Really taking that all in and then writing what would be the first of four versions of my plan. We knew that we had a great content engine, a loyal customer base, a strong webinar program, strong blog and lots of engagement. What we weren’t doing is really taking advantage of the shared and earned spaces.
How did you take advantage of shared and earned spaces?
For earned, I knew I wanted to be in b-to-b hyper-growth tech, so I looked for an agency that also had a really strong identity in the space that we were working in. For shared, we've had a long partnership with an association called the Association of Proposal Management Professionals.
We've formed a relationship with it over the course of our business lifetime, and we form new ones. Within sales, there are different roles. You have your proposal managers, account executives, pre-sales. We've reached out to PreSales Collective as one of our partners and working with them on some events and campaigns.
What is the most recent plan?
The plan needed to go beyond just strategies, frameworks and guidance. We needed to simplify. We were trying to do too much at a time when we were running really, really fast. So, we pruned it. We pulled stuff out, we were honest with ourselves about where we didn’t make progress in the first half, and said, “What are the perspectives we’re going to take going into the second half? Let’s do a single campaign arc for each one of them.”
How have you simplified?
I can run a poll at any point on how people feel about our RFP Response. In a word cloud of those feelings, most words would not be positive. We took that and said that we’re not going to talk about the pain, we’re not going to wallow in self-pity or embrace those negative words.
We’re actually building a brand that’s all about the hope of the future state, and we’re going to really focus on what’s possible if you’re equipped correctly. We’re not trying to help you get through it faster so the pain can be over. This isn’t a quick trip to the dentist. We’re trying to convince you that you want to go to the dentist because it’s a revenue generating engine when done right.
What happens when equipped correctly?
RFPs are a very strong source of revenue when sales teams have the content they need. Most recently we’ve realized that content can reach across the sales organization and go beyond just your responses to RFPs but can actually unclog all of the inefficiencies across the sales cycle.
We’ve eliminated all the friction in the sales process by simply giving access to the knowledge that is usually spread peanut butter-thin across an organization and getting access to the salespeople on the front line.
How do you make it real for customers?
We’re creating a transparent environment in the data. We say measure it on implementation. Let’s get it set up, let’s expose a dashboard where you can see what’s happening. We can track that, and we can optimize against it as well, so it’s not just one and done.
We’re not going to just implement and you’re going to achieve utopia six, nine or twelve months in. We’re going to give you a benchmark in your current state, we’re going to give you some immediate tangible improvement, and then we’re going to create efficiencies longer term.
What are your priority metrics?
We’re accountable for 90 percent of the sales pipeline. When we look across my marketing plan, I have to be keenly aware that my number doesn’t change—just like Sales. Everybody equates content marketing with this nice fluffy hug. But we are also very accountable.
We don’t operate in a traditional sense in that we generate a ton of marketing qualified leads. Nothing on our website is gated. I’m a big believer in creating the best content you can and then getting out of the way so that people can consume it. We do that by trying to add value.
How do you add value via content?
I want to be a resource for our salespeople to say, “I’m wondering about this. I wonder if RFPIO has anything on that.” I want them to come to our site and not get a gate. I want them to come to our blog, find something really helpful and go, “Wow. That’s awesome. I’m going to try that right now.” If they keep coming back, eventually we’re going to evolve that into a customer relationship.
You have to create really good content, you have to be a really good thought leader, and then you have to do that over and over again. It has to be sincere; it has to be in your DNA as a brand and in the DNA of the company and the people that you hire. And then people will be attracted to that. And that’s worked for RFPIO.
How does that translate into pipeline?
In marketing, we have sales development. We attract leads, they raised their hand, they say, “I want to see the product.” Marketing calls them. Our sales development team calls them, validates that there is really buyer interest there, that we’re talking to a real person at a company that can buy our product with a need we can solve. We hand that to our sales organization, so it is a sales qualified opportunity.
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