Holistic Revenue Performance Series II: Solution marketing

Sustainable revenue performance ensures your organization is meeting its goals and finding its success not just here and now but into the future. Yet achieving profitable revenue year after year is no simple task. There is no golden egg or one solution. You will time and again meet internal and external challenges.

Yet with a well-oiled revenue engine, any challenges you come up against will be mitigated or side-stepped altogether.

At Mereo, we have developed a unique approach to revenue performance that leverages the inherently interdependent operational disciplines of demand progression, solution marketing, solution management, sales operations and sales enablement.

Last week, we touched on demand generation. This week in the holistic revenue performance series, we will dive into solution marketing and learn the greatest pitfalls affecting B2B organizations, how to overcome these and how this piece of the revenue performance Blueprint will help you win an unfair share of the market.

Sell their needs to sell your solutions.

Common Solution Marketing Pitfalls

Each year, buyers are gaining more control over their buying journeys as they grow empowered with more solution options, greater amounts of information and better technology to make an informed decision. In fact, more than 70% of B2B buyers indicated that they fully define their needs before engaging with a salesperson — and almost half already have identified specific solutions prior to reaching out (CSO Insights). The role of marketing and its alignment with sales’ efforts is more important than ever, with a number of challenges threatening its true success.

Selling Processes Misaligned with Buyer Journeys

Buyers expect high-quality, relevant marketing and messaging to the same level as successful B2C. And they expect to find this messaging where they look for it: across digital channels. While this means salespeople need to be able to seek to serve their buyers even better than before — it also means marketing has to deliver compelling and consistent value messaging and differentiation where and when their buyers are looking for it. They need to keep a pulse on the market and the buyer.

Status Quo Wins

Sitting in the minds of your buyer is your most stubborn, greatest competition: status quo. Buyers do not see a compelling reason to change “how it has always been.” They are fine with “getting by as it.” They do not see the urgent need to act now or what it is that your solution could do for them anyway. That is, unless your marketing team can learn and translate these pains into messages that land heavily and sit uncomfortably with the tease of good things to come with your solution.

Inundation of High-Quality Content

Buyers may have struggled to notice your messaging in the past with the mass amounts of content coming their way daily, but you could rise to the top by putting out the highest quality messages and presentations. It is not so simple any longer. Gartner research has discovered that buyers are overwhelmed with an influx of high-quality messages. This should be good news for the buyer, but it is causing them stress and inaction with mixed messages and simply too much to take in. Sellers will be ignored despite their content quality unless they can learn how to become trusted advisors and sense-makers.

Internal Misalignment

Your marketing team spends cycles developing materials to help your sales team engage their buyers and stick the value messaging conversations with supporting materials. Yet, according to Demand Metric, 75% of salespeople say they “occasionally” or “never” get what they need from marketing. Salespeople complain that marketing content is too generic — that it lacks the relevance for the buyers they are on the ground floor speaking to. This misalignment will continue, unless marketing and sales start to sit at the same table for planning and strategizing.

Solution Marketing Strategies to Win

While each solution marketing pain is different, there are a number of frameworks Mereo employs to help sellers put their best solution promotions forward.

Power Profile

This is true regardless of the size, industry, makeup of your selling organization: In order to market your solution, you must know whom you are marketing it to.

The Mereo  Power Profile™ provides vital insights and key points instrumental in helping you identify, target and connect with organizations and buyer roles. In creating the Power Profile, we explore and label the following as targeted, opportunity or non-targeted: 

  • Key organizational characteristics and demographics
  • Ideal organization attributes
  • Buyer roles and buyer personas

When the Power Profile is left to your teams’ assumptions and not locked down in a formal, aligned process, it can wreak havoc on selling efforts, especially as marketing works to align with sales. The Mereo Power Profile formalizes this vital solution marketing and selling element and makes it easy to act by in the best interest of your target audiences.

Positioning and Messaging Readiness

Your solution marketing strategy will win if you identify a compelling position your solution can take in the mind of the buyer. What are their greatest pains? What are their goals? How does your solution serve them? Mereo helps B2B organizations formalize effective value messaging and differentiation to be used across the organization.

Organizational Alignment PCA Framework

To ensure all marketing activities are strategically aligned — and are not one-off activities for activity sake — we created the Program/Campaign/Activity (PCA) Framework at Mereo. This framework allows B2B marketing teams to see what and where their activities and campaigns are contributing.

  • Programs: These are the overarching themes the company is striving for. This is the leadership vision, the objectives and goals. Ideally these themes are grounded in a combination of the marketplace challenges their buyers are encountering and the differentiators their solution offers.
  • Campaigns: These comprise multiple activities that align with a theme or multiple themes at once. Think thought leadership, demand generation, speaking opportunities that are package together with a greater combined meaning. For example, the pre-event, on-site event and post-event marketing activities and sales prospecting activities orchestrated into a cohesive campaign.
  • Activities: Activities are the individual items within a campaign.

Client Advocacy

Lastly, it is vital to develop programs, processes and sales assets that communicate compelling client proof points in support of your differentiated value proposition. When Forrester asked B2B buyers what helps them make purchase decisions, 71% said real customer stories. Discussion about capabilities and even benefits of solutions help buyers evaluate alternatives they are considering. But when it comes to making a decision, client testimonials from peer companies are the most powerful tool in your toolbox. However, Forrester’s research also discovered that 78% of salespeople do NOT share relevant examples. This is an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself form 4 out of 5 sellers with whom you compete. 

Real Results Realized

OKI was suffering from mis-targeted buyers who had no control over their decision-making, a generic value proposition that failed to appeal to target buyers, and a mis-aligned message across the organization presented in a non-compelling way.

Then Mereo stepped in as a consulting partner with our proven solution marketing frameworks to help the company win an unfair share(TM) of the market. Read more here.