One of the biggest problems in business is being able to scale up profitably – and the root cause is because marketing teams treat business prospects as if they’re high street consumers and as a result it forces businesses back into cold calling which has got a success rate of about 400-1. So how on earth is a business supposed to scale up?
Throughout my career I couldn't work out how marketing was supposed to help me scale up or change the ratio between people and profitability. Taking on more people didn’t mean making more money. So I decided to investigate marketing from directors’ perspective and this presentation is the result of a ten-year quest to find the answer.
In spite of all the latest marketing technologies CB Insights said 50% of the reasons businesses fail are marketing related so, it’s unsurprising that the press and recruitment industry have been saying for the past 8 or 9 years that the average tenure for a CMO is about 18 months So CEO's have instinctively known something was wrong for years and explains why they are forced into making their own, often unqualified or unresearched marketing decisions.
The knock-on effect is that The Financial Times company Sifted said that 91% of all businesses fail within 10 yrs and if you get investment 40% will fail 75% won’t reach their own targets and 95% won't make an ROI for the investors.
Still joining the dots the average turnover pppa is £80k for smaller businesses and £150k for larger businesses of 50+ which means profitability and scalability is consistently low for everyone.
So what does a CEO do? – We’ll of course new business is our lifeblood. And we’ve all probably dreamt about finding a systematic method to attract new customers so we can scale up /. But before I get on to that I want to share a bit about my background and how I got into all this I started out selling technology in London’s West End, so I did all the cold calling bit in the rain and snow. I then set up different technology businesses and sold millions of pounds worth of kit But I took a different approach to my peers, I learned the technology from the inside out to the point that I could install it not because I wanted to be an engineer, although I did get the certificates but because I wanted to make sure I could sell it properly.
It paid off and was telecoms dealer of the year in the UK two years running. However, I was always frustrated that I couldn’t work out how to scale up my businesses profitably and so I eventually switched and became a full-time head of marketing for B2Bs to find out what was missing. You can watch the full story about my journey on the about us page.
One of the first companies I worked for I did a campaign that resulted in 100’s of millions of pounds in pension transfers Another was a mobile phone company my marketing strategy raised £300k and I designed an App which helped get a healthcare award. I worked for a FinTech start-up this time I had to present my plan in Germany. They gave me a £250k budget and after launching in the UK the first deal came in of £3.5m in 10 weeks. And so, the stories mounted up. I tell you this because it still wasn't good enough. Anyone can have a flash-in-the-pan success but I was looking for a genuine repeatable scalable strategy.
As Directors though we don't have choice we have to keep pushing forward because the buck-stops-with-us. The first business crashed and burned so I've been there and got the T shirt.
Three months after starting my 2nd business this time on my own my 4yr old daughter died after a bicycle accident when she was out with my 1st wife. But as Directors we don’t get to put our companies on hold crushed with grief or not.
Three years later I had a quadruple heart bypass I was only 34. But as a director I had a responsibility towards my family and my staff and had to keep going at the same rate within weeks of the operation.
A few years after the bypass I got divorced which dragged on because of the children. I say all this because we’ve all got stories to tell that deeply affect us.
But we're directors, right? We’re committed to our families and have a legal obligation to our staff suppliers and customers irrespective of the trials WE'RE going through.
So because of my frustrations I pulled marketing apart I learned about it from the inside out and put it back together again The new approach would eventually empower business owners to set the goals for marketing and not the other way round.
Here’s what led the way according to Gartner 83% of prospects research digitally before they engage with a salesperson and 44% of millennials prefer salesperson-free purchases. McKinsey’s research in 2020 revealed that 70% of B2B decision-makers are open to self-serve purchases up to £50k and 27% up to £500k.
As you already know, businesses are encouraged to aspire to achieving the gold standard for B2B marketing which is to invest in marketing automation software landing pages and pay-per-click. But it’s not choice, it’s the only option. And if you didn’t have the budget, you just cold called.
A Forrester study in 2018 revealed that businesses who had marketing automation only manage to convert less than 1% of prospects who made it through the MarTech funnel in to paying customers.
So first I had to address the MarTech Funnel which is presented to everyone by Big Tech. The fact is people don't follow down a linear path or funnel; we all bounce all over the place before making a decision.
Everyone had bought in to marketing automation and ABM but it’s ‘the emperor’s new clothes. To engage with prospects you MUST allow them to access your content without forcing them to give you their details. We all hate it because we don't want to be spammed or cold called.
So after multiple iterations I finally developed a process to transform a business into a highly efficient scalable machine to achieve the consistency we’re all looking for. I re-ENGINEERING marketing and the management structure and called it - Digital Selling by combining direct selling and digital marketing to create the ultimate scale up strategy.
So How Does Digital Selling Work? Well, it's simple - It prioritises, advertising your content over advertising your products. It enables your customers to get answers to all their questions, review and analyse you and your products and place an order or book services, all without speaking to anyone and if they want to, you make sure it can happen as quickly as possible.
Your content is divided in to three category types, and it’s also created as video, podcasts and written to suit everyone’s tastes, and so the content can be found on the search engines, and not hidden from them because of marketing automation forms.
Have a look how we've done this at salesXchange -
So, here’s what you have to do... It breaks down into six parts: You’ve got About Us How to Buy Products Content Adverts and Replacing Cold Calling.
First, you tell people who you are where you came from and what made you set up your business in the first place. You’re telling YOUR story because that’s what people want to hear and that’s why the ABOUT US page is the most popular page on a website.
Then there’s HOW TO BUY; You need remove any friction that could stop a prospect from placing an order with you or buying from you online This is the key to scaling up.
Your PRODUCT presentations are to be exceptional. Provide videos and case studies. Offer online brochures as well as downloadable PDF's. Set up Live Chat and have an up-to-date FAQs page.
Next up create CONTENT that presents your expertise and personality to help prospects get to know you /and learn about your products and services. Because some content is more important than others it needs to be categorised as Primary Secondary and General. Primary Content is Thought Leadership Educational and so on. Secondary Content is Case Studies and Interviews and General Content is lower Interest information like Company News and Charity Events.
Then there’s the ADVERTS which are Videos Memes Graphics & Animations. You prepare 120 of these Adverts in advance. The reason you need 120 is because you publish 4 adverts 4 times a day over 4 weeks and repeat – that’s why it’s called Social 444. Once they’re uploaded, posting is done automatically every day to multiple social media channels so this really is set-and-forget marketing and it doesn’t need updating for 12-18 months.
To REPLACING COLD CALLING you start a Live Stream show and invite all your prospects and customers to join in they can ask questions and listen to interviews etc anonymously all from the comfort of their mobile phone or tablet.
To promote your show email your database every week tell them what happened the previous week and what’s planned for the next show. If you don’t have enough contacts, buy an email list upload it to your CRM and also upload it to LinkedIn, do a pay-per-click campaign to appear on their newsfeeds and email them once a week about the live stream, it’s as simple as that.
Now we’ve taken care of marketing part the next step is to re-engineer the ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE in line with Digital Selling. Typically, businesses have got three departments - IT Sales & Marketing. So, I renamed them Technology Revenue & Content.
Starting with Technology. Move all marketing operations including the website, email distribution platform UX CX and importantly internal training to be managed under the umbrella of the Technology, because there’s less staff churn in IT than there is in marketing.
Next up is Content The CMO is now called the Editor-in-Chief because they're running a publishing and production operation. The team includes researchers reporters presenters videographers and any other creative type needed to help communicate your expertise and personality.
And finally, The Revenue Team This includes pre-sales field sales customer insights customer success and any other revenue generating activity of the business.
The new structure provides more flexibility defining head count and salaries and bonuses because the emphasis is on customer self-service throughout the buying journey.
THE CONTENT TEAM become the pro-active element within the business and sales or revenue becomes re-active without any expectation for them to find new business they only have to close a deal when they’re needed.
And that’s it a complete realignment of a B2B selling operation, that streamlines new business, reduces unnecessary expenses and increases your profitability.
As I bring this to a close my journey revealed something I was told when I first started in selling and that was people-buy-people but with the rise of technology, this truism had become unrecognisable. Prospects and customers simply want to know who you are and why they should buy from you and to do that you teach them how and why they need YOUR product which is presented in the formats of their choice. It’s an exchange, not a bull fight.
Your call to action is to review and categorise your content add the new formats and make the change to becoming a Digital Selling business that can scale up on your terms.
To watch an in-depth video about the scale up marketing plan, there’s a link in the description. And there’s also a link to my About Us video there too.
And that’s it. Thanks for joining me, I hope you found this interesting and if you’d like me to help with the transformation process, lets’ have a coffee and a chat. Bye for now.