Industry Q&A: What’s Up With B2B Marketing in Argentina?

I was teaching B2B digital marketing to master’s degree students at San Andres University in Buenos Aires again this summer. The students were pretty enthusiastic about the concepts and tactics I shared. So, I decided to look into what’s going on in B2B marketing in Argentina, overall.

I was teaching B2B digital marketing to master’s degree students at San Andres University in Buenos Aires again this summer. The students were pretty enthusiastic about the concepts and tactics I shared. So, I decided to look into what’s going on in B2B marketing in Argentina, overall.

Martin J. Frias
Martin J. Frias

Thanks to an introduction from the longtime agency pro and university instructor Freddy Rosales, I had the chance to meet Martin J. Frias, who filled me in. Here’s what I learned.

Ruth Stevens: How do B2B marketers in Argentina approach new customer prospecting these days?

Martin Frias: Twenty years ago, we would buy databases from trade publications and data vendors, and use them to cold call, trying to reach senior executives. The problem in those days was getting past the gatekeepers.

Stevens: What has changed since then?

Frias: Three things. First, technology. Buyers now have anonymous access to product information. Sellers — even smaller brands — are using marketing automation like InfusionSoft, Marketo, and a local provider called Doppler emBlue to conduct event-triggered campaigns. Second, inbound marketing, meaning content posted by sellers on LinkedIn and blogs. Third, a larger role for marketing, as active members of inside sales and lead qualification teams. But I must tell you, not all firms are moving toward this kind of modern marketing. Most are still doing the same old push email and events.

Stevens: So, what’s still missing?

Frias: A shared vision between sales and marketing about the entire demand generation and sales process. The two sides need to agree on what is a lead, how to define qualification, and identify the tools needed to operate — from marketing automation, to CRM, to ERP. In short, sales and marketing need to take joint responsibility for guiding the buying process.

Stevens: I am hearing that WhatsApp is a favorite tool here. Please explain.

Frias: Yes, WhatsApp offers an enterprise network tool that integrates with marketing automation, so you can manage omnichannel messaging via WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and others. But you have to be careful. It can backfire. Many business buyers consider WhatsApp an exclusively personal medium, and they resent receiving business communications through it. Also, I think businesses may worry that their targeted communications could fall into the hands of competitors, thanks to WhatsApp’s extraordinary ease of sharing.

Stevens: Are there any prospecting data sources available now?

Frias: You can buy data, or you can buy access. For example, there’s an IT community platform here with a half a million subscribers. Marketers generally don’t trust the databases that are for sale. At my agency, we use LinkedIn Sales Navigator; whereby, we can contact 5 million Argentinean professionals, mostly those in middle management. We use LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index, company size, industry, and title for segmentation, and we attract the targets with content.

Stevens: Is there a professional association for B2B marketers in Argentina?

Frias: No. I wish there were. There is a post-grad program in B2B marketing offered at ITBA, one of our leading engineering schools. The tech industry is really the leader in B2B marketing here. Other key industries, like oil and gas, manufacturing, and construction, are more interested in brand positioning and awareness, and less about lead generation. So, they focus on their websites, value propositions, sales collateral, trade shows, and business events — like golf outings, and sponsoring sports events. They’re not using content, marketing automation, and lead management.

Stevens: Please tell me about yourself and how you became active in B2B marketing here in Argentina.

Frias: I started at Oracle Hyperion, heading a lead generation team in the financial services area. Then I worked at several other firms. Now, I have a 15-person agency called Pragmativa. We offer full B2B demand generation services, including website design, search marketing, display advertising, content, social media, and marketing automation. So, we’ll run a client’s prospecting, and manage their data. The one thing we don’t do, because I don’t believe in it, is cold-call telemarketing. Despite frequent requests from clients.

Stevens: Anything else you’d like to share?

Frias: Yes, I have a B2B marketing blog, in Spanish, and welcome followers.

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

How Brands Can Align Content Marketing With Sales

If your sales team doesn’t like the leads your marketing team is sending them, you should be inviting those marketing folks to sit in on sales calls to help them create the right content marketing programs.

If your sales team doesn’t like the leads your marketing team is sending them, you should be inviting those marketing folks to sit in on sales calls to help them create the right content marketing programs.

It’s not news that sales teams and marketers think differently and, uh, occasionally disagree. Your chances of completely eliminating those clashes are pretty slim, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get the two teams to work together more effectively. One way to do this is to encourage your sales team to invite their marketing counterparts out on sales calls with them. Here’s what they might learn.

What Do Prospects Really Care About?

One of the key data points for marketers is the critical questions that prospects ask about the sales team about your solution and how it relates to their problem. Marketers who are developing content marketing programs need to be absolutely certain that their material makes clear how you answer those critical questions. Hearing those questions straight from the horses mouth, so to speak, is likely to provide insights that hearing the same information filtered through the sales team’s own lens won’t.

Pain Points

Pain points are the next step as you drill down from the big picture critical questions to the nitty-gritty issues that your prospects feel every day. Your sales team can undoubtedly recite the top 10 pain points in their sleep. But, as above, familiarity may create missed opportunities. Marketers, hearing the information directly rather than through the sales team (and coming at the situation with content in mind, rather than closing), can find inspiration for new ways to connect the dots between prospects’ concerns and the solutions you offer.

Positioning

Marketing may also gain insights into how the sales team is positioning the firm’s products and services. Again, this is critical to the content they develop, as well as calls to action lead magnets. Any disconnect between what the prospect has learned from the marketing materials they’ve consumed and the message they get from the sales team can doom chances of conversion.

It’s also important for marketers to hear prospects at different points in their buying journey. Those who are ready to make a final decision will have much different concerns than prospects who are in touch with the sales team for the first time.

Ultimately these  “ride-alongs” are one more way that sales and marketing teams can communicate better, provide one another with the information to make everyone’s job easier, and get better results.

Helping Your Website Bridge the Sales and Marketing Divide

If you think about sales and marketing as separate activities, you’re probably not thinking about the customer experience from the prospect’s perspective. That’s a potentially fatal mistake that can sap the strength of your marketing efforts and your sales team.

If you think about sales and marketing as separate activities, you’re probably not thinking about the customer experience from the prospect’s perspective. That’s a potentially fatal mistake that can sap the strength of your marketing efforts and your sales team.

There is a (probably) long path that your prospects follow from having never heard of you to deciding you’re the answer to their needs. The path differs slightly for different audience segments or industries and, of course, some prospects step off before they’ve made it to “the end.”

But all have this in common: They don’t care if or when they’ve graduated from prospect to lead to marketing-qualified lead to sales-qualified lead. Only you care about that. Any breaks in continuity you create based on those classifications are entirely artificial to your prospects. And those breaks can derail any momentum you may have gained with your prospects.

sales and marketing
Credit: Pixabay by Anemone123

Sales/Marketing Coordination

Perhaps the most critical hand-off point is the one between your marketing and sales teams. Making that hand-off seamless from the prospect’s perspective requires tight coordination between the two teams. Your website can help facilitate that cooperation.

Start by involving both the sales and marketing team in the development of your website. Neither team needs to get involved with the technical details, but both should have a say in the following:

  • How the site is organized
  • What content hubs are created around key client issues
  • Where lead magnets are offered
  • How leads are nurtured
  • When prospects are provided to the sales team

Who Else Can Help

Ideally, other departments or roles within your organization will provide input on these critical marketing questions, as well. Customer support and product teams will have entirely different perspectives on client motivation, and their knowledge should be leveraged.

Sales and Marketing Cooperation and Digital Marketing

Sales and marketing departments should both be involved in the ongoing maintenance of the information and materials being presented to prospects, not just on your website, but on social media, via email and in any thought leadership efforts you’ve undertaken.

And just as your website can’t effectively shoulder the load on its own, neither side of the sales and marketing equation is going to be as effective as it could be without the support of the other. If you can get your team leaders pointed in the same direction, your digital marketing will be much more effective.

A Common Sales Email Tactic That Works Less and Less

They can be the kiss of death: Questions. True — I coach sellers who are using questions in cold email messages. Some are successful. But questions cut both ways. They can help, or hinder you. In most cases response rates are low — and for a very good reason.

4 Tips for Using Email for Acquisition and PromotionQuestions: They can be the kiss of death.

True — I coach sellers who are using questions in cold email messages, and some are successful. But questions cut both ways. They can help or hinder you.

In most cases questions yield low response rates — and for a very good reason.

Maybe you are using questions to break the ice. Well, you may be inadvertently encouraging buyers to delete based on the same principle.

Here’s why questions rarely work — and what to do instead.

Starting With a Question Rarely Works

Are your cold prospecting InMails/emails starting with a question? Have you tried using “Quick Question” as a subject line, and then asked your question?

Even if you are starting with questions and having success, be advised: Potential buyers increasingly delete cold emails that start with questions, because they signal “terrible pitch ahead.”

Be careful — asking questions can sabotage you. Especially when the message within the template also:

  1. Takes longer than 30 seconds to read.
  2. Includes Web links or attachments.
  3. Presents a solution, rather than provoking the buyer to hit reply and talk about their problem.
  4. Asks a question that screams “lazy sales person asking me a dumb question.”

These are just a few characteristics working against you. The root cause of your cold email being deleted may be that silly question you are asking — the one you are asking to appear relevant. Trouble is, it’s a dead give-away.

It’s lazy. It’s like 95 percent of your competitors’ emails pouring into your buyers’ inbox: highly delete-able.

The Two Types of Questions

There are two flavors of questions appearing in email messages. Those that help the buyer think:

Delete this email! Rapido! Rapido!

or:

Hmmm…

It’s the “hmmm” we’re after.

There’s a lot of talk about making sure to “add value” in your email messages right? Well, questions can add value, though they’re tricky. The best way to use questions in a cold email is to encourage the reader to introspect and evaluate their own situation at this moment in time.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Deciding if It’s Worth It

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it for sales prospecting? And how can you measure the investment — and end it if it’s not? I’ve consulted my most trusted resources — and clients — on the answer. Because what we need is an honest answer from people who are interested in growing their business — not just LinkedIn’s! Here are the results I’ve found in guideline format. The consensus seems strong. In 95 percent of cases you may not need a Sales Navigator or Premium level account.

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it for sales prospecting? And how can you measure the investment — and end it if it’s not?

I’ve consulted my most trusted resources — and clients — on the answer. Because what we need is an honest answer from people who are interested in growing their business — not just LinkedIn’s!

Here are the results I’ve found in guideline format. The consensus seems strong. In 95 percent of cases you may not need a Sales Navigator or Premium level account.

Key Consideration Points
Let’s keep it simple. Here’s what the average B-to-B sales prospecting person needs to consider. Point by point.

  1. The Free Trial: Is one month enough time to judge?
  2. The cost: When and how will it be recovered?
  3. The yardstick for success: Leads found and qualified faster, not trivial activity.

The Problem With a 30-day Trial
I rarely hear anyone talking about this aspect. Yet I’m not sure why. In most B-to-B sales environments a 30 day free trial is not enough time to judge any sales prospecting tool, tactic or strategy.

Even in today’s fast-paced social selling world LinkedIn’s 30 day trial period is far too short.

One of my most trusted sales training colleagues put it this way: “What sales team wants to commit to a playing field that moves the goal posts every couple of months? If I have a six month sales cycle, please explain what good a one month free trial does me?”

Thus, please understand that the free trial isn’t actually free. It’s a discount on your first six months of Navigator subscription. Because many of us need at least 6 to 12 months to understand if this is having positive impact on the bottom line — finding and closing new clients faster.

Justifying the Cost
The fastest way to understand if the investment might be worthwhile is to examine the benefits — but with a sales hat firmly on. Sales Navigator Professional (for individuals) gets you:

  • InMail: The one perk that everyone knows about.
  • Free incoming InMail: Anyone on LinkedIn can send you a message, free.
  • More search filters: You get an additional eight filters (although some are not applicable at all to sellers)
  • More saved searches: Very handy if you have a set of searches you do repeatedly.
  • More search results: You can see two hundred, four hundred or more.
  • Unlimited profile search: You will not need to worry about hitting LinkedIn’s arbitrary Commercial Search Limit.
  • Introductions: You can send a message to someone you would like to meet through a mutual LinkedIn connection.
  • Who’s Viewed Your Profile visibility: You get more visibility into who has viewed your profile.
  • Automated lead recommendations and real time news insights on leads.

I’m not saying any of these features are good or bad. Rather, we must question if they are worth paying $79 per month to access. In particular, most of my clients find the ability to search an unlimited number of times beneficial. How much so? This varies on individual experience.

And therein lies the tricky part: Generating enough experience with these features to pass fair judgement.

The Yardstick for Success
This is a tricky issue extending beyond the problem with a 30 day trial. It is unclear when significant cost breaks on the $129 per seat Team fee comes into play. This is not publicly discussed by LinkedIn. More importantly, justifying the cost must come in the form of hard numbers.

Sales related numbers.

The vast majority of businesses I’m finding measure soft value when building a business case for Sales Navigator. LinkedIn itself is encouraging this “soft yardstick” via it’s Social Selling Index. (SSI)

True, each category of the SSI is based on a practice vital to success using LinkedIn. They are important to your productivity, effectiveness … ultimately, your success at finding and closing leads faster.

Beware of Vanity Metrics
LinkedIn’s social selling index is flawed as a measurement tool when building a business case.

Because establishing your brand, finding the right people, engaging and building relationships are the basis for the SSI. However, each of these has an (unmeasured) quality component that directly drives business value.

Here’s the rub: When reps have a lower skill set at communicating with prospects they will always have lower success at earning meetings and closing deals with them. You can brand, engage and connect all you want.

In the end, the more effectively reps communicate the more deals get discovered, nurtured and closed.

Yet LinkedIn’s main tool of measurement is based purely on a quantitative basis.

Bottom line: The SSI is a potential indicator of productivity. However, being an active user of LinkedIn does not make you a productive seller.

Sales productivity takes more; it takes qualitative behavior and specific business outcomes. Knowing how to make a sales appointment via email or InMail trumps being able to simply send email!

What do you think about how I’m approaching this? Am I off the mark? How are you approaching building the business case?