BrainRider Knowledge Marketing GroupHow to improve pipelineperformance usingknowledge marketing                  © BrainRi...
S        omewhere, pipelines are mighty conduits of commerce.        They not only work, they work beautifully. Everyone w...
W                e’re going to tell you how to know when it’s time to                call a plumber. A swashbuckling, hone...
I   t’s unrealistic to assume that someone who needs what you   sell is going to pick up the phone and call you the instan...
I    t often happens that a prospect    enters your pipeline, then gets    bogged down or sidetracked. Weall live in the r...
T      his devious fellow is all too common. He enters your      pipeline, tells you who he is, then turns out to be someo...
O          nce a prospect is in your pipeline, he needs regular          nourishment. Sort of          like watering a rar...
T       his one hurts, because you’ve given a lot of time and       attention to this guy. Your prospect has been merrily ...
P      eople buy things because they have problems they want to      solve. Classic marketing says we don’t buy a drill bi...
Happy benefits of a healthy pipelineL     et’s pause and consider the positive side of things for a     moment. What benef...
T      hey need information about ways to solve their problem.      There are things they want to know about your company....
Stage 1: Defining requirements  •    Prospects are casting a wide net, and may or may not have       an idea of what the s...
of time to get specific later.You’ll also ask questions like that in online communities. Facebookand Twitter are perfect f...
Find out what your prospects want to know at every stage of thepurchase cycle. Then give it to them.Stage 2: Gathering inf...
friends and associates to gather more data and opinions.You’ve heard that there are a couple of interesting ways toachieve...
that’s messy justification, but that’s the way business works. Soyou go away and dive deep into the world of office furnit...
page looks like Benjamin Franklin. (Wait a minute. It is BenjaminFranklin.)The second manufacturer’s website offers a broc...
wondering again about buying teamwork training seminars toincrease productivity, instead of spending your budget oncomfort...
your friends. Then you noticed that 457,000 people had alreadyviewed the video on YouTube.So now you go back to their webs...
Stage 4: Final decision  •    Prospects have a solid understanding of how each       alternative measures up and the decis...
OK, your role playing is over. You’renot thinking like the chair buyer now.You’re back to being ‘you’.W            hat kin...
•   Backstage pass: gain halo from a big event   •   Success stories and case studies   •   Personality-driven: use someon...
Remember, we outlined four stages of the purchase cycle in ourchair-buying exercise earlier.On the next page, there’s a Pi...
23
BrainRider Knowledge Marketing Group is an agile companywhose partners bring deep experience working with B2B and B2Cmarke...
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How to improve pipeline performance using knowledge marketing v2.0

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How to improve pipeline performance using knowledge marketing v2.0

  1. 1. BrainRider Knowledge Marketing GroupHow to improve pipelineperformance usingknowledge marketing © BrainRider Inc. 2010
  2. 2. S omewhere, pipelines are mighty conduits of commerce. They not only work, they work beautifully. Everyone who enters always buys. No one who enters ever leaves. Savvymarketers happily entice multitudes of prospects through thepipeline and into the open arms of talented salespeople adept atconverting them into customers.If that’s the way things are at your place of business, dear reader,you’re safe to move on. Go celebrate your good fortune with yourco-workers. This little book of musings is not for you. You’ve got itmade.As for the rest of us, who work to woo and win customers in thereal world of business, where things sometimes go wrong notbecause they can, but because they simply must… well, devoting afew minutes to pondering the contents herein might just be themost profitable thing you do today. 1
  3. 3. W e’re going to tell you how to know when it’s time to call a plumber. A swashbuckling, honest to goodness pipeline fixer. That would be us. And that’s the onlyselling you’ll get from us here. This is hereby a non-selling zone.If you’re having trouble with your marketing and sales, it could bethe result of a broken pipeline. Your prospects aren’tflowing through it the way you’d like.Most importantly, they aren’t becoming customers.Not enough of them are buying what you’re selling.We’re here to help you get your pipeline flowing andcreate more customers. You’ll do it by figuring out what yourprospects want to know at each stage of the pre-purchase cycle.And then you’ll simply share it with them.We’ll even give you the content matrix you’ll need to make ithappen. If that sounds useful, read on. 2
  4. 4. I t’s unrealistic to assume that someone who needs what you sell is going to pick up the phone and call you the instant he realizes his need. Whether you’re selling pizzas or mainframes,people are going to take a while to make the decision to purchasefrom you.While they’re deciding, you mightnot even know they’re out there. Ifthey’re operating off your radar,you’re much more likely to losethem. That’s because you aren’tbuilding any sort of relationshipwith them while they’re comparingyou with your competitors. They might have only a sketchy idea ofwho you are, or what your products or services can do for them.If someone is in your pipeline, you need to know it. Even better,you need to know who they are, and what they want to know. Tolearn that, you need marketing automation and lead generationtools. 3
  5. 5. I t often happens that a prospect enters your pipeline, then gets bogged down or sidetracked. Weall live in the real world, and stuffhappens.Attention wanders. Other priorities suddenly arise. Yourcompetitors make inroads. Your would-be buyer wanders off thepurchasing path to take the scenic route. [There aren’t a lot ofstraight lines in nature.]Perfectly understandable. But certainly unacceptable, if your goalis to sell more products or services. 4
  6. 6. T his devious fellow is all too common. He enters your pipeline, tells you who he is, then turns out to be someone else entirely.You ask him for an emailaddress too early, or toooften. You make him jumpthrough annoying hoops tofind what he wants. Herefuses to play along andgives you a false identity.Harmless, really.Maybe he fills out a form on your website so he can downloadyour latest deck of brilliance. But he doesn’t trust you much, orhe’s in a hurry, or he wants his anonymity so your sales team can’tpounce. So he types in his business email address aswallywallydingdongpantsonfire@netscape.com. Tough sell. 5
  7. 7. O nce a prospect is in your pipeline, he needs regular nourishment. Sort of like watering a rareand delicate plant. Do give himthe knowledge he seeks. Don’twaste his time. Never give himuseless information: he mightbail out. Grow the relationshiplike a peony. [‘Peony’ is a namefor plants in the genus Paeonia,the only genus in the flowering plant family Paeoniaceae. That,friend, is the kind of useless information we’re talking about. Tryto avoid it.] 6
  8. 8. T his one hurts, because you’ve given a lot of time and attention to this guy. Your prospect has been merrily advancing through your pipeline. Everything is proceedingsmoothly. You know whohe is, you know what hewants, and you knowwhen he wants it. Youknow how much moneyhe has, and what hewants to spend it on.But just when he’s aboutto sign on the dotted line, it’s a no go. Maybe he’s a tire-kicker orwindow shopper who never really had a serious intent topurchase. Maybe he was mis-profiled somewhere along the line.Maybe he was trying to negotiate a discount from you so he couldleverage it for a better discount from someone else. Maybe thepre-sales relationship you thought you were forging was built on afoundation of shifting sand. Ouch. 7
  9. 9. P eople buy things because they have problems they want to solve. Classic marketing says we don’t buy a drill bit so we can make holes in our walls. We buy it because we want tohang a picture on a fancy hook that requires a nice little hole.If your potential target doesn’t see your product or service as asolution to a problem, maybe it’s because he doesn’t even knowhe has a problem that needs a solution of any kind.Perhaps he’s framing his situation in a way you haven’t workedhard enough to understand. Or maybe he is a Do It Yourself typewho has no intention of buying athird-party solution like yours.Whatever the reason, he’s notcoming into your pipeline, atleast not without some specialencouragement. This guy needsfancy wooing. 8
  10. 10. Happy benefits of a healthy pipelineL et’s pause and consider the positive side of things for a moment. What benefits will you enjoy from having a well- managed pipeline that delivers nicely qualified leads? • Less wasted money on inefficient pipeline remedies, quick fixes and one-off untested solutions. • Stronger referrals from clients who respect your sales process. • More trusted company and brand makes selling easier. • Higher close rate because your sales team can spend less time on dead ends and direct their efforts toward qualified, receptive and educated leads. • A steady flow of sales lets you prepare better forecasts. • Less energy spent chasing new clients means more time available for servicing and up-selling existing clients. • This last one is a good one: Happier customers, a happier sales team, more sales, higher revenues. Oh yes. 9
  11. 11. T hey need information about ways to solve their problem. There are things they want to know about your company. About your products and services. And a whole lot more.So, exactly where are they looking for information before theybuy? Well, they’re only human, just like you. So ask yourself,where do you look?[By the way, this is an undervalued trick. Every day, spend sometime putting yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Look at yourbusiness and your marketspace through his or her eyes. From thatperspective, what do you want to know? Not just right now, but atevery stage of the pre-purchase process?]So let’s role play a bit. Imagine you’re in control of a purchasingbudget. Your CEO wants you to spend it to increase productivity. 10
  12. 12. Stage 1: Defining requirements • Prospects are casting a wide net, and may or may not have an idea of what the solution will be. • The information-seeking has a broad focus using more generic, high level search engine terms and keywords: “How to increase productivity?” • They may be seeking assistance with definition, scope, and internal buy-in.Chances are, when you’re researching a purchase, you begin byasking people you know. You might do that over lunch. “Hey, Bob,we’re going to be spending some money to try to increase ourproductivity in the next six months. I know you guys did that lastyear. What sort of things did you do? Was it worth it? How didyou justify it in your budget?”Notice how general your goals and questions are. There’s plenty 11
  13. 13. of time to get specific later.You’ll also ask questions like that in online communities. Facebookand Twitter are perfect for asking friends and followers forrecommendations and information.Of course, there’s another place people go for information. Thankgoodness for search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. They area ready conduit for pre-purchase information. And they letcompanies like ours, and yours, track and measure searchbehavior to learn what people want to know.At this first stage of the purchase cycle, word of mouthrecommendations are important, because we trust the source ofthe opinion or information. To be blunt, your potential buyerstrust their friends and colleagues more than they trust yourcompany.But don’t worry: there are things you can do to build trust.Sharing what you know is one of them. Be open and transparent. 12
  14. 14. Find out what your prospects want to know at every stage of thepurchase cycle. Then give it to them.Stage 2: Gathering information • Prospects are searching for available options that will meet their requirements. • Keywords and search terms will be more specific and may start to reflect solution alternatives or categories: “increase productivity new office chairs vs computer upgrades”. • Their goal is developing a short list of viable alternatives.You’re having lunch with Bob again. Some time has passed sincethe last one, and you’ve been busy in the meantime reading blogsand e-newsletters about how to increase productivity. You’velistened to a few podcasts and watched some videos online. AndBob has tapped into his network to give you access to some of his 13
  15. 15. friends and associates to gather more data and opinions.You’ve heard that there are a couple of interesting ways toachieve your goals, and you need to drill down and get somespecifics.What will it be? New office furniture? You read a whitepaper bysome productivity guru who says comfortable chairs let peoplework longer and smarter. Or should you use your budget on fastercomputers to save time and aggravation? Or maybe all-staffteamwork training seminars, to ‘leverage synergies’? (Whateverthe heck that means.)After you’ve gathered your information, you have a huddle withsome of the department heads. You tell them you’ve been doingresearch and you found out new computers are not affordable thisyear. After a lot of internal debate, someone mentions that heheard the CEO complaining about his bad back last month. So thegroup cleverly decides it would be smart to go with thecomfortable office chairs instead of the teamwork seminars. Sure, 14
  16. 16. that’s messy justification, but that’s the way business works. Soyou go away and dive deep into the world of office furniture.Stage 3: Evaluating alternatives • Prospects are looking for information specific to how a solution alternative will work in their context. • They are seeking comparisons between short-listed alternatives, peer reviews, referrals and experiences.You discover that there are six big and well-respectedmanufacturers in the field. You go online and tap into yournetworks to make some comparisons. Which supplier has the bestreputation for quality? Service? Durability? Comfort? Price?You visit their websites and immediately eliminate one of themanufacturers. Their site looks like it was done in 1997 and hasnever been updated. The guy in the stock photo on the home 15
  17. 17. page looks like Benjamin Franklin. (Wait a minute. It is BenjaminFranklin.)The second manufacturer’s website offers a brochure for freedownload. You grab it and leave. They didn’t ask for your emailaddress, so they’ll never even know you were there.The third manufacturer looks good at first, but later you readsome strange posts about them on Twitter. They don’t managetheir reputation online, so rumors are spreading like wildfire.Someone claims that he heard a guy in Nebraska has been stuck inone of their chairs for three weeks and can’t get out. You crossthem off your list.The remaining three manufacturers seem okay. You fill out a formand download some more material from each of them. You getbusy at work and three months go by.Your CEO takes some of the managers out to play golf. He shoot 74and never complains about his bad back at all. Hmmm. You start 16
  18. 18. wondering again about buying teamwork training seminars toincrease productivity, instead of spending your budget oncomfortable chairs.Funny thing though. You remember that one of the manufacturerssent you a link after you downloaded their brochures from theirwebsite a while back. The link took you to an e-book they wrote. Itlooked interesting, so you happily gave them a bit moreinformation about yourself—job title, size of company, purchasetime frame, that sort of thing—and read all about how their chairshelped a company just like yours be more productive.A month later, they sent you a nice thank you note and anotherlink. You gave them some more information about your companyin exchange for viewing a video about the durability of theirchairs. In the video, a monkey was trying to break an office chairand he couldn’t do it. After awhile he got tired and sat in the chairand spun it around. It reminded you of your boss.It was pretty funny, so you emailed the video link to a dozen of 17
  19. 19. your friends. Then you noticed that 457,000 people had alreadyviewed the video on YouTube.So now you go back to their website and give them permission tocontact you directly to talk about their chairs. A week later, youhave a pleasant chat with a salesperson and she gives you somemore good information.Meanwhile, you get an email from one of the othermanufacturers, offering you a 15% discount if you order 500 chairsby this Friday. This is the first you’ve heard from them, and you’renot quite sure you can trust them. Who are these guys, anyway?The photo model in the chair looks a lot like Benjamin Franklin.The fiscal year is ending soon, and you’re under pressure to talk tothe buying committee about what you’ve learned, and take arecommendation to the CEO for sign-off. What’s it going to be?The last-ditch discount? Or the manufacturer who has beenhelping you do your research for months by sending links to usefulinformation? 18
  20. 20. Stage 4: Final decision • Prospects have a solid understanding of how each alternative measures up and the decision maker is trying to get comfortable with committing to one of the alternatives. • They are managing questions from various stakeholders.After a few weeks of back and forth, during which the helpfulmanufacturer sends some custom information requested by yourIT department, which has a special need for smooth rolling chaircasters, your CEO says cost is important, but cost alone can’t drivethe decision.He tells you to go with the helpful supplier. “Business is aboutrelationships,” he says. “It’s about trust. Those guys get it. Theyknow what they’re doing.” 19
  21. 21. OK, your role playing is over. You’renot thinking like the chair buyer now.You’re back to being ‘you’.W hat kind of knowledge should your company share to develop a relationship with prospects in your pipeline? • Research (choose and compile data e.g. price, product lines, surveys) • Market Intelligence (e.g. benchmarking survey, size of market) • 101 basic education, glossaries, and classes • Product tours and overviews • ‘News you can use’ 20
  22. 22. • Backstage pass: gain halo from a big event • Success stories and case studies • Personality-driven: use someone who is knowledgeable about your market and brand • Thought leadership • Q&A • Company & product info • How to • Top 10 lists • Gap assessment • Needs assessment • ROI & Biz caseDeciding what to share is the first step to successfully nourishingyour pipeline. You also have to segment your target so thatpeople receive exactly the information they’re looking for.And if that isn’t enough, you have to share it with them at theright time. Which depends upon where they are in the pipeline. 21
  23. 23. Remember, we outlined four stages of the purchase cycle in ourchair-buying exercise earlier.On the next page, there’s a Pipeline Knowledge-Sharing ContentMatrix you can use (black boxes require no content).Thanks for taking the time to read our little eBook. If there’ssomething you want to know, just ask.We’re all about sharing knowledge. 22
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  25. 25. BrainRider Knowledge Marketing Group is an agile companywhose partners bring deep experience working with B2B and B2Cmarketers at Fortune 500 clients, mid-sized firms andentrepreneurial start-ups in technology, telecommunications,ecommerce, financial services, professional services, automotive,food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and packaged goods. www.brainrider.com 24

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