Hubspot’s annual State Of Inbound (Marketing) is a snapshot of digital trends, highlighting marketing technology adoption, new practices and average results from different channels. According to the 2017 State Of Inbound report, businesses are following a number of sales and marketing priorities.
The main ones are summarised below, in order of priority. The percentage figures are the number of respondents who indicated that the action would be a high priority for their business in the coming 12 months. For comparison we have also included the figures for 2016, as this may indicate a trend you should be aware of.
1) Conversion of website visitors to leads 70% (2016: 74%)
2) Increasing website traffic 55% (2016: 57%)
3) Increasing spend from existing customers 45% (2016: 46%)
4) Increasing ROI from marketing spend 39% (2016: 42%)
5) Cutting the cost of lead acquisition 24% (2016: 27%)
These top five marketing priorities place conversion firmly at the top of the list for most respondents, followed by increasing web traffic. For respondents already using inbound marketing strategies, 61% said that developing organic SEO/their online presence was a major priority, confirming the continued importance of Google-based lead generation and marketing.
Changes from 2016 indicate that although lead acquisition cost and ROI are important, companies are more likely to spend more on marketing to accomplish long-term growth.
1) Converting leads to customers 71% (2016: 70%)
2) Making the sales funnel more efficient 44% (2016: 47%)
3) Improving sales training 27% (2016: 27%)
4) Reducing sales conversion time 24% (2016: 31%)
5) Investing in new sales technologies 23% (2016: 25%)
For sales teams, converting leads to customers remains the highest priority, as it should. This is the biggest problem faced by SMEs, and it is interesting to note the tendency of businesses to adopt new sales channels, rather than simply phone or email. 29% of respondents said they are going to prioritise social media selling during 2017, an increase from 22% asked the same question in 2015.
Sales training and developing new tactics are seen as increasingly important. The figure of 27% is the same as last year, but there has been an increase from 24% in the 2015 report. Almost half (44%) of respondents showed a desire to improve their sales funnel, reducing the lead time and investment necessary to convert a lead.
Sales & Marketing Challenges
The priorities given for sales and marketing reveal a lot about the challenges faced by businesses, but these were also addressed by some specific questions.
For marketers, 63% of respondents indicated that lead generation and increasing web traffic were the biggest challenges they face this year, revealing that many businesses find it a struggle to get enough people to visit their website and convert to leads.
Salespeople were asked to compare the challenges they faced in 2017 to the situation 2 to 3 years ago, indicating which tasks have become more difficult. 38% – a significant minority – reported that getting a response from prospects is more difficult than it used to be, perhaps suggesting that sales communication methods are due for an overhaul in some sectors. It is interesting to correlate this to the recent rise in social selling and to see if this improves the response rate over the next year. 35% of respondents also said that closing deals was more difficult in 2017, with another 30% facing a harder struggle with lead identification and scoring.
All these challenges point to greater rewards available for companies whose sales and marketing teams work closer together to identify leads, develop meaningful content and implement a unified sales and marketing strategy.
Re-Evaluating Your Sales & Marketing Priorities
Every business benefits from a periodic reassessment of sales and marketing priorities. The one constant should be sustainable growth, with everything else being assessed on its results. Businesses shouldn’t be afraid of re-examining and abandoning older or less successful practices, and adopting new strategies when circumstances change. At JDR we offer tailored business growth strategies that include a wide portfolio of sales and marketing tactics to get the best results for your business. To find out more, please get in touch with one of our specialists today for an informal chat.