Ep. 147 – In this episode, Chris covers a crucial but often overlooked process, which is incorporating automation into your B2B pipeline effectively. This process is trickier and not as common as adding automation to a B2C pipeline, but equally as important. Tune in to learn how to leverage technology to build the correct system to meet your marketing needs and the most important pieces to take into consideration when building a pipeline automation.
You’re listening to the all systems go podcast, the show that teaches you everything you need to know to put your business on autopilot. Learn how to deploy automated marketing and sell systems in your business the right way with your host, the professor of automation himself and founder of automation bridge, Chris Davis.
Chris Davis 0:33
Welcome to another episode of The all systems go podcast where we invite startup founders and digital marketers to discuss software and strategies to help you scale your business. I’m your host, Chris L. Davis, the founder of automation bridge. And on this podcast, I want to I want to talk about a process will say that often takes a backseat or doesn’t, doesn’t get enough highlight, I don’t think it gets enough attention. But it’s equally as important. A lot, I learned about marketing automation going direct to the consumer b2c at LeadPages, selling software directly to the end user. That was my experience with marketing. And since then I’ve expanded that experience, and realize that we should not neglect the B to B pipeline, when it comes to automation, either. It’s a little more tricky. There’s a little more things to different things I should say, to take into consideration. But I want to be transparent with you all with my journey here. And I’ll say this, I was I’ve been an active campaign user for for a very long time. And when I originally use Active Campaign, I just use automation. You know, like, that’s all I cared about. And eventually I get the job there. And I’m the director of education. And I have to learn all aspects of the platform, what the last aspect of the platform that I learned because I felt like who cares was the deal CRM. And that just speaks to you know, me as a marketer, just kind of like my narrow understanding and vision of marketing. And when I did open up to understand pipeline, and how automation could work along with it, our deals go through stages and opportunities and all of this, it opened up, a whole new world opened up to me. And I’ve been able to continue to leverage that expertise ongoing. And I felt like it’s appropriate to talk about this on the podcast, because a lot of times, again, people don’t understand how to do it effectively. So I want to just highlight the top things that come to mind when we’re doing what I call pipeline automation. Right? When we’re talking about b2b business to business, you’re going to have a pipeline, you’re probably going to have multiple points of contacts. And you’re going to have a journey that differs from from B to C. So for, for starters, if we’re looking at some of these differentiators, so you understand the context of which I’ll be speaking to is things move a lot, a lot slower or faster, I should say for b2c move a lot faster. I mean, somebody can be going to a checkout page right now as I’m recording and pay me money if in a b2c fashion, right. And you sell more, you sell more products. Extending the Lifetime Customer Value is critical. It becomes even more important than acquisition at times, because you’ll you’ll find in b2c is like, hey, look, we’re spending a lot on ads, and it’s profitable. But how do we make more? How do we make more out of the leads and customers that were that we’re generating? Especially with algorithms changing products are traditionally cheaper, you know, b2c, and there’s many more tricks and strategies to use. There’s all kinds of tactics out there for b2c books, trainings, YouTube videos, there’s a lot. And mainly you’re dealing with a funnel, instead of a pipeline. That’s where I came from. That’s, that’s my entry into marketing. But this is also why a lot of b2b marketers feel left out when learning digital marketing because as especially as of now, it’s a heavy focus on b2c There. There are some communities and I’m glad to see them, where they’re focused on b2b marketers and automation. So it’s it’s coming but it has trailed b2c for for a while. So the difference I just mentioned,
Chris Davis 4:47
funnel versus pipeline, right. When, when you think of it, it’s not. Ideally, there’s not much difference, right? I’m saying that you’re automating a funnel and b2c, but b2b II there’s a pipeline, but they’re they’re almost synonymous, almost one could argue that they’re there. How about this kissing cousins, we used to say that growing up when you really close to somebody, I do not advise you to go and kiss your cousin, but maybe on the cheek, but they’re very close is, is the notion here. And when they both requiring they, they both require mapping out a sequence of events that need to take place in order to create a cup, a customer. Now the movement mapping, an automation looks different. Okay, each have steps, right, we call them different things in a funnel, and in a pipeline. Everybody guy has to go through those steps, the automation, and in the actual actual execution of it looks different. All right. So not not to get I don’t want to do like b2b 101. So I don’t want to go into the fundamentals of a pipeline and what stages are and how deals and opportunities are handled. So apologies in advance, I’m gonna have to assume some tech not some intelligence here, that you understand that a pipeline encompasses stages and deals and up or and or opportunities, move through those stages to get close. And that’s how money is made. That is a pipeline pipeline stages deals in that order. So I want to jump right into beyond that, and go into what makes what are the key factors when it comes automating the b2b journey. And one is qualification qualifying leads is critical. And I’d venture out to say, it’s not just critical, it’s required. I do not I do not recommend nor have I seen a successful b2b strategy that does not qualify leads in in a very effective means. It leads me back to when I I’ve always said on this podcast, and I and I say this when I’m speaking on stages and everything, I say marketing’s job, one of the primary role of marketing is to send qualified leads to sales. So the marketing does, that’s what nurturing relationship building all of that is to qualify, you make sure I understand what the next step for you is. And if marketing is not qualifying, the sales folks are always going to be looking at margin, like what are you doing sending me these garbage leads? Right? So qualifying is critical. And now we have software that you can that that can help with the caveat, it can make or break the process. Some some of you right now, in b2b capacity, you need the ability to hide fields that have already been filled in or have some conditional logic. This is really where progressive profiling comes in is that I don’t have to capture all the information upfront, I can capture some information now. And then along the journey, I could capture more and more, but I’ll never ask you for the same thing twice. I’ve done this in both b2b and b2c, again, different tools, different technology, sometimes same tools, same technology, just just different approach. But you’re going to have to qualify them some way. All right. I’ve worked with a variety of companies where we’ll take the time and really hone in on that lead gen form. And make sure that we understand the outcomes that is asking the right information, so that the lead can be qualified in skip stages if necessary. We again in b2c, we talked about speeding the fast lane, the slow lane and all of that, and we know the opt in right after the opt in the thank you page is a great opportunity to get them to that much closer to purchase things are happening fast
Chris Davis 8:42
or be b2b, I also need to be able to determine maybe what salesperson to route them to what stage to put them at based on the information that I capture on the qualifying for, right. Another thing, handoff between owners and automation is extremely important. So while, we’re applying automation to the to the pipeline, there are certain the deal is or the opportunities what moves to the pipeline, there are certain times where automation can move the deal. And there are certain times where a human is going to have to move the deal, you have to be very clear at who’s doing what and when you’re not going to have a fully automated pipeline. It’s not realistic, get it out of your head, don’t even expect it. What you’re looking for is automation to do some heavy lifting, and people to do some of the light lifting. Right? That’s the idea when I say light outside of like a phone call or something like that. But you’re going to have this orchestra where you do something and then all of these things are happening in the background and things are moving tasks are being spun up when a task is completed, that automation is triggering and moving the deal to the next stage like you want to empower the sales folks to be able to click a few buttons be like man, I just clicked. All I do is I log into my CRM system, I click a few buttons and stuff just happens. Right? You must know when automation is taking over and handing back. This, this goes to the mapping. And then the SOP part, your sales folks are going to have to get training. Because usually, if we’re being honest, most salespeople are not in an automated pipeline environment. It come from a very manual everything is adding notes in the serum system, moving it from stage to stage calling, texting, email, whatever. So when you introduce automation, you have to take that extra step to make sure everybody’s on the same page. When automation starts, and when automation stops. Okay, nothing getting to the decision maker. Fast is required. Again, b2c, the person browsing is often the decision maker, there is no get to the decision maker. This again leads itself to the importance of a qualifying form. There are times where I’ve had companies ask, Are you the decision maker? And I say, You know what? That’s a good question. But what if they say no? How do I then follow up right there on the form? And say, Well, hey, do you have access to the decision maker? Do you know the decision maker? Can I have their information? I would say that in a conversation, right? Hey, are you the one I need to talk to? No, actually, my manager, what can I talk to your manager, you can put that in the form technology. With that in the software to emulate what you would do how you would get to that decision making maker faster. They need to be on the call in the room, when the presentation and proposal whatever is being presented. Right? It’s critical. All right. And then eliminating any step could reap great rewards. It is not uncommon. I’ve seen b2b processes that have over 50 steps required, not fluffy steps. 50 steps required those same companies, just eliminating one of those steps could be the difference between closing in two months and three weeks. Right. Shortening the closing cycle, is by eliminating any steps how do I eliminate steps identify what I can automate, and what needs to be handled by individual. All in all, it takes more time to do to close a b2b deal. Anyways, and while I’m contrasting it to b2c, so we know that but the value, the reason why it pays off is because the value is often much greater, much higher. So okay, it took me two months. But man, that was a $250,000 deal. This, this makes every stage, every step, every automation, every handoff extremely important if we were to assign $1 value steps per like, if it’s a $250,000 contract. And there’s 25 steps on how to do math. I believe that’s $10,000 per step. done effectively, if we put $1 amount to every step in your b2b pipeline, how much are you losing?
Chris Davis 13:19
Do you know the value of each step to make sure that it’s getting complete? Because this step, all steps are not equal? So I’m saying 1020 That $10,000 a step but maybe one step is 1000 2000. And another step is like 50k? Do you know that Do you know where the bottleneck is? This is where the last but definitely not least, consideration comes in, you need a CRM system that fits your needs, fits the way that you close fits the way that you move through the pipeline. Right, there are a lot of CRMs I should say a lot of CRMs are limited in how they handle relational data. Along with allowing you to automate it, you often can’t get both easily. This is why Salesforce actually exists. How it exists is because they’re more like a platform that really allows you to build out whatever Need that you have, but it comes with such a hefty cost financially, and a huge learning curve. So you have other platforms like Active Campaign and hub spots and these other ones that offer a slimmed down version. But you do lose some you lose some in the gap between active campaign or you know, like a more static CRM, and Salesforce that’s a much more dynamic is huge. Active Campaign has accounts that you can add people to like contacts to but that’s as close as you’re getting to relational data. You may have a situation where you’ve got multiple types of deals. And those deals have different relationships with contacts and different types of contacts. Like you really need that customization. And this is not for like hugely large companies. I’ve worked with startups that have these needs, you know, under 50 employees, and under 5 million and raised capital. Right. So this is this is a thing, understanding the best CRM software for your pipeline.
Chris Davis 15:25
It’s, it’s, I wish I could give you kind of like a one size fit all, Salesforce is as close as it comes. But I you all know, I do small business marketing, automation and sales. I don’t do enterprise. Salesforce, even though they have Salesforce for small business is something that I’ve intentionally stayed away from because it makes my head hurt. Because of how what it requires to customize the platform are implemented. Hats off to all of my Salesforce implementers, we need you the space need you definitely I do because somebody’s using Salesforce, and they come across my desk, I’m shuffling them right across it, keep going. Don’t stop here. Right? So a lot of these, we, you know, you look at the active campaign types, Salesforce types, there are a lot of current systems that just fail to play well, right, right in the middle. How do you give me more relational data without making it super complicated? And reporting that we mentioned that reporting? Can I quickly see how much money is in my pipeline at what stage and where the bottleneck is? These are, these are very important things to be able to quickly see and identify. Right? So you’re going to need along with the software, you’re going to need someone that knows how to navigate the various technologies to create the best system for your pipeline needs. What am i What did I just say there, guess what, your CRM software is not going to be enough. It’s going to need to integrate with something at some point in time. It is and some things is. So we see the need for the technical acumen of your market or your team member, the value is increasing, we’re in the technological age. So we cannot continue to put a low value on those who can navigate and understand the space can help you move through it efficiently. You can’t do that. So in our community, we’re always discussing this, we love to show how tools that I’m using solve this problem. It’s it’s it’s much too techie for this podcast. I mean, there are some times where we’re using unorthodox ways we’ve we’ve got some web hooks, some some airtable stuff going on some scripts, but it gets the job done. It extends the functionality of your currency or in in sometimes it replaces it. But while while also saving you, saving you from having to go and invest major dollars in major time to get a custom build out. So that’s that’s the nature. That’s where we’re at. I hope this is helpful with you, those of you who are looking to go b2b, or maybe you’ve been in b2b and just kind of confused. The good thing is this, a little tech goes a long way. Again, one form could be the difference maker in a in a pipeline implementation, from you know, getting to the Getting to Yes, faster just to form forms, maybe don’t hold that much value in b2c, like I could get away with name and email, right, maybe another nother field on there. But b2b, one form could one one form submission with the right information captured qualified on managing the pipeline, automating some stages, keeping some static getting him to the right people closing because I’m using the right software that’s allowing me to track and see where people are and what’s going on. Every day, my sales rep logs in, they know exactly what they need to do. And it’s easy. I just need to click this button called them do this in this email, I’m done. The system is handling the rest is beautiful. Once it’s set up, I’ve grown to love it and respect it. In fact, I’ve got pipelines in my business now that it was truly harder to run my business without them without them. So in closing, I’ll say this. We talk about pipeline automation. Every business has a pipeline, whether you’re b2b or not. So this is a this is a skill that you all need to learn. Your pipeline may be internal to your onboarding, but you have one, you have one. And that’s what makes understanding how to implement leverage the technologies that we have and build the correct system to meet your marketing needs. And remember in b2b, a little tech, a little tech goes on long way, but you have to be skilled enough to know how to leverage that little tech the right way.
Chris Davis 20:08
Thank you for tuning in to this episode of The all systems go podcast. If you enjoyed it, make sure that you’re subscribed at the time of recording the all systems go podcast is free to subscribe to, and it can be found in Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, YouTube, or wherever you get your podcasts new episodes are released every Thursday, so make sure you’re subscribed so that you don’t miss out and while you’re at it, please leave us a five star rating and review to show some love but also to help future listeners more easily find the podcast so they can experience the value of goodness as well. We’ve compiled all resources mentioned on the podcast, as well as other resources that are extremely valuable and effective at helping you grow your marketing automation skills quickly. And you can access them all at allsystemsgopodcast.com Thanks again for listening. And until next time, I see you online. Automate responsibly my friends
- [2:47] The differences between a B2C and B2B pipeline
- [6:21] 1 of the key factors to automating a B2B journey – this step is critical
- [8:55] The importance of balancing the handoff between automation and owners
- [10:16] Why having SOP’s is a non-negotiable once you introduce automation to your pipeline
- [11:46] How to diagnose if it’s possible to shorten your closing cycle
- [13:26] The last (but not least) consideration to take into account when building a B2B pipeline
- [16:05] Why your CRM software will not be enough on it’s own and what you need in addition to it
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About the Show
On the show, Chris reveals all of his automated marketing strategies he has learned from working in fast growing marketing technology startups so you can put your business on autopilot quickly and without error.
Discover how to deploy automated marketing, sales, and delivery systems to scale your business without working long hours to do so.
Chris L. Davis
Chris is an Electrical Engineer turned entrepreneur who is the Founder of Automation Bridge, an international speaker and facilitator, and startup consultant