I was at a business planning workshop last week given by the Equus Group where we watched a short 2 minute video called 212 Degrees that set the scene for the day’s events.

The core message of the video was that at 211 degrees (Fahrenheit) water is just hot, but at 212 degrees it boils and boiling water produces steam and steam can used to power a locomotive – amongst other things. The message is a clear one: A small but significant change (in this case just one degree of heat,) can bring about massively different results, in fact a complete change in state.


And it got me thinking about what do business leaders need to change to get their revenue generation activity to boiling point, generating plenty of steam that powers their business forward.

Revenue generation is undergoing a swift and radical transformation as the power of digital technology and the “internet of everything” enables buyers to purchase and vendors to sell in significantly different ways.

Creating steam!

All businesses market and sell their products and services and there are processes and tools in place to do this. But what are the elements you need in place to generate a truly powerful head of steam?

A source of heat.

In our analogy, the source of heat is the buyer. More specifically it’s the challenges they are facing in their business. This is the fundamental element that triggers the buying decision.

Modern marketers must be fully aware of the business pain their products and services aim to fix. They must know who is experiencing the pain and acknowledge that the symptoms are often different for different influencers in the buying process. Certainly an early challenge for marketers is to turn up the heat; to trouble buyers. Make then understand the impact of not fixing these problems and challenges.

One more degree: Understand your buyer persona(s). Research them; understand their working day, their KPIs or business objectives, their biggest challenges stopping them achieving their goals. Know where they go to learn about solving these challenges, which peers do they consult, to which LinkedIn groups do they belong? Create real clarity by isolating the different buyers personas involved in the purchasing decision.

A vessel to hold the water.

The vessel is your marketing and sales framework and business process that attracts, engages, nurtures, qualifies and converts buyers into customers.

The shape and size of the vessel is determined by what selection of tools and tactics work best to progress buyers along their buying journey.

For example, a buyer might initially engage with your website. A website that isn’t simply an online brochure but is a destination visitors and leads want to visit. It is dynamic and personalised to the visitor. Its responsive, changing appearance depending on what device the website is being viewed.

Converting a stranger into a contact or lead might happen via your website’s landing pages that engage the visitor and encourage them to interact with your firm by downloading a white paper, signing up for a trial or demonstration; watching a video.

Developing a lead to a point they are ready to speak with sales might happen via lead nurturing campaigns that deepen the relationship with the lead, build trust.

The final step in the process might “hand off” a qualified and motivated lead to the identified sales rep and measure the Rep on the time it takes them to make the first call or win the first meeting…and so on.

One more degree: Marketing automation software “hard codes” your sales and marketing processes. It should integrate with your CRM system, allowing you to see the full revenue funnel from first engagement to loyal customer. More importantly it measures and analyses your lead generation processes and tactics at every step of the way allowing you to invest in tactics that are working and understand and improve those that aren’t delivering the results you seek. The results of continual measurement and improvement of your sales and marketing processes, applied over time, are truly impressive.

Water to boil!

They say there is no smoke without fire well in this case there’s no steam without water!

High quality content is your lead generation water. Content plays a vital role in engaging with buyers throughout their entire buying journey.

LinkedIn posts, Google+ updates, Facebook posts, pay per click adverts, emails, YouTube videos and Slideshare presentations are all examples of snippets of content that initially engage your target buyers. But as the buyer progresses along their buying journey their need for content changes to more substantial items, such as eBooks and whitepapers, case studies, demos and trials that helps them define what they need to solve their problem, educates them on the choices available and reassures them that their vendor of choice is the right one.

One more degree: Your marketing team must understand, design and build content streams that lead a buyer through a series of decision gates that get them to a point where they are ready to buy. Content must always be written with the buyer (and their questions) in mind. Build content streams that straddle marketing AND sales. Create alignment in your messaging across all your promotional material.

Buyer based content requires perseverance. In the world of B2B buying decisions are complex and involve a number of people over an extended period of time. Your content must accommodate this. Quarterly campaigns simply don’t cut it any more.

Is your sales and marketing generating a head of steam that’s going to power your business forward? Or is your sales and marketing feeling lukewarm?

Turn up the heat in 2014 and take our B2B Marketing Health check or book in a free sales and marketing assessment.