#CZLNY: 5 Valuable Lessons From SAP’s Inbound Marketing Program

For the past eight years, I’ve consumed — and created — a tremendous amount of content on B2B digital marketing. It tends to be the same old advice: “repurpose content and create content for different stages of the sales cycle,” “score and grade leads before handing off to sales,” “humanize your company.” You get the idea. Yawn.

But I was really inspired and excited by the session “Cracking the Inbound Marketing Code” at ClickZ Live New York last week. Adriel Sanchez, vice president of demand generation at SAP, shared 10 lessons from SAP’s inbound marketing program. Here are five of my favorites:

Lesson 1: B2B Is Not Boring, and Neither Is Your Company.

Throughout the presentation, Sanchez shared interesting facts about how SAP touches lives.

Did you know SAP customers produce more than 72 percent of the world’s beer? Or that 74 percent of the world’s transaction revenue touches SAP? Or that SAP customers produce more than 82 percent of the coffee and tea we drink each day?

His lesson? B2B doesn’t need to be boring. Your message and story should reveal how your product uniquely touches the lives of your customers. Your prospects want to be WOWED — whether they’re at home or work. Corporate jargon won’t wow them, but passionate stories about how you’re impacting the lives of your current customers will.

Lesson 2: Don’t Get Caught in the Counting Trap.

It takes a tremendous amount of effort to count everything, so don’t count every single type of thing that’s happening around inbound. “You’ll have to accept the fact that inbound is influencing EVERY lead opportunity and deal in the pipeline,” says Sanchez.

Understand you’re going to probably only see 20 percent of the things that are happening in your inbound marketing program, and that’s sufficient. Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be measured counts.

Lesson 3: Directly Attributable Opportunities and Revenue Are Just ONE Contribution of Inbound.

No matter how much you or your boss may want to, you’ll never be able to measure how every inbound touch point ties back to opportunities and revenue. As explained above, SAP doesn’t measure everything, but they are acutely aware how inbound marketing directly impacts revenue. SAP’s inbound marketing program is able to:

  1. Influence every lead, opportunity, and deal in the pipeline — even if they can’t see every touch point. 
  2. Build a database of prospects to be nurtured into future businesses, with an emphasis on new names and new markets. 
  3. Identify a predictable, always-on stream of opportunities ready to be sent to sales. 

Lesson 4: Social Media Is the Next Big Inbound Channel.

According to Sanchez, people who are interested in products and services are going to engage with you via social media. In fact, 55 percent of buyers turn to social media when they are searching for information. They will ask questions, and you have to be ready to capture that traffic.

While most companies put marketing or PR talent on the social media front lines, Sanchez believes the people who are most equipped to handle inbound/lead questions through social media are the people that answer those questions now — your salespeople! But before you put them on the social media front lines, you must make sure they’re trained in social selling, otherwise they may make the company look bad.

Lesson 5: Pre-Qualify Inbound Leads Before Sending to Sales.

If you’re generating leads through inbound marketing (such as webinar registrants), 9 percent may be ready to buy now, but haven’t raised their hand and filled out an inquiry form. These are the leads that should be followed up with by a sales person. But if you send everyone to sales, including those 91 percent of leads who aren’t ready, sales will get overwhelmed, and 9 percent of sales-ready leads will get ignored. Sanchez recommends pre-qualifying leads with a quick phone call and only sending the pre-qualified leads to sales.

Image via Shutterstock.