For any company, change is the constant and collaboration is the strategy. In anticipation of CRUSH 2016, Avalara’s national tax compliance conference, May 10-11 in New Orleans, we sat down with Avalara’s Liz Anderson, Director of Partner Programs, and Asher Mathew, Director of Strategic Alliances, to learn more about their session, the impact social media and technology have on marketing and sales, and what Anderson and Mathew are most looking forward to at the conference.
Avalara: The title for your session at CRUSH 2016 is “Marketing Meets Sales: Marketing & Prospecting Like a Pro.” What are three concepts you hope attendees take away from this session?
Asher Mathew: “WIN today.” Businesses must design a cohesive strategy to create value and acquire customers. At Avalara, to do this effectively, we know that marketing and sales have to be aligned, and then our programs must be relentlessly executed. That means creating high value content and sharing it early in the customers’ buying journey; our motto: those who teach earn the right to sell.
Next, we want to shift the marketing and selling mindset. Most people focus on making things easy; instead, we focus on making things natural. For example, how do we make it natural for our partners to find AvaTax opportunities? By giving them the tools and content that enable them to naturally uncover opportunities in their selling processes. The third concept would be to build a virtual sales force by creating a unique experience and capture mindshare. This is tough when there are so many distractions, such as other platform vendors and independent software vendors. The way we do it at Avalara is a program called Orange-In-a-Box: partners opt in, we do much of the execution, and we both win by attracting and acquiring new customers. Pretty cool, right?
Avalara: Explain several ways social media can be used for lead generation.
AM: For Avalara, social media helps to amplify our messaging. We spend a lot of time figuring out which content will be used in which context, and then use social media and other tools to amplify our messages. Our goal is to drive awareness of our brand, and social media is an important lever in our efforts.
Liz Anderson: One of the biggest benefits of social media for lead generation is the ability for audiences to consume what you are sharing, and then amplify your message so that your reach goes beyond your direct followers. At Avalara, we use a cross-channel promotion of content and integrate social media activity into our overall marketing programs so that followers can review the content we share and more easily interact with us.
Typically, the biggest challenge with promoting content via social media is time. Therefore, at Avalara, we offer our partners a free “set it and forget it” social media platform, where we source all the content and the partner sets their preferences, and then posts are automatically sent to their social media accounts. The benefits for the partner are two-fold: first, they are able to position themselves as thought leaders to delight existing followers; second, the social media platform provides the ability for partners to capture social leads, attract new followers and more easily connect with the partner for more information.
Avalara: Liz, what has your experience at Avalara taught you about marketing and prospecting strategies?
LA: Our experience has taught us that change is the only constant! Asher and I have worked very closely together on training and marketing with partners. Over the years, we’ve seen the buyers’ journey shift, and we understand that we need to shift, too: identify our customer segments and publish content more frequently for each of the different stages in their buying process.
Avalara: How has technology impacted marking and prospecting?
LA: Technology plays a huge part because it allows us to streamline and integrate processes for our marketing and sales teams. We strive to rapidly expand our brand by making it natural for a partner to co-market with us. We’ve used all the well-known marketing technologies, but the one we’re most proud when it comes to our partners is the Avalara Marketing Center. This center is the ultimate one-stop shop experience that allows partners to easily co-brand emails, landing pages, website copy, events and more to drive demand. Partners can execute these campaigns in less than five clicks, or work with the Avalara Partner Programs Team to execute the campaigns on the partners’ behalf. This platform also has tight integration with our internal systems so that partners can track the progress of their leads, as they move through the sales cycle. If leads turn into a closed deal, the partner can earn commissions. Our next big thing is the effective use of video, and, well … you’ll have to come to the session to learn more about that!
Avalara: What are you looking forward to most at CRUSH?
AM: We’re looking forward to sharing how we’ve built and retained a large virtual sales force by joining hands through marketing and sales.
LA: When we can get directly in front of our partners and share with them the success Avalara has had, we know that their loyalty grows because they learn more about how our goals and objectives are aligned with theirs. In turn, this gets them more excited about solving complex problems for our mutual customers. Therefore, I am most excited about developing more bonds and deeper relationships with the partners that have been instrumental in helping Avalara grow, while also entertaining our partners to show our appreciation.
Join Liz Anderson and Asher Mathew for their session, “Marketing Meets Sales: Marketing & Prospecting Like a Pro,” on May 10. For more information on CRUSH 2016, visit our website that includes all conference sessions, speaker bios and location information.