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The Future of Sales and Marketing

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Dani Buckley

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Recent Posts

What's a Marketing Qualified Lead? What's a Sales Qualified Lead?

qualifiying_leadsWhen does the marketing department’s role end and the sales department’s role begin? Very specifically, when should a lead be passed from marketing to sales?

This is a tricky question, and as with most marketing and sales best practices… it’s not always black and white. Every organization is different and it’s important that you work with your Inbound Marketing Consultant to customize a marketing and sales agreement plan that enables you to effectively qualify, distribute, track, and ultimately to close your leads.

One of the first and most important steps is determining how you’ll classify leads and determine when they are ready to be contacted by a business developer (if you have someone in the role) or by a salesperson, or whether they should be nurtured via automated email marketing before reaching out. You need to develop your company’s definition of what is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) and what is a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). That decision should evolve from discussions among leadership and staff from both your marketing and sales departments to ensure everyone is in agreement and expectations are clear.

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Topics: inbound marketing

5 Ways for Salespeople to Not Suck at Social Media

socialIf you’re a salesperson, you probably understand the importance of having an online presence and building a valuable personal brand. Even if you aren’t doing a very good job of managing it, you still understand how important it is, right?

A big part of that brand includes your social media presence. Sure, Facebook is great for sharing cat videos with your old college buddies, but I’m talking about the professional side of social networks—for example, using Twitter to showcase your expertise and knowledge in a particular area and using LinkedIn to “meet” prospects long before you actually meet them in person. If you’re not yet using LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Google+ effectively to interact and engage with prospects, customers, and other industry thought leaders, don’t worry… this post is written just for you.

Here are five easy ways salespeople can start using blogging and social media to increase your sales performance and grow your personal brand.

1. Share content from your personal or company blog. 

Do you or your company have a blog? This is the best source of content you could possibly have to share with your network and stand out against the competition. Share old and new blog posts, share links to landing pages to download ebooks, and invite others to subscribe. 

Take it one step further by including a personal takeaway. Don’t just share the link – add a line about why you think this article is important or useful or a quote from it that you found memorable. 

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Topics: Digital, inbound marketing

When Will I See a Return on My Inbound Marketing Investment?

men_with_laptopsThis question is one we hear quite often and for good reason. When embarking on any new marketing program, you should be asking yourself (and your marketing partners) not only how you’ll measure and track results, but also what kind of expectations you should have: What will the return be and when will it show up? If you’re thinking about starting an online lead generation program, like the ones we help our clients execute, then you’ll want to be sure your expectations are realistic and that you are tracking the right key performance indicators (KPIs) for your business.

In order to understand how long it might take for your inbound marketing program to start generating results let’s take a look at some of the factors to keep in mind.

Developing a strategic inbound marketing foundation for your business is the first, and most important, step.

First things first: You have a lot of questions to answer. We typically kick off every program with an Inbound Marketing Planning Day to cover all topics absolutely critical to setting yourself up for success. Who are you writing for? What is your keyword strategy? What kind of premium content will you develop to convert visitors into leads?

All of this and more should be discussed, strategized, clarified, and recorded before moving forward with anything.

Expect the pre-launch planning to take anywhere from 30 to 90 days. 

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Topics: inbound marketing

Why “Publish or Perish” Isn’t Just for College Professors Anymore

Why_Publish_or_Perish_is_not_just_for_college_professorsLast week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville. My presentation covered the need for sales organizations to rethink the way they generate leads for their salespeople. The painful truth is that most B2B sales organizations rely almost entirely on their salespeople to drum up new business opportunities. As a result, salespeople are spending more and more time trying to find that rare qualified prospect and less time doing what they do best: finding needs and selling solutions.

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Topics: inbound marketing

How Those Annoying Questions From Prospects Can Help You Generate More Inbound Leads

How_Those_Annoying_Questions_From_Prospects_Can_Help_You_Generate_More_Leads_OnlineEvery sales organization could probably use more quality leads for their salespeople to set appointments with. This is one issue we deal with day in and day out. We help our clients generate new traffic to their website and convert that traffic into qualified, sales-ready leads. 

What it (inbound marketing) comes down to is creating unique, compelling content that solves a problem, entertains, teaches, or answers a question that your best prospects are searching for online. Then, you’ve got to publish that content through your website via a blog – like the one you’re reading right now – and provide opportunities for your readers to download premium content (think eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, etc.) in exchange for a little bit of information about themselves.  Voila… you’ve got a lead! 

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Topics: inbound marketing, Sales

Top 10 Ways a Content Calendar will Improve Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

Top_10_Ways_a_Content_Calendar_will_Improve_Your_Inbound_Marketing_Strategy_If there’s one thing every inbound marketer should do in 2014 to ensure they’re set up for success, it’s incorporating a content calendar into their inbound marketing strategy. And for those who currently use one, I suggest you take it one step further and make sure you’re taking full advantage of this beneficial planning and tracking tool. 

A content calendar is your key to making sure you are consistently publishing strategic, unforgettable, and share-worthy content.

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Topics: lead generation, inbound marketing

Five Steps to Convert Your Inbound Marketing Leads into Customers

Youve_Got_Leads_Now_What_The_5_Steps_to_Convert_Your_Inbound_Leads_into_Customers-1Most inbound marketers think the hardest part about their lead generation plan is actually getting the leads to come in, and while this is no easy task, it’s equally important to strategize and prepare for the process of following up with your inbound leads. With these five steps you’ll be able to more effectively determine whether leads are worthy of sending to sales and ultimately increase your likelihood of converting leads into new customers.

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Topics: lead generation, inbound marketing

My Confession as a Salesperson

Confessions_of_a_Former_Media_Salesperson_and_What_I_Would_Do_DifferentlyI have a confession to make… I absolutely hated cold calling. It’s been over a year and a half since I was in outside sales but I still have flashbacks to some of my worst cold calling experiences. You know the ones where you’re treated like a complete nuisance, talked down to, or hung up on. 

Necessary Evil

Like most salespeople, cold calling for me was a necessary evil. It was evil because of those nightmare experiences, though pretty rare, but it was necessary because sometimes cold calling actually worked – especially if you did it often enough. Some of my best clients started with a cold call, or 10. While it was a numbers game, I found that the better I got at identifying the potential of a prospect and utilizing valid business reasons, the more success I would have. 

However, despite the “wins” that occurred on occasion – I spent a lot of my precious time cold calling, and if you’re in media sales or many other B2B sales industries then you probably do too. The downside to that was the fact that I wasn’t great at cold calling, I was great at selling. I was great at identifying needs, creating customized solutions, developing integrated marketing campaigns, and building relationships – yet I had to spend at least a quarter of my time doing the former. 

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Topics: Sales

8.5 Content Ideas That Will Help You Attract New Prospects

8.5_Content_Ideas_That_Will_Help_You_Attract_New_ProspectsIf you’re in the position of needing to attract new and better prospects to your business, then I want to let you in on a little secret. While you may have your sales team busy cold calling or your marketing team putting together outbound marketing initiatives – both which can be extremely useful and effective when done correctly– there is still a world of B2B decision makers that are not hearing, seeing, or noticing your message. 

So, where are they? They’re in the same place you are right this very second. They’re online… searching for information, seeking solutions to their problems, and researching options for their business. The question then is, are they finding you when they search online? Or are they finding your competitor? Does your company website have valuable content that represents your areas of expertise while delivering a thought-provoking and resource-rich experience? Or is it just an online brochure of the services you offer? 

While original, keyword-rich, and relevant content written for your best prospects is what every B2B company needs in order to compete in the online world of search and social media, it’s not always easy to come up with that all-important content on a regular basis. So, here is list of 8.5 content creation ideas that you can start working on today:

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Topics: inbound marketing