My good buddy and best man, Dave, has been commissioner of the same Fantasy Football league for over 12 years and a few years ago asked if I was interested in taking one of the empty slots. My obsessive-compulsive, statistically driven, multi-scenario-challenged gaming mind was intrigued. Could I possibly put together a team that could beat other experienced teams week in and week out? Even if the matchup is one-sided on paper?
Sounds simple, but here's the deal. I'm more of an owner and less of a coach, so I did what I do best. I hired Lenny, a co-worker at the time and a kick-ass coach, and learned from someone who knows more about Fantasy Football than I do and still enjoy the results. Now three seasons later, Lenny is gone and I won last year's season. This year opened with a tight match against Dave, and it came down to the last two players--he crushed me. But I'm a coach.
Tips to learn from Fantasy Football when building awesome inside sales teams:
- Be a coach. Understand your team and their challenges, week in and week out.
- Understand the rules. If you know what scores you points you'll make better decisions. Ask the commissioner (your boss) if it's unclear.
- Learn from the pros. We read Fantasy blogs; we also read B2B sales and marketing blogs.
- Look for raw talent that requires the least maintenance.
- Find the studs that, head to head, will overperform every week.
- Think about your deficiencies and hire accordingly.
- If your team needs adjusting, make the shifts. It might mean cutting a player, or drafting a new one, or moving someone up from the bench. Think big picture.
- Don't fall in love with a lineup. If you need to let a player go, cut your losses.
- Track the stats. Every stat -- even the ones you aren't sure are valuable. They will be someday.
- Think Superbowl. Don't forget the long-term play is to win.
- Lastly, have fun. Every day. Have fun. If you and your team are enjoying your jobs, you'll always make the playoffs and be in a position to win!
ps. I do have Tom Brady in both my leagues this year. Maybe I should take some lessons from Belichick?
If you've got an inside sales team that is not cutting the mustard with appointment setting, if your internal results aren't there, it's time to think about your department the way a professional appointment setting company does. I surveyed a couple of our best appointment setting BDRs in London
and here are their tips
- Work from good lists. Don't download 5000 names and expect to stay focused. Pick 500 good names--perfect titles. Then set out for focused activity.
- Sharpen the pitch. You've probably only got 10 seconds to say hello, then 30 seconds to get permission to keep talking. Use the next 3 minutes wisely. Don't over-pitch.
- Dials = Meetings. It's been said that the average inside sales rep makes 70 dials a day. Well the average Green Leads appointment setting black belt makes 200. Dials = Meetings.
- Sell the appointment. Never forget the purpose of the call--to set appointments. Don't go for a PO on that first call. Pitch, qualify, then sell an appointment.
There you have it, or as said in a phrase I learned the other night at our pub across the street, The Windmill (pictured here), "and Bob's your uncle!"
There are so many demand gen vendors out there, and if you are a demand gen professional in sales or marketing, we've probably called you. Outsourcing some or all of your appointment setting or lead generation activity to a third party vendor is a task that shouldn't be undertaken by responding to one cold call.
Words of wisdom from two industry leaders:
Trish Bertuzzi, Inside Sales Expert, @bridgegroupinc: "Hiring a third party lead gen vendor is like dating… the chemistry is either there or it is not. When you are interviewing vendors you have to get a sense that they are smart, interested in the same things that you are and passionate about what the future looks like."
Craig Rosenberg, The Funnelholic, @funnelholic: "If they charge less, be more skeptical – Believe it. I believe this across lead gen: the most important thing to look at is cost per opportunity not cost per lead. Cost per lead is a narrow look at the success of a program. A higher cost lead (if justified) will convert better with sales. Oh and by the way, here is the thing with outsourced lead gen as well: these are leads that go directly to sales guys. My suggestion is to pay whatever price it takes to keep them from hating you."
Below are some questions to ask the vendors you are considering -- and don't forget to ask me.
- What quality controls do you have in place?
- What type of reporting do you do and can I see samples?
- How many reps do you have? How many managers and non-reps? (look for heavy overhead)
- What is your annual attrition rate for reps and managers? (use LinkedIn Company Pages to see for yourself)
- What is the average tenure of your reps?
- What is your reps' experience in general outbound sales?
- What is your reps' experience in your industry ?
- How do you pay your reps?
- Are they incented for Quality or Quantity?
- Can I talk to your newest rep and longest serving rep?
- Can we come for a site visit?
- During the site visit can I just sit on the floor for an hour and listen?
- What technologies do you use? CRM? Autodialers? Power dialers?
- Do your reps use email? If so, how?
- How do you help your clients measure the success of the programs?
- Where do you get your lists?
- Who are your closest competitors?
- Can I have an example of a project that failed, and why?
- Can I have an example of a project that has succeeded?
(After hearing the two examples, ask for references at both companies)
- How do you manage client calendars so that appointments are set during available times?
- What is your pricing model? Pay for performance? Monthly fee?
- What is your lead acceptance criteria, what makes a billable meeting, how do we reject a meeting and why would we?
- How do you manage east coast/west coast time zones
- Do you outsource or offshore any of your work?
- How do you create your messaging? Do you work from scripts?
- What is your startup process?
- When do we see our first leads?
- When we get a lead/meeting, what do we get? Can you provide us a sample?
What would you ask that we missed?
If you're not here at the Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference, you can follow it on the twitter stream #sm20.
The keynote speaker is Peter J. Stewart, Senior Vice President, Collaboration Technology Services of PGi, opened up with his overall theme of "Meetings". So I was inspired to share some tips focused on sales appointments.
"Meetings are Everywhere," he said, "All that work we do in B2B goes into getting a meeting."
There are several types of meetings:
- Trust is built
- Relationships are formed
- Deals are closed
- ideas take shape
- Products are created
- People are inspired
Couple tips for Sales and Marketing in a 2.0 world--as it pertains to meetings:
He closed with, "The best meetings are the meetings that are fun."
What anecdotes can you share about meetings?
So, for a few days last week in Boston and her surrounding suburbs, it was extremely hot. I'm not talking "spring time" hot, like in the upper 70's. I'm talking about temps in the 90's!
I'm a big guy, and I can tell you this -- I can't stand the heat. I hate it. Some days I think the only reason I stick around the Northeast is for the sports, and there are days when they make me cringe, too. There are days when I think,"Boy, the Eskimos sure have it nice." Okay, maybe that's a little too far, but it got me thinking -- what's the temperature like for my appointment setting team? Are they hot, cold, or lukewarm? If they're hot, great, but how do you keep them there? If they're cold or lukewarm, what can you do increase the temperature?
Let's talk about what you can do if your team is cold. Surprisingly enough, this isn't the worst place they can be; that would be lukewarm, but we'll get to that in a bit. If your team is cold and they're not producing like you'd like them to, here are couple of things you can do right now to heat things up:
Competitions -- I don't care if it's number of appointments set in a day or in a week, or number of conversations with prospects, but build competitions into your reps' workday. You'd be amazed at what people will compete for. Put a prize in front of it and watch your productivity climb. Movie tickets, cash, a DVD, it doesn't matter, because the very nature of the competition will heat things back up in your bullpen.
- Evaluate -- Are the right people doing the right job? Did you build the team too fast? Are some of them better suited for other roles? Take some time to evaluate and move folks around if you have to. You may find that the right person is doing the wrong job, and the right job for that person is just begging to have some added support. Good people are hard to find, so put them in positions that suit them.
If your team is lukewarm, I'd say you've got bigger problems. You know what lukewarm says to me? It says, "Meh." It says, "Eh, okay." It says you've got a team that doesn't really care about what they're doing. They're just a bit better than cold, and nowhere's near hot, and harder to tell the differences If your team is lukewarm, here are couple of ways to get them on fire:
- Clean House -- Yup, you read that right. Chances are, there is someone on that lukewarm team who is ready to move on to the next part of their sales career, and they're begging you (sometimes without even knowing) to let them go. Take a look at your team and see who that person is. I think the term to coin here is "addition through subtraction." Removing a lukewarm player may be just what the rest of your team needs to heat themselves back upm especially if that person is a negative drag on everyone else. You know who I'm talking about.
- Management? -- If your team is just so-so and lukewarm, maybe it's how they're being managed and motivated. Take some time and really evaluate yourself as manager here. Are you doing everything you can from a leadership perspective to help your team? Is there anything you could be doing better to help your team increase their production? If there is, get on it, and fast, before someone above you decides to "add" by "subtracting' you.
If your appointment setting team is hot, and they're on fire, keep it up. "Keep what up?" you may ask. Whatever it is you're doing to help them stay hot -- but don't leave without sharing how you're doing it with the rest of us!
If you're like me, last night you spent over four hours consumed with watching the finale to the television series LOST. Now I'll give you that it probably wasn't the best use of four hours of my life, but I've enjoyed the show so much over its six seasons that I just wanted to take the final episode in as much as I could, and for Smashmouth, that means inspiring a blog article.
The finale offered the best of what the show had given its viewers over the last six years -- confusion, excitement, joy and sorrow. It got me thinking, though -- is there a way that this relates to appointment setting? Naturally it does. Our reps feel all of those emotions while they're making dials, right? So here is my take on how those four emotions that the series LOST gave its audience parlay themselves into appointment setting:
Confusion - Our reps feel this all the time, especially when they fail to do the most important part of the job -- and that is focus. My reps' No. 1 focus is to schedule an appointment with the prospects of our clients. When they lose focus of that, naturally they're going to get confused. Teach your reps to take some time at the beginning of each call session and write down what their main goals are. Your reps don't like to be confused, and I'm betting your clients don't want them to be, either. They sell appointments, not software package XYZ.
- Excitement - Nothing builds momentum in appointment setting and inside sales like "excitement." What are you doing to raise the level of excitement for your team? It's important that you get just as excited about your reps' successes as they do! The rest of the team will glom on to that and ride that wave throughout the rest of their day, so don't lose sight on that. We SPIFF the reps several times a week. Fun stuff, from DVDs to lottery tickets, to cash bounties -- and always in a clear competition with others.
- Joy - This one's a little bit different than excitement. Joy comes from within, so help your reps to be joyful by making sure they understand the importance of their job. I've often found that when I understand why I do what I do, it makes what I do much more enjoyable. When your reps enjoy what they do, you're going to have a much more productive team, and a team that produces more tends to do what? They breed excitement, and you're right back at No. 2 from above.
- Sorrow - Sometimes you're going to have reps who gets bummed out because what they thought were going to be leads for their client turned out not to be so. Sometimes they can have a bad day, which can lead to a bad week. That can get frustrating for your reps, so help them through those times by teaching them to remember their successes. There's very little time to get negative in this job; in fact, I'd argue that there's none. If you go a day without setting meetings or generating leads, that's a day you'll never get back. So help your reps get back in the saddle by remembering times of higher achievements.
Is your team LOST?
Which of the following is a good sales outcome for introductory appointments?
- Proposal: The prospect let you pitch him for 30 minutes, told you to send a proposal and CC his director, who handles these types of projects.
- 2nd Meeting: The prospect discussed her business issues with you, you asked good questions, you shared some anecdotal stories about how some of your clients have similar issues, and she asked for a second meeting.
I know a ton of salespeople that would put the first outcome in the success category. You got a pipeline opportunity, right? A proposal?
WRONG! You got a brushoff, a more sophisticated variation of saying "send me a datasheet." He was just letting you down easy. What he really said was, "Here's enough hope to keep you busy for a week or two and then you can go away." You may have pitched them, but did they hear anything? Was any of it relevant or bring value to them?
The second scenario is far more successful. The next stage in the sales cycle has started. She shared her real issues with you. You shared some value. She wants to continue the conversation. That's how prospects buy today.
- Show professionalism and value by having a conversation and asking questions
- Educate the prospect just enough to get a second meeting
- Make the second meeting follow your agenda and then satisfy theirs
It's all about the second meeting.
We had a prospect ask this past month to give her 10 reasons to work with Green Leads. It was an interesting request, but we took it on with a twist. We delivered not 10 reasons, but 15 thoughts to ponder. Thought I'd share it.
My favorite: social media techniques augment cold calling - warm calling converts more of your prospects into qualified opportunities
We thought it might be interesting to augment our thought leader interviews with some demand gen product reviews. We are keeping the reviews independent--actually using the products/services, and then critiquing them.
I had heard about LeadLander from a competitor (surprisingly, not all competitors are enemies..that's another blog post). It touts the ability to provide to you all the standard website visitor stats, along with one huge differentiator - the names of companies that visit your website. They can't figure them all out, and you can filter all those Comcast and Verizon visitors, but they provide enough to bring additional value to a web stats application such as Google Analytics.
They meet their promise. I'll leave you to explore all the details of what the product does, and I'll give you a real world example of how to use it.
The following took place in the last 3 days.
Day 1. Installed LeadLander on both our company website, www.green-leads.com, and on the Smashmouth Marketing blog.
Day 2. Published a blog interview with Joe Galvin of SiriusDecisions. Promoted it on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and through other channels.
Day 3. Reviewed the LeadLander Reports:
- Site traffic was up 45% for the day.
- Companies that visited were listed (Oracle, SAP, and a sizable list of other companies I haven't heard of).
- Realized that the fact that Oracle and SAP visited is cool, but we can't really take targeted action on it since they have hundreds of individuals we could target.
- Then we looked at the "other" companies, many of which were small to medium sized, some recognizable. We checked the companies out with the LeadLander Jigsaw link, and were able to identify 2-3 marketing contacts per company. Presto...Leads!
We were able to contact 2 of the companies that visited that day by phone and were able to set appointments
with both for further discussions (yes, we use our own service). The remaining prospects will be pursued by phone and email. Not bad for 3 days work. As for Oracle and SAP - they're always on Green Leads
So some benefits we found outside the obvious Lead:
- You can see what pages they visited during their session. Seeing a trend in what pages a company visits gives you specifics on their interests
- You can see what search terms they used to find the site.
- You can see when your competitors visit.
- You can see what referring page they came from. This was valuable as we identified that the referring site for the Oracle visit was their intranet site from their weekly sales call. Nice to know someone there is sharing our information.
- The LeadLander search function, where you can search by strings in URLs is valuable as you can use it to track specific links. We did this by using one link for Twitter, one for LinkedIn, and one for an email blast. Measure the effectiveness of campaigns.
- The Jigsaw link is very nice, especially if you have an unlimited Jigsaw license, like Green Leads. With one click you can see all the contacts at the company that visited.
Pricing starts at $160 per month for small companies and goes up from there depending on your company size, website usage, etc. Definite ROI for our 2 appointments (3 days for $15, 2 meetings, $7.50 each, the additional leads are a bonus).
This marketing/sales approach to website stats is extremely useful. Kudos to LeadLander for dissecting web traffic and presenting it in a manner that the demand gen user can benefit from.
Smashmouth recommendation: Thumbs Up
End of independent review.
I was able to catch Mike Schon, CEO at LeadLander, and asked him "What differentiates LeadLander from traditional web analytics services like Google Analytics?"
He shared with me "LeadLander was designed to turn traditional web analytics statistics that benefit marketing staff into reports that benefit sales staff, by providing specific information about the companies and people visiting web sites. You'll never see a sales person using Google Analytics, the data is just not significant enough from a sales perspective."
[nice blog comparison of LeadLander and Google Analytics]
Schon continues, "In contrast, LeadLander is used by thousands of sales people, because LeadLander gives them specific, relevant information about their leads and prospects. So we don't look at one system replacing the other -- in fact, we use both Google Analytics and LeadLander within our own company since they serve two different organizational purposes. Our philosophy with LeadLander is to put valuable lead and prospect information into the hands of sales people as quickly, simply, and cost-effectively as possible without the requirement to spend time and effort on implementation, administration, and other services."
When I was recently at the Sales 2.0 conference, I had several conversations and debates about the value of Face-to-Face meetings versus Con-calls/Web-meetings. Being that b2b introductory meetings is Green Leads' business, we have noticed a trend over the past several years. With the advent and popularity of web conferencing and the price of travel, most executives are accepting con-call/web-meetings as a standard way of doing business - especially introductory meetings. It has become pervasive, and respected, to do business this way. As some of you know, Green Leads also has a research arm where we conduct market research for clients. We used this team to target a pool of 600 companies (200 F1000, 200 $100M-$1B in revenue, 200 $50M-$100M in revenue). We were able to gain responses from 260 executives (C/VP/Dir). We questioned them on the topic of Face-to-Face vs. Con-call/Web-meetings. These are the results:
- 15% C Level, 31% VP Level, 42% Director, 11% Other
- 37% IT/Technical, 24% Sales/Marketing, 16% Finance/Operations, 23% Other
- Question 1 - What percentage of the introductory meetings you take with new vendors or partners today are done Face-to-Face vs Con-call/Web-meeting?
- 42% Face-to-Face
- 58% Con-call/Web-meeting
- Question 2 - Do you see an increase in the number of meetings taking place by Con-call/Web-meeting?
- 62% Definitely
- 16% Somewhat
- 22% Not really
- Question 3 - Are these meetings satisfactory for the purposes of introductory discussions?
- 69% Definitely
- 26% Somewhat
- 5% Not really
- Question 4 - Do you get more from a face-to-face meeting vs. a Con-call/Web-meeting?
- 32% Definitely
- 17% Somewhat
- 51% Not really
- Question 5 - What does your company do when they need to initiate an introductory meeting with a prospect or partner?
- 64% Con-call/Web-meeting
- 32% Face-to-Face
- 4% Video conference
- 3% Tradeshows
- 1% Other
The data seems to show that Con-call/Web-meetings are becoming more common, and more acceptable as a way to start a business relationship. A strong indicator is the last question where the majority of respondents indicated that their own companies are moving towards more Con-call/Web-meetings.
If during the appointment setting, it is the wish of your prospect to conduct the first meeting by phone, don't shy away from it. Take the opportunity and make the best of it. A couple things to consider:
- Con-call/Web-meetings have a higher rate of cancellation/reschedules/no-shows. This is just the nature of the commitment. It's easier to cancel or move a meeting when a prospect knows there are no plane tickets involved.
- For Con-call/Web-meetings there is a trend of delegating to lower-level staff prior to secondary/follow-on activity.
- Con-call/Web-meetings must be treated as formally as a Face-to-Face meeting. A casual phone call is not appropriate. Setting up a bridge number, having an online presentation, and additional attendees (Applications Engineer, Manager, or other supporting attendees) can help improve the quality and acceptance of the meeting.
- Some prospect executives simply won't take face-to-face meetings. If the prospect is the proper target with the proper role, it is recommended that this be respected and a Con-call/Web-meeting take place.
- Face-to-Face meetings do still seem to have a higher level of success due to the personal commitment and interaction. When at all possible, do Face-to-Face meetings. Despite your preference for the style of meeting, be understanding when a prospect asks for one over the other. Unless there are travel/scheduling conflicts, we recommend abiding by the prospect's wishes.
- Make the goal of any introductory meeting to get a second meeting. Don't over-sell.
In conclusion, if you want to have meetings 2.0, then take them any way your prospect wants them.