When it comes to sales success, one of the biggest obstacles is misalignment between marketing and sales teams. Marketing teams often focus or only have budget to generate MQIs and MQLs from typical strategies such as content downloads or email campaigns, and while these are valuable activities to quickly generate pipeline, if done in a silo without proper follow-up, or even a conversation between sales ad marketing, sales teams can become frustrated from receiving leads that are not sales ready. They have a quota to hit after all!
Ultimately both teams have the same goal – to support initiatives that attract and retain loyal customers to the business. However, conflicting day-to-day goals and KPIs can cause tension, where marketing may feel their work is undervalued and sales don’t see the full worth of marketing’s activities. This misalignment can be complicated even further when a third-party agency is brought in to support lead generation efforts.
Lead alignment is not just alignment between sales and marketing teams goals, but it is also a process of determining exactly where a lead falls in the sales funnel and how it should be followed-up by marketing, sales, and any third-party stakeholder.
The biggest barriers to sales and marketing alignment:
There are many challenges when trying to align across marketing, sales, and out-sourced agencies such as:
Unclear communication: Poor communication between sales and marketing is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle to lead alignment. When turning to an agency to aid with lead generation, marketing may choose to buy opt-ins, MQIs, MQLs and so on, but on the other hand sales may be expecting sales ready leads. Manage expectations early. MQI and MQLs, are first contact without any personalised nurturing. One seldom gets married on a first date and MQIs and MQLs tend to convert as SRLs between 0.2 and 0.6%
Different Objectives: Misaligned goals between sales and marketing can further hinder overall business success. Sales teams may prioritize short-term revenue generation, while marketing teams focus on long-term brand building. This misalignment can lead to conflicting strategies and a lack of cohesion in campaigns. To address this barrier, organizations must foster a culture of shared objectives. This involves creating a unified vision that aligns both sales and marketing goals with the overarching business strategy.
Siloed processes and systems: Although sales and marketing are natural partners, they often work in siloes due to unclear communication and different objectives, which can be detrimental to the company’s bottom line. This lack of integration can lead to duplicated work and a fragmented customer experience which can affect overall conversion rates.
Poor handovers between marketing and sales: The transition of leads from marketing to sales is a critical juncture in the customer acquisition process. Poorly managed handoffs can result in lost opportunities, as valuable information may not be effectively conveyed between the two teams. This challenge may stem from inadequate lead qualification processes, insufficient communication protocols, or a lack of shared understanding regarding the criteria for a sales-ready lead.
How to overcome lead alignment challenges:
Align expectations: It is important to define expectations from the very start of a lead generation strategy, especially when working with a 3rd party agency. What type of leads will sales receive – MQLs or SRLs? Who will be expected to nurture leads who are not sales ready?
Set common goals: While day-to-day goals may vary between teams, sales, marketing, and any outsourced teams need to have overarching goals. By aligning individual and team objectives, you can foster a sense of unity which promotes collaboration.
Define workflows: Lead alignment challenges can arise due to uncertainties in processes and workflows. It is essential to define and document clear workflows that outline the sequence of tasks, and responsibilities, to know who owns what task and the larger context of a strategy. Well-defined workflows streamline operations, reduce friction, and enhance coordination, making it easier for team heads to align their efforts seamlessly.
Create standardized handover procedures: In order for sales to efficiently convert marketing generated leads to closed revenue, a defined handover system is pivotal. For example, BNZSA’s approach is our trademarked Warm Handover; a three-way call between our BDR, a sales rep from our client, and the prospect.
Share frequent feedback: Maintaining an open stream of feedback on the insights that sales gain from interactions with prospects that have been handed over from marketing as this will allow marketing to adjust strategy, target, or messaging as needed to optimise their outreach and lead generation.
Lead alignment in BNZSA:
As an agency designed to support both marketing and sales for leading IT companies, lead alignment is crucial to ensuring our client’s success. To achieve this, as part of our campaign onboarding process we include a call between key stakeholders – The Project Manager and Sales Coach assigned to the campaign on our side, and both the sales and marketing team from our client. This ensures everyone is aligned on key points such as ICP, USP of the product or service and KPIs from the very start of the campaign.
Enhance ROI from B2B events by investing marketing development funds (MDF) in BNZSA Channel Concierge, to get in front of the right people
Despite the increasing ability to order IT products and services online, three tier distribution or “the channel” has always been an important route to market for vendors, especially in the sub enterprise space to secure and renew long tail business.
To enable channel partners to prospect new customers and service existing ones, vendors have traditionally put aside vast amounts of marketing development funds (MDF) to support distributors in holding stock, enabling credit lines and to support marketing campaigns that are provided to Value Added Resellers (VARs) and Managed Service Providers (MSPs)
This successful model was perhaps the reason why previously direct selling champion, Dell Computers, has become one of the largest indirect selling channel companies in the world.
Pre-pandemic, MDF funding was largely invested into face-to-face events, with one major enterprise software vendor spending over 80% of its MDF on events to generate leads alone.
Despite research claiming that users in the future will increasingly want less interactions with sales folk; People, it seems, still currently prefer to buy from people.
And what is better than having a conversation with an interested user that has come to your stand or requested a meeting in person. No Zoom, no Teams, no need to ask for consent, no cold calling, no irrelevant email in an overflowing inbox.
But for those that have organised or participated in events will know, putting on events is never easy.
Maximising Marketing Development Funds (MDF) via events
Events are strategic opportunities to forge strong connections and generate high-quality leads. However, organizing events can be resource-intensive, involving considerations such as securing stand space and having suitable marketing to adorn it, covering sponsorship fees, managing travel costs, accommodation, and more. Demonstrating a return on investment (ROI) is a constant challenge, demanding not only many attendees but also the right ones who will convert into revenue.
This is where MDF is hugely beneficial for channel partners. By allocating these funds to events, IT providers empower their partners to host impactful gatherings, providing a platform to showcase products and solutions. Done well, it is an investment in meaningful interactions that can translate into long-lasting relationships and substantial business growth. Done poorly and it can be an easy way to burn through funds that could have been better deployed to generate pipeline.
BNZSA's new Channel Concierge service
When staying at a decent hotel in a place you are unfamiliar with, the hotel concierge service is often the difference between having an excellent stay rather than just a good one. Not only can they recommend you the best restaurants in town, but they also often have the ability to book good tables at them that might not be available if you just rang or turned up on spec. They also can exchange their knowledge about attractions and provide advice on which ones to prioritise. All in they provide the human verification on top of the digital information you may have searched for in
BNZSA's Channel Concierge (BCC) service has been designed in the same way to help channel partners with the heavy lifting involved in providing marketing services, to attract new opportunities including events so they can concentrate on what they are good at, selling! To this end, BCC, is a centralised, fully integrated Marketing-as-a-Service platform tailored for channel partners. It is not just a service; it is a strategic ally that empowers your partners to fuel their lead generation strategies across many platforms to culminate in the climax of your marketing activity, F2F events.
By allocating MDF to Channel Concierge the service will provide:
Maximised Event Follow-up with Lead Verifyr: Lead Verifyr by BNZSA is powered by our team of highly trained BDRs and is designed to make your pipeline work harder and is the perfect solution to maximise post-event conversion rates. BDRs will contact the list of attendees who engaged with our client pre-event or at the event itself to verify contact information and evaluate the lead. Those contacts who are identified as being a tangible sales opportunity will be invited to a three-way call with both BNZSA’s BDR and a sales representative from the client, using BNZSA’s unique Warm HandoverTM (WHOTM) method.
Bespoke Campaigns to Empower your partners: Channel Concierge offers the flexibility to create bespoke marketing campaigns or choose from out-of-the-box packages. This means partners can tailor their efforts to align perfectly with your latest messaging and product offerings. It centralizes partners' marketing endeavours, ensuring that campaigns are always current and effective.
Proactive Demand Generation Focus: BNZSA's Channel Concierge is built on a foundation of proactive demand generation. Each campaign is backed by a dedicated native speaker and is powered by BNZSA’s data team to ensure localised and precise targeting across all marketing channels and international markets.
Dedicated Programme Managers for Unparalleled Support: With Channel Concierge, partners benefit from the expertise of Programme Managers who possess extensive experience in running multi-channel marketing campaigns. These managers serve as the main point of contact, providing support throughout the entire process. This level of personalized attention ensures that partners feel supported and empowered in their marketing efforts.
Elevated Content Excellence: BNZSA's in-house design and digital team is poised to create bespoke content for partners. This includes crafting compelling landing pages, designing email nurturing tracks, and executing paid media and programmatic advertising. This comprehensive approach to content ensures that partners have the tools they need to captivate their target audience effectively.
Global Reach with Native Language Coverage: Whether you are targeting markets in EMEA, North and South America, or APJ, BNZSA's services are accessible globally. With native language coverage in all key markets, there are no limits on the number of markets or concierge resources per market. This means you can reach your ideal customers, no matter where they are based.
By providing partners with the tools, support, and expertise they need, Channel Concierge paves the way for success in today's competitive IT market. Discover true ROI by investing MDF in Channel Concierge and unlock a new level of collaborative growth with your partners. They might also know some of the best spots to go to in Madrid, if you ask them!
Additional reporting by Paul Briggs, Director of Global Corporate Development
Maximising event follow-up with Lead Verifyr
Post-pandemic it’s easy to assume that everything has moved online, but when it comes to B2B, and especially the IT channel, face-to-face events are back in full swing, and they play a significant role in driving meaningful customer experiences and organization success.
According to a survey conducted by Bizzabo in June 2023, 81.7% of event organizers stated that at least half of their B2B events are in person. And most vendors have traditionally spent a large majority of their marketing development funds (MDF) on events for their partners.
Live events are a crucial part of B2B marketing strategies, and 60% of marketing leaders plan to incorporate them into their outreach programmes in the next year.
Although events are seen as an important strategy for lead generation of quality opportunities, organizing events can be resource heavy for both marketing investment and human capital– securing a slot, sponsorship fees, branded merchandise for attendees, travel costs, accommodation, entertainment costs and of course your employee’s time are all considerations to juggle when putting on an event. Against these upfront costs, there is also the constant pressure to demonstrate ROI by not only attracting a lot of attendees, but the right attendees that will convert to revenue.
Pre-event steps to find and engage the right people:
Verify Target Account List: The first step in any successful B2B event marketing strategy is ensuring you are targeting the right accounts. Utilize data-driven techniques and market research to refine your list. This may include analyzing past attendee data, studying your existing customer base, and leveraging industry insights to identify the most relevant accounts. A verified target account list sets the stage for a successful event by ensuring that you are connecting with the businesses most likely to benefit from your offerings.
Identify Buying Committees: It is crucial to identify and engage the entire buying committee for each target account. Research key stakeholders within the organization, including decision-makers, influencers, and gatekeepers. Tailor your pre-event messaging to resonate with each of these personas, addressing their specific pain points and priorities. This approach ensures that your outreach is comprehensive and speaks directly to the needs of all involved parties.
Secure Prospect's Consent: Securing consent pre-event is key to engaging with attendees before the event. This can be done by telemarketing and programmatic campaigns which simultaneously build brand awareness, awareness of the event and allow you to gain attendees consent to be contacted.
Engage Pre-event: Once you have confirmed consent, engaging with prospects before the event is essential to encourage attendance, and confirm face-to-face meetings. Use this opportunity to nurture prospects and educate them on your products and services so they have a strong familiarity with your brand before they arrive at your stand.
Post-event follow-up with Lead Verifyr
The end of the event does not signal the end of your engagement with attendees. Follow-up after an event is imperative to generate true ROI and convert attendees to valuable customers.
Lead Verifyr by BNZSA is powered by our team of highly trained BDRs and is designed to make your pipeline work harder and is the perfect solution to maximise post-event conversion rates.
Once an event is over, our BDRs will contact the list of attendees who engaged with our client pre-event or at the event itself. By calling on the client’s behalf, our BDRs will be able to verify that the contact information provided is correct. This engagement enables our agents to interact with the prospect on a deeper level, fully understand their motives and needs, and gather insights into buying committees and purchasing processes.
Those contacts who are identified as being a tangible sales opportunity will be invited to a three-way call with both BNZSA’s BDR and a sales representative from the client, using BNZSA’s unique Warm HandoverTM (WHOTM) method.
Clients can then concentrate on opportunities that are more likely to convert to closed won deals rather than losing time and resources following-up with irrelevant contacts.
Lead Verifyr for Events - A Case Study
Verify and identify sales opportunities from a list of 245 leads generated across 39 regions globally from an Integrated Systems event in Q1 provided to us by our client.
What we did:
As the prospects were based across EMEA, we launched BDR support in 5 local native languages – French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and English. Any prospects contacted in a non-native language were contacted in English.
BDRs connected with event attendees to verify all contact information, and to understand the prospects’ profiles, their needs, and to identify buying committees and any tangible sales opportunities for our client.
We were able to verify 66% of contacts – 163 contacts from 245.
47% of contacts provided were identified as being a lead – 76 contacts – with the following breakdown:
5 Opt-ins (consent to reconnect later)
51 Sales Ready Leads who were invited to a three-way call with our BDR and client using our WHOTM method.
85% lead to execution rate for leads picked up by our client.
BNZSA, powered by Anteriad, is set to revolutionize the EMEA B2B intent market with the launch of inTNT, a multilingual, Artificial Intelligence, and human-verified intent solution
Hundreds of thousands of monthly conversations in EMEA between BNZSA-trained agents and business buyers in multiple native languageswill be analysed by AI and Machine Learning for intent signals.
BNZSA, powered by Anteriad, has launched inTNT to offer the EMEA B2B market a GDPR-compliant, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and multilingual intent solution.
This new intent solution gives B2B marketers validated, compliant intent signals captured in multiple European languages to enable them to get in front of more buyers more effectively.
BNZSA’s inTNT is a smart, precision solution that verifies intent signals both digitally, using AI, and with human verification. In a market traditionally dominated by US and English-centric intent solutions, BNZSA’s inTNT’s multilingual EMEA data stands out because it is derived from hundreds of thousands of monthly conversations with native language agents that also confirm GDPR consent.
BNZSA’s inTNT will be offered to BNZSA’s and Anteriad’s existing EMEA customers as a performance enhancer to lead generation programs, and it will also be offered as an integrated add-on to digital advertising campaigns to increase target audience engagement .
BNZSA’s Knowledge Exchange Programme, which identifies the information technology needs of end users to connect them with BNZSA preferred partner suppliers, will also incorporate BNZSA inTNT. Additionally, this European intent data will be fed back into Anteriad’s global offering as BNZSA is fully integrated into the Anteriad organization.
International CEO of BNZSA, powered by Anteriad, Brahim Samhoud said, “The European market is highly regulated for data privacy and compliance. By launching BNZSA inTNT, we are supplementing Anteriad’s incredibly powerful global intent offering with validated compliant intent signals in multiple languages.
“We are thrilled to offer inTNT and provide our customers the ability to get in front of more EMEA-based buyers today,” added Samhoud.
Karie Burt, Chief Data and Privacy officer at Anteriad, added, “In the past, getting compliant multilingual intent for EMEA that has been verified by human native speakers has been difficult to source. With 1,600 BNZSA-trained agents on the phone verifying and capturingintent each month, we are excited to marry together human and artificial intelligence to deliver value to more marketers in multiple languages while preserving privacy and compliance.”
B2B buyers are increasingly expecting a B2C-like experience when interacting with B2B companies. This means that they want easy access to relevant and valuable content and information, as well as seamless and efficient communication and collaboration throughout the buying process.
To meet these expectations, B2B marketers need to focus on creating an omnichannel presence that allows buyers to engage with their brand and access content and information on their own terms. This can include creating a robust website or landing page with more in-depth contextual, educational resources than a blog alone that acts as a content hub.
Content hubs can bolster your B2B marketing strategy and provides many benefits for your outreach such as:
Creating this space creates a point of reference for the prospect where they can be directed to further “bingeable” content, or where they can be redirected to multiple times whether through ads, emails or through their own interest. Making content easily accessible and all in one place aids customer education as prospects can research your product or service at their own pace.
Improved customer journey:
By delivering a B2C-like experience to B2B buyers, companies can not only improve the overall customer journey, but also differentiate themselves from the competition and build strong, long-lasting relationships with their clients. Creating localised content hubs with muti-lingual content and incorporating strategic CTAs brand can guide users to relevant content or encourage certain engagements.
Creating personalised user content journeys through email content, social media advertising and landing pages, allows marketing teams to gather important data on what interests their customers and helps to identify buying intent signals which is valuable data which can strengthen a follow-up telemarketing strategy.
Prospects’ content experiences can be enriched by using programmatic advertising on social media channels. By tracking engagement and user behaviour on the landing page to gather customer insights, prospects can then receive advertising with tailored messaging based on their user profiles and leveraging data on customer behaviour to push them to additional content relevant to their interests, industry, or job title.
Incorporating landing pages that act as a content hub for a specific topic, product, or service is a great way to improve SEO as you can drive more traffic to your website and rank for more keywords. It is also an opportunity to build backlinks as well as internal links, increasing the link authority of a page.
Building a content hub is an opportunity to showcase your industry expertise and differentiate your brand from your competitors as you present your insights with an authoritative narrative. It’s also an opportunity for your prospects to further familiarise themselves with your brand and therefore increases brand awareness.
By engaging prospects with meaningful content, brands can push users through the funnel from awareness to conversion. By encouraging users to subscribe or provide contact details in exchange for exclusive gated content, companies can capture leads and begin the nurturing process.
Land your messaging in new markets with the right localisation strategy
Expanding market reach globally is synonymous with growth and opportunity in B2B, but it can take a significant amount of time, effort, and resources. There is a need to familiarise yourself with the various nuances of each country and market.
From different languages and purchasing practices to learning about the local competitive market with varying time zones, customer preferences and pain points; an efficient localization strategy that is equally effective has never been more essential.
Challenges when landing & expanding in new markets
Hiring staff: Recruiting the right staff in a foreign market is a big commitment of time and money up front, before any income is even generated, and with little guarantee of success. There can also be significant differences in labour laws that your HR & Legal teams may be unfamiliar with that will need to be addressed.
Messaging: Localising content is much more than just translation. Messaging needs to capture local language nuances, image appropriateness and cultural preferences. Long turnaround times for adapting content to new markets, while ensuring no major gaffes, requires significant resources and effort. Keeping the brand voice and quality of translation consistently high is another hurdle.
Data & Compliance: Collecting accurate and quality customer and competitive data for your business from outside the target market, and then complying with all the different local data regulations and cybersecurity laws can be lengthy, cumbersome, and expensive.
Expectations: Sales, growth rate, market share, cost reduction are all quantifiable measurements of performance over time. However, they rarely happen quickly. Add all the additional upfront costs, local market and competitive unknowns, and what gets measured might be different at first, but you can still see results.
How to successfully localise B2B marketing outreach
At B2B level, your engagement rates, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction are a result of locally targeting your B2B customer whether they are in Florence, Italy or Florida.
According to CSA Research, enterprise businesses that implement localization are 2.5 times more likely to see YOY growth and 1.8 times more likely to report an increase in revenue. Business users are three times more likely to buy if addressed in their language. Customer service costs drop when instructions were displayed in the user's native language. And website visitors linger twice as long as they do at English-only URLs.
And in a public survey conducted by Forrester, employees who use a different language than that used at headquarters rated localization as much more important for customer centricity, market access, and competitive advantage, by an average of 21 percentage points. Among B2B buyers in the survey, 75% said it was important or very important to have sales materials in their language, and 67% wanted a localized website. In the face of these survey results, B2B organizations need to start looking at localization less as a cost, and more as an investment.
Here are four steps you can take to localise your outreach efforts:
Engage locally: By partnering with a company with an established presence in your target market, you can hire a local sales team without the headache of setting up a physical office. They will know your target audience, communicate in the local language, and provide valuable insights on cultural differences in business, such as understanding regional subtleties in job titles and reporting lines – overall improving your lead generation efforts. Also, using local numbers and email addresses, if possible, can help build trust.
Prioritize content: Carefully planning your messaging and visual assets in advance is key to making the impact you need in new markets. Finding a localisation partner in the target market with in-depth knowledge and professional linguists could provide the best option. For cost efficiency, developing assets from the beginning that support consistency across languages should become an overall business standard at globalizing enterprises.
Guarantee quality assurance: Data sourcing is paramount as thorough local and cultural research ensures your localization strategy is a success. When building a localised prospect database with personal data it is vital that you are compliant with local data protection laws e.g., GDPR. It is also valuable to to get direction and feedback from native speakers on your outreach and messaging strategy to achieve high quality leads with the right people. Choosing the right localisation partner that will help you scale faster, may not only be efficient, but will also allow you to expand with quality and accuracy.
Set new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Whatever your localisation strategy, expanding into new markets requires added resources, and quantifiable business results will take time and may differ from your core market. Therefore, it´s important to take this into consideration when deciding on what metrics to evaluate. Setting KPIs that are related to brand visibility, awareness and engagement are fundamental.
The client needed to boost its sales pipeline outside its own home market to meet pre-IPO revenue requirements. The EMEA market was chosen to launch a lead generation campaign to meet this goal.
BNZSA, as a partner, was able to localise coverage with a sales and business development support team in 26 native languages to deliver marketing qualified leads (MQLs) with the goal that a percentage of those leads would be sales ready.
Building on its localisation expertise with other large enterprise blue chip IT clients, and ensuring they had the right data, messaging, infrastructure, and services to build local relationships for their pre-IPO client the campaign initially launched in the UK, France and DACH region.
1790 MQLs were delivered in less than two years
€880K in closed revenue was generated by BNZSA BDRs
Following these successful results, and post-IPO, this U.S. client continues to invest in BNZSA as a long-term preferred supplier and partner for its localised go to market strategy and for pipeline acceleration.
Avoid content fatigue and maximise your lead generation eco-system.
Companies invest in resources and do a lot of work to map out their addressable market, identify their Ideal Customer Profile and build a database of relevant contacts. This is an essential task to build an eco-system of consented contacts to use in sales and marketing outreach.
Having a robust database of contacts is crucial for a successful B2B marketing strategy. But there are three questions that need to be answered when addressing this eco-system:
How quickly will you be able to address each contact?
How often will they be in market?
How quickly will you fatigue your database if you are reaching out at the wrong time?
Even if the leads generated are high quality, contacts can easily become disengaged if bombarded with irrelevant content when they are not at the right stage of their purchasing cycle. Marketing and sales teams then play a dangerous game of trying to keep their prospects engaged and educated through content marketing, while also trying to avoid overloading them with messaging that won’t land.
So, once you define your audience how can you easily personalise your reach?
Data is key
Intent data, data science and decision science can help you to enrich your database with vital information regarding purchasing cycles, buying committees, and stakeholders within your target accounts.
This data means you can categorize prospects into the following:
Want the solution and are in market.
Want the solution but are not in market yet.
Have a need for the solution but do not realise.
Out of target.
Not only can you identify the “low-hanging fruits” that are currently in market, but also potential customers that may need further nurture and education before they are ready to buy.
Tailor your messaging
These insights can be incorporated into your digital activity allowing you to tailor your messaging based on buyer persona, buying intent, industry etc.
This could be a programmatic campaign which has messaging revolving around a special offer or discount for those who are actively in market to encourage a quicker conversion.
Or this could be applied by tailoring emailing sequences with different messaging based on behavioural triggers and engagement levels.
Quick & proactive BDR follow-up
However, it is not enough to solely engage prospects digitally it is important to have BDR or SDR resources in place to actively follow-up once their behaviour shows interest or that they are in market. This human element allows you to further understand their needs as a buyer, but also deepens their knowledge of your product or service.
Quick BDR follow-up means you can capitalize on the momentum of the prospects interest, in turn bringing them further along the sales pipeline, and increasing the possibility of converting the opportunity to closed won.
BNZSA’s Opportunity Finder is a fully integrated solution, which follows these principles. It combines some of the most advanced lead generation tools, allowing you to identify credible, qualified opportunities, engage them at the right time and increase conversion rates.
BNZSA recently applied these steps to a telemarketing campaign for our client, a blue chip IT enterprise in an effort to re-engage 62 leads which were deemed as closed negative by a third-party agency. Once these leads were passed to us, we:
Implemented our Decision Science process and InTNT intent data activator to prioritise contacts.
Enriched the database with insights into buying cycles and buying committees.
Ran a programmatic campaign based on user profiles to activate the audience with a drumbeat of background messaging.
Connected with the prospect via telemarketing to determine why the lead was initially closed negative.
Revived, nurtured, and enriched top of funnel leads.
By following this process, we were able to deliver:
More than 56% of leads were re-engaged and re-entered the sales funnel.
18 meetings were booked using our Warm HandoverTM method.
13% of leads were converted to sales ready.
A pipeline of 8,000 units.
$1.5 million in forecasted revenue.
Switch to a Hybrid BDR and SDR "Sales As-A Service” model for more sustainable sales pipeline and faster returns on marketing investment in 2023
By Paul Briggs, Director of Global Corporate Development
To hire and retain the best talent in the future it will not just be about overall compensation, it will also have to address growing themes of work /life balance, remote and flexible working, and other hygiene factors.
Ultimately, these trends may force hiring managers and chief strategy officers (CSOs) to completely rethink how they hire, manage and workplaces and employees, especially when more and more companies are looking to adopt a 4-day week for staff without reducing current pay.
Naturally, the main concern is how to adopt to these new working trends without affecting pipeline and ultimately revenue targets, especially when analyst Forrester notes that traditional “leads-based “contributions have declined in terms of contribution to overall revenue results performance.
But instead of hoping that short-term re-orgs, layoffs and downsizing fixed assets will solve the current and future challenges companies are facing, many industry commentators are suggesting that the companies that will ride the wave of recession and post pandemic pain points will be those that are planning to move to a distributed enterprise where not only will IT and business solutions be provided “As-A-Service,” human resources, will be too!
Time-based models for supporting IT vendors and channel partners are increasingly being sought after as new hybrid business models evolve. By engaging with well trained and highly specialised individuals, companies can either back-fill existing vacancies, generate new high-quality opportunities or provide validation or nurturing support for existing opportunities.
BNZSA is one such company that has evolved its business model to provide its clients time-based full-time BDRs and SDRs “ Sales as-a-service”. These resources work with clients in a number of ways for opportunity and closed won sales generation, in addition to its traditional CPL-based content syndication offering.
BDR-as-a-service: Time based Model
By engaging with a BNZSA BDR in a time-based model, clients only pay for the time of that BDR which is usually 20 days a month. The BDR can either use client data such as Target Account Lists to prospect from. These lists can be validated and enriched by BNZSA’s Decision Science and Data science teams or BNZSA’s own mixture of 1st party, 3rd party and intent data to create custom databases and audience segments.
The use of BNZSA’s data services is included in the BDRs time-based fee at no extra cost. As the BDR works in a waterfall model, this allows for a deeper engagement with prospects. As well as producing 12-15 Warm HandoversTM per month, a BDRs also has approximately 5-15 interactions with decision makers on a daily basis generating:
Customer insights – conversations with ITDMs allow the BDR to gather valuable insights on purchasing cycles and buying committees.
Opt-ins - prospects that have been given consent to be sent more information via email.
MQLs - qualified opportunities that are expecting a follow up by a salesperson, but not necessarily ready to purchase.
A total of around 500 ITDMs contacts within a quarter.
Without recruitment fees to hire, or ongoing costs such as holiday and sick pay, the BDR can be trained by the client in the unique selling points of the product or service, understand who an ideal customer is and can work with the client on a script to ensure brand protection and management.
In some cases, the BDR can also use a client’s email address and call on behalf of the client. With regular reporting and calls, the progress and pipeline of the BDR can be managed by the client and can complement existing internal teams rather than compete with them.
As well as backfilling resources and generating opportunities, BDRs can also be utilised to validate and recycle opportunities that have been generated by social media or digital content syndication activity. These opportunities may have either stalled or have been discarded because there is either too much volume or not enough time/resources to nurture the prospects into a more sales ready status.
As BNZSA’s BDRs have native speaking support for 26 languages, companies that are looking to land and expand in new territories can also avail of instant support in these regions, which is also attractive for companies that are looking to IPO.
As BDRs can be throttled up or throttled back, clients can add additional resources or scale back depending on clients’ requirements, leaving internal and channel teams to concentrate on existing customer needs as well as finding new ones.
Similar to the BDR-as-a-service model, BNZSA has recently introduced a hybrid SDR- As-A-Service" model, where the SDR is effectively a full-time sales resource for the client. Essentially it is a “sales-as-a-service” offering, with a fixed fee and commission pricing structure.
Like the BDR model, the client only pays for the days the SDR works, has a client email, and calls on behalf of the client. However, the key difference between the two is that the SDR handles the entire sales cycle and is responsible for generating closed sales and revenue where the client agrees a commission structure to create a strategic partnership.
Like an FTE sales resource, the SDR handles PO, payments and all details required to enter a contract. Between the client and BNZSA, the SDR is incentivised for bigger value, high volume sales and facilitates a deeper nurture of the opportunity through the whole funnel. As well as access to BNZSA’s data and decision science team, the SDR fixed fee also includes additional sales support and resources such as sales managers and project managers.
Like an FTE sales resource, BNZSA’s SDR will, in concert with the client’s own model, earn commission on closed won sales, but unlike many internal FTEs not in the first three months of engagement if there are no closed won sales. And due to BNZSA’s industrialised internal training programmes, there is a shorter ramp up time to get SDRs up to speed and closing sales, but like the above BDR model, there are not the extra costs in recruitment fees, training, holiday pay, sick pay, pensions, technology, software licence fees or tax.
And like the BDR model, BNZSA’s SDRs can support 26 languages with native speakers that allows clients to instantly ramp up in new territories, achieve a lower cost of sale and see quick, sustainable, and measurable ROI to investment.
In short, BNZSA wants to offer its clients a strategic partnership that works because its client’s success is BNZSA’s success.
BNZSA’s Lead Recyclr: Re-engage sales pipeline and focus on high value opportunities
The challenge faced by sales teams when trying to optimise resources to maximise pipeline
According to our clients, on average only 1.5% of leads will eventually close, meaning 98.5% of leads are rejected by sales teams at some point along the sales pipeline. But what can cause a lead to drop from the pipeline? Leads can be lost from a sales funnel for a variety of reasons such as:
Poor lead routing between multiple lead generation agencies – vital information is lost due to incompatible delivery systems and verification platforms between different agencies.
Lack of insights for sales to take effective action or close – incorrect or out of date contact information, not enough information about the company’s needs, stakeholders or buying cycles etc.
Lack of training for BDRs – untrained BDRs are unable to efficiently qualify leads that are generated leading to a lower quality pipeline.
Lack of resources – with a continuous stream of new leads, sales teams often lack the capacity to review previously closed negative opportunities and re-engage them.
Leads are not immediately sales ready – sales teams naturally reach for the most qualified leads first. So MQIs and MQLs don’t get the attention that the need to push them through the funnel.
Internal sales KPIs to convert MQLs to SRLs – there is often unrealistic timeframes imposed on salespeople to convert prospects that clearly need more nurturing to sales ready.
Although these leads drop out of the pipeline, it does not mean that they are a lost sales opportunity. In most cases, they simply need more nurture throughout the pipeline. Not only will this nurture allow sales teams to identify when a lead is sales ready, it will also provide a deeper understanding of why the lead was closed in the first instance, as well as key insights into buying committees and purchasing cycles which can be used to tailor their future outreach.
However, BDRs and sales teams often do not have the resources that allow them to nurture or regularly revisit discarded leads to re-engage with them. In-house sales teams are already facing a mounting level of burnout and adding the task of re-engaging with previously discarded leads to workloads will only further amplify this pressure.
To cope with the volume of prospects that need to be processed, sales and marketing teams at vendors often outsource this work to third-party agencies. However, to limit potential brand damage and to help ensure prospects are nurtured up in the right way, picking a specialist agency is a crucial part of the process. To be efficiently nurtured in order to be converted, prospects must be followed up by highly trained and qualified BDRs who intimately understand the problems faced by the prospect and how to appropriately align them with the client’s product or service.
BNZSA’s Lead Recyclr: Lead Recycling Solution
BNZSA’s Lead Recycling process is driven by its highly trained and specialist BDRs, that are presented to clients as ‘Virtual Teams’. Clients provide BNZSA with a database of leads which have been deemed a lost opportunity at different stages of the pipeline – these leads are then picked up by BNZSA’s BDRs with the express objective of re-engaging the prospect, nurturing them, and pushing them through the sales funnel until they are eventually sales ready.
Agents will work to connect with each prospect over the phone, which allow them to determine what obstacles the prospect encountered originally and why they were not considered a viable opportunity at the time. For example, there was an established interest but not in the timeframe required to be qualified as a sales accepted lead (SAL)
By re-engaging the lead, BNZSA BDRs will be able to bring the lead back into the pipeline. Although not all will be sales ready, the nature of BNZSA’s approach, the quality conversations its BDRs have with IT decision makers will help to enrich the database and provide quality insights into buying cycles and buying committees.
Also, by allowing a specialist agency such as BNZSA to concentrate on reviving, nurturing and enriching top of the funnel leads to more ready for follow up with a product specialist or more sales accepted lead, existing client BDR teams can concentrate on opportunities that are perhaps more complex, lucrative and more importantly closer to converting to closed won.
On average we are able to re-engage and bring 56% of recycled leads back into the funnel. This engagement allows our clients to gain insight into the needs of their prospects and identify why these leads were originally considered a lost opportunity.
Of these re-engaged leads, we are typically able to convert 10-15% of them from a closed opportunity to a sales ready lead, increasing pipeline substantially and re-claiming a vast amount of revenue which otherwise would have been lost.
Additionally, the conversations held between our BDRs and Decision Makers means we can provide deeper and more comprehensive insights into approximately 60% of the contacts which were not converted. These conversations allow our BDRs to enrich our client’s database with crucial information concerning intent buying signals, continued interest in product or service, need for product or service and buying committees.
BNZSA’s Lead Recyclr – A Case Study
BNZSA recently completed a lead qualification campaign in the US market for an existing blue chip IT client.
Originally, we had undertaken a lead generation campaign for the same client, producing MQLs and organising telephone appointments for follow up. These leads were then transferred to another third-party agency for follow up.
However, the second agency were not thorough enough in their follow up leading to many of the opportunities we had identified were closed negative. This equated to a lost pipeline worth millions of dollars in revenue for our client.
But we were confident in the quality of our work, so we took it upon ourselves to implement BNZSA protocols to recycle and revive these leads and complete the follow up ourselves.
We received 62 leads which the second agency had closed negative to investigate why they were closed, with the aim of re-opening the opportunity and re-claiming revenue for our client.
We were able to deliver the following:
More than 56% of leads were re-engaged and re-entered the sales funnel
Sales teams can often be daunted by the number of old leads that they have that can be recycled, even the best sales teams will struggle to allocate resources to this this activity on top of their regular outreach to new leads. But leads are expensive and marketing budgets need to be spent efficiently.
Leads that have been prematurely closed negative, for whatever reason, can equate to millions in lost potential revenue for a company.
BNZSA’s Lead Recyclr provides the resources sales teams need to recycle old leads and re-engage sales pipeline, so they can concentrate on what they do best – closing deals. Our Virtual Teams of BDRs provide support to in-house sales teams to re-activate leads, bring them back into the funnel and re-claim lost revenue.
Our approach not only generates high quality sales ready leads, but also enriches sales pipelines with detailed insights and understanding of why leads are being closed in the first place, providing a benchmark to analyse future lead generation campaigns.
Channel your MDF investment into Virtual Teams
VARs and Distributors that want to beef up lead generation activity and accelerate pipeline growth, are increasingly looking to adopt virtual selling teams to add instant BDR resources to ramp up pipeline for vendor partners.
Direct vendors and suppliers that utilise internal teams of business development resources (BDRs) are not the only ones looking to reorganise remotely or recruit virtually, the Channel is too.
Traditionally used as a robust and complementary part of an IT vendor’s go-to-market strategy, value added resellers, (VARs) and managed service providers (MSPs) have been an invaluable extension to a vendor’s sales team, being a reliable source of both pipeline and sales.
For this service, channel partners receive vendor training to get sales accreditation and marketing development funds (MDF) to support sales activities.
Typically, especially pre-pandemic, this MDF funding has largely been invested into face-to-face events to generate leads, with one large enterprise software company spending over 80% of its annual MDF budget on events alone.
Face to face meetings between reseller reps and prospects were also commonplace before the pandemic, but more recently, the number of B2B sellers operating virtually reached 90% in January 2021, up from only 24% in 2020, according to research firm Gartner. It noted:
"For decades, direct field sales was the dominant go-to-market channel. This dominance is being challenged with 67% of CSOs planning to transition some field sellers to virtual roles, and 80% have already considered or are considering creating hybrid field/virtual sales roles."
Marketing trends in a post-covid world
However, following Covid and the cancellation of events during the lockdown the channel has been a little slow to embrace complementary ways to attract, validate and nurture potential prospects to the products and services they sell on behalf of vendor partners.
Anecdotally, some channel veterans have commented that channel marketing is behind the rest of the marketing world by about five years and that most VARs are five years behind that.
Although many channel companies have invested in digital marketing tactics such as pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimisation (SEO) to generate interest and leads, the results in terms of the quality of inbound leads is mostly disappointing in terms of return on investment (ROI).
This is largely because, the content they are providing on their sites is often more important to them than their users or potential customers. Often VARs and Distributors are just recycling a vendor’s corporate marketing collateral which looks at speeds and feeds rather than producing content that would address the needs and benefits to their potential customers.
Without a full events calendar to drum up prospects, many channel companies are now scrambling to find new ways to help with pipeline acceleration and lead generation support. One of these tactics has been to set up virtual teams to retain pre-Covid sales forces that now favour remote working practices and benefits rather than returning to the office, even if it means reductions in salary, according to Gartner.
It also noted that chief strategy officers (CSOs) are also hesitant to fully commit to virtual teams as they are undecided if remote working is just a temporary hiatus until the world emerges from the Covid pandemic or if it is indeed the ‘new norm.’
There is an understanding that the ‘digital native’ Millennials and Gen Z, who have emerged into the work force in recent years, are already accustomed to digital communication and platforms. They favour the benefits of remote working and communication rather than working and commuting to office-bound cites.
But what is clear to many channel companies, is that by reallocating field sales to virtual sales teams there are many savings to be had such as less travel expenses, company vehicles and entertainment budgets.
Remote working – a virtual insanity or virtually impossible to ignore?
While it was a necessity to work remotely during the pandemic, now as the world emerges from the pandemic, channel companies can reap the benefits of Virtual Teams without the worry that they are over committing to a strategy that will change as Covid restrictions lessen.
As today’s MDF funding is less discretionary and requires more business planning that is tightly linked to sales performance, to secure funding being able to demonstrate a credible source of pipeline and sales ready leads is a better bet.
Virtual teams not only increase pipeline, but it can also be measured in uplift of closed won opportunities, so it is very transparent for the vendor allocating MDF to its reseller partner. The opportunity is validated, has given GDPR consent so even if the opportunity is not sales ready, it can be put back into nurturing for the future.
Increaseconversion rates from digital content syndication
For those in the channel that have tried digital content syndication for lead generation, many are finding the returns are not as they once were, especially in a GDPR monitored market that has reduced the number of daily marketing emails by 1bn. As we can see from the below infographic, compiled using internal BNZSA data, there is a very low conversion rate between the number of digitally content syndicated leads that are recognised as sales accepted. This is because in many cases the interest is triggered by open rates, not true indication of the prospect’s interest that you can get through tele-based means. There is often little nurturing, personalisation or validation of the prospect before it is handed over.
So, it’s a small wonder that when these digitally generated ‘leads’ are passed on to a vendor’s sales team, there is the usual outcome of “I don’t remember downloading the whitepaper” or “Where did you get my details? I don’t remember giving consent for you to email me.”
Even when customers are followed up with BANT style questions, many outcomes are considered closed because the prospect either a) might have the need but not the budget or b) need buy in from a group rather than overall sign off or c) may have need but not in the next 12 months as they might be working on another project. Combined with often unrealistic internal KPIs to move leads from MQL to SRL in a couple of weeks, it is often easier for sales to close the leads rather than do the required nurturing to move the prospect down the funnel. In this scenario many BDRs think it better to bin prospects that don’t instantly convert, than manage too many prospects that are stuck in the funnel because they have not had the required nurturing to be approached. This often means that vendors are paying several times for the same MQL which is wasteful and potentially brand damaging.
BNZSA WarmHandoverTM vs BANT methodology
However, with a virtual BDR approach from BNZSA, highly trained agents call on behalf of the channel partner or vendor, strike up a conversation with the prospect, validate the person’s details are correct, gain consent to email over collateral, and capture any buying intent signals that might be useful to prioritise who to follow up, first.
By deploying virtual teams, BNZSA agents are not only identifying those prospects that might be ready to have a call with sales, BNZSA’s agents also sets up the call with the channel partner’s vendor in what is termed a Warm HandoverTM which boasts a 70% conversion rate.
Conversion rates using the WHOTM process, rather than BANT methodology, can improve closed SRL opportunities by 300%.
Instead of competing with the functions of an in-house BDR team, adding BNZSA Virtual Teams offers companies an extension to its current set up. Not only are the resources dedicated to the campaign, BNZSA can in advance or concurrently surround target companies with programmatic advertising to raise awareness of the vendor’s product or service.
All BNZSA’s agents go through a rigorous and industrialised training and onboarding process and are experienced in selling enterprise IT B2B products and services.
BNZSA agents are also available to receive specialist training from a company’s product/subject matter specialist. BNZSA also employs highly experienced technical coaches that have spent years in the IT industry. They can add instant quality and experience to a company’s set up in a fraction of the time it takes to build this infrastructure in-house.
With support for over 26 languages, companies looking to land and expand in EMEA have instant access to native speakers that can communicate with a company’s prospects and understand the various cultural nuances of that region and importantly get clear consent for follow up with email and other communications preferences.
As BNZSA has the ability to rotate and scale resources depending on the client’s requirements, companies that use Virtual Teams will never have staff shortages through sickness, holidays etc. They will also have access to BNZSA’s data scientists, first party intent data, third party intent data and other multiple sources of technographic, firmographic and trigger data as part of the Opportunity Finder stack.
Prospects that are sent over from BNZSA are qualified, validated and ranked in accordance of where we see them in the purchasing process. This means that opportunities are much more transparent to the end client and not passed through as something that they are not. For example, if we pass prospects over as marketing qualified leads (MQLs), we have identified that they are towards the top of the sales cycle or funnel and require more nurturing before they become credible sales ready leads (SRLs).
What are the benefits of Virtual Teams in channel marketing?
Virtual Teams are a hugely beneficial addition to both sales and marketing teams' resources, especially within the IT sales channel. Channel partners can face certain challenges such as lack of resources, inadequate data analytics, and inefficient training. Virtual Teams can help sales and marketing teams navigate these issues.
Benefits for marketing:
Quality data sources: Clients who work with multiple resellers, often have difficulty accessing adequate and consistent data. BNZSA Virtual Teams are supported by in-house Data Science and Decision Science teams and our data services are built on first party intent data and second and third party data. Marketing teams will gain valuable market insights to drive strategic decisions.
Better insights: Not only can Virtual Teams deliver more SRLs, through pipeline nurture they can identify key decision makers, organizational structures, purchasing cycles and buying committees, as well as consented opt-ins, MQIs and MQls with timeline and budget. All of which are key insights for marketing teams to leverage.
Larger Audiences: Smaller channel partners can instantly expand their international reach instantly as BNZSA provides multi-lingual support with native speakers of 26 languages. This means that not only can marketing teams expand their lead generation efforts internationally quickly, but they can also localise their messaging in markets across EMEA, APAC and US.
Benefits for sales teams:
Professional BDR resources: Resellers and distributors can often lack the resources need to recruit, train and retain qualified BDRs. By using Virtual Teams, channel partners can quickly professionalize and standardize their approach. This allows them to quickly ramp pipeline generation with highly trained BDRs with product specific knowledge.
Enhanced lead generation: BNZSA's Virtual Teams are driven by highly qualified BDRs who have gone through rigorous training. Channel partner sales teams will benefit from a stronger pipeline as Virtual Teams can concentrate on prospecting and identify high quality opportunities.
Increased revenue: Channel partners using Virtual Teams will receive higher quality SRLs with up to a 300% improvement in closed opportunities. This generates a healthy pipeline and substantially more revenue.
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