B2B Teleservices

Lead Generation is about building Sales and Revenues. Not about fairness!

Companies often look at their sales force as if all reps were equal.  But of course this isn’t so.We appreciate the motivation of clients being fair insofar as the number and type of leads each rep should receive per week/month/year.  Sales and Marketing Managers frequently ask us about this all the time.

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Experience has shown that acquiring new leads in certain geographies may be more difficult than in others.  This results in some reps being rewarded with fuller sales lead pipelines than others who receive less.

Within your salesforce you may also find some reps who are only interested in “ready to buy now” type leads.  They prefer not to be bothered with anything else (one could describe these reps as order takers).  Others may be hungry and are thankful for all the qualified leads they receive even those with lower qualification criteria.

You may also have salespeople who are more effective when selling to larger companies rather than smaller ones.  Some sales persons may be are successful selling into certain verticals.  Some may be better selling certain products/solutions only.

The more important question is what will it take to make your salesforce more productive (i.e. how to sell more in less time?) Treating everyone equally may actually hamstring the desired end result.  Customizing the leads  you deliver to your reps and focusing on their individual strengths will help to maximize their productivity.  They should also become more effective over time.

ETI Sales Support will work with each one of your salespersons to make sure they succeed with the leads they receive based on their individual needs and capabilities.

Customizing a strategy for each salesperson which focuses on his/her strengths increases the odds for each one’s success.  Naturally the more your reps succeed the more your company does to.

A win win for all!

How Good is Your Sales Execution?

We have a valued client company that is expert in what they term “Retail Execution Solutions”. In essence, they enable large retailers to “have the right product in the right place at the right time.” While they do have some very powerful proprietary solutions, very few of the specific services they provide are truly unique. In fact, virtually every retailer is already conducting the standard activities that our client provides as services. They include inventory, space planning, shrinkage and supply chain audits and a program for site design and organization. Retailers may not be doing each of these activities as efficiently or effectively and cohesively as our client would, but these are all essential business practices that every retail operation must conduct to stay alive.

The unique aspect that our client brings is a highly systematic, integrated approach that enables them to link all of those disparate, essential activities, giving them the power to bring the results to bear on the full scope of their operations. Hence, the term “Retail Execution.” As I said before, it gives them the ability to “have the right product in the right place at the right time.”

As I was thinking about all of this, it dawned on me that what our client provides to retailers is analogous to what we provide to our clients. We provide “Sales Execution Solutions.”

Surely every company we work with is already doing the basics: generating leads, perhaps even pre-qualifying them, they have sales forces and, especially nowadays, they may have access to some kind of CRM to track their leads and sales activities.

They might want or need more leads, or better qualified leads. Or they may need help managing their database and tracking their prospects, leads and sales activities. And they may need to better understand their market or ways to develop new markets or bring new products to market. But the basics elements are there in order for them to survive.

So where does Sales Execution come into play? In the very same way our client supports their retailers: our deliverable is in providing clients with a systematic, repeatable, successful closed-loop process for growing revenue, developing and managing new business opportunities and targeting their marketing investment on vehicles that have the best potential for revenue growth and the successful development of their company.

By engaging with a company that focuses on Sales Execution (or enhancing sales productivity), you are focusing your sales resources precisely on those qualified prospects and customers that are ready to make a purchase decision in the near term (“the right contact in the right prospect company at the right time”).

There are many companies that can provide pieces of this kind of solution on an outsourced basis, some at a far lower cost than managing it internally. But the real trick is in creating an environment in which all of the pieces of the business development puzzle can work together, seamlessly, and one in which they augment one another to create true, powerful sales execution.

So, while “Retail Execution” enables a retail company to have the right product in the right place at the right time, “Sales Execution” enables a company to put their sales people in front of the right prospects at the right company at the right time.

I’d love your comments and questions.

Good and bad technologies impacting the B2B Call Center

Technology has had a significant impact on how B2B Teleprospecting and Call center operations are run. Some technologies however are a positive and some negative.Here is a perspective on how ETI considers some of the primary applications:

Predictive Dialing.

  1. A technology (primarily used in Business to Consumer environments) which programs a PBX to dial ahead of the “operator” because statistically one can anticipate that X number of calls are required to find someone to talk to.
  2. When someone picks up the call is transferred to an available “operator”.

eti does not and will never entertain using such technology. Some reasons …

  • Our Business Developers (BDs) are required to fully prepare themselves prior to initialing a call.  This includes reviewing prior contact history,  notes, results as well as in circumstances doing research to familiarize themselves with the prospect company prior to engaging a prospect in a consultative dialogue.   Preparation is key in our world.
  • 99% of all businesses will answer their phones. But navigating within an organization and getting to the key stakeholder/decision maker is an entirely different matter.
  • If you’re dialing an extension then in all probability the call will be answered … even if only by the person’s voice mail. So “busys” and wrong numbers are usually not a major factor in a B2B environment.
  • Typically there is a pause – anywhere between 2 and 20 seconds while the dialer finds an operator to take the call. When this occurs the poor prospect says … Hello …. Hello … Helloooooo … until someone comes on the line. It's unlikey the prospect will view this positively?
  • Bottom line is we don't see this technology as a way to drive a high quality communications with high level prospects in complex B2B environments.

Preview Dialers.

  1. The prospect record is brought up via a call queue or search result and the prospects' telephone number can then be dialed dynamically when the BD clicks on the number.

eti has used Preview Dialing technology extensively since its inception. It’s quick and efficient and allows for adequate preparation by the BD prior to initiating a call.

Automatic dialers (aka Robo Dialers).

These systems dial numbers (usually sequentially) and deliver a prerecorded message automatically to the recipient when they pick up or on their personal voice mail. It is not used much in B2B environments for many of the same reasons that Predictive Dialers should be avoided.

Targeting consumers or business people in this manner – whether you’re a politician, a charity, credit card or a bank – is (in at least this writers opinion) unprofessional and ineffective. Indeed, it may even be regarded as a relationship-breaker.

Automatic Call Distribution (ACD).

  • This is primarily used by call centers to handle incoming calls and is effective in managing the flow and volume of calls coming in.
  • When used correctly it is very useful and practical for both the caller and the recipient organization.  The problem is that often unsuspecting callers are many times placed in holding “purgatory” for lengthy periods of time. That can be solved of course by providing sufficient levels of staffing. But, many operations don’t because that increases costs significantly.

There is nothing better (and more effective) than having a prospect call and, immediately, there is immediately someone live to talk to.  And when that person is knowledgeable, speaks their language, and relates to them culturally it is worth its weight in gold. So ACD’s in a B2B environment are useful but should be used for limited purposes.

eti does use ACD’s and endeavors to deliver the following average results.

  • 99.9% of all calls are answered by a Business Developer within 1 minute.
  • 80% within 20 seconds.
  • When a queue is backed up we provide the caller with an estimated hold time (or their position in the queue)
  • We always offer the caller the ability to leave a message. Call backs are usually initiated within 4 hours

On Line Live Chat.

  • Chat comes in two flavors: Passive and Active.
    •   Passive involves the placement of a button on a typical web page and requires the prospect to click on the link/button to engage in an interaction.
    •   Active takes a more pro-active approach. Using powerful algorithms one can program the system to pop up an invitation to chat based on the users history (clicks and pages visited) and time on the site.

While the latter can be perceived as intrusive, it is very easy for the prospect to dismiss the offer to chat. Those who do pro-actively engage can be converted to real marketing qualified leads (MQL's) if handled professionally.

eti has an expanded practice that now offers B2B Business Developers to field chat interactions. Our primary role leverages both smarts BD's, phone and chat in order to convert prospects into highly qualified sales opportunities. Please see my recent blog for more about this capability. (Note: We do not undertake technical support efforts.)

To find our more about ETI's capabilities to meet your company's lead generation needs please call 1.800.466.4384 (914.747.03030).

 

What was the biggest b-2-b marketing success in 2011?

The other day we were asked by an editor at the American Marketing Association for an answer to the question “What was the biggest b-2-b marketing success in 2011?” Because she was on deadline, she wanted a response via email. My first thought was that it was not an easy question to answer, and I told her that.Then I went on to say:

With regard to your request, as I said in the voice message I left for you a short while ago, I don't think it's easy to transmit via email the complexity of a response to your question about the biggest B2B marketing success in 2011.

Certainly the widespread (and growing) use of marketing automation tools has had an impact on the environment. But, this technology is only a tool that has been added to the arsenal of those who are actively marketing in the B2B space. It is far from a panacea.

Like all tools that seem to be game changers, a cult begins to arise around them. These tools and techniques are being promoted as the key to sales success. Not too far behind are those who profess that social media (from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn) are competitors for the mantle of greatest thing since sliced bread.

But the truth is that the principles of selling remain unchanged, most especially in the arena of complex, non-commoditized products and services. The key to success in that arena is the ability to build trust relationships, and all of the technology in the world is inferior to personal connection when building trust. There are no technological shortcuts available.

Social media and technology can assist in the process by streamlining and enabling but, in the final analysis, a sale is consummated only after a good listener can engage the key stakeholders in an organization in a consultative dialogue about what keeps them up at night and how to best find a solution that will help them rest more easily.

Then, this morning, I received an email from Ari Galper entitled “Predictions and the New Currency of Business for 2012” and, lo and behold, he said pretty much the same thing. It’s a worthwhile read. He even posits that direct mail will make a comeback. I’m not sure that I quite agree with that one, buy maybe….

In any case, sales people and marketers are no different from anyone else in the sense that we are always seeking the Holy Grail — the magic bullet. Whether we’re thinking about weight loss, making money, making friends or any other human endeavor, there really are no shortcuts. The universal truth is that all of this requires hard work and concentrated effort to reach a level of success. And in the world of sales, nothing beats developing and cultivating a trusting relationship. Nothing.

Generate more qualified leads by increasing prospect engagement with LiveChat

In today’s tough times we are all trying to do more with less and maximize our assets to the greatest degree possible. In sales one can only have one conversation with a prospect at one time.  However, if you integrate Live Chat into the equation with a team of well trained Business Developers who can properly interact and communicate to determine need and or pain, you can extend that reach by factors of 200% – 400%.   That’s a meaningful impact!

LiveChat enables the BD to quickly assess the need and get the Prospect into the right process for follow up.  This may include moving the prospect into a more detailed Lead Qualification call, a Sales Lead Pipeline, a nurturing track or  other non sales (technical support) tracks.  Yes, utilizing Live Chat will divert a number of Prospects from the Contact Us forms on your site. The benefit is instant communication with these constituents.

You will also not be in a race with your competition to see who can reach the prospect first.To ensure success the Business Development team needs to be not only well versed in all that you do, but must also be proficient in identifying need/pain and sales opportunity. They need to have a detailed knowledge of the organizations roadmap and access to information to pass to the visitors. Using “Operators” that are reliant on canned messages that shoehorn all visitors to fit or merely have them ask if you want a salesperson to make contact does not make for a good or productive experience. In fact, it could be a huge turnoff.

Here are 4 pointers to keep in mind when using LiveChat to build your prospect pipeline:1.

  • Understand that Live Chat is a dialogue just like a phone call.
    • Because this is a dialogue, make sure the Business Developer is smart and can respond quickly and intelligently to each post by the prospect.
    • Canned responses if used must be well written and focused.  Use of canned messages that do not relate to the question can turn the Prospect off quickly.
  • Make sure your Business Developers have the tools to move those ‘chatters’ who do not have needs for your products and/or solutions quickly to the right department or information.
  • As in any sales call, one should always be moving the relationship toward greater levels of engagement and commitment.
  • Your brand is important, make sure the chat helps build it:
    • Be respectful of the prospect
    • React to their needs and interests rather than pushing your agenda.
    • Articulate responses in proper English.  Spelling and grammar does count.
    • Be polite and take no short cuts.

If you’d like to learn more about how this works and how you can leverage your website to generate highly qualified leads call us on 1.800.466.4384 (914.747.3030).

Inertia and aversion to change

You’ve carefully identified and qualified the prospect, clearly identified a need and even gotten them to speak about their “pain” and the challenges they are facing in retaining their current solution. You’ve made a sterling ROI presentation to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of your solution and the fact that it will return the full cost of the investment in less than a year!

Using Live Chat for B2B Lead Generation part 2

Back in April we first discussed an exciting ETI client initiative exploring the effectiveness of fielding B2B Live Chat discussions for the purpose of driving highly qualified sales opportunities into the sale opportunity pipeline. We’re delighted to report that the pilot campaign was so successful that it is being rolled out to other departments and product groups.

Here are 5 pointers to ensure success of B2B Live Chat for lead generation/lead qualification purposes:

  1. Understand that Live Chat is a dialogue just like a phone call.  Pre-set responses can increase productivity only if used properly. It’s important to be sure the response fits the question, rather than just picking the one that comes closest.  When the dialogue is focused on content and understanding the needs and pain of the prospect, then communication is highly effective which will result in more qualified leads.
  2. Make sure you screen out those ‘chatters’ who do not have needs for your products and or solutions.  Anyone requiring technical support or customer service should be routed to the correct department quickly and efficiently.  Make sure your team know how to recognize these contacts and that they have a good understanding of the inner workings of your organization.
  3. Because this is a dialogue, make sure the Business Developer can respond quickly and efficiently too each post by the prospect.  There is nothing more frustrating for a prospect than posting a question or comment and having to wait several minutes for someone to respond.
  4. As in any sales call one should always be moving the relationship toward greater levels of engagement.  In the case of Live Chat, that means moving the chat to a phone conversation.
  5. Your brand is important, make sure the chat helps build it:
  • Be respectful of the prospect.
  • React to their needs and interests rather than pushing your agenda.
  • Articulate responses in proper English.  Spelling and grammar does count.
  • Be polite and take no short cuts.

To learn more about smart B2B live chat please call us at 800.466.4384 (914.747.3030)  to discuss further.

Can Lead Nurturing via Marketing Automation system beat ‘Phone’ based Lead Nurturing?

The buzz around Marketing Automation Systems is heating up. It’s quickly becoming the hot new ‘gotta have’ software just as CRM was earlier in the decade.

The In-house Vs. Outsource Dilemma

Most companies that inquire about our services have already made a decision to outsource those functions and are seeking to find a partner that offers the best fit for their specific challenges.  Every so often, however, we encounter a company that is actively struggling with the in house vs. outsource dilemma. Certainly, the ability to develop “inside sales” resources in house offers a great deal of potential, and some companies elect to go in that direction.  Typically, their thinking is based upon assumptions that taking the process in house will give them greater control and communication, greater levels of expertise, a methodology for training new sales resources and, perhaps most importantly, offer significant cost savings.  On the surface, it seems like a simple cost-effective decision, especially when just comparing hourly rates – the most obvious metric.  Unfortunately, the issues are far more complex than that, and those objectives are rarely, if ever, met successfully.

First, most organizations don’t have systems in place that facilitate control and tracking of teleservices activity.  Success in this endeavor is far more complex than simply mandating some number of calls per day and providing a basic database (CRM) into which the results can be reported.  The requirement to actively manage the process is often overlooked.  And that’s not a part-time activity taken on by someone with little or no expertise in the area.  There is a need for ongoing monitoring of calls, to be sure that your brand is being represented with the degree of quality it deserves.  And there is a need for careful review of notes to ensure that potential opportunities are being managed appropriately and are not lost for lack of follow up and tracking.  Analogous to medical records, there is a need to ensure that the notes related to the progress of each opportunity are sufficiently detailed to enable someone else to take over the record should the current business developer be replaced.  As a result, there is far more management time needed than is typically planned.  On top of having to provide systems and dedicated management resources, you’ll need to provide dedicated, isolated space and phone systems that will support phone-intensive activity.  Those costs are typically overlooked and are always present in abundance.

Perhaps the most challenging issues relate to personnel (as is usually the case).  You’ll need a systematic methodology for recruiting, hiring and training qualified people.  The more complex your subject matter and value proposition, the more difficult it will be to find the “right” people.  Complex products and services need to be handled in a consultative dialogue, not with a script.  That means you’ll need people who can think and probe and listen and “peel the onion.” Personnel management is an ongoing process because there will inevitably be turnover.  And, with turnover, comes more efforts at recruiting, hiring and training (with lost opportunity cost during the ramp up period).  And that's true even if a career path is established, because you'll need to replace them when and if a promotion occurs.  These rather substantial indirect costs are also rarely considered when a company considers going down the in house path.

To further complicate matters, because these dedicated people are likely to be doing the same thing day in and day out, all day long, they will be significantly less productive later in the day than earlier.  The smarter and more sophisticated the people are that you hire, the greater the likelihood that boredom will soon set in (repetition is not stimulating to these folks).  This inevitably leads to shorter tenure and higher turnover rates.  And then there's vacation and sick leave with lost opportunity costs associated with those periods as well.  We always project our productivity as double that of a dedicated in house effort, and I've never been wrong about that estimate.  If anything, double is a generous view of in house productivity.

So, while hourly direct cost is significantly lower using in house resources, the total direct + indirect costs are often 50-70% higher than the rates we charge.  In fact, the most common outcome is to scrap the in house resources and go back to the old (extremely costly) plan of the "same old way."

So, if you have success in managing all of that and end up with a winning program, please let me know.  Because, as you can see, it will be unusual.

What is a Call Guide?

The term 'call guide' is often mistakenly considered synonymous with the term 'script.' Perhaps in some circles, that is, indeed the case, but not at eti. Since our inception in 1987, we have never used scripts.

Aberdeen 2009 B2B Teleservices Buyers Guide is out

The Aberdeen group is out with their 2009 buyers guide.  This study focuses on the Best Practices of Best-in-class companies who deploy outsourced B2B Teleservices. Some highlights ...

Best-in-Class companies have sales teams with an average of 90% achievement of the overall sales team quota

Best-in-Class companies increased their average revenue per sales rep by 10% on a year-over-year basis

Best-in-Class companies experienced an average 7% year-over-year improvement of their bid-to-win ratio

Here is the press release:

SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

  

Dec 10, 2009 10:00 ET

B2B TeleServices: The 2009 Buyer's Guide

Going Beyond the Simple Acquisition of Flat Data or Sales Appointments

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - December 10, 2009) - Top performing sales organizations are meeting the challenges of increasing the quality of incoming leads, as well as the overall size of their pipeline, by turning to external providers of business-to-business (B2B) teleservices for a wide variety of deliverables, according to a new research study published by Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS).

"B2B TeleServices: The 2009 Buyer's Guide," which examined 206 organizations deploying outsourced B2B teleservices, found that the sales teams of Best-in-Class companies achieved an average of 90% of the overall sales team quota.

"When organizations deploy an outsourced B2B teleservices provider to acquire and deliver some form of sales opportunities, they are essentially seeking to fill the selling pipeline with as many qualified leads as possible," says Peter Ostrow, Research Director, Sales Effectiveness, Aberdeen Group, the report's author. "Leading companies are building substantial, multi-faceted relationships with solution providers that go far beyond the simple acquisition of flat data or sales appointments."

The report reveals what leading companies have been able to achieve through deployment of outsourced B2B teleservices, such as:

 

--  7% yearly increase on average in bid-to-win ratio
--  Average annual revenue per sales rep has increased 11% year-over-year
Click here to obtain your copy.
 

Do you have a strategy to maximize participation in your upcoming event?

How much are you investing in organizing and conducting events such as Trade Shows, Webinars, Seminars and conferences?  Do you have a plan for maximizing attendance and optimizing the ROI on that investment?Quite often, companies feel compelled to create and attend events, in spite of their high cost and (all too) frequently low ROI, because that’s what their competition is doing. Instead of developing a plan to maximize the ROI on their investment they choose, instead, to reduce their investment to a bare minimum. The strategy is just to be there to "show their faces."

That investment has now been reduced to a cost of doing business and is quite unlikely to provide any tangible return at all.At eti, we provide a range of support services designed to maximize attendance in their events.    And optimize their investments, big or small.  Over the years we’ve had some great success in “lifting” average attendance by as much as 100%  or more by engaging in a systematic person-to-person interaction with key prospects.  And we’ve also had success in identifying qualified sales opportunities as a by-product of that process.  So our client gets more eyes and ears for their message and some fully qualified sales opportunities to boot that might otherwise not have been identified as quickly (if at all).

Successes such as this require a cohesive strategy up front.  So here are some simple suggestions that you may want to think about when planning your next event.  (Just to be clear the ideas here refer to direct event recruitment not PR and marketing promotional activity which are also essential to enhancing success)

Integrated Email/Telemarketing Tactics

  • Start early (6 weeks out) and email often�
    • Incentives
      • Offer an early bird discount to motivate early registration
      • Offer a volume registration discount
    • Segment your list.
      • Mail less to known customers and prospects.  No need to inundate the ones that already respect your brand and have your solutions (unless the purpose of the event is specifically directed at clients)
      • Mail more to ‘cold’ prospects to promote both your brand as well as the event
    • Mail weekly for 2-3 weeks to the same audience making sure to remove registrants and opt outs before production
    • Provide a toll free hotline for prospects to call .. ask questions and register.  Or better still if they can’t attend then to let you know they have a need
      • Have an infrastructure ready and trained to handle these inquiries
    • Make sure to track email opens and click throughs and leverage the data to increase registration
      • Orchestrate an outbound call to people who clicked through to the website but did not register
    • Outbound calling effort to focus on the 20% that will produce 80% of the revenue to start immediately after the first email
      • Develop custom call guides
        • Track why prospects respond positively or not to your offer
        • Gather market intelligence on what would attract prospects to future events
        • Capture new contacts and verify that emails have reached the prospects you targeted andthat they are the correct targets
      • Extend the above offers
        • Trade shows specific …
          • Offer an exclusive appointment with key executives.
          • If you’re having an extra event (party) invite your key prospects personally.
          • Focus on geography.  It’s more likely you will get greater attendance from the key executives you want to talk to, if they do not have to travel great distances.
      • Confirm registrations 24 hours before the event

After the event:

Depending on the type of event you should consider including the following in your post event tactics in order to maximize ROI by identifying “sales ready” prospects and nurturing those that may convert over time.

Trade Shows:

  • Segment the prospects: Actual discussions or registrations at the booth

    • These prospects should be called via an outbound effort ASAP.
    • Time here is of the essence (within 24-48 hours is ideal) as it is likely these prospects are also looking at your competitors.
  • Dropped card in the bowl
    • Less productive segment.
    • Send an email with thanks for visiting and then test an outbound calling strategy to evaluate the quality of these inquiries.
  • Trade Show attendees
    • Unless able to be segmented these lists rarely are productive.
    • However, a low cost outbound email as well as and some outbound calling may be productive in some circumstances and should be tested
  • Webinars/Seminars/Conferences:
    • Attendees:
      • Email immediately after the event thanking them for attending
      • Conduct an outbound program to further qualify interest and sales potential
      • Those participants who represent the 20% that could generate 80% of the revenues should be called within 48 hours.
    • Non Attendees:
      • Email … “Sorry you could not make it …”
      • Call, qualify, stimulate interest and awareness and drive into your lead pipeline
        • Note:  eti’s experience is that non-attendees often produce better qualified leads/opportunities than the attendee group.  Ignore these prospects at your own risk.

eti has significant experience managing the entire recruitment effort.  As well as the post event lead generation elements.  IN addition, we offer a comprehensive registration capability to manage multiple events/locations and more.  Please call us on 1.800.466.4384 to discuss how ETI can help you maximize your event ROI.

The value of traditional outbound direct marketing

B2BOnline has just published an article written by me entitles 'The value of traditional outbound direct marketing'. Client here to view it.

 Michael Falkson

MIT Sloan Sales Conference 2009 - Sell or Sink: Navigate the Crisis

MIT Sloan School Of Business Sales COnference We're pleased to announce that I will be hosting a workshop entitled Tough Times Demand Smarter Sales Strategies at this year's MIT Sloan Sales Conference which is to be held on April 17th, 2009 in Cambridge, MA.

Workshop Description:

Keeping your business afloat in tough times requires disciplined sales strategies to prevent being overwhelmed.

Most companies have areas of weakness in their sales and marketing processes.  When times are good, no one wants to upset the applecart so there’s less incentive to be introspective.

Tough times present a good opportunity to examine areas within your company most likely to benefit from introspective examination.   In the current environment, where fewer dollars are chasing fewer prospects in smaller and shrinking marketplaces, some questions virtually ask themselves.

In this session we’ll explore:

• Whether the sales organization is coping with the downturn.

•  Whether the sales opportunity pipeline is filled with genuine sales ready opportunities.

• Whether there is a solution to decreasing New Customer Acquisition (NCA) closing rates.

• Whether the marketing teams are fully aligned to sales’ needs.  

• Whether marketing and sales are ROI accountable.

• Whether there are leaks in the sales opportunity pipelines and, if so, how you can minimize their impact.

We’ll also take a hard look at marketing activity, lead generation, lead qualification and lead nurturing and how they can have a marked impact on maximizing sales productivity. 

To register click here.

How A Client’s Insistence That We Uphold His Company’s Brand Image Changed the Nature of Our Business

You may wonder what the process of acquiring new customers has to do with upholding a client’s brand image. We first learned to understand the importance of BRAND in the early 90’s when working on assignment for a Fortune listed 500 company.

Their executives made a serious point of informing us their company was much concerned that we should not do anything which might hurt their company’s carefully cultivated image.

On the contrary they went on to explain . . .

  • that in speaking with their prospective clients we should speak with esteem for the way their company does business
  • that we should convey their company is one which appreciates the customer as king
  • that they value the opportunity to pay attention to the needs and values of their customers
  • that they can be relied on to carry out their promises and offers
  • that they should be admired for their products and respected for their services. 

We immediately realized the essential truth of this client's definition of their brand, their company image, and the real value of their advice. Before long we decided to make changes in our business that would result in setting us apart from the average telemarketing service vendor of the time.

This decision required us to internalize that client’s priceless advice and to review eti’s company persona. It also affected our hiring objectives. The education and business experience of our phone agents would become one of the most important factors in our hiring decisions.

We would need to look for persons with an executive manner who easily and naturally spoke the language of their prospects. We would need people capable of understanding the need to uphold the client’s brand image whenever they spoke in their name. And scripts were thrown out in favor of Call Guides enabling us to engage in consultative and meaningful conversations with client prospects.

In due course our staff would be defined as Business Developers (no longer telemarketers or phone agents) in keeping with our clients’ objectives. These were, by and large, to acquire new customers via sales lead generation and lead qualification efforts. 

When we work for you, you’ll know that we are conscious of the fact that you too want respect for your company image and admiration for your products or services. You’ll get both.

Here is what clients have said about our approach:

  • “You don't describe yourselves as being in the business of generating leads. You defined your mission as New Customer Acquisition and Retention and maximizing sales/force productivity.”
  • “You sold us on the lifetime significance of new customers rather than the value of their first orders.”
  • “You have a basic brand image mindset which is very important to us.”
  • “Your Business Developers are graduates and have business experience. They adapt and converse freely because they are not bound by scripts.”
  • “You’re not the most competitive price wise. But if we wanted low costs we could have gone to any of the commodity type agencies that abound.”
  • “What we can’t get from your competitors are people who will be concerned to uphold our brand image.”
  • “You appreciated the concern we have for our brand image. You spoke our language.”

eti is concerned to convey the respect we have for our client’s brand image. This concept does not lend itself to a set of rules which can be prioritized and numbered. Brand image is not upheld or maintained or enhanced in this way.

In Tough Times more Effective Marketing will Increase Sales Force Productivity

Tough times require all expenditures to be examined for possible reduction or elimination. Marketing is not exempt from such investigation and will undoubtedly reveal areas where cuts can and will be made. One example is Brand Advertising which for the most part is not an immediate result producing expenditure. On the other hand it would be unwise to cut advertising oriented to generate demand activity for your goods/services. Or to generate inquiries for goods/services since such sales leads can effectively be converted to new customers.

The following strategies should be implemented:

  • Focus on generating quality inquiries as distinct from large numbers of inquiries.
  • Analyze inquiry response by media to check on the effectiveness (front and back end) of both ad and media. Save money by canceling or revising ineffective ads and/or media.
  • Cancel advertising that is not generating satisfactory revenue and invest the funds in strategies that are creating revenues.
  • Analyze effectiveness of costly Trade Shows and Webinars and other Event driven activities. Not only by volume of actual inquiries but more importantly by actual conversion rates.   (Typically the return on investment from such activities is lower than other more organic marketing tactics.)
  • Be cautious about offering free or premium offers. These often drive high volume of inquiries.  That’s natural - but they are seldom effective in helping the sales force to sell more.
  • Large volumes of email can be sent at very low cost but actual readership is in doubt. Too much depends on factors over which senders have no control.
    • Use sparingly and wisely to maximize the impact.
    • Make sure your messaging is targeted to applicable prospect companies.
    • Personalize if possible with TEXT (not html) based content.
    • Where possible mail only to OPT IN contacts.
    • Track each and every email open and click through to ascertain readership and traffic driven to your website and or micro-site.
  • The management of inquiries and follow through is complex and requires a strong database infrastructure for effective control. Outsourced CRM solutions may well be helpful. ETI clients derive immense benefits using our thoroughly reliable in-house CRM solutions - provided at no extra cost. An advantage worth its weight in gold!

New Customer Acquisition in Tough Times. 4 Positive Sales Boosting Ideas

We've just posted a great new article (IOHO) on the ETI site that offers up 4 Positive Sales Boosting Ideas. 

Do the bean counters have you running for the hills ... cutting back on all your marketing expenditures?

Are results from your current marketing and promotional activities falling?

Do you have a tough times strategy in place?

Read more here.

Is the PHONE a marketing medium?

The origin of telemarketing (TM) may be lost in the mists of time. Lots of folk credit Murray Roman for being the father of telemarketing but I don’t believe he ever confirmed parenthood. As an executive for the Ford company however, he was involved in the first mass telephone campaign in 1964. Vance Packard in his “The Naked Society” wrote about the 20 million phone calls which Ford then made. Packard was not altogether complimentary even though the campaign produced a magnificent result for Ford. Ford’s success quite likely sparked the entry of business into this direct marketing medium. 

The basic concept of TM was much like that of direct mail … deliver a consistent message to a generally uniform audience and the response will be measurable.  If you sent out 10, 000 advertising packages and received 200 responses you could extrapolate that 2% by mailing a million to the same quality list and geography.

This applied equally to outbound telemarketing.  If one called 1000 similar prospects with a similarly consistent message (script) then this too became a measurable marketing medium.  And it worked, sometimes better, sometimes worse depending on the ability of your callers to conduct proficient conversations with decision makers.

The medium was embraced early on by consumer direct marketers who built large phone banks to organize their calls. And it did not take long for the medium to start irritating consumers. Calls were being made during the evenings and weekends.  They were rigorously scripted and for the most part high pressured. There were also many scams. Sure enough everyone who operated a TM service was soon tainted with the bad reputation of the medium. 

Newspapers whipped up a frenzy of fury – partly due to a loss of revenue no doubt. Ironically, many of them were later to become the biggest users in an attempt to build subscriptions, to regain lost subscribers, and even to solicit advertising. In 1996 my company, Effective Telemarketing Inc. changed its name to ETI Sales Support simply because it just became pain-in-the-neck embarrassing to be tainted by the consumer side of the medium. Especially as we never operated in the consumer sphere.  Our focus was and has always been in the domain of B2B.

With the advent of the ‘Do Not Call’ lists initiated early on by the Direct Marketing Association and later endorsed by the Federal Government, this negativity has markedly decreased.

So is the phone a marketing medium?  Especially as it pertains in the B2B marketing space?

The answer is definitely a huge yes.  And an enormously successful one too.

When looking to generate B2B Sales Leads here are some pointers to bear in mind.

  • Messaging: – Although in our world (B2B Lead Generation and Lead Qualification) the communication is consultative (i.e. not scripted) in nature it is still consistent from prospect to prospect and market to market.  This allows one to measure results and data accurately.  Furthermore, these results are fully projectable.
  • Interactive medium:  No other form of direct communication allows for instantaneous two way communication with a prospect.  All other media facilitate an entirely one sided communication.  Take a moment to consider the power of such personal  interaction:
    • Best way to identify and talk to the decision making authority
      • Only dynamic medium that allows you to navigate within an organization to identify the true decision maker/s.
    • Best way to motivate purchasing interest of the decision maker
    •  Best way to respond to questions or objections
    • Immediate ability to probe for need and pain
    • Immediate ability to confirm
      • Real interest
      • Appointments
      • Orders
      • Webinar/Seminar registrations
      • Etc Etc.
  • Brand: You never get a better chance to make a first impression.  (While many may think that brand might be compromised by a phone call, it’s my firm opinion that when handled correctly, brand image can be enhanced by such a communication.)
  • Actionable Business Intelligence:  Because the telephone is interactive in gathering business intelligence and data in real time, one can measure the data quickly and effectively. This effectively allows clients to manage follow up processes (by sales or sales lead nurturing systems).
  • Flexibility:  With a smart nimble business developement team one realign and modify call guides.  One can also customize the message as it pertains to different market segments and audience types.
  • TM will produce about 4-10 times the result of direct mail alone. And as much as 1,000% more than permission based email blasts.
  • Testing is possible and desirable.
    • Test various messaging approaches.
    • Testing different market segments can be quick and effective.
      • By vertical (SIC classifications)
      • Company size (employee and or revenue)
      • By product usage.
      • By geography
      • Etc.

So yes … B2B Telemarketing is a marketing highly effective medium and one that should be preferred when the objective is New Customer Acquisition.

Lowering marketing budgets will lower sales lead performance

In a post to from the Sales Lead management Association John Obermayer makes an interesting and timely point:

While most C-level managers realize that build-and-ship schedules are tied to sales performance, few understand that sales performance ultimately is tied to sales lead performance and the marketing budget.

Reduce your lead generating marketing funds and within 30 days inquiries will slow down in proportion to how much you have cut the budget.   The frightening subsequent sales failure happens within 60-90 days when sales plummet because the pipeline of prospects has slowed to a trickle.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is a prime example of cause and effect.

In difficult times many companies make cuts without thinking through the consequences of their actions.  I have seen this time and time again ... sometimes with disastrous results.  In difficult times it's precisely the investments you make in lead generation, lead nurturing and lead qualification efforts that will keep you in the game.

High Quality Business Development is a Collaborative Process

We strongly believe that the relationship between our Business Developers (BDs) and the sales people who are our ultimate customers is essential to the success of a lead generation / lead qualification effort.  A vital element in this relationship is the need to foster bi-directional communication as a regular discipline. Remember, the goal of your ETI business development team is not to just set appointments and let you battle it out on your own.  We want to be in your corner because we share a collective responsibility to see every sales opportunity through to the close of the first sale and the acquisition of a new customer. 

We know full well that the sales opportunity pipeline (and the prospect pipeline) is a fluid, dynamic process.  That clarifies the essential difference between us and other lead generation companies.  In short, we prefer to be your partner, not your vendor.  Here then is one of the realities that makes ETI so markedly different from our competitors.  We have little interest in a hands-off relationship.

Specifically, this is what we want you, as a client, to know:

  • If you have a question or concern we want to hear it.  Please call us to discuss as often as you wish.
  • If you need more information about any qualified prospect submitted to you, please let us know.  We’ll call the prospect again and probe that topic for you.
  • If you feel you’d like a particular individual on the prospect’s side to be in on the appointment, tell us – we’ll do our best to arrange it for you.
  • If you have made an initial call and feel it would be better to have ETI hold onto the prospect and move them further along or nurture them until ready, that’s what we’ll gladly do for you.

And more.  Just whatever occurs to you – call us.

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