The topic of Quality vs. Quantity in demand gen has been a constant debate. Whether it's inbound marketing or outbound marketing there are costs associated with a lead, there are costs associated with the time and effort needed to convert that lead to an opportunity, and there are costs tied to the quality of those leads and how that impacts conversion rates.
As David Greenberg, Sr. Director of Marketing at Jive Software shares with us, "With the focus we all have right now on building pipeline that will convert to revenue, quality leads are called for. We just don't have the time to waste managing anything but."
In this example, with b2b appointment setting and pay-for-performance vendors, it is a very straight forward study as the costs per appointment are fairly standard and as SiriusDecisions and IDC have discussed, the rates of production and conversion are uniform over time.
Executive Summary: Lead gen programs that manage to Quality metrics provide sales ready leads that result in an overall higher ROI. Whether an internal team or a third party vendor, if the reps are incentivized to produce Quality appointments, the cost per pipeline opportunity can be as high as 14% more effective. In an appointment setting program, this is due primarily to cancel rates, rejection rates, and the overall quality of the meeting. Other costs to consider are the costs to manage the vendor relationship, and the cost to the sales team for attending low quality meetings.
The Numbers: In order to remain somewhat statistic-neutral, we have asked our clients to provide stats based on their experience with other appointment setting vendors and ourselves (ok, so a bit self-promoting, but stick with it). The percentages used were calculated by evaluating 5 clients' stats comprised of 1100 meetings set by Green Leads and over 2000 set by 3 other appointment setting firms. The numbers showed a significant difference in cancel/reject rates as well as pipeline conversion. The percentages used for calculation were:
|Conversion to Pipeline Rate
Typical Appointment Setting Program Stats:
|Convert to Pipeline
|Cost ($750 per Completed Meeting)
|Cost per Opportunity
The Quality Vendor resulted in a 13% better investment per opportunity.
Your Checklist: Your vendor choice is obviously the most important factor in determining how your program is going to play out, so below are some things you can do to screen your vendors and aid in making a good decision. It's not a litmus test, so look for trends and patterns:
- If they keep talking about LOTS of meetings and production - beware
- If they won't let you interview their reps - beware
- If they pay their reps to SET meetings as opposed to COMPLETE meetings - beware
- If they are squeamish about discussing detailed stats, or if they don't track detailed stats - beware
- If during a reference check you ask the client about stats and they don't match what the vendor told you, or the client doesn't know - beware
- If they over-promote their call counts, talk time, or other non-results oriented stats - beware
- If when you ask them what their confirmation and scheduling procedures are they don't have convincing answers - beware
- If their rejection policy is too loose or has gray area you don't like, ask for and document specific examples. If they won't do that and you're still not understanding the policy - beware
- If they have a short period of time by which you have to notify them of a rejection, cancel or reschedule (or the meeting is automatically billed) - beware
Also look at reputation. When asked formerly for a reference, they will probably send you to their friends. So listen when they mention client names off the cuff during conversations. Then you check them out with your network. It's a small world--find out who you or your colleagues know at those companies (use LinkedIn). Then make some of your own inquiries.
Trish Bertuzzi of The Bridge Group shared, "Mike, what a great checklist for vendor selection. There are literally dozens of vendors in this space both domestically as well as off shore. People need to understand that picking a vendor is picking a PARTNER. We wrote a blog post Third Party Vendors for Lead Qualification on this very topic. Here are some questions your readers may want to add to their list:
- How many years have you been in business?
- What is your attrition rate?
- Who are your 4 largest clients? What is their size? and How many employees do you have dedicated to their project?
- Do you provide web based reporting?
This is just a sample but you get where I am going...you have to ask the vendor as many questions about their business as they should ask you about yours."
I had the pleasure today of participating in the Richardson Connect webinar series. Nigel Edelshain of Sales 2.0 and I were both panelists discussing:
Linked, Tweeted, and Profiled:Using the Power of Social Media to Generate Sales Leads and Expand Client Relationships
Despite a minor glitch from the webinar hosting provider during the first minute, the event was successful due to Richardson's impeccable planning process. This sales training company is all about preparation, execution and communication -- which led to a great event. Let me outline that procedure ramping up to a webinar, focusing not on presentation tips but on the production of the webinar itself.
- Initial Planning - Identify speakers, topics and goals of the webinar
- Messaging - Get all participants and constituents together to brainstorm messaging, expectations, schedule and action items
- Content Creation - Three weeks prior. Involve all participants in the content creation process and solicit comments constantly.
- First Review - Two weeks prior. Participants walk through the slide deck, talk about what each can contribute and what cues might be used for transition.
- Dry Runs and Rehersals - Use the actual webinar hosting software so that everyone involved is familiar with operations.
- Dry Run #1 - Week prior. Casual run-through with some designated critics that are not intimately involved with the content. Feedback as needed during the dry run. Edits.
- Dry Run #2 - Three days prior. Formal run-through with critics, refined content review and attempt at real-time flow and timing. Feedback after the dry run. Final edits.
- Dress Rehersal - Day prior. The whole presentation, as it will play out. No stops. Feedback after. OK, more final edits ;)
- Prep - 30 minutes prior. Get presenters to log in early. Test everything for going live and use tech support if necessary to fix any glitches.
- Go Live - At start time, announce that the webinar will begin shortly. This gives stragglers a couple minutes to log on. Then jump right in.
- Q&A - Make sure to allow enough time for questions, and then after the event answer any open questions in an email to the participants.
- Followup - Send a prompt followup with calls to action and link to the replay.
The number of reviews and dry runs might seem like overkill. In fact, this presenter originally complained it was too much, but Jim & Lori ... I take it back. This level of preparation was perfect.
Thanks to Richardson for producing a great event and inspiring this contribution to the Smashmouth Lead Gen Tips collection. As always, thanks to Nigel for being a great sidekick and colleague. The two of us are never at a loss for words.
Any other webinar tips you want to share? Add them as a comment.
A while back, I read an article by Chris Brogan that discussed 19 chores we could each do daily to help us maintain an online presence. I was already doing a majority of the list, but then it got me thinking. What if I had my browser setup so when I wake up in the AM all my daily tasks for maintaining my social media prowess were just lined up waiting for me to get my coffee? Here's my Lead Generation Tip for today.
I've never been one to clutter up toolbars in a browser, but this seemed like a great reason to do it. So I bookmarked the following links and turned on the bookmarks toolbar. This allows me to wake up, sip my Greenest Bean coffee (organic, locally roasted), and make my presence known. I come back to it during the day when I need a break and hit them again.
- HootSuite - been using this since I uninstalled tweetdeck for locking up my system every day. I've got it all decked out with columns, tabs, subjects, friends, you name it
- Google Reader - still the easiest RSS reader going. Read up, schedule the best for tweets on HootSuite with Send Later. Comment on a few relevant articles
- Hubspot Dashboard - finds daily chores for me to do around blogging, keywords, search rankings, etc.
- LinkedIn Q&A - to maintain my top Lead Gen Expert status and to accept invites and other LinkedIn goodness
- Personal Facebook - post some drivel
- Company Facebook Fan Page - post some value
- Fast Company Blog - share an article
- Smashmouth Marketing Blog - write an article
- FriendFeed - check out friends thoughts
- SocialOomph - vet my new twitter followers
During the process, I usually digg or stumble a few articles as well.
ps. Look at the other top experts in the Lead Generation section of LinkedIn. I'm in good company!
What other daily tasks do you do to keep yourself in the frontlines? Leave a comment
There was a LinkedIn Question today that I answered. It is such a valuable tip, I thought I would cross post it here.
Question: If the goal of a call is lead generation and appointment setting for my sales engineer, how should I handle a prospect when they ask a tough technical question I can't answer?
Answer: First, don't let the question drag you into a black hole or throw you off your game. Use the question as an opportunity to get what you are looking for -- a meeting.
A prospect challenging you with a technical question is a perfect segue to asking for the meeting. I'll give you an over-simplified example:
- Know it's the right prospect (by title, by some basic questions, by what they say)
- Once you know they are the right prospect, and you've given them a very high level pitch, then focus on the appointment, not the sales pitch
- The prospect then asks some technical question you can't answer. "Does your solution support XYZ (technical buzzwords here)?"
- Reply: "I'm somewhat sure we do, but I would rather you get a solid answer. The right person to talk to is Mike. He can address all your technical issues. Are you available for a short call to talk with him?"
Don't let the prospect drive you into a place you can't recover from. Maintain control of the call, and stay on target. It's an opportunity, not an obstacle. As Jeff Ogden, the Fearless Competitor, says about lead generation: "Stop complaining, take action now."
What other appointment setting tips do you have? Do you have something that unlocks an executive's door? Want me to write on a specific topic? Leave a comment
Tony Soprano:"Every decision you make affects every facet of every other #?%!% thing."
ok, the Tony Soprano thing was just a late addition after I read some hilarious quotes from the show on IMDB last night, and realized they had some ...ahem... relevancy -- just a little fun ;)
For years the world of b2b marketing has used outbound marketing as a source of lead generation. Many companies also operate inside sales departments, and there has been an industry built around supporting these efforts and providing superior service to clients. Services such as appointment setting, lead generation and list development are pervasive and a very common tool in the demand gen arsenal.
Then there was the Google. Studies have shown recently that most buying decisions start with a Google search. Although I don't totally agree with the statement (especially as it pertains to emerging technologies), I will agree that it's Google that sits on most people's desktops all day long and is a tool we use constantly. Our goal as marketers -- get the buyers to find relevant content, then find links to vendors, then capture their name as a lead (eventually). Classic inbound marketing.
Tony Soprano: "Hey, You want that, it's a phone call away."
In order to capitalize on this, there's been a rush to successfully implement inbound marketing strategies so that we can capture the leads that are out there stumbling on our sites from various sources. Search engine marketing (SEM), search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogging and social media strategies all contribute to solid Google rankings.
Marketers have been considering their strategies in two budget line items. Inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Some have even gotten passionate about which strategy is the ultimate demand gen horse to ride, the majority seem to be implementing both inbound and outbound marketing equally. What many have overlooked is that most inbound leads don't just jump into the boat with a purchase order. Raising their hand for an ebook shows interest, and coming back to the site several times for more content raises their interest (and hopefully your lead score), but when are they going to jump in the boat?
Tony Soprano: "A wrong decision is better than indecision."
This is where the alignment of inbound marketing and outbound marketing come together. Over the past several months I've visited several companies that specialize in inbound marketing (if you follow my blog or twitter, you'll know who they are). I've been to lead nurturing companies, marketing automation companies, SEO companies, SaaS companies offering solutions for inbound marketing, etc. One thing they all had in common was a sizable outbound marketing component to their own marketing efforts -- large inside sales teams, outsourced lead gen companies, and appointment setting programs. There always has to be someone to give the pitch and ask the questions.
Tony Soprano: "Oh, poor baby. What do you want, a Whitman's Sampler?"
Any good outbound program starts with names. The names can be purchased from Jigsaw, Onesource or other data sources. They can be identified or researched. They can also be somewhat warm from inbound activity. In fact, those warm ones have the highest lead scores in most systems. But getting that human being that's raising their hands to talk with you is the ultimate challenge, and inbound marketing certainly makes outbound marketers more effective in this task.
I'm not slamming inbound marketing whatsoever, in fact Green Leads is investing heavily in it for our own benefit as well as combining inbound services with traditional outbound services in order to maximize our efforts (see: Hubspot, LinkedIn, twitter, Facebook). What I'm advocating is for Demand Gen Alignment. Maximize the investment in both inbound and outbound.
As Tony Soprano may have said if he were a marketer: "There might be an inbound mafia and an outbound mafia, but together, the family can be stronger and produce."
At one time or another, I've been asked by demand gen folks, Green Leads' clients and prospects, "So you set b2b appointments only with C/VP level executives?" So a LinkedIn Poll was in order.
A C Level meeting is the holy grail of outbound marketing, everyone wants to hear "Yes" and then implement a successful program. That said, the short answer is that if we did set only C/VP level meetings, we would set half as many, the cost to do so would be doubled, and our clients would miss out on half as many pipeline opportunities (sometimes more). Also, some clients are happy with mid-level meetings (do they know something others don't?)
We thought the discussion deserved a poll and some solid stats. We used LinkedIn's paid poll feature to collect the results. Our poll, targeted 500 C and VP level respondents at companies larger than 200 employees:
If your company wants to understand a new vendor's offering,
do you meet with them yourself or delegate down (Dir/Mgr)?
- 1/3 of C/VP level executives refer new vendors to Dir/Mgr for intro meetings
- A higher percent of introductory meetings with Dir/Mgr convert to ongoing sales activity
- Across functional areas of an organization, Marketing delegates more than any other department and Finance delegates less
We always start high, by working from the C/VP level down, but many times when we connect with a senior executive they want their company to learn more about the vendor, but they delegate the meeting to a lower level. In most cases, this is one level down from their title (C refer to VP, VP refer to Dir, etc.).
The numbers didn't surprise us. In fact they match, almost to the percentage, our tracking numbers of what titles we set meetings with. So even when we engage the C/VP level prospect, 33% of the time we will secure a meeting with a lesser title. Does this mean the meetings will be less valuable? Not at all.
I've published articles about how we measure appointment setting outcomes, and that the industry average is roughly 1/3 of introductory meetings move on to further pipeline activity. More, if additional marketing programs augment the program. We just sliced the data by title and found that meetings convert to ongoing sales activity slightly more with Dir/Mgr initial engagements, whereas C/VP convert slightly more to nurturing activities.
As an interesting twist to the data. Check out the variation of stats between departments. Finance claims to be more receptive to meetings. I'm sure there will be plenty of sales execs out there that will have differing opinions to that stat.
Final side note: Male respondents were 30% more likely to meet with a vendor than female respondents. Whereas females are 2X as likely to suggest a group meeting.
What have you found about the relative value of a delegated meeting versus a face-to-face with an senior decision maker? What makes sales ready leads?
Please participate in our LinkedIn Poll this week. We are trying to identify some new shifts we are seeing in the b2b industry as it pertains to introductory appointments.
Weigh in your vote here.
Wanting to know more about the various speakers from MarketingProfs this past week, I started looking some of them up on the web, subscribing to their blogs, checking them out on LinkedIn and trying to find them on Twitter. After finding a few, I thought it might be valuable for others.
Speaker's blogs are listed if I could find them, otherwise their company link is there. If anyone has more accurate info, feel free to share it. If you're a speaker and want to share links to your presentations or handouts, that would be great too. Just send me the links.
Thanks to all of you for a great conference!
And of course...my shameless self promotion, but I'll do it in a non-table format as to not confuse me with the speakers ;)
Michael Damphousse, CEO/CMO at Green Leads
blog: www.damphousse.org (you're here)
Yesterday I posted my favorite tweets for the day. Tuesday's MarketingProfs b2b Forum was a bit more tiring, but just as filled with content. Again, the twitter feed was loaded. Find it with hashtag #mpb2b. Below are today's collection of what I gleaned as cream of the crop tweets.
BDSolutions: Apparently the proper term 4 "above the fold" in email is "prescroll"--& only 11% of email users venture beyond. Use ur 600px wisely! #mpb2b
jaybaer: Interesting that @kdpaine is down on Linkedin. I see a lot of potential for Linkedin, especially for B2B. Answers, groups, messaging #mpb2b
damphoux: as you target further up the title chain, make the emails shorter, simpler, something that a CxO can read on an iPhone #mpb2b
gscottshaw: Roadblocks for B2B Marketers: 1. Lack of Alignment, 2. Not Scoring Leads, 3. Not Nurturing Leads, 4. Monitoring the Pipeline #mpb2b
LisaMLoeffler: Looking for inspiration? On the job hunt? Want to do what you love or what you think is your calling? Twitter Search: Barry Schwartz #mpb2b
MarketingProfs: Do you have a job? A career? A calling? Allowing people to use judgment & intuition allows them to develop a calling. -Barry Schwartz #mpb2b
MackCollier: Teachers have to embody the ethics they are trying to instill in their students @barrysch #mpb2b
greenleads: iLoop: our role as marketers is to communicate, deliver, and exchange value to customers and prospects #mpb2b
justincresswell: "Don't be more, be different" George Hague #mpb2b
lisamcgrath: Good reminder from Hague: Brand is reputation not a logo. #mpb2b
kdpaine: anyone at #MPB2B who wants to see my preso its here http://ping.fm/UXtBF
MitziThomas: 7 Copy Motivators-Fear, Guilt, Flattery, Exclusivity, Greed, Anger, Salvation. Not sure I want to do this-so negative. #mpb2b
DonnaTocci: When designing your website the phone number should be clickable to initiate a call right away for mobile users. Good tip! #mpb2b
agravel: Less than 30% of online users scroll. - Amy Africa #mpb2b
DonnaTocci: The mobile phone will replace majority of functions on your laptop in 5 years! - Mickey Khan. Need to start planning for that now #mpb2b
jlysne: @amyafrica says a good lead form should take less than 20 seconds #mpb2b
JenKaneCo: I'm pretty sure my brain just exploded. If metrics were booze, I'd be blissfully trashed right now. This session rules. #mpb2b
justincresswell: Barry Schwartz just told us to stop Tweeting and ask him questions. I guess I didn't listen. #mpb2b
MarketingProfs: Check out photos from yesterdays MarketingProfs B2B Forum! http://bit.ly/mpb2bX (expand) (via @robertcollins) #mpb2b
MackCollier: http://twitpic.com/6znai - The twitter bat signal at #mpb2b
This Thursday is the Sales 2.0 conference in Boston, and Anneke Seley from Phoneworks and author of the book Sales 2.0 will be speaking. Anneke and I met as a result of twitter, so it's fitting that she is speaking on Social Media this week.
Mike: Anneke, I don't want to steal your thunder, but if I were a single sales rep, what two social media tips could I start implementing tomorrow that might impact my number?
Anneke: You ARE stealing my thunder, Mike! But here are two ideas: Personalize your LinkedIn profile to include information that is interesting and valuable to your prospects and customers, such as customer projects that are generating measurable results with your offering. In my talk, I will highlight one regional manager who has generated about $80,000 in qualified opportunities since beginning his use of social media four months ago.
Use Twitter to personally invite prospects to your company’s events. One of Phone Work’s (my company’s) clients is generating 10% of total registrations via Twitter for an executive-level event. Over 50% of these registrants are highly-qualified – which is a higher percentage than registrants that come from traditional media. The resulting revenue opportunity in the pipeline exceeds $1M.
Mike: I can relate to your first example. I participate heavily in the LinkedIn Answers section on Lead Gen, (a little self promotion – I’m listed as the #1 expert in the lead gen answers section), and two years ago I found a client as a result of my answering a question and today they are still a client and have invested in the six figures for appointments.
Second question. Inbound marketing is all the rage, but you and I spend a great deal of time on projects using outbound activities. What do you think smart sales and marketing execs should do to maximize both inbound and outbound activity?
Anneke: In an ideal world, marketing campaigns engage every qualified customer and sales reps just have to respond to incoming inquiries. But not all customers respond to these kinds of “direct response” marketing campaigns. Sometimes a highly-personalized phone and Web contact strategy -often called “Prospecting 2.0” or “Cold Calling 2.0” - yields the best results. As mentioned in my book, salesforce.com discovered this in 2003 when the company started a concerted effort to sell to large companies and traditional demand generation marketing wasn’t reaching target accounts. In innovative, Sales 2.0 companies, sales and marketing execs work together to design and execute different kinds of programs to reach different kinds of audiences. This is part of the Sales 2.0 philosophy to “sell in the way your customer wants to buy” (or engage).
Mike: You just mentioned that the union of selling and marketing is greater every day. What would you tell a marketing exec if they asked why they should be at Sales 2.0?
Anneke: It’s getting harder to discern where marketing ends and sales begins. In Sales 2.0, marketing’s role is no longer limited to filling the pipeline with leads; marketing is now essential in nurturing leads and keeping prospects and customers engaged even after they interact with sales. If you are a marketing exec, spend a day hanging out with us sales “guys” at the Sales 2.0 conference to learn our language and feel our pain! (This reminds me of a male colleague who reads Cosmopolitan magazine to better understand women.) By the way, it must be said that sales and marketing cooperation works best in companies in which sales and marketing execs share performance metrics, supported by incentive compensation, so CEO’s should come too!
Mike: Do you see sales people as Hunters or Gatherers in a 2.0 world?
Anneke: Both. But in Sales 2.0 companies, sales people are usually one or the other (new business reps or reps who look after customer accounts). And we usually refer to Gatherers as “Farmers”.
Mike: And for my ongoing Curry Survey: Red or Green Curry?
Anneke: Sambal. My mother was born in Indonesia.
Mike: That’s cool, adding it to my wish list. Just so you know, the results so far from sales/marketing world are Red – 6, Green – 3, Yellow – 1 (Gerhard), and now Sambal – 1.