Generating ERP software and service leads as an ERP Value Added Reseller (VAR) can be difficult work. Often times you are competing directly against large software companies with large marketing teams and budgets. Not to mention hundreds, if not thousands of VARs pitching various ERP applications and related services.
How do you cut through all the noise?
When you combine the lack of marketing know how, with a complex product like ERP software and a long sales cycle, the struggle is real, especially for VARs trying to drive new ERP sales.
If you're a VAR selling NetSuite, Intacct, Microsoft Dynamics or SAP products such as BusinessOne this blog is just for you.
We'll show you everything you need to know to start generating new ERP leads (and sales) in short order.
We've identified a handful of areas where we see VARs struggle when it comes to their marketing efforts.
Let's explore each of these briefly:
4 common marketing DEFICIENCIES
Lack of Support (Leads) from ERP Vendors
ERP consultants across the board share in their frustration that they receive little to zero leads from the software publishers they represent.
And even if you are in an ecosystem that does provide some leads, if that referral source were to ever go away, you would be in a difficult spot if you haven't figured out how to generate ERP software leads on your own.
Additionally, many ERP software vendors such as NetSuite, already have a large direct sales team. It's practically impossible for ERP vendors to feed both their direct sales reps and their partners leads, therefore the only solution is to become self sufficient.
For VARs that do want to become self sufficient in lead generation, where do you start?
Website Not Optimized for SEO & Conversions
The vast majority of ERP sales cycles being with online research. There's Bing, Yahoo and Google, with Google being the dominate search engine.
Therefore if your product or service is not being ranked on the first page (ideally top 3) by Google you can pretty much forget about being found online. According to Backlinko the top 3 Google results take 75% of all the clicks.
How do you rank number one, two or three on Google?
And if you are ranking well, how do you convert those clicks into sales ready leads?
Inconsistent Content Creation
Blogs and other forms of content are great for gaining traction with keyword acquisitions. However it requires consistency. Google is looking for fresh content from websites and chances are your competitors are blogging on a regular frequency.
How do you make this a priority amongst all the other activities the business requires of you?
Missing Keyword Strategy
This is a big one. If you don't have a specific goal in mind for each blog post, don't even bother with blogging. For blogging to be effective you need to be laser focused on a particular keyword/phrase for each blog you publish as well as having a clear conversion path in mind (referred to as a Call-to-Action or CTA).
How do you know what keywords to target or which ones to avoid?
5 Steps to generating ERP Software Leads now
As you are well aware, selling ERP software solutions isn't like selling a commodity products and services. Your audience is going to be much more savvy and selective when choosing a ERP product, after all ERP systems generally stay with a company for 5 - 10 years or more. ERP software is incredibly sticky.
Because of this, you need to fully understand your audience, their desires, their fears and their objectives related to this massive, disruptive undertaking.
We've outlined 5 steps you can take advantage of right now to start growing ERP software leads for your business.
Step 1: KEYWORD RESEARCH
Getting ranked on Google begins with understanding what keywords and phrases your buyers are using for their online ERP research.
Great keywords & phrases for VARs generally revolve around what we will refer to as "The Big 5 Themes", which include the following:
- PRICE & COST:
- How much does your ERP product cost?
- How is it licensed? By named user? By module?
- How about the cost to implement?
- Is there a cost for ongoing support?
- What about integration cost?
- How does the product you represent compare with similar products in the marketplace?
- What makes your product better or worse?
- How do customers feel about your product and/or service offering?
- BEST OF LIST:
- Prospects like to see awards and social proof that what you claim online is backed up by others in the industry. Does your ERP product have Gartner or G2Crowd reviews?
- What problems does your ERP software solve?
- What problems have users of your ERP product experienced, and how they can avoid them?
These keywords and phrases are often used by online researchers that are considered at the "bottom of the funnel", meaning these are prospects that have started a buying cycle.
Once you've identified the ideal keywords you want to target, you'll need to determine if you currently rank for any of them.
If you are not sure how to do this there are tools such as Ahrefs and SEMRush to help with this process.
Then it's just a matter of a) optimizing your existing content to increase your Google rankings or b) creating new content in an attempt to rank for that particular keyword.
During this step you'll want to research and analyze what competitors are ranking for specific keywords and attempt to determine why their content is so effective at Google rankings. Having a good handle on SEO fundamentals and tools will be important to helping you chose the best keywords and the type of content to create to support keyword acquisition and rankings.
If you'd rather leave this step up to the pro's click below to start the dialogue around keyword research.
Step 2: Strategy & Content Creation
After the keyword research is completed, you'll want to create an editorial calendar mapping your ideal keywords to the future content you are going to create or optimize.
You'll want to think through how to structure the content (e.g. Pillar & Cluster) and when to publish. Think of the editorial calendar as your blueprint for success. This planning step is necessary to ensure you don't forget or miss anything and keeps you on track to hit your goals and objectives.
This can be as simple as a setting up a Google Sheet template to get your team organized or you may want to consider using tools like HubSpot's SEO tool to determine how to visually structure and link your content.
content For Humans:
For ERP resellers, the importance of producing high quality content is more important than you may realize. In many ways, you are asking your prospects to put their company's success in your hands. You are asking them to trust the ERP software you represent and professional services you provide to become the backbone of their financial operation.
They need to know that you know what you are doing and that your products and services will be able to provide them with the results they are looking for with new ERP software.
This needs to be conveyed in the content you are producing. The goal here is to establish yourself as a thought leader in your particular niche or ecosystem. Providing high value information that prospects can trust is key.
content For Search Engines:
It's one thing to write content purely for human readers. It's another to write content for search engines. You cannot neglect either. Search engines have gotten scary good at identifying content purely created to fool or trick search engines. There was a time when unscrupulous marketers could simply stuff their pages full of keywords and rank highly in search results.
This sort of behavior results in content that is written for machines to be read, rather than that of humans. Naturally, the human readers doing the searching and reading were not thrilled about this sort of experience which leads to high bounce rates which happens to be a negative Google ranking factor.
Keywords are still very important, but less so. Search engines now look for many other factors such as page load times, the authority of the pages linking to your site, and the time readers spend on your site (dwell time).
These are all things that a search engine's algorithm will be taking into account when deciding to rank your page for a particular keyword.
Step 3: Increase Google rankings with Guest Posting
Once you have published some high quality, SEO optimized content, the next step to increase your potential for higher Google rankings by generating high authority backlinks to your recently published content.
In a nutshell, a backlink is just a hyperlink from website separate from your domain that links back to your website. You can think of a backlink as a vote of confidence in the eyes of Google's algorithm.
Ideally, you want the hyperlink text to be something relevant to the keyword you are trying to rank for. The hyperlink text is referred to as "anchor text". Some SEO's claim you don't want to overly optimize your anchor text so that it does not appear natural, which we agree to a certain extent, however the anchor text definitely needs to be relevant to the keywords you're trying to rank for.
Here's a quick example:
Let's say you just published a "Pricing Guide" for Microsoft Dynamics 365 BC, and the goal of that blog was to rank for the keyword "dynamics 365 pricing". You'd want your backlink anchor texts to be something like this:
- dynamics 365 pricing
- dynamics 365 cost
- dynamics 365 licensing
By having the anchor text tightly aligned with your target keyword and other SEO elements (e.g. url, title, H1, meta description, alt text for images) this tell's Google very clearly which keywords to rank this content for.
You can do link building on your own (very time consuming) by reaching out to your professional network to see if someone would be open to publishing content you create on their website with a link back to your domain.
Or, you can completely automate this process by partnering with a company that specializes in both the outreach and copywriting aspect of your guest blog, as well as understand the nuance around anchor text density.
We suggest leaving it to the professionals so you can focus on what you do best.
Of all the 200+ Google ranking factors, building high authority backlinks is incredibly helpful when trying to increase your odds of getting higher Google rankings.
There are many SEO tools available to keep an eye on the number of backlinks and referring domains linking to your website. We personally like tools like Ahrefs for tracking referring domains and backlinks in near real time.
Step 4: Increasing ERP Software Leads via Conversion Optimization
Now that you are dominating the Google ranking for your target keywords you should see an increase in web sessions. At this stage these additional visitors are unknown to you. You'll want to turn this increase in traffic into known leads, sometimes referred to as Marketing Qualifed Leads or MQLs.
It's commonplace for companies to use static forms with numerous required fields for leads to submit their information, this causes friction. First because the prospect knows they are going to get spam or sales calls or both, which they may not want at this stage. Therefore you risk them moving on to the next website that can provide them the information they are looking for, more quicker and less intrusively.
Therefore, we suggest other conversion tactics, for example Typeform which replaces the typical form with a more interactive experience with logic jumps that you can build into your form making it interactive with your online prospects.
Interactivity is key when it comes to lead conversions. Leads convert because they are looking for information that you posses, right now. Why not give them some of the information (e.g. product pricing) in exchange for some of their information (e.g. email address) instead of a static form with many required fields that makes them wait.
Online interactive quizzes and calculators are great at driving user engagement and conversion because it provides them immediate information they are looking for right then and there on their terms.
Let's use the previous example from above. Let's say you are ranking #2 for "dynamics 365 pricing" and you've seen an increase of 250 web sessions per month. In light of this, you have a pretty good sense that the additional web visitors are looking for pricing information related to a Dynamics 365 ERP initiative. Instead of a boring "Contact Us" button on your ranking URL why not try a "Calculate Your Dynamics 365 Price Now" button taking the web visitor to an interactive calculator moving them through which features/functions they might need and provide them a range of prices in exchange for their email address at the end of the process.
In addition, consider including a ChatBot that can walk them through a similar exercise in a slightly different manner. Both of these examples can convert your web traffic into sales ready leads really efficiently.
Zoominfo has a good tool for this particular use case. How great is it to only ask for an email address but be able to get everything you've ever wanted to know about the prospect (e.g. direct phone #, alternate email address, technographic profile, industry insights, revenue, employee counts and buyer intent).
The key is to give your leads the info they desire right away, combined with a "smaller ask" can really improve conversion rates for VARs looking to sell more ERP software and services.
Step 5: Closing Deals with Tight Sales & Marketing Alignment
Now that you are consistently generating more web sessions and more ERP software leads, you'll want to leverage some type of sales and marketing automation to help you score and route leads to the appropriate sales channels for timely and relevant follow up.
To do this you'll need technology to enable this level of sophistication. HubSpot Marketing Hub and CRM offer a great technology stack for helping marketing teams score and nurture leads and empower sales teams with insights and tools to drive greater velocity and consistency throughout the sales cycles.
In addition, by aligning your sales and marketing teams, sales reps will receive the type of leads they desire and marketing will get the credit they very well deserve for driving high volume and high quality ERP software leads to sales reps.
Bonus TIP: Social Proof via Referral Sites
There are several online review sites that focus on ERP software and consulting services, where real customers can share their experiences with various ERP software applications and consulting organizations.
Site's like G2Crowd, Capterra, Technology Advice and TrustRadius are just a few.
Many of these sites are heavily investing in content and SEO to dominate Google rankings for bottom of the funnel keywords. Instead of competing with these websites for digital real estate on Google, why not work with them.
How, you may ask?
Here's a great example of how to leverage a review site like G2Crowd.
Let's say you resell NetSuite ERP software and provide NetSuite consulting services.
If a potential NetSuite buyer were to search "Best NetSuite Partners" in Google they would see G2 ranking in the first organic result.
From here all you need to do is get some of your existing customers to provide a review of your services to get featured on this list of NetSuite resellers, for free!
And, by the way, G2 provides analytics tracking software so that you can see actual visitors that were referred to your website from G2Crowd to see the effectiveness of this strategy. This example is not limited to NetSuite, it could work for SAP, Sage, Dynamics partners and more.
Generating ERP software leads isn't for the faint of heart. It takes real skill and persistence. Closing the sale afterwards requires just as much sales and marketing expertise as getting the lead in the first place. At Oak City Inbound, we have perfected the practice of helping ERP VARs drive more web traffic, more sales ready leads and more customers with their website investments and would be happy to discuss how our services can help your ERP consulting business grow.