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How to Build a "Rain Machine" for Software Sales in 7 Steps (Page 1 of 2)

We recently stumbled across a great presentation from Ben Bradley, a software marketing veteran and the founder of the boutique agency MaconRaine, based in Aurora, Ill.  

Why is it so great? Because it drives home important truths about the role of marketing in small software companies. And second, it's easy to understand, implement, and execute.

We caught up with Bradley in a recent phone interview, and asked him to share his insight and experience. If you're trying to boost software sales -- and who isn't? -- then these seven steps are for you.

Step 1: Focus every marketing activity around one goal.

"I wasn't brought up in a big brand agency," Bradley says. "It's always been my own money, and because of that, I've always thought the role of marketing is to generate interest and inquiries so that sales can close deals. This tends to skew my overall focus. 

"The goal of every marketing activity is to generate leads -- leads that sales can close. In software and the SaaS space, we don’t have time for branding. Your brand is the sum total of your customers, and if you don't have the customers, what use is the brand?"

Step 2: Measure key metrics.

"As you roll out each tactic, you need to focus on a conversion metric or goal," says Bradley. "Whether it's a webinar or advertising or whatever, you need to have a quantifiable metric in your head that you're going to use to evaluate that tactic. Designing all your tactics on that desired outcome is really where you get your leverage.

"At MaconRaine, we've got a fondness for SaaS companies, because they understand agile development. If you did a search and replace to change 'agile' to 'sales and marketing,' these companies get it. We enjoy exploratory marketing -- helping people find their sweet spot."

Step 3: Clearly connect flows from start to finish.

"All things should move into a desired outcome," Bradley says. "If the desired outcome is a web registration, make sure everything flows to that. 

"What I believe is the failure of most marketing is pushing for marriage on the first date. It's much easier to just start a courtship. Over time, you nurture and woo that customer with value, until they're ready to buy. If you look at the overall process, and how the tactics connect, it makes it much easier to connect the flows.

"If you think about the tiers of your content -- you might have some initial content that requires that no registration. The second tier may require only an email and name. The final tier is high-value, and that requires a significant disclosure of identity from the customer. 

"If they're not ready, that's alright; I'm not going to give that lead to sales. I'm going to nurture it until he's ready. Someone who downloads three pieces of content is a higher value lead to hand to sales. You want to build a lead-scoring metric, and use that to define what constitutes a sales-ready lead. Use that, and the happier everyone will be."

Step 4: Analyze your stall points.

"When you have your tactics in place, you need to analyze why suspects or prospects are stalling," says Bradley. "Where in the pipeline are we seeing stalls? Usually it's because of blockage points. 

"Here's a simple example: You're offering a free webinar, but the registration process requires 30 pieces of disclosure. Well, they don't want to give that much information for a webinar. Just ask for an email, and you change the conversion metric drastically. 

"People don't want to give up something if the value of the information isn't greater than what you're asking them to give. Too many companies design according to what sales wants, rather than what the customer wants. 

"As vendors, we have our own qualification metrics, but the buyer also has a buying system. The closer we can align and focus to how the buyer buys, the better off we're going to be."

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