I'll admit it. For most of my career I've been an enterprise marketer.
That means big-ass companies, outside reps, large named accounts, moderate margins, high ASP (avg selling price) and lengthy buying cycles.
That changed about a year ago when I decided I wanted a new challenge.
But not just any software. High growth, high EBITDA margin software with a low ASP. This is a completely different selling model, called the high velocity selling model. Here are the basic tenants of a high-velocity business model, and how marketing automation drives the aggressive growth in this model.
The Internet is the Center of you Demand Generation
I remember giving my notice at my old employer. I told the VP of marketing why I was leaving and what I'd be doing. Her response: "But that's just online. What about traditional marketing?".
Exactly the point. A typical marketing budget is 5%-15% of revenue (I've heard rumors of 20%, never seen it but I'll take it if offered). If you want to maintain high-margin, you have to think about all your touches. Each has a cost, so the more effective the touches are, the fewer touches you have to make.
In software, top efficiency is the touchless model. A user goes to your site, trials your software (or signs up) and then buys. This is used in both traditional software and SaaS models.
Inbound marketing becomes essential at this point. And more than ever, content is the currency in the online world. You can trade it for network reach (think bloggers, though this is morphing), you can use it to attract and nurture audiences (better than traditional SEO). You can build a reputation on it and out-earn the attention of your audiences. But it has to connect to revenue (see Joe Chernov's great post about this: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2013/9862/how-to-avoid-false-choices-in-content-marketing)
Now you may not think of Marketing Automation as an inbound tool, but I say there's no better way to measure the effectiveness of your content and how it ties to revenue. All the behavioral insight and closed-loop reporting is essential to optimizing high-velocity and squeezing every bit of effectiveness of it. Let marketing automation guide the effectiveness of your content, from subject matter to format.
Use only inside sales teams
If you have a really low ASP and a touchless model, you might not even need a sales team. But most of us do. Again, you are limiting touches and maximizing the touches you do make so they are efficient and effective.
But you need to respond quickly to leads. Most companies don't, wasting 71% of marketing leads. (http://www.forbes.com/sites/kenkrogue/2012/07/12/the-black-hole-that-executives-dont-know-about/)
Increase that efficiency with marketing automation. We use our automation to quickly get the right leads to sales at the right time and get the close rate up on opportunities.
Not every prospect's buying cycle is going to sync up with your selling cycle. Nurture Prospects. Leverage that deep content you've developed to keep solutions to your buyers challenges top of mind (and your brand).
Let prospects self-select when they'd like to initiate the buy process.
And manage this all with the goodness in marketing automation. By last count we have over 25 automated campaigns in play.
Develop Strong Metrics
High velocity moves faster than traditional models. Sales cycles are typically in the 30-45 day range and the number of new deals is far greater. You need to have a strong grasp of newly acquired leads, the number of leads in each stage, and you need to be able to quickly identify any variances in your projected numbers.
Manual calculations won't cut it - your window will pass before you even compile the data. Marketing automation to the rescue again. We're never an automated report away from knowing what our demand generation is doing and if we need to make any corrections.
Make Your Sofware/SaaS Easily Accessible
In high-velocity software one of the most powerful assets is the freemium. Easy access to products trials is essential and you need optimize the process. There is also an emerging trend to PQL - product qualified lead. The idea is that if a person uses certain features or progresses through a certain stage of a demo, the chances of becoming a customer increases.
Marketing Automation again helps you automate this intelligence and optimize these critical conversion points.
In the near term, I see more social selling happening in the high-velocity model. The challenge will be creating high-value, low-cost touches with the buying audience. I see solutions like Eloqua's Social Suite as a critical piece in helping automate and drive value in this space.
While marketing automation has applications across many business models, it is crucial in a high velocity model and makes my team accountable and successful.