May 19, 2020
How to Choose the Right ABM Vendor for Your B2B Strategy
(Editor’s Note: This post is part of an occasional Just For Fun series where we look for ways that digital marketing resembles or intersects with the way the world works. It’s nice to take a little break from strategy now and then.)
Even though we work toward the same goal of increasing revenue for the company (finding a partner), sales has their eyes set on closing deals (being in a relationship), while marketing focuses on lead generation (finding as many dates as possible). Two opposite sides of a process that can oftentimes thwart your goal of closing a deal. While sales and marketing may never be entirely on the same page, there is no reason you can’t narrow the gap, and that we can’t learn from our mistakes and find what we’ve been looking for.
The more we work to improve lead quality, pipeline, and CAC for clients, it’s gotten us thinking – what other things can be improved with this approach? Can your approach to lead generation improve your dating life? Let’s explore!
To set the stage, let’s consider the standard lead stages below and how they equate to the modern tale of finding love.
Channel Lead: A prospect matched on a dating app or introduced by a friend.
Marketing Qualified Lead: Before going any further, you read their profile or look them up on Facebook and Instagram. Do you have similar interests? Do they live in the same city as you? Do they check the initial boxes (provide legitimate contact information), or are there any red flags that say this won’t work?
Sales Qualified Lead: At this point, you start a conversation on the dating app, or get their number from your friend and send them a text. Get to know each other a little and share stories (email downloadable content) that keeps them interested and wanting to learn more.
Opportunity: You’ve each made it past the initial conversation, you’re both still interested, and you want to see where this goes. You agree to a date (schedule a demo).
Closed Deal: After a few dates and continued conversation, you both decide to make things official. Congratulations!
For the sake of this analogy, things are going great, but as time passes, interest fades or you discover you want entirely different things out of a relationship. You and the prospect go your separate ways, and you are back to the drawing board in your quest for love.
Knocked down but not defeated, you are still determined to find the one and want to do better this time. So you seek to optimize your approach based on historical learnings. New to this journey, though, you don’t have much data to go off of, and unfortunately you had no system to track the quality of past romantic leads. Before going any further, you set up a system (CRM) to track each match and referral, and take notes regarding the quality of each lead (and lead source).
Comparing your dating history data with a log of your time investment, a pattern starts to emerge. A few months in, you realize you’ve spent 20 hours on dating apps, 10 hours walking your roommate’s dog around the park pretending it’s your own, and 3 hours asking friends to set you up (applying a dignity multiplier to each). While dating apps clearly lead to the most amount of initial leads (and the cheapest at 12 minutes/lead), only 10% of those leads turn into a date (opportunity). On the other hand, asking your friends to set you up costs you 36 minutes/lead, but a whopping 60% of those matches turn into a date, and you even ended up in a relationship with one of them!
Based on this data, you wisely decide to invest more time asking friends for referrals than swiping on dating apps. Without this data, you would continue to swipe with fervor, in hopes of finding that diamond in the rough, at the cheapest cost per match.
Before concluding that high investment, no deal channels (dating apps) are pointless, though, let’s discuss a few considerations.
The end goal is to find the one, through the process of dating – LTV of infinity. While we’ve seen great back-end efficiency at starting relationships when referred by a friend, this is only one data point. Certainly something to keep an eye on, but hardly compelling enough to put all your eggs in one basket as your only lead source. Be wary of setting goals around very down-funnel metrics when you only see a handful per month. You simply won’t have enough data to optimize off of.
At the other end of the spectrum, dating apps drive a lot of lead volume, but none end up working out. And you only send a message (SQL) to 30% of initial matches. Think about if you need to focus on lead quality earlier on (read their bio first before swiping on just their picture alone), or if you need to edit your own profile (adjust your ad copy/LP) to qualify your leads. Maybe the leads are of good quality, but you (the sales team) don’t have the capacity to effectively process and evaluate each lead. Consider the tradeoffs between quality vs quantity and allocate your investment accordingly to reach more high value prospects.
When swiping on countless profiles, you and a potential partner could come across one another and not actually match, or not send a message (see the 30% lead to SQL rate above). Two months later, you meet at a party, and catch each others’ attention. You start a conversation, go on a few dates, and make it official. Maybe you remember that you first met on a dating app, but do you credit the app or meeting in person for the relationship? Maybe you don’t remember (imperfect tracking), or you never even matched and only saw their picture, but subconsciously recognized them across the room (brand impression, without a click). There is no perfect solution here, but consider the attribution model you’ve chosen (ie, first-touch, last-touch, data-driven), and how that impacts the performance of your lead sources.
Starting a relationship (and finding the one) is, rightfully, a big investment. With accurate tracking, you can begin to understand how long, on average, it takes from creating the initial lead to starting a relationship. If that takes 6 months, for instance, recognize that you won’t be able to properly evaluate performance until at least 6 months after beginning your investment in a particular lead source or tactic. In the meantime, reflect on the data you do have, and consider the evidence you have (anecdotal notions of lead quality are better than nothing).
Sales Team Follow Up
Now, of course, the burden does not rest solely on the shoulders of your marketing department to make this happen. At the end of the day, no matter how high quality a lead is, if you can’t close the deal, know that some other company will. Utilizing that wonderful CRM we both agreed was imperative earlier, you want to make sure you’re recording, following up on (in a timely manner), and annotating each lead for significant moments.
How does it look when you wait 3 weeks to finally send a message to that person you matched with? Chances are, they’re on date number 3 with someone else already. Maybe now isn’t the right time for them (they’re about to go on a 2 week vacation with no cell service). Take a note of that, and follow up when they return to see if they are still interested.
Just as a match on a dating app doesn’t mean you’re now dating, someone filling out a lead form doesn’t mean they’re ready to become a customer. It takes time and regular communication to get to that point. By now, you’re following up with someone as soon as they fill out your lead form – GREAT! If they haven’t further engaged with you (after an appropriate amount of time), it’s time to reach back out and give them something to be excited about. Know that it’s a delicate dance though — 3 unanswered messages per day is likely to get you sent to spam.
Apart from a metrics-only approach to performance optimization (Cost/SQL or SQL Rate), consider these additional opportunities to improve romantic lead quality and strengthen the relationship between sales and marketing.
Customer Journey Experience/Lead Nurturing
Think about your messaging on each channel and the expected/desired outcome you are conveying. Someone you meet on a dating app will likely require more information about you and supporting evidence than would someone that your mutual friend recommended, or that you met in person already.
Laying out your ideal wedding and life you’ve already planned for you and your unknown partner on a dating app profile might yield you lower conversion rates and not give that channel its fair shot. Making no concerted effort to advance the match into a date by continuing to have superficial conversations is unlikely to lead to any relationships, and allows your other suitors (competitors) to come in and close the deal before you can. Do not exist in a silo here — marketing’s messaging approach should mimic the sales process in line with a prospect’s position in the funnel.
Some dating apps present you with profiles it presumes are good matches for you, and they learn your preferences with each swipe. The strength of these algorithms improves with the more data and time you allow it. However, this automation stops at the initial match and doesn’t factor in any future conversations or potential dates. Like digital ads, these algorithms do not factor in lead quality unless you are feeding them the appropriate data. If you optimize toward down-funnel conversion events from your CRM, you can start to manage the algorithm rather than letting it manage your funnel for you. With ads, we can let bid automation work toward audiences that are better long-term fits. To get similar results with dating apps, incorporate the full profile into the decision to swipe rather than just the first photo! See the Volume section above – lead quantity isn’t always your best bet.
Custom Campaign Conversion Settings
Imagine if you could tell dating apps to go find people that just want to have a conversation, while telling your friends to find someone ready to go on a date, like ad network functionality to set different conversion settings by campaign. Related to the above, if you are tracking multiple conversion events (matches, conversations, dates), you can tell each source to optimize toward specific events. So, for a first time visitor through a prospecting campaign, maybe optimize for conversations. Then, for past matches (remarketing), optimize toward those all-important meeting requests.
With the pressure from friends and family (investors and your boss) to find a partner (grow revenue), and the vast universe of apps and social connections (ad channels) we have, setting up a proper lead quality tracking and optimization strategy can be a little daunting. Rest assured that the investment is worth it in the end, and you’ll meet your goals more effectively. With a little work, you might find a perfect match on your terms!
If you want more Just For Fun content, find out what we think the zodiac sign of each digital ad channel is and why.