Hubspot Integration with Evalinator

Hubspot is one of the leading enterprise grade all-in-one marketing automation & CRM tool. It’s a perfect match for Evalinator.

You can turbo charge your Hubspot investment by using Evalinator and building exceptional context into your nurturing flows set up in Hubspot.

Hubspot integration with Evaliantor is very simple. We lay it all out here for you step by step. All you will need is your Hubspot login credentials so you can authorize Evalinator to send contacts to Hubspot.

Step 1: Create one custom contact property for Hubspot Integration

This custom field will tell you that a new contact has come in from Evalinator. Using this field, you can then set up dynamic lists (active lists) in Hubspot and engage with respondents through appropriate email nurturing flows.

Click on contacts:

hubspot-evalinator-integration

Then click  on Edit Properties on the right.

hubspot-evalinator-integration

Then set up a field called “Integration Source“. Make sure that the internal name is “integration_source“. Evalinator will populate this field with the value “Evalinator” when it sends a new contact to Hubspot. Choose the group for this new property as “Contact Information

hubspot-evalinator-integration

On the next page, you can just set the field type as “single line text“, accept the other default values, and click “Create”.

hubspot-evalinator-integration

That’s it! Most of the “doing” is over.

Step 2: Now Authorize Hubspot.

Log on to Evalinator and click on “Manage Profile” on the top.

hubspot-evalinator-integration

Next, scroll down to the “Email Provider or CRM settings”.

hubspot-evalinator-integration

Choose Hubspot from the drop down, and click on “Show Settings“. You will see the “Integration Source” field that you created before.

If you have not created the custom field already, please go ahead and do it now. That’s because during the authorization process, Evalinator will attempt to create a sample contact in Hubspot. And it will fail if the custom property has not been set up.

hubspot-evalinator-integration

Once you click “Authorize Evalinator”, you will redirected to your Hubspot login screen.

hubspot-evalinator-integration

Use the login mechanism you use generally. You will see your Hubspot account and application listed. Please click your application, and then click “Authorize”. If everything goes well, you will see the Confirmation screen from Evalinator.

hubspot-evalinator-integration

Just to make sure, log back into your Hubspot account, and check the list of contacts. You should see a sample Evalinator contact created for you.

hubspot-evalinator-integration

And that’s all! Your Hubspot instance has been integrated with Evalinator. Every time a new respondent takes your assessment, we will send that contact over to Hubspot for you to nurture then as you see appropriate. If a contact already exists in Hubspot, it will not be recreated so you don’t have to worry!

Quick note on GDPR Compliance

If you currently have a process in Hubspot to manage GDPR regulations, then you can easily include Evalinator in it. Compliance is easy. Just log on to Evalinator, and let us know which contact to remove. We’ll keep the aggregated data and summary statistics the same, but enable you to comply with the regulations.

Good luck with your lead generation and customer engagement. For any questions, please get in touch with us.

Please read our guide on improving the effectiveness of sales follow ups.

 

Setting Up a Custom Wheel of Life

If you are a coach or a consultant, then a Wheel of Life is an excellent tool to have your clients see where they stand on multiple dimensions of their life or business. That awareness becomes the first step towards making changes and / or improving.

You can use it as a coaching or consulting tool, but also as a sales lead generation or sales follow up mechanism. A typical Wheel of Life is made up of “rating scale” type questions. For example, respondents choose their score on each question from 1 to 10.

wheel of life - interactive content

Then at the end, the respondent can see their scores plotted on a polar chart. This makes for a very powerful and visual way of looking at the entire subject area.

Wheel of Life
Customizing this Wheel of Life Setup

In many cases, you may want to customize this basic wheel of life set up to personalize your approach for optimal customer experience. For example:

  1. Showing multiple choice questions instead of a horizontal slider.
  2. Rolling up scores by dimensions, instead of per question – for example, two or more questions may roll up into career.
  3. Showing comparison benchmarks to users. This is typically used for business assessments and interactive content. For example, here’s how other CEOs rated in your industry.

Customizing is fairly simple. In this post we will walk you through this process.

Step 1: Update Your Rating Bands

In case you want to use multiple choice questions, then you will need to update your rating bands. That’s because a typical rating setup allows for scores ranging from 1 to 10. But for a multiple choice question, you’ll probably have 3, 4 or 5 choices to select from. That means you need to hide some rating bands from showing up. Go into your rating bands section, and click on the “Scoring Details” button. wheel of life rating bands-1 Then, modify the mapped points for the rating bands as needed. For example, if you decide to have 4 response for each question, but want to still show the scores on a 10 tick polar chart, then select the scores of 4 of the bands as 1, 3, 7, 10, and select zero (0) for the other bands.

That’s because, the number of bands you have is the number of circles on your polar chart. That’s why the top score on your bands should not be more than the number of bands (in our case that’s 10).

wheel of life rating bands-scoring details  

That’s pretty much it. No need to change anything else at all for the rating bands.

Step 2: Rolling Up Scores by Dimensions

A typical wheel of life, shows each question and its score on the polar chart.

However, there are cases where you may want to have multiple questions that roll up into a single dimension. For example, you may have 3 questions under career, and 2 questions under family.  For business coaches or consultants, these could be 3 questions on marketing, and 3 on technology among other dimensions.

Doing this is easy. First, in the options section, select the option to show dimensions when the users see their results. Showing by dimensions means that questions will not be mapped to dimensions instead of their scores being shown on their own.

wheel of life option settings - dimensions

Now, in the dimensions section, set up your dimensions.  These dimensions will show up on the polar chart, instead of each question.

wheel of life dimensions

Finally, when you set up your questions, select the dimension for each question, and of course, select the type of the question as a multiple choice question.

wheel of life question - dimensions

You can leave the question type as horizontal slider as well if you just want the default scoring from 1 to 10. (don’ change the scoring details of the rating bands in that case.) If there are multiple questions for a dimension, then an average of the scores will be taken.

Step 3: Setting Up Your Answer Choices

The final step is to now map your answer choices to each band. That’s very simple too.

When you create a new answer choice, just map them to the right rating band. These results will automatically roll up to the right dimensions.

wheel of life response options

Conclusion

These 3 simple steps should help you customize your Wheel of Life for both business, personal, and life coaches.

Wheel of Life assessments are a powerful way to help your customers. They are also useful in sales lead generation and sales follow up scenarios. Every successful engagement starts with self awareness and bench-marking.

Next steps

If a Wheel of Life seems to be for you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

Get Stated With An Interactive Assessment

 

What is Different for Interactive Content in B2B Marketing, and How to Use it?

Interactive content B2B marketing

What is interactive content for B2B marketing?

The traditional definition is that we create content that gets readers to engage and interact with our content. As a result, we can improve the effectiveness of our B2B marketing activities instead of slogging away at producing an endless stream of offers to get customers to respond.

But like everything else in the B2B marketing world, this definition too is changing. A customer’s attention is valuable, and you can’t compete for their time by doing more of what everyone is doing. So just because someone can click or answer a couple of questions, it doesn’t mean that you have met the interactive content bar.

The new definition of interactive content in B2B marketing

Interactive content must form an active bridge between marketing and B2B sales stages. The back and forth must be seamless because the B2B sales cycle is itself not linear.

That’s exactly what good interactive content does.

For example, to help with your B2B marketing campaigns your probably already have:

  1. Blog posts that outline a nuanced point of view or provide practical best practice advice
  2. Video – tutorials, trends, best practices
  3. Info-graphics
  4. Checklists
  5. Quizzes

All of these are excellent vehicles of B2B marketing. They get the word out there and raise your SEO score for organic reach. They also provide valuable credibility during the middle stages of B2B sales.

For example, as nicely explained by Neil Patel in this blog post, info-graphics can really help improve backlinks. They can increase your site authority and traffic too. If more people link to you, your credibility is higher.

Similarly, anyone who’s taken a Buzzfeed quiz can attest to the fact that they are irresistible. Inserting a quiz or calculator into a blog post is another way to make the blog post interactive. 

What’s Missing?

But for a business that engages in B2B sales and relies on multiple people making a decision, creating such kind of interactive content is not enough to do the job. If you have recently wondered about the quality of your MQLs that you have given to sales, or if you have struggled to keep up with middle and bottom of the funnel activities of your sales team, then you have the evidence you need.  Today’s interactive content may generate traffic and raise awareness, but doesn’t do anything more substantial.

As a result, B2B marketing teams are left in an intense cycle of trying to do more and more qualification. They are also constantly producing more and more content.  All this while their B2B sales teams still have to follow their traditional methods of engaging the buyers once they are in the door. That sounds like a major disconnect in alignment.

Before we outline how to tie in the top-of-the-funnel B2B marketing activities with bottom-of-the-funnel B2B sales activities, let’s look at some nice examples of real interactive content that do bring together both marketing and sales aspects.

Some great examples of Interactive Content

Before we discuss what’s missing in these excellent examples, let’s review them to see what makes them so great. Hubspot website grader This is a fantInteractive content hubspot website graderastic example of interactive content. It gives you immediate value, and gets you to engage with other content in a very focused and targeted way. If you get a 10/30 on performance of your website, wouldn’t you want to see the video that tells you how to improve that score? And after trying to fix it yourself, wouldn’t you engage an expert to do it for you?

BrightLocal Listings Scanner Interactive content local SEO

Another great example that gives people immediate value, and then guides them to a call to action that leads to a tangible benefit. Of course, you are much more likely to engage a local consultant or agency to do this for you, but BrightLocal becomes the tool of choice.

Conversion Helpers or Product Selectors

Interactive content credit card selectorExcellent for aiding decisions during checkout, these quiz like tools help you navigate a set of options to get to a solution. Much like a credit card selector. We found some more mentioned in a very nice article here. These are excellent examples of how to guide a customer journey along. You can help a customer decide which product to buy or which next step to take. It’s likely that customers will come back and buy from you all else being equal.

What’s Next for Interactive Content?

The examples we saw above were great at customer engagement. But almost all of them don’t go “beyond the moment”.

As any B2B sales and marketing professional knows, a successful transaction takes anywhere between 3-10 high quality touchpoints. These touchpoints have varying levels of detail – education, pitching, refining, pilots, trials, and so on.

Next generation interactive content not only achieves the first step of getting the client in at the top of the funnel, but it also addresses these next steps for continuous customer engagement. It connects the top-of-the-funnel (more traffic) to the middle-of-the-funnel (sales pursuit) to bottom-of-the-funnel (sales). That’s what is needed for B2B marketing that is aligned with B2B sales.

Interactive Content - sales assessmentFor example, assume that you are a coach that helps professionals with better career progression. This coach developed an interactive assessment for his clients to take the first step in engagement. Then used the goal setting feature to help the client in full context of their aspirations and present status. This is definitely something where the initial interactive content resulted in a long term engagement – profitable for both sides. In addition, the volume of top-of-the-funnel activities seem less important than just a few quality interactions.

Will This Work For You

If you rely on consultative B2B sales and B2B marketing, then you should explore interactive content of the new kind. You cannot remain satisfied with generating more and more content to get more eyeballs and visibility. It may look good on your dashboard, but it gradually erodes the value of all the hard work you do when MQLs don’t convert into SQLs with high accuracy.

Using such an approach for B2B marketing also helps streamline your time investment.  Every hour that you spend writing a blog post or creating an infographic maps back to the systematic structure that supports your interactive content. Once you have that going for you, your interactive content becomes an anchor that leads to what is called evergreen content – it keeps working for you over time!

Next steps

If this approach sounds reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

Get Stated With An Interactive Assessment

 

How to Create Better Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL)?

If you are looking to improve your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) process, and also your lead nurturing process, you have come to the right place.

Fact: 97% of the leads from marketing are not useful to sales(1).

Marketing Qualified Leads

Most firms in B2B selling and B2B marketing are finding it more and more complex to set up a good process to qualify “leads” before spending valuable sales time on them.

The harsh reality is that marketing often qualifies a lead based on actions such as downloads, clicks, form submissions, and open rates. But these signals are not necessarily sufficient for sales. For example, there may be no budget, no urgency or a real need, the action could be purely for education etc. Over time the sales team comes to view these “MQLs” as less and less valuable. That’s a big problem.

How can marketing teams adopt a more robust lead nurturing and qualification process?

For marketers trying to put up good numbers on the dashboard, adopting  practices like we outline below may look bad in the short term because your MQL rate may drop a bit, but you’ll be basking in glory in the long run.

A Quick Review of the Challenge

Lead scoring and nurturing has widely been reduced to a mathematical problem.

  1. We assign points when certain things happen.
  2. Then when the score exceeds a threshold we want to pass the lead on to sales
  3. We check the various boxes on our monthly dashboards.

The trouble is that no one is genuinely happy with a cookie cutter process like this. All this looks great for a few months as the shiny new toys are implemented. But when folks start drilling down into the actual impact such as revenue or new deals, this process looks like we are going through the motions – we know it needs to be done, but are struggling to get to the real value.

Is downloading an eBook, submitting a form, or attending a webinar really an adequate way anymore to score leads and pass them to sales? If the concept of “showrooming” from retail sales is familiar to you, you’ll agree that many of those “leads” are not looking to buy but have many other reasons to browse your material. Such leads should no longer become marketing qualified leads, and should not be passed to sales unless a higher level commitment happens. But how do you then progress such a lead? (we’ll address this below)

It’s even more complicated when your sales team rejects a lead. What happens then? How do you nurture them back “knowing what you know now”?

Finally, you have most likely been saddled by a marketing automation system AND a separate CRM system. Regardless of what anyone says, we guarantee that the integration is finicky or pretty dismal at best. Everyone is happy in isolation with their kingdoms, unless you look at the end to end process of how you qualify and nurture leads.

The Solution to a Good Marketing Qualified Lead

We think the biggest problem underlying all of this that we are failing to give an opportunity to our marketing team to actually qualify a lead properly to the Marketing Qualified Lead status before handing over to sales. This implies that the marketing team (or the SDR / inside sales team) must be able to interact with the prospect with something more than just emails.

Here is how you would empower both your marketing and sales teams with Evalinator:

  1. Create an interactive assessment – this is basically a maturity model quiz aligned with your sales offers. For example a marketing agency might have something like, “Is your SEO cutting it for you?”. A technology services company might create “Are you maximizing the time of your data scientists?” or “Is your data strategy up to the mark?”. A product development firm might create “Is your product development cycle geared for success?”.
  2. This self-assessment is then marketed in all the usual places, and users are given incentives to take it with the usual incentives. e.g. get this infographic after you take this assessment, etc.
  3. As respondents take the assessment, the marketing team can now follow up with a set of predefined or practiced interactions. Evalinator allows this through a variety of bench-marking and goal setting tools.
  4. Sales uses the same assessment to interact with the prospect with full context. And it becomes a great sales pursuit tool as well.

Those who respond to your assessment can be considered more promising and conversations with SDRs or the marketing team can follow a semi-automated cycle like this:

  • Follow up 1:  “70% of respondents actually scored higher on this category. Do you want more information?. Do X or Y”.
  • Follow up 2: Let’s set up a short term goal to do Z?

As is evident, X, Y, and Z are options that indicate a higher level commitment. For example, provide more information on budget and project need, ask other members of their team to take the assessment, agree to a short term goal to do something, etc.

All of this can still happen through your marketing automation system complimented by a manual touch for more promising leads. Three things can happen:

  1. The lead is going to push for a sales meeting – the best case.
  2. You will build up valuable context about the lead (important goals, budget, schedule etc.). Such lead work out much better when sales gets them.
  3. The lead will not respond in the right way to any higher level commitment. In which case, it was never a good lead to pass to sales to begin with.
Summary

The process of flagging a lead as a Marketing Qualified Lead needs to become more sophisticated. 97% of such leads are not useful to sales or are ignored.

In the long run, this is bad for the marking team’s morale, and also affects the productivity of the entire sales and marketing engine.

Try Evalinator and see if it is right for your situation. You don’t need to pay anything until the free trial ends.

References:
  1. Marketing Qualified Leads statistics
Next steps

If this approach sounds reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

Get Stated With An Interactive Assessment

3 Simple Steps To Generate More Traffic to Your Website

Tired of top 25 or top 50 tips to generate more traffic that expect you to be a superhero?

Generate more traffic

Let’s face it. You need results NOW. You don’t want a management consulting slide deck that outlines a strategy that is simply not feasible – not everyone can guest post, or create multiple landing pages, do keyword research or build a community, create a content calendar, post on social everyday, or even spend more time on extensive SEO which won’t yield results in the short term.

So we wrote this post intending to help our customers (of Evalinator) who have low website traffic and are worried that no one sees their work of art – their assessment! So what would be the point?

Here are the 3 simple things you can do to generate more traffic and make sure its relevant. These steps don’t require a lot of prep. To be fair, you should also be doing other things which will make your website attractive in the long term (like all the things in the top 25 lists).

Your Goals
  1. Generate more traffic to your website
  2. Get people to do something meaningful that matters to your business (relevant traffic)

Remember, your goal is sales, NOT marketing!

Tip 1: Advertise

Advertise - generate more trafficRegardless of what anyone tells you, everyone is advertising to generate more traffic and build awareness. Once you have it you can slow down but it’s a great way to start.

You need to advertise sensibly and watch your expenses. Most Evalinator customers are either coaches or consultants. So Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook work best for them. Google and others are good too. Whatever you decide is good for you, start small because you are looking for “relevant” traffic that will take meaningful action.

Create a simple picture advt and include your value proposition in an easy to understand manner. Select your audience carefully (all platforms allow you to target your advts), and test with a low budget of say $10 or $20 per day on ONE platform. Don’t start all platforms at the same time. You just want a few people right now as you test this out and make sure people who click will convert or take meaningful action like taking your assessment that you have built using Evalinator, or download your eBook etc.

Remember, your goal is sales, NOT marketing!

So no gimmicks. Stick to a good, easy to understand value prop. Don’t be too broad in your offer – e.g. “improve sales” may attract a lot of people but most will bounce off and won’t do anything because they may not relate to what you do. Instead we did something like “Have you added interactive assessments to your content marketing toolkit yet?” and found it was a better way for us. Or even better, include some results from your Evalinator “60% feel unrecognized at work. See what you can do about it?” was what one of our customers did, and she linked the Advt to her landing page. We are going to try that next.

Create a nice professional profile on the platform you are advertising on. A smiling picture with a professional background and a simple description of what you do (stay away from politics and activism unless that’s what you do). It’s amazing how so many people try to bring “personality” into their profile and end up making it look unappealing (risky) to someone new who is going to spend money for your services or products.

2. Analyze 

Generate more traffic - analyzeHopefully you will generate more traffic and get a few people to click through to your website by advertising. Now install Google Analytics (its free and takes 2-3 hours to setup and learn the basics), and see what’s going on. Are visitors just bouncing off (clicking on your advt but not doing anything else), are they clicking to the next step or looking at your profile, are they taking and completing your assessment, what else are they clicking and reading?

You may be getting 4-10 people every day with a $10-$20 budget but that’s good enough to see what’s going on over a period of 8-10 days. We ourselves saw these things a) people coming and doing nothing else 2) coming to the pricing page and then not following through 3) reading some of our blogs but then not doing anything else

Be realistic when you generate more traffic: With good targeting, 1-3% people typically convert. So expect 1 or 2 new customers (or conversions) in 4-6 days with this low budget. If you are not getting that, then analyze, analyze, analyze, and be truthful to yourself. When we say customers, we mean conversions to your offer – people who take your assessment for example, or download an eBook. They may not be paying you yet. That’s a whole different ball game.

3. Prepare

Generate more traffic - prepareThis could have been the first step but it’s actually continuous. So best to get started first and not lose yourself in over-analysis.

And now that you have seen a little traffic, and seen what the people do when they click on your advt, you may be both excited and disappointed at what you have seen.

At this time, it’s really up to you. You know your business best. Gimmicks won’t help.

First, take a hard look and pretend to be in your customer’s shoes.

  • Would you convert if you landed on your website?
  • What would you lose by not converting?
  • Is your offer clear enough?
  • Does it promise short term gains or a long term gain?
  • Does it look like too much to do?
  • Do customers have other, easier alternatives? What’s wrong with them?

The answers will be painful, and will need both thinking and hands-on work.

What we did was we reviewed our journey personally with a few target customers (and even our friends) and got direct feedback on what they felt.

It was crushing! But good learning. You may feel you are doing everything for nothing. But simple things will help.

If you can then:

  1. Add a few testimonials (even 2 or 3 will help)
  2. Simplify your message
  3. Improve the design to make it more professional
  4. Write a couple of nice content pieces so even if people don’t convert immediately, they will read those and build confidence in you

Don’t go overboard with changes unless a few real prospective customers give you the feedback.

People who are never going to buy from you have an uncanny knack of giving a lot of feedback that is not actually useful.

We improved our assessment (Is Evalinator Right For You?) because the description and call to action was not persuasive enough. Our rating bands are still bad actually so that’s next on our list. We improved the questions which were too generic and difficult to understand.

People like simplicity. But because we are experts we tend to make things more complicated than they are.

We also improved the targeting of our advts. Remember, your end goal is sales, not marketing! So put your advertising on hold for a few days as you fix the issues, and then start again. Don’t give up!

Summary

Hopefully this gave you motivation to keep going. Don’t give up! It’s not complex but just needs a little bit of love. If there is demand for what you offer, you’ll make it through!

If you intend to make a living with your service or product, then don’t be afraid to experiment a little, and invest a little (sensibly). You’re not betting a lot using the approach we outlined above. We feel it’s better than spending sleepless nights, and long hours tweaking your stuff without any feedback on what’s working and what’s not!

But you know your business best. So decide based on what you think will work, not just rely on our tips.

Good luck. We are rooting for you!

 

What is Consultative Selling and How to Bridge the Gap?

consultative selling secret

Consultative selling has often been associated with building trust, adding value, and being customer-centric. It is often compared to transactional selling where you position your products and services, and discuss with the customers if they need them.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is NOT an either-or situation. Both types of selling are needed at different times of your sales cycle to successfully close the deal. But how do you bridge the gap between the two?

In fact, this article on Forbes by Lisa Earle McLeod provides some nice tips on consultative vs transactional selling. She also mentions the importance of interactive tools for sales.

In this post, we will show you how to use both types of selling and bridge this gap between consultative and transactional selling. That way you will be able to engage better and sell more.

In order to do that, we need to re-frame the question like this:

How do we find out what customer really need and then take charge of the conversation?

This re-frame of the typical sales question is important. Customers usually already have a vision of what the end state should look like. However, if you look under the covers, you will discover that they are actually trying to figure out their “execution” game plan. The vision itself might need some fine tuning but it’s more or less reasonably done.

Customers generally know where they want to be, but they don’t always clearly know “how” to get there.

And as a service provider, you are in the best position to help. Why? Because you have seen this story play out at many other clients before. You can help customers with the tactical game plan they need to successfully realize their vision.

Take any topic – supply chain effectiveness, e-commerce, big data analytics, customer experience, starting a business, marketing  and so on – you know “how” it has been done before to meet the “why”.

But instead we often get distracted by trying to lay out the vision, and then pitching our products to meet customer needs. In doing so we completely miss addressing the “how”.

Consultative selling chasm That’s true for coaching as well. Be it leadership, management, sales, life or career, you help your clients get to where “they” want to be. You don’t define the “why” for them.

And that’s where lies the gap in between consultative selling and transaction selling. We think we want to help the customer define their vision, but in fact what customers really want is to know “how” to get there! And by not engaging in that discussion we are giving up control of our customer engagement. We are not taking charge. We are leaving it up to the customer to decide how to engage us. That’s not a great option because customers are struggling too. They will gravitate towards either what’s in front of them or what they are comfortable with.

So let’s do this in 2 steps:

1. Determining what the customers actually need

Remember that we are not talking about vision or benefits. Customers already know that. What they don’t know is “how” best to get there.

That’s where “your” expertise comes in. Broadly speaking, every vision or goal can be supported by a given set of capabilities.

Whether it be technical, management or human. For example:

a. Technical capabilities – analytics, digital, agile, cloud, etc etc.

b. Management – product roadmaps, target markets, customer experience, competitive parity etc.

c. Human – culture, objectives, collaboration, leadership, fairness etc.

Believe it or not customers already know they need the above. Each of these capabilities above can be drilled down further. Your assessment should focus on how to apply the capabilities that map to your products and services. These in turn will help your customers achieve their goals. These capabilities and your expertise in them is what your customers need. So focus on those in your assessment. See where the gaps are, and what the customers is struggling with.

This is the first phase of consultative selling.

2.  Take charge of the conversation on the “how”

In this phase you are applying both consultative and transactional selling methods.

This is where you pick up steam. You assume the role of a coach or consultant who has understood the customer’s goals and vision, and drilled down into what they need. Now is the time to nurture them and help them realize their vision.

See this post on how to build trust during the sales cycle. This article by Marissa Levin on Inc. also brings out some excellent points.

Your experience proves your expertise. If you share your case studies and customer testimonials, your prospects will trust you. This post is NOT about building that kind of trust.

Also, you are NOT adding value by giving them free stuff. You are adding value by helping them define “how” to apply these capabilities to get to their goals. That’s what you do in BOTH consultative and transactional selling. The only difference is that you are not doing it with context of the “how”.

So, set short term goals that helps clients think through and apply the capabilities to their vision. For example if you sell analytic services you might help them break down the problem into some relevant categories, if you sell SEO services then your goals will be linked to those actions, and if you are a life coach then you might be helping them build good habits.

Whatever the case, always tie these goals to a tangible benefit that your customers can observe.

Summary

This 2 step approach has the unique benefit that you can operate with context. And doing that helps you pull away from the commoditized offers and solicitations your customers may be getting.

Your assessments provide value (aka clarity), and your engagement efforts deliver tangible benefits.

So the next time you send a cold email, don’t ask “We sell X and we can delivery Z benefits to you. Can we discuss?

Instead ask “I think you want to get to Y. And X is needed to get there. Here are the Z problems others like you have faced which we have helped overcome. Can we discuss?”.

Or something like that. Your assessment on Evalinator will help frame this pitch.

Good luck and hope to see you on Evalinator!

Next steps

If this approach sounds reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

Get Stated With An Interactive Assessment

Solving the #1 challenge with your sales follow up emails

Only 2% of deals are closed in the first sales meeting. In fact most sales transactions require more than 5 follow up emails to get closer to a good next step. And only 8% of the sales persons get to that stage. These were the results of a study published by Marketing Donut.

sales follow up

Of course, there has been much written about the need to systematically follow up, don’t accept know NO for an answer, and try to personalize, personalize, personalize!

But despite all of the available tips and tricks about testing different subject lines, advice on style of writing, length of emails etc., we think the underlying challenge is something different. Sales persons, frankly, just run out of personalized material to share in their sales follow up emails. Instead, they fall back to “just checking in”, or “just wanted to share an update that…”.

Sending multiple sales follow up emails does result in you being top of inbox. So it’s a great strategy to implement. But whether you like it or not, that strategy is also being used by everyone else. It’s becoming easier by the day too – marketing automation tools send emails automatically on the sales persons behalf. So at best, when the right moment comes, the buyer may remember you and include you in their shortlist, as they begin to seriously assess who to select.

Unless…you have done something different with your sales follow up emails and have succeeded in building a trust connection. One way to do that is to include meaningful content in your sales follow up emails.

How to include meaningful content in sales follow up emails

Meaningful content is something that shows the customers that you are not just sending them content that you send to everyone else.

Everyone sends product updates, latest corporate announcements, and so on. That content is focused on the seller. However, the important thing to do is to reflect those developments in terms of how they apply to your prospect. That’s perhaps easy to do with the first sales follow up email when you refer to your in-person interactions and position your product.

But with the second email or phone call onward, its not easy to write something meaningful except the good old “I’m checking in to see if now is a good time to reconnect…”.

Instead, what if you could say “I have an update on this specific goal of yours that we discussed in our meeting…”? That would surely be far more interesting to the prospect, and more likely to elicit a response.

That kind of sales follow up is possible only if you have discussed customer goals in the meeting. But that doesn’t happen too often. Most of the times, we are just keen to share how great our product or service is without getting to what the customer could actually be struggling with.

We know how difficult it is to not jump into a “product first” presentation. After all, you don’t fully know what the customers problems are, and the customer is hesitant to share them without knowing more about you first. So it makes sense to build credibility right off the bat, and do your pitch.

That’s where a thoughtfully crafted interactive assessment comes in.

How to use interactive assessments to meaningfully enable your sales follow up

sales follow up assessmentMost sellers know who their buyers are, and what their general pain points are. So an interactive assessment that starts with validating those pain areas can begin the interaction on the right foot. Here’s how such an approach can be implemented:

  1. A series of questions you ask related to the subject matter of the sales call. Whether is coaching, business services, management consulting, or IT services.
  2. The responses to those questions feed into a benchmarking model that also shows how the prospect compares to their peer group.
  3. Then the planned sales pitch – product overview and presentation of credentials in the form of one or more case studies
  4. Finally, using the benchmark model to engage in a discussion of where the prospect would like to see themselves in the short term, and what some of those goals could be.
  5. Gauge the prospects propensity to engage (budget, dependencies etc.), and close.

Note that steps 3 and 5 are already executed by most sales persons. Its steps 1, 2 and 4 that are often unable to be carried out, or carried out as a conversation to learn more about each other.

What we are doing with Evalinator is to help you formalize those icebreaker and exploratory conversations into an actionable model.

This model then leads to informed sales follow up communications. And as you update the model with conversations with other prospects, the data set becomes richer, and you are then able to engage with meaningful statistics and insights.

Next steps

If this approach sounds even remotely reasonable to you, then there is nothing better than testing it out! Get started for free and craft your first assessment. We are here to help you be successful.

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Why is personalization so difficult in B2B sales and marketing?

We know that personalization is critical to build trust and engage our customers. And there are a lot of tools and plenty of advice that help us personalize our interactions.

personalization - sales funnel

Yet, every time a salesperson or marketer  decides to do something, they struggle to really personalize. Let’s dissect that a bit.

 The bar is higher, but it is also anti-personalization

Till recently, basic personalization was expected. That was about including names in emails, showing relevant content on websites, and even showing relevant advertisements and recommendations on shopping carts. We did that with software automation. So someone who has downloaded a piece of content is now sent a sequence of emails that we believe are relevant to that person, designed to move them closer to a purchase. Similarly, we use re-targeting to show our advertisements all over the web to people who have viewed a product on our website.

By doing these things, we hope to catch them at the right point in their buying cycle so they are more likely to come to us. They may not be ready to buy right now, but one day they will be. And we hope to be there in their inbox or on the website they are on.

personalization at top of funnelSo this personalization is a better mousetrap – traditional mass marketing with better technology. It does not have too much context of why or when. It’s based on statistics and hope. Marketers face this reality every day, but they still make a lot of money.

It definitely works. So what’s the problem.

Mass personalization doesn’t work as well for expertise based B2B businesses

Brand awareness does count. So an agency selling analytics or digital capabilities would do well to be all over the web, and top of the inbox of their prospects. For this purpose email automation and re-targeting advertisements work very well.

But there is also the B2B sales funnel to cater to. The sales cycle is typically  several weeks or months long, and generally not based on impulse purchases. The automation techniques help with the top of the funnel but don’t do much to help with the middle of the funnel (answering questions and positioning) and bottom of the funnel (transaction closing). When we say expertise based B2B businesses, we mean coaches, consultants, agencies and services firms. All of these need context to build trust, so they can understand their customers’ pain areas and priorities. These are crucial elements to progress with the sales cycle instead of relying on blind outreach.

To satisfy these middle and bottom of the funnel personalization needs, we believe that building trust during the sales cycle is very important.

Let the customers try to do it on their own first – Become a partner, not just a one-way sales person

Most customers want to try themselves first. Any digital agency will agree that customers try SEO and content marketing themselves first. And when they realize they are in over their heads because it takes too much time and knowledge, only then do they turn to an external partner to help them. Same way for coaches (business or life) and any other services or management consultant. personalization - coaching

You have to let the customer try first. It is their struggle. Not yours.

But when customers are trying it out, you want to be there to help them and guide them. Otherwise you will have lost your pole position and become just one in a list of many possible agencies or coaches to ask for proposals.

A good way to becomes a partner is to lead with your biggest asset – your expertise.

Let’s face it. Every one wants to know how they are doing. By positioning an interactive assessment that helps customers benchmark their performance, it opens up a process of discovery. They are open to further discussions because the conversation has jumped from a product sale, to a needs and goals analysis. The sales process upgrades to a fit analysis, and milestone definition.

As the customers are trying it out, you are helping. And guess who they lean on when they realize they need external help. That’s where an interactive assessment from Evalinator comes in. It provides you with context for personalization in the middle and bottom stages of the sales cycle. It helps you become a partner in your customers’ journey.

Ready to give it a try? Sign up for free and try it out. We know you’ll love it.  

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How to ramp up B2B Sales and Marketing for Professional Services?

B2B sales and marketing for professional services B2B sales and marketing for professional services is complex because most purchases are not impulse buys. Either, they are based on a pain that your clients are facing, or you have to first help them realize that there is a better way to do things.

In addition, professional services can also not be easily compared feature by feature in a spreadsheet. So it’s very different from how a SaaS product is sold. The sale, and success of the program, depends a lot on intangible and soft factors, even as hard metrics like cost and past experience are measured objectively. Clients (often multiple decision makers) will almost always do their due diligence and talk to multiple providers before making a decision to buy from you.

So you face 3 main challenges.

  1. Letting buyers know you exist (brand awareness)
  2. Convincing them that they need help and that you are the right choice (sales pursuit)
  3. Consistently engaging through long sales cycles – anywhere from a few months to a year
Things you may have already tried

common tactics - B2B sales and marketing for professional services Most professional services businesses today have implemented various kinds of content marketing and outreach programs.

These include:

  • Generating more content on your website
  • Advertising on various platforms
  • Engaging influencers such as industry analysts and trade publications
  • Commissioning or sponsoring research projects to produce reports
  • Implementing email automation
  • Doing social media outreach by including employees
  • Creating a blogging platform to showcase expertise
  • Offering downloadable assets to build email lists
  • and so on.

These are all great tactics. They seem intuitive and sound like you’re checking off all the boxes.

But you still feel that you’re not moving the needle. Right? Things still seem accidental rather than planned. You feel like you need to go beyond content marketing.

What problems you may be facing in sales and marketing for professional services?

An easy test is to listen to your gut.

  • If you are in marketing, do you imagine your sales team complaining you don’t help them actually generate revenue?
  • And if you are in sales, do you hear your marketing team telling you that you are not letting marketing in where it matters, or following up on their leads?

That’s normal. It happens because B2B sales and marketing for professional services typically address two different stages of the customer lifecycle. Marketing qualifies and hands off the lead. And then sales is expected to take it to closure. There is actually NO clear mechanism to link the two phases together. So marketing is forever caught in a loop to prove their value to sales.

Aligning B2B sales and marketing for professional services

What you need is a way to connect your lead generation to your sales pursuit efforts.

  1. Generate engagement and brand awareness
  2. Engage together with sales on the long pursuit

aligning B2B sales and marketing for professional services The best way to achieve this is to build meaningful context of what your prospects and customers need, and then align the content generation accordingly.

Every customer has a goal. Or at least you think they have a goal that you want to move them towards – better digital capabilities, better analytics, better security, better quality, better website, better social media marketing, better marketing automation, and so on.

Now think of the underlying engagement model of every professional services engagement:

  1. Assess the current state of affairs
  2. Develop a roadmap and set milestones
  3. Make progress, and celebrate the small wins
  4. Adjust the roadmap as needed
  5. Keep stakeholders engaged and informed

Come to think of it, that’s exactly how a typical consultative sales person moves the sales process forward – one meeting to the next. Opportunity is explored, fit is determined, advice is given, insights are provided, material is requested and sent, and so on.

In addition, a consultative sales person builds trust and helps the client move towards their goals until the client is ready to buy. In doing so, they get the right people to the table to conduct workshops, develop proof of concepts, make peer introductions and so on.

So what is really lacking in the process is a way for marketing and sales teams to work together on this journey. Marketing tools are not used beyond the lead generation process. And that’s where the problem lies in creating consistent client engagement and revenue generation.

How to address this challenge?

The easiest way to address this challenge in B2B sales and marketing for professional services is to bring both sales and marketing teams working off each other’s inputs.

  1. Marketing looks at how a typical sale proceeds and generates lead aligned with those key questions that sales starts with, or those that prospects are struggling with
  2. Sales engages with prospects by setting goals collaboratively towards the goals that the prospect or client may be trying to address
  3. Marketing helps not only sales, but also the prospects meet those goals by producing the right content. It also sets the stage for the full power of the brand to come through.

Let’s face it. Neither sales and marketing should do each other’s jobs. It’s often a problem when they try to do that. But bringing them in on the same page when it comes to how the pursuit is progressing is the right thing to do. It rallies everyone around a common objective.

Wait, isn’t my CRM the connection point I need between sales and marketing?

It is. But your CRM is not client facing. Neither is it geared 100% towards sales pursuits. A CRM is complex because it is used to control and track, not actually help a sale move forward. It can definitely be the place where both sales and marketing their get their information from. But you shouldn’t try to customize something for what it isn’t made for – client engagement during a pursuit. That said, you should absolutely send and track all the key events in your CRM system.

Actions you can take today

Check out how Evalinator helps you create an interactive assessment and then engage prospects consistently.

We have a free double trial for almost 6 weeks. That’s enough time to see if it works for you. We are absolutely sure it will! 

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How to build trust during a sales cycle?

Why is it important to build trust during a sale cycle?

79% of buyers prioritize trust in a sales relationship as a key factor (2019 Salesforce State of Sales study).

Customers always appreciate a process where the focus is on the goals they are trying to achieve, not on the actual product being bought or sold.

And, regardless of who you are, you are always selling to grow your business. So whether you are a consultant or a coach, your buyer is evaluating both you and your “sales pitch” as they decide to engage.

Are you building trust?

trust in a sales cycle Only 3% of buyers trust their sales reps! (Hubspot sales statistics for 2020). So it is obvious that most of us today need to do much better at building trust during our sales cycles.

Given that it is so important, our goal should be to build a position of trust in our buyers’ minds. If we establish a trusted advisor position, then clients will look to us for guidance as well. And will likely prefer to buy from us rather than the competition – all else being reasonably similar of course.

Here are some strategies to help build trust in your sales cycles with your prospects:

Build trust at the start of the sales cycle

Sharing benchmarks on how your customer’s peers are doing on various dimensions of the problem, and empathizing with your prospect’s problems is a great way to break the ice and instill confidence. It also shows that you know the space, the problems, and the solutions that might work the best. When you use an interactive assessment such as Evalinator, you get can easily offer personalized benchmarks to your customers.

This starts building the foundations of trust in the sales cycle. The earlier you do this, the better. Sharing survey results, 3rd party analyst reports, independent research, or benchmarks from your interactive assessment can be a great way to do that so long as you personalize those results and make them relevant. Be careful that you don’t appear pedantic or make too many assumptions for your customers though.

Use diagnostics to clarify the need and understand the priorities

Too often, customers have a sense of where they are and what they want to do. But they are not always very clear about the issues. In these cases, they appreciate a diagnostic tool from you to help them define that need, understand where they lack the most, and quantify where they are doing well.

As a coach or consultant, you should probably start with a simple diagnostic. Whether it’s free or paid doesn’t matter. Starting with a diagnostic shows that you bring a structured approach to the table. And your customers will appreciate that during a sales cycle. It anchors the discovery process and build trust. For example, coaches may start with a “Wheel of Life”, and consultants may start with a “maturity assessment”. You can sample a few assessments here, and you can even sign up for free to create one for yourself!

Help clients create a vision and concrete goals

trust during a sales cycleA diagnostic performed with an interactive assessment is a great way to get prospects and customers to open up about their problems and vision. Perhaps some of the items didn’t make sense, or perhaps they simply hadn’t thought about them.

When you have the results of the diagnostic in hand, you can then share with clients additional benchmarks about how others in their position are tackling those challenges. It also helps you work with your clients to set a vision for where they want to go.

A few concrete goals at this point are possible to set even if they have not decided to buy from you. Doing so establishes you as an advisor, who they can start to trust during this intimate sales process. The sales process does not actually look like sales anymore, because they start seeing you as an advisor, and someone they trust. See this blog post on how goal setting works with an interactive assessment you create on Evalinator.

Help selflessly but don’t go overboard

This phase of the sales cycle is called nurturing your prospect. You build trust by helping them with advice, tips and tactics. This advice can easily be personalized if you are using an interactive assessment. You partner with them on this discovery journey so they can define what they need clearly.

But it is also easy to lose focus at this time. So you need to balance being an advisor and someone who does need to get paid. More often than not, if your customers have budget and the need is qualified, they will sign with you if everything else checks out (credentials, capability, price etc.).

It’s also human nature to return the favor. So if you help them, your customers will empathize with you and go out of their way to help you. (within reasonable means of course). Price becomes less important at this time because its easy to manage those expectations with additional value that you are providing. In addition, by engaging with customers, you have built up a barrier to entry for your competitors because you have the context that they don’t.

Building trust needs work but it is easily done if you have the right tools. Being genuine is important so there is no shortcut other than believing in your product or service, and caring about your customers.

In most cases the product itself is not different or unique enough. But you – YOU – can be the difference. The trust and relationships you build will be the reason the customer will buy from you.

Try Evalinator for free to determine if it can help you build trust in your sales cycle.

But wait. We don’t want to sell you on something just like that. Before you subscribe, check to see if Evalinator is right for you. That way you will know if using Evalinator will work for you.

We’ll see you around!