Marketing Automation

Brand Can Affect Tele Prospecting Results by an Average of 30%

I recently conducted an analysis of work done for ETI clients since 2001 by categorizing them into 2 buckets … “Well Know Brands” (WKB’s) and “Lesser Known Brands” (LKB’s). We then evaluated the number of first calls which resulted in a substantive conversation with each prospect. Results showed that the WKB’s beat the LKB’s by some 30%. Moreover 25% more of these WKB records converted into opportunities than the LKB’s.

You might say it makes good sense that top Brands like American Express, Google or Motorola get more attention than XYZ No Name Brand.

Of course this makes sense. But one must bear in mind that top Brands spend millions if not billions building their brand equity. Smaller lesser known brands simply do not and cannot match these resources.

What actually happens in the real world is that many of the initial calls being made to prospects by LKB’s are actually Brand Building by their very nature. True there’s always some low hanging fruit, but successful Tele-Prospecting efforts relies on an interactive communication process to develop a trusted relationship.

Only when a prospect’s pain (or need or problem) is acknowledged and a level of trust has been attained - that an appointment could be setup for a sales person to become engaged.

So yes there is additional cost to the LKB in terms of the extra time needed to generate a lead. However, that investment is razor focused on the prospect company you want to do business with. It soon becomes evident that the LKB does not need to invest millions in media and brand building activity to achieve that. (In fact I’d hazard a guess that if you factored in the real cost per prospect touch of the WKB’s against the LKB’s you will find that the cost for LKB’s is substantially lower.)

That being said, one can also supplement go to market strategies with these low cost highly focused activities.

  • Be sure that you have relevant content for prospects who may request it.
    • A “send me an email” request may be regarded as a is a fob off, but as long as the prospect has a need and you are persistent, positive and professional in communicating with the prospect you will have an impact.
    • Also leverage Marketing Automation tools track content consumed on your web site or via promotional emails sent
    • Leverage contacts on social media (such as LinkedIn) to get entry to a prospect company through a recommendation?
    • A personal letter drafted by a professional copywriter can often be very effective.
    • Other activities such as PR, Trade Shows, Webinars can help but may also be costly.

Finally, remember that the only people who matter to your company are those you want as customers. Focusing your brand building activities exclusively on prospects can be effective and will lower your overall costs.

Recently I was interviewed on this subject by Jim Obermeyer of the Sales Lead Management Association. Click below to listen.

Half of all sales inquiries are no good. The challenge is finding which half.

Guest post by James W. Obermayer, CEO of the Sales Lead Management Association www.salesleadmgmtassn.com. Well, this isn’t entirely true.  The actual number is 45% of all inquiries turn into a sale for someone.   When Mike Simon (founder of Inquiry Handling Service, now Harte Hanks) taught me that number, I was a wee communications manager just out of college.  The information changed my marketing and sales career.

Of course, I only half believed him that half of the inquiries I gave our salespeople at Beckman Instruments were as worthy as he contended.   I had to prove it to myself.

After completing several “Did You Buy Studies” (necessary because the salespeople reported back on only 25% of the inquiries given them), sure enough…45% of inquirers had bought something within one year (we surveyed inquirers that were 12 months old).  24-26% of inquirers bought something that were six months old (yep, we went to a different group).   And 12-15% of inquirers bought within three months from a different set only three months old.

Yes, we measured conversion from a single source (tied to avoid mixed sources), but always from a single point in time within 30 days.

Once we had these numbers, I started to report to management on the ROI from various lead generation sources.  That stirred up a few hornets.  Some sacred-cow lead generation sources were proved to be less than stellar, while some thought to be ‘fillers’ were purchasing more than expected.

The variable we found was us.  We knew that our lead generation activities found buyers, but with only 25% follow-up by our salespeople we were not participating in 75% of the opportunities.  Duh!

Simple variable, but oh so hard to change!

Increase follow-up and you will increase sales.   We found that increasing follow-up, by almost any means, increased sales.   Hence, the justified claims from marketing automation software and lead generation and qualification companies that their programs increased sales 200-300%.  No surprise there.

The lesson learned?  If you can’t get your salespeople to follow up 100% of the inquiries, find an outside firm to nurture the leads for you.  No budget?  Think about the lost opportunities.  Begging your salespeople to do the obvious usually doesn’t work.  Spend a few bucks and have professionals nurture the leads until each is sales ready.

Toss in nurturing with a marketing automation program and you’ll be beating 75% of your competitors.  Why only 75% you ask?  That’s because 25% have already figured out that half of the inquirers buy something from someone… and that someone is the person and company that follows up.

James Obermayer, Sales & Marketing 365, A year of wisdom at your fingertips, Racom Communications, Chicago, Il, Number 14 of 365 Tips & Tricks,  http://www.racombooks.com/

The Marketing Automation Donut Hole

One of the key elements of Marketing Automation is the ability to track and then score how prospects navigate your website. The idea assumes that certain behaviors (clicks, downloads, etc.) indicate a relative level of interest in your products or solutions.The problem is that, in many cases, the person doing the research by visiting your site is not the decision maker but, more often, an assistant or surrogate. This is more likely the case if you have complex products being marketed to equally complex companies and decision making environments.In this case, there is some level of interest no question - but just how much interest and the locus of their concerns requires direct engagement in a conversation that allows you to quality and quantify need, imperative and interest as well as who are the relevant decision makers who will engage in any purchase decision. The best time to do that is precisely when the prospect is nibbling, and that may be the best time to have ETI initiate a contact on your behalf. We’ll get in front of the prospects, identify all of the key stakeholders, and engage in a (consultative) dialogue to ferret out all of the dynamics of the situation and fully qualify it.  If you don’t do it first, then your competition might beat you to the punch. Remember, the prospect isn’t waiting around for their score to get higher.

For more information about how we can help you maximize your Marketing Automation investment give us a call at 914.747.3030.  (We already have successful integrations with Eloqua, MarketBright and ActOn.)

And, if you haven’t yet invested in a marketing automation solution, but have an interest in exploring one, we’d be happy to work with you to make that happen.

Content may be king; relationships are personal

Since time immemorial selling has been about relationships. From the three martini lunch to immeasurable rounds of golf and scads of tickets to sporting events, salespeople have used every method possible to connect with and cultivate prospects (and clients) at a personal level. Now we’re being asked to believe that a new, disruptive technology has somehow altered the landscape. We no longer have to connect with people at a personal level to establish a trusted relationship. Now we can do it with content; a powerful, less expensive alternative – marketing automation! Content is king; no handshakes required, thank you very much.

So, how do we know what content to send them? What are they interested in and how do we know that? Exactly how interested are they? Where in the journey toward obtaining a solution are they? Where’s the pain?

If you follow the marketing automation model, and many do, you send out dozens of emails to people each month, each with a content offer. And then you track what they respond to and act accordingly. You send them whitepapers and round them up into webinars. Each time you gather more and more information about them (although, in practice, it always seems as if they ask the same questions each time I respond, no matter how often I respond, almost as if they really don’t know me at all).

Sounds to me like a lot of investment in creating content (although they tell you that you can “repurpose” the content you already have) and not so much invested in asking me the important, simple questions like: Why did I ask for that whitepaper? Why was that webinar topic of interest? What’s keeping me and my colleagues up at night? Where are my priorities and my company’s priorities at the moment?

They don’t bother asking me any of that, but they do send me lots of free content. The problem is that, when I look at the content, I discover that it’s either relatively shallow or, even if it has merit, it generally doesn’t quite apply to me or my specific challenges.

Eventually, I stop clicking and stop asking because I have actually soured on the relationship. It doesn’t give me what I need. I get no value from my time investment.

Of course, other than having to pay for creating the content (a substantial cost if done right), on the surface it seems as if it hasn’t cost them very much to generate highly qualified leads. I suppose if you are already investing in scads of content creation, then repurposing it will work. But, for most companies, that’s not the case.

No doubt, some people find that strategy hits the spot for them. The content they use is on the mark; it meets the needs of prospects and brings them into the fold through a self identification process. They may even make a purchase and become customers. When you measure the acquisition cost of that sale, it may seem attractively low, especially when compared to the cost of having to engage people personally from day 1 (excluding, of course the substantial investment in content and software/services).

But what about me, my needs and a sale to my company? That’s lost. Who’s measuring lost opportunity cost? Who’s assessing what might have happened if someone had taken the time to engage me directly, asked the salient questions, cultivated me at a personal level and earned my trust and my business? How does that figure into the cost per customer acquisition matrix?

It seems to me that if I’m going to buy into the marketing automation model, I want to do it on the basis of knowing what interests a prospective customer BEFORE I send them content. I always want that content to be relevant to their needs, and I want every single touch to bring value to the relationship – a clear statement that I listened, I heard and I have responded accordingly.

I can’t risk basing my relationship development strategy on inferences – on remote behavior from a distance. I prefer proactive to reactive. I need to speak with them first, understand their needs, concerns and aspirations. I need to establish a detailed profile of who they are, how they go about making decisions, how important to them is finding a solution and, most importantly, what are they trying to accomplish and what have they tried already that has failed. I need to know them – personally.

With knowledge of who they are and what’s important to them in hand, I can build a regimen of delivering exactly the content they need, knowing that it will bring value to them and establish the beginning of a trusted advisor relationship. And to achieve that most effectively, I need to invest in my own resources or hire a company like ETI Sales Support that has the people, skills and experience to engage them personally, consultatively and reliably to build a positive brand image, assess the level and quality of the needs they have for the solution we represent.

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.

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