by where it falls in the marketing cycle for each marketing discipline.
Way back in the day I was an Air Force Finance troop. If you have been a marketing pro for ten or more years you probably have had to take an accounting class at some point as well. Everything was manual and they used debits and credits on ledgers to balance. When learning that crap you couldn’t imagine it ever being useful unless you planned to become a CPA. Then out came QuickBooks. It was transaction based and it could do all your basic accounting tasks without requiring the user to use debits and credits anymore. They weren’t missed, and small business everywhere could get rid of their paperbound and expensive accounting person. If the owner herself was too busy to do the books on QuickBooks themselves, they could hire a computer savvy college graduate to come in and use QuickBooks for a fraction what they were paying before. So, let’s call the old accountant Agnes and the new QuickBooks using graduate “Betty”. Agnes got the boot after ten years of doing the books manually. Life is good for Betty and management for a while. Salary expenses were down, everything was getting done, the reports looked great, and everyone was busy. One day the books were off by a hundred dollars. Something got off somewhere. Betty looked at every transaction, but was not able to understand anything going on in QuickBooks underneath the graphical user interface (GUI) to dig into those debits and credits listed on the internal QuickBooks source forms. All that old school accounting was still in there buy QuickBooks hid them and used them internally to serve up its information to the GUI that Betty had learned to use. Now everything they loved about QB was exactly what was wrong with QB now.
When Agnes came in to do her “old cheapskate of a boss” a solid favor, she could easily understand the source documents and internal forms QuickBooks was pulling from. They looked exactly like old school balance sheets and ledgers that Agnes had been doing everything on. Agnes and the new hire quickly found the problem together, Agnes charged her former boss a butt load of money, and Agnes learned how to use QuickBooks and with the new skill and old ledger experience was able to get a new job making a whole lot more money. Sound familiar? It should. Your skills will all still be useful. You have hard earned experience and perspective. If you can pick up some new concepts, vocabulary, and skills you will be more capable than members of your team who read about it in books and never had to deal with some of the craziness we have.