Global SaaS software revenues are forecasted to reach $106B in 2016, increasing 21% over projected 2015 spending levels (Forrester). It’s a great time to be at a SaaS company however, not every B2B transaction ends in a closed won. What happens after your sales executive doesn’t close that deal and it’s marked as closed lost? Does the prospect and all other contacts at that account get thrown into the nurture black hole and receive a never ending amount of automated emails? I certainly hope that’s not the case and that your team can further use that information to inspire your marketing’s content development and support sales in providing value to prospects in future conversations.
Demand generation and sales training teams report the least alignment around asset/content development (34.6%) and analytics/metrics (31.8%) (MarketingCharts) and I believe that alignment around content development should be one of the strongest in demand generation programs. Which leads to the question, how can marketing work with sales to fine-tune their content using closed lost opportunities? Follow the steps below!
1. Communicate with your sales reps in regards to tracking
When it has been decided that a sales opportunity is no longer going to advance, how is that opportunity tracked and reported on within your organization? Take the time to fully understand your marketing AND sales process in your company and document it. Marketers, collaborate with your sales team on how they track their engagements and understand how you can gain visibility for your marketing team. Most companies track these engagements within their CRM so it could be as easy as building a report using the Opportunity Stage field along with specific time constraints as the criteria. If sales understands the long-term value of providing extremely tailored and relevant content to their team in order to help sell then I think marketing should be able to work with sales to accurately track these opportunities.
2. Report on the WHY
It’s imperative that sales professionals mark the opportunity as closed lost if it’s not advancing. However, it’s also in your company’s best interest to have an identifier as to WHY it did not close. Fully understanding the reasons behind the prospect’s decision can dramatically help your marketing team not only craft compelling and specific content to help address those pains but identify areas of opportunity to better highlight your company’s value.
By developing a defined process and an efficient way to report on the WHY aspect regarding a lost opportunity, marketing and sales teams can work together to fully understand where prospects need extra resources or conversations and slowly close that gap together.
3. Develop content based on the disqualification conversation
To create the most relevant and powerful content for your sales team, it must be done with having a full understanding as to why an opportunity was lost and that is where the content creation process must start. It’s not always easy discussing closed lost opportunities with sales professionals so keep that in mind and remember to be empathetic. However, the more senior teams can not only openly hold the conversation but also discuss with their whole team. This way, patterns can be identified, future issues avoided, and messaging revised. Marketing teams can learn just as much from lost opportunities as they can from those that are won. It’s important not to miss out on these learning opportunities so be sure to truly listen to what sales has to say regarding each lost opportunity.
After reviewing the report and listening to sales reps regarding the closed lost opportunities, use your analytical skills to figure out if there are any patterns or consistencies across the board. If so, create content starting with the questions that prospects are asking at the late stages of the decision-making process that are related to that pattern. Repeat that process and create highly tailored content for each challenge that seems to impair your sales team’s conversion rates. By identifying these soft spots in your sales and marketing process, you can create content to alleviate those hurdles before they have the chance to manifest in the decision making process.
According to Demand Gen Report, 67% of B2B buyers are relying more on content to research and make purchasing decisions than they did a year ago. This indicates that targeted content creation is increasing in importance and plays a critical role in the decision making process so sales should be equipped with what they need to win those opportunities.
Everyone is happy when an opportunity is won and most of the time there’s a lot of conversation around that win. Well, it’s time that sales and marketing start communicating with each other when it comes to closed lost opportunities as well. Secure a reliable process of delivering information from sales to marketing in regards to lost deals. Marketing should be able to easily pull this report or have access to this information. Marketers, pay close attention to and actively listen to the WHY reason that was reported on and also what the sales rep has to say regarding that specific opportunity. Use that knowledge to create a highly tailored piece of content that sales can equip your prospects with earlier on in the sales cycle (obviously, accompanied by a phone conversation from your sales rep) to further tighten your sales process and better convey your company’s value.